Cassandra McCoy Mental Health Physical Health Social Health

My Unplanned Quarantine

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT

I had a plan.

The last two weeks of March and the first few weeks of April I would be making some changes and would also develop what I wanted to share with others. So I moved forward, plans were formulated, with announcements to the contributors beginning to roll out. My dad was coming down and I was really excited to see him the first time since Christmas time. There was more but hey, you know what they say about plans right?

At the start of the COVID-19 panic, I was thinking I would be fine. I was actually looking forward to shifting to a slower pace. I have been busy lately. Working a lot and trying to build back up our savings after school. I had been getting sick recently due to some underlying medical problems, but was feeling a bit better. I was even thinking about the potential quarantine as a possible blessing for many to slow down, just as I wanted to.

I began to plan ways to help women at home with my fellow contributors over at Positively Balanced. I had worked with a few of them to set up conversations. I began to formulate the membership I had been sitting on and was ready to launch, coming in April. I was preparing and consolidating content. My goal was to help other women navigate this new challenge we were all about to face.

Work was steady for awhile, everyone was feeling good. Then it started to change to less and less patients around the 18th. Everyone was feeling fine, yours truly included. I had been tired from stress and other health concerns but it was going well. I even did my best workout in MONTHS on the 19th. Boy, did that change fast.

March 20: I started to get extremely tired and fuzzy. I thought it was because I was up every half hour with my son. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But I started getting spacey for sure here and there.

March 22: morning time, I feel good, tired from waking up and taking care of a sick baby. Evening time, sneezing starts then sore throat after I go to bed at 8pm. No fever.

Match 23: morning time, check my temperature no fever, still some sneezing and sore throat. Head to work. Feel progressively more tired throughout the day, practice distancing myself from those around me, disinfecting lots, bleach, etc. No hands on manual therapy, no direct facing patients or coworkers. 4:30pm, I start getting chills. Head and temp is now 100.1. I call my boss, tell him I’m hoping it’s a 24 hr bug, tell him what’s going on, he tells me to stay home tomorrow just in case. I tell him I’ll get a flu/strep test, just to be cautious.

March 24: Nyquil helped me sleep on and off 8pm to 8:30am. I sweated through 2 pairs of clothes. 100.2 temp. In the morning I’m sneezing more now with a headache, lots of sinus pressure, sore throat making me sound an octave lower. I notice decreased appetite. In the afternoon, I’m reading a temp of 98.8. I get a curbside flu and strep test from a local Utica park clinic. They are negative.  She says go home and stay there, they can’t give me a COVID test as my symptoms aren’t bad enough. I tell my boss. Ok, I’m home until the end of the week with the rest of my PTO. Then we’ll see what’s progressed or if it was just a random sickness that’s gone for good by Tuesday night.   That evening,  another dose of Nyquil that puts me out by 8pm. I wake up at 940pm, let out a few congestion filled coughs and find I’m soaked with sweat again. I change clothes, go back to sleep.

Match 25: 4am, wake up and change soaked clothes.  630am wake up with upset/ ear infection ill son. Temp is 98.6. I try to talk, and well, now I sound like a 30 year smoker. Sneezing is a bit less, headache is less, coughing every now and then just feeling the drainage. Noon: temp 99.1.

Did laundry and dishes. Evening: I can’t talk much. I’m coughing more. Somewhere in the afternoon my smoker voice turns into Darth Vader with faulty wiring. Temp 100.2. If I force myself to speak it feels like nails in my throat and it is at a very low deep volume. Go to bed with Nyquil falling asleep around 8pm, wake up at 11pm to change clothes.

March 26th: up on and off all night. Nyquil didn’t work.  Sneezing, increase in coughing. No voice. What so ever. Temp 98.6. No more wardrobe change, just lots of drainage. Up at 6am, can’t sleep, so I start to record my experience as it is pretty clear I won’t be returning to work anytime soon. I can’t get a test because I’m not severe enough to stop breathing but I also don’t wanna go to work, even if I suddenly felt better (not going to happen, I know), because I don’t want to even chance putting others at risk.

So I’m .2 under the 100.4 necessary for testing. I naturally run lower so even a 100.2 is feverish to me. However, that doesn’t qualify.

March 27th. So, still no voice this morning. Coughing was intense and so is the sneezing. My body aches have diminished as has the intensity of headache. My husband woke up with a cough, sneezing and losing his voice. Fantastic.  By noon he’s super fatigued, I’m sneezing and coughing.

March 28th: Coughing, sneezing, sore throat. On repeat. I am super tired. And then around 4pm, the migraine hit. Probably was up until about 1:30am trying to fight the migraine and fall asleep.

So I’m still in it! Today is the 29th. I’m sure a few more days to go. Migraine, sneezing, coughing, sore throat. Yes, it has sucked. I am pretty exhausted.

But let me tell you the amazing things.

The women I planned on helping, giving to and supporting, ended up supporting, giving and helping me and my family. Instead of providing my planned support to other women, I have received support. Instead of giving, I am allowing myself to receive.

My friend brought me cough drops and popsicles to my front door. Several friends have texted me daily to check in. Another friend from anther country sent me a live video of the ocean. I video chat with my dad at least twice per day.

My husband went to the store twice to get me electrolyte and groceries.

I have been able to spend more time with my family then I have since before grad school.

I got to watch my baby eat his first popsicle (he loved it).

I got to help him put together his first block puzzle.

I got to talk (or text after I lost my voice) to my husband for more than just a few seconds at night.

I got to think about how I was to help other women moving forward.

I have the chance to sit in silence (in between sneezes and coughs) for a few minutes each day while my son napped and just be.

I was able to evaluate what I wanted to do moving forward, who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life.

I was able to realize just how unhappy I have been with what I’ve been spending hours on in my life.

I was able to take the time needed to realize the effect stress has been making on all the dimensions of my own life.

By no means have I figured it all out. I’m not sure if anyone ever does. But hey, I have another week of quarantine right?

Why does it take a quarantine to take us back to what matters? Why does it take a pandemic to realize who we are or could be?

Society? Culture? Religion? 

I don’t have the answer but I’d love to start a conversation with you. Just like this article: raw, honest and pure conversation.

Jayme Taylor Physical Health Social Health Sophia Pollalis

The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020: What it is and how you can do your part to stop the spread.

Written by Sophia Pollalis ATC, LAT and Jayme Taylor MSN, APRN-CNP, FNP-BC, CSOWM, DIPACLM

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19, which stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019, is a strain of coronavirus that was discovered in late 2019 not previously identified in humans. The coronavirus is a family of viruses that were first discovered in 1965 when it was noted that the corona virus had a similar structure to viruses seen in animals1. They had a crown-like structure, hence “corona.”

Coronaviruses are common and generally present as upper respiratory tract infections. There are seven known strains of coronaviruses that can infect humans. Four are very common and have not produced worldwide panic and precaution; three of them, including the most recent COVID-19, have produced significant response in recent years2. These include SARS3 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in the early 2000’s and the MERS4 (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012. In the cases of SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, the source of the coronavirus were animals5. Coronaviruses are also common in different species of animals, such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats; in rare cases they can infect humans.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath as it is an upper respiratory tract infection5. These symptoms can show up as early as 2 days after exposure, running up to 14 days based on the previous outbreaks of MERS and current trends, however we don’t know how long the actual incubation period is because it is new5,6.

 How does it spread?

While COVID-19 originally came from an animal-human contact, the pandemic risk spreads very easily from person-to-person5. Transmission can occur through droplets in the air, like if someone sneezes and you happen to inhale the droplets, or by touching the same surfaces as someone else, like shaking hands or touching doorknobs. Because we don’t know a whole lot about COVID-19, experts are referring to the known infection transmission of MERS, SARS, and animal coronaviruses7. These experts postulate that, at room temperature, human coronaviruses can survive up to 9 days on inanimate surfaces. A preliminary study led by researchers at Princeton, UCLA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the virus can survive up to 3 days on non-pourous surfaces, up to 24 hours on pourous surfaces like cardboard, and possibly be able to survive suspended in a mist for 3 hours8. This information does have to be taken with a grain of salt, as these are just preliminary tests in a laboratory setting and won’t be the same as conditions in your home, on the bus, or in a store5,8.

How can I protect myself and others from the virus?

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after being in public places, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or if your hands are physically dirty. Hand sanitizer can also be used, but washing your hands is king5. Check out our article here on how hand washing gets rid of bacteria and viruses.
  • Avoid touching your face5. If you weren’t before, you are going to be so aware of how many times you touch your face. Your skin is a protective barrier to the body, but germs can get in through the useful openings we have in them, like our eyes, nose, and mouth. We can also take germs from our faces and transmit them to others by touching our faces.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces likely to transmit the disease, especially doorknobs, light switches, your steering wheel, keyboards, and sinks5. If surfaces are physically dirty, clean them with soap and water or another detergent first, then sanitize after. Bleach and alcohol solutions work well. Make sure your disinfectant is appropriate for the surface your are cleaning and your follow manufacturer instructions. If it says leave on the surface for 5 minutes, they really mean that.
  • Stay home from work and other social gatherings if you feel sick EXCEPT to get medical care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Your droplets can travel almost 20 feet when you cough and 26 feet when you sneeze9!
  • If you are sick and going to be sharing a space with another person, wear a face mask. If you are NOT sick, there is no reason for you to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick, or the person that is sick can’t wear one5.

Why is social distancing important?

On March 11, 2020, the WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic10. This is the first coronavirus to spark a pandemic, as we typically see pandemics with the flu or other diseases. What that means for the US is widespread transmission in the coming months5. Most of the population will be exposed to the virus, but not all will show symptoms and some will only show minimal symptoms. If we compare COVID-19 to the yearly flu, its current hospitalization rate is significantly lower. According to the CDC, the United State sees between 9 million and 45 million cases of influenza each year, resulting in 1.5 to 2% hospitalizations11.  The current trend in China and Italy shows a 15% or greater rate of hospitalization12. This is a problem for the US because we have about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people and around 100,000 ventilators total in the country13. If the coronavirus follows the trajectory of what has happened in China and Italy, healthcare workers would be forced to choose which patient gets a bed or which patient gets a ventilator. Our healthcare system would not be able to handle the strain of a mass outbreak. Limiting our exposure by closing schools, cancelling sporting events and seasons, not going to birthday parties, and not running to the store unless you have to, we can flatten the curve and allow our healthcare system to do its job, preserving lives that don’t have to be lost.

A note from Jayme Taylor, Positively Balanced contributor and Nurse Practitioner on the front lines:

“The symptoms of the coronavirus are very similar to influenza, and because we are in the middle of the flu season right now our only real way to distinguish risk of coronavirus vs flu is to assess for potential exposure. We triage every patient that calls with “flu-like symptoms” to see if they have been out of the country or in contact with someone who has recently been out of the country, traveled to a high risk state, etc. So not taking adequate precautions to limit community spread and exposure actually complicates the diagnostic process. It is also a burden on the healthcare system to be seeing mild cases of upper respiratory illnesses in healthy people because they are afraid it could be the coronavirus. It is important to stress that like flu, the coronavirus is a virus and treatment is supportive. Those at risk like elderly, young children, and the immunocompromised should take extra precautions to limit risk of exposure. However, mild cases in otherwise healthy people will likely resolve on their own without complication. Limiting spread of this virus protects those high risk patients from exposure. So if someone is sick they should stay home, regardless of viral cause; if symptoms worsen and they have uncontrollable fever, shortness of breath or other severe symptoms then they should seek medical attention.”