Colleen Houck


“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

Colleen's blog


  • My Covid-19 Experience

    June 22, 2020


    When it hit the United States, it was in my backyard. Seattle is much, much too close for us to feel safe from the virus and the more I heard about it on the news, the more worried I became. My fears were compounded when my mother sent me to the store in early March with a grocery list, and I found produce shelves empty and the refrigerated section ransacked. My Covid-19 experience had begun.

    We Made a Plan

    I told my husband we needed to hunker down for a while. We were going to be smart. Though my mom and I were at high risk, we did our research, we were careful. My husband and I both worked from home. He closed his downtown counseling office and began working with clients online. We canceled all appointments and learned how to groom our dogs ourselves. I gave him a haircut and he tried to give me and my mother a pedicure. We even baked our own bread, though not always successfully.

    Man giving mother-in-law a pedicure my covid-19 experience
    My hubby giving my mom a pedicure

    The thing is, my mom, who lives with us, couldn’t hunker down at home with us. She’s a nurse. Yep. She’s still reporting for duty at seventy years old. In fact, she’s older than some of her patients at the nursing home, though you’d never know it to look at her. My mom looks great for her age. She’ll probably live to be one hundred.

    Still, she was careful. My mom had prepared. Every night she wiped down her steering wheel, took off her shoes at the door, walked straight to her room and threw her clothes into her laundry (she has her own laundry room). Then she’d shower and come have dinner with us.

    That plan worked well.

    For three months.

    Until there was an outbreak.

    The Outbreak-My Covid-19 Experience

    An empty wheelchair in a vacant hospital wing-my covid-19 experience
    Image Credit to Orlando Medical News

    Then there was a Corona-virus outbreak at the nursing home where my mom worked. When she arrived home, she immediately isolated herself. We took precautions, sanitizing our home again, leaving meals for her outside her door, and keeping our dogs with us.

    That night, a Thursday, she had a terrible headache, she didn’t sleep, she called our doctor and asked to be tested. She stayed home from work on Friday and was tested by our PCP. Her results came on Sunday morning. She was positive for Covid-19.

    My Mom is sixty-nine years old. She’s overall very healthy with controlled type two diabetes and hypertension. She’s still working and very active. She never presented with the big warning symptoms and yet she would be the first to tell you, she felt like she was dying.

    The First Week

    Corona-virus closeup image-my Covid-19 experience

    My mom’s first week wasn’t as bad as her second. The worst part of it was the isolation. It’s not right to leave someone alone, dropping food at the door, knowing they’re sick or need bedding changed, or would like someone to sit and visit with them. I couldn’t nurse her properly because I was a high risk. My poor mom was alone for that whole week and I couldn’t help even though I already knew I had Covid-19 too.

    How did I know? Sunday evening I was sewing a quilt for my nephew and my back hurt. I took some Tylenol PM and went to bed. Usually, that knocks me out pretty well, but that night, I couldn’t get comfortable. In fact, for the next forty-eight hours I had such severe body aches, I couldn’t find a place to sit or lay down that didn’t hurt. Every joint in my body was swollen, aching, and on fire.

    Body aches and joint pain-my covid-19 experience

    Monday morning, I went in to be tested, presenting with body aches and a very slight fever of 99.3. My test results of Covid-19 positive didn’t come until Thursday, a full week after my mother came home with the news. Thus began my Covid-19 experience.

    My husband had a headache, ringing in the ears, and slight body aches. He tested Tuesday and his result of Covid-19 positive came that next Friday.

    Week Two of my Covid-19 Experience

    The county contacted us, warning us to stay inside our home. We were already doing that. They said to watch out for warning signs indicating that we needed to go to the hospital. I’d already looked up all the emergency information on the CDC website. Our doctor also gave us her personal phone number so we could text her with any questions. She’s awesome like that.

    After our body aches went away, my hubby and I had mild cold symptoms that disappeared after a few days. General fatigue still lingers as of today into week two and my husband had a brief two or three days of loss of taste and smell, which, for a Deaf man, was an interesting loss of senses. He was like one of those sets of monkeys, but all in one guy. Lucky for him, his eyes were still working.

    Three wise monkeys-my covid-19 experience

    Unfortunately, my mom’s case didn’t turn out so lucky. In week two, she developed severe gastrointestinal problems. Her nausea was so severe, she couldn’t eat at all. She had constant low grade fevers and chills and seemed slightly disoriented.

    I called the doctor and tried to research online to figure out what was happening. She wasn’t having problems breathing. There was no cough or pain in her chest, but I knew fever meant infection. She was fighting the virus somewhere in her body.

    Most of the articles I looked up talked about how to keep seniors engaged and encouraged mask-wearing. They said to watch for the same warning signs everyone else was talking about. But no one was talking about what happened when a senior was struggling with the virus in a way that didn’t reflect the typical warning signs. Finally, I discovered a few articles on how seniors were responding differently to the virus.

    Seniors with Covid-19 show unusual symptoms, doctors say

    I knew she had to keep fluids down and get enough nutrition to stay alive. We said a lot of prayers. I called my sisters and had them give her the tough mom talks when she wouldn’t eat or drink and when she refused to listen to me.

    The doctor prescribed Ondansetron which helped with some of her symptoms but not with persistent nausea. When I became desperate, I called a sister for help. She was familiar with Ondansetron having had lots of experience with nausea, after giving birth to five children and having terrible bouts of motion sickness. She told me that the only medicine that helped her was Dramamine. I ordered some online and mom finally agreed to try it. Her nausea diminished and she finally began eating and drinking.

    A chest X-ray showed no signs of pneumonia. Within a few days, the fevers abated and she felt better. Her recovery is going slow. Though she’s extremely fatigued, she’s improving daily and is finally out of the woods. There you have it, my Covid-19 experience.

    Here’s What I Learned From my Covid-19 Experience

    1. WE NEED TO EXPAND THE LIST OF SYMPTOM REQUIREMENTS-When the county called me, they said I’d be cleared to leave my home when I had no symptoms. When I asked them to define symptoms, they said fever, shortness of breath, and cough. By that definition, I never had symptoms yet I still had the virus.
    2. YOU CAN HAVE THE VIRUS AND NOT KNOW IT-If my mom had not come home and told me there was a case, I would not have assumed I had Covid-19. I might have thought I had arthritis or a flu bug but I doubt I would have assumed it was COVID.
    3. TESTING CONFIRMATION TAKES WAY TOO LONG-I don’t understand why it takes three or four days to confirm you have the virus. My mother was stuck in isolation while we waited on confirmation of the virus. People can spread it for those days while they wait to find out. If you suspect you might have it, I’d just assume you do.
    4. EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE THE VIRUS AND TELL PEOPLE, MISTAKES ARE MADE-I had to have blood drawn and the receptionist told me to just come inside to wait. I had to remind them I couldn’t. The pharmacist at the drive-through took my card but didn’t wipe down anything afterward. People make mistakes.
    5. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A LUNG ISSUE TO DIE FROM COVID-19-My mom felt so sick and exhausted, she wanted to give up. Many people without breathing issues and who aren’t hooked up to ventilators have passed away. There’s not enough information about that online. As a caregiver, I needed to know what else was happening to my mother that might not be affecting her lungs.
    6. WEARING MASKS IS A KINDNESS-It would be awful to find out you had Covid-19 and then have to think about all the places you’d been and how many people you’d put at risk. I was lucky. I didn’t go out much, but I still panicked thinking about it for a minute. Once you’ve seen someone struggle with this virus, I promise you, you wouldn’t want to put anyone through that pain, especially someone so fragile as our precious elders. Wearing a mask is a little thing. It’s a small ask.
    7. PRAYERS HELP-Knowing that family and friends were thinking about us and praying for us was incredibly beneficial.
    8. IF THE REMEDY ISN’T WORKING, TRY SOMETHING ELSE-The nausea medication prescribed wasn’t working for my mom. I could see she was failing. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor something’s wrong. You know yourself or your parent or grandparent best. Speak up and don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for help or to make a change.
    9. FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS CHECKING IN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE-We had several church friends and neighbors checking on us via video, dropping off meals, and going shopping for us when we couldn’t leave the house. That was incredibly helpful. Mom needed something as simple as Gatorade and I wasn’t able to get out to the store to get it but a kind friend was more than willing. Those gestures mean everything.
    10. LASTLY, CHECK-IN ON YOUR SENIOR LOVED ONES-Make sure they get the medicine and the care they need. Isolation and loneliness are difficult. If they are refusing food because they feel ill like my mother, it could be that they also have Covid-19 and it’s affecting them in a similar way. If they are a DNR, it’s unlikely that anyone other than you will make sure they eat. Remember that the big symptoms are not the only symptoms. If you have a suspicion, ask that they get tested.
    Senior citizen with a caregiver-My Covid-19 Experience Picture credit https://happyseniors.care/en/caregiving/why-do-dementia-patients-have-spontaneous-crying-outbursts-and-spontaneous-screams/

    The good news is that when my mom returns to work, she will recognize the warning signs and she can advocate for those who need her. I’m so grateful that we’re all on the road to recovery. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. If you’d like to share your own thoughts or experiences with the virus, please feel free to leave comments or links to your own blogs.

    Also, realize that I’m not a medical professional in any way. Though my mom is a nurse, and she read my blog, I’d hate to think anyone was basing their care plan on my experiences, so please consult professional help if you suspect you or your loved ones have contracted this virus.

    Take care of yourselves. And be careful.

    Love your grandma? Write her a poem. Here’s one I wrote to inspire you.

    Grandma’s Poem

    Or you can bake her some cookies. Here’s a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip.

    Madison Hayes’ Famous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

    This entry was posted in Articles, Life Events.

    11 Responses to My Covid-19 Experience


    1. Janet Ford says:

      Colleen, so sorry your family had to go through this illness….extremely happy that your family survived!
      You’ve given everyone great advice. Thank You. Only someone with experience would truly understand.
      Please continue to get well. Same for your Mom and Husband. Important people in your life.
      Janet Ford

    2. Carla Manjarrez says:

      I am so happy that you and your family are okay and got through this. Thank you for sharing your experience because your right, people don’t always experience the “symptoms” my uncle had it and he experienced severe body aches and diarrhea and I am glad you are bringing that to light. Your mom is one brave woman and I thank her for her work. Stay safe.

      Carla

    3. Brianna Dennett says:

      Thank you so much for writing this! So many people don’t think they have it because they don’t have those symptoms. I am sorry that you had to go through this and I am so happy that things are getting better. I’m pretty sure I had it around the time it started showing up, but I have no access to testing and will never know. It was horrible and lasted about a month for me.

      I hope things keep getting better. Take care of yourself and your family.

    4. Kathy Scott says:

      Oh my gosh…I am so sorry that you guys had to go through this and feel even worse that we didn’t know about it as it was happening so we could pray specifically for you all.
      So far we are continuing to be healthy, our Gila Valley has very few cases but we are careful as we go out for groceries and such. We love the three of you and wish you speedy recovery. Uncle Mark and Aunt Kathy

    5. Kimberly says:

      Colleen my goodness! I am so thankful you are all on the mend and so very sorry you have experienced this. Thank you for sharing your experience to bring awareness to all. Blessings, prayers and healing!

    6. Cosette says:

      Hello!
      I’m so glad you and your family are okay, Colleen. I’m so sorry you all went through this. I wish I had known, I would’ve been praying for you and your family specifically. How is everyone now? I hope they’re okay. Prayers for you and your family, Cosette.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



    Categories
    Archive
    Author Bio
    Colleen Houck
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.