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Day by Day: A COVID-19 Story

| This is the 554th story of Our Life Logs® |

I was raised by my mother mainly on the southern East Coast of the United States, but I was born in New Jersey on May 9, 1984. I had a stepdad for a while, but they separated when I was in high school. Nevertheless, my childhood was full of laughter and happy days with my mom and sister. Before my mother passed in 2018, I always felt like the light of her world. She was my biggest cheerleader and always believed in me.

Fourteen years ago, I was blessed with my oldest daughter, and my youngest daughter a few years after. From the time they were little, I protected them and loved them as best as I could, just like my mother had done before me. It wasn’t until 2020, when the coronavirus made its way into our lives, that our safety was put on the line.

My babies.

When I first heard about the pandemic, I genuinely did not take it all that seriously. I had lived through the flu before and I knew how severe it could be, so I took all the proper precautions the CDC suggested and wore masks and gloves from the beginning. I mean, I had small little girls to look out for. But on November 18, 2020, I got a call at work that would change the severity of my current situation. I was in the middle of a shift when my oldest daughter, Leah, called me and said she was not feeling well. She told me she had a sore throat, headache, and fever. While I was at work, I had her check her temperature every hour, and by 11 AM, her temperature had risen to 101.5 degrees. My boss was understanding and let me leave.

I gripped the steering wheel tightly on the way to the doctor as I tried to keep a shred of composure for my daughter’s sake. At age 14, anything is grounds for exaggerated fear, especially getting tested for a deadly virus during a pandemic. Leah handled it well. We went in and our family was tested with the rapid test. We would have the results back in an hour. When we got the results back, Leah was the only positive and I could tell by the look on her face that she understood what was to come.

On the way home, we talked with her auntie on the phone who promised her $100 and some hot apple cider when she made it through. That gave her something to look forward to and helped her realize we were all quarantining with her.

When we got home, I gathered a pile of blankets and pitched a tent for Leah. I decided to make her a section of the house where she could quarantine, a room sat at the bottom of a step, about 12 feet from the entry room in our house. For the next ten days, I would sit at the top of the steps and talk to her from this spot.

I remember wishing for a manual. I wished my mother had left me journals of instructions or at least somebody had left some kind of day-by-day references so I could know what to expect when times were tough, when the unexpected happened.

So, I decided to make a journal for this journey.

Day 1: November 18, 2020

Everything was fine during the day. We had gotten some medication to help with the fever and we were taking it around the clock. Leah was able to stay home and text my husband to send her some money to order her a few snacks and Gatorade. He sent her $50 and she was so excited because she would have a lot of change left. Daddy’s princess, right? On this day, she also lost her sense of taste and smell in waves, it would come and go without warning. She also started having chest pains and said her chest felt “heavy.” This complaint scared me. I had heard of this plague attacking your airway and breathing system and these red flags were bright.

Day 2: November 19, 2020

We checked into the emergency room at our local hospital. They ran all kinds of tests to make sure her oxygen levels were okay and, thank God, she was stabilized with some breathing nebulizer treatments. It turned out that she was just experiencing some anxiety which flared a panic attack. I decided she should not listen to the news during this time because it was pumping fear into her sweet young heart.

The doctor told us that because she is only 14 with no other major problems, we should take her home and just let this thing run its course. He said that, unfortunately, the “heavy” feeling she was experiencing in her chest was just a symptom of the COVID-19. Even though my husband has underlying health, he still came to the hospital to see his baby girl. He came with a mask and some disinfectant spray.

Day 3: November 20, 2020

The day was fine again and Leah even put on some cute pajamas. She was in her own little world in her room watching Tik Tok and singing because she said she was bored. The sight of her brought me a chuckle. Chest pains, loss of senses, and all, Leah was still doing her Tik Toks.

That night, she complained about her chest again. I laid at the edge of her room at the bottom step (four steps lead to her room) so we could talk and keep her mind preoccupied so she would not get anxious. We talked and laughed until 4:40 AM.

Day 4: November 21, 2020

My job allowed me to work from home. I was so grateful. Also, Grandma sent Leah some goodies which included cleaning supplies. Leah did some online shopping and took it easy in her room. We even put a refrigerator down there so she would not have to leave the room for anything except to use the bathroom. By this day, she could not smell or taste hardly anything, so her appetite was small. I had heard of a holistic remedy called olfactory training. This was when you deliberately sniff a set of essential oils and it helps bring the sense back faster. The essential oils that I used were eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and orange peels.

Day 5: November 22, 2020

I started feeling bad but I did not want to tell anybody, hoping it would pass. I was all fine taking care of my daughter, but I knew I had to get tested for my own sake. To make things even more interesting, Leah woke up with an attitude this day. Typical teenager, right? I think she was over it, the whole quarantine. She did not want to eat or do the olfactory training, but she ended up sniffing her scents so I would leave her alone. This day she ate an orange, a popsicle, and a protein shake while watching Tik Tok. Even though I was not feeling at my best, my daughter’s attitude cleared away as I sat and talked to her through the night again. She wanted company. We talked and sang, and she sent me funny YouTube videos while I laid in her doorway.

Day 6: November 23, 2020

I felt even worse, but so did Leah. She still could not taste or smell, she still had a stuffy nose, and she was very frustrated by this point. Leah barely ate anything. She said she could smell hot and cold that was it. She had all these symptoms before but never anything this emotionally draining. With everything in the press, I was started to get concerned about my own wellbeing too. I just did not feel good mentally or physically. But Leah was going through her own mental health crises with the dreaded fear of never getting her taste and smell back. I heard her cry out, “I cannot live like this forever!”

I thought that I should make this day all about positive energy and remind my baby about all the many things she must be thankful for. We were so thankful to be alive and still able to go through this pandemic together. It seemed like Leah understood.

I began a fast because I wanted so desperately for my baby to be okay. I felt it in my soul that the only way I could ensure that I receive what I ask for was to give up something major. My fast for Leah began on Day 6 and I would not stop until she was healed. Leah talked a lot about her feelings this day, but by the nighttime, she was less emotional. We also did some more olfactory training with sweet orange, eucalyptus peppermint, tea tree, and lavender. All she ate was a small bag of Fritos and a protein shake. She was mainly thirsty.

Day 7: November 24, 2020

Leah slept in but woke up in a good mood and in time for her video appointment with her doctor. This was the day she could finally smell her deodorant. You would have thought that this girl cured cancer! She was so delighted to smell the aroma of peony that she jumped for joy! I honestly believe that this lifted her mood so much it improved her sense of taste. This was a happy moment.

After consulting with the doctor, we included taste samples in her regimen to ensure her taste returns. We used sugar, salt, and tajin. She enjoyed that and could make out the sweetness of the sugar and the zest of the tajin. She also sniffed the same scents from yesterday and her appetite improved. Today was the best day yet. She even sat up and did some crafting.

Day 8: November 25, 2020

Leah woke up around 10 AM and I gave her some more sugar, salt, and tajin. I also let her smell some essential oils. I wanted to ensure she recovers fully her sense of taste and smell. Well, guess what? A few hours later, her dad sprayed some disinfectant spray and voila! Leah asked us if that was the powdered scent. Plus, she ate a big egg biscuit, and she could taste the egg! We were so happy. Such a small, but might victory.

She no longer had a headache, sore throat, or heavy chest feeling. Overall, her mood was great too. Two more days and she can come out of her room. She was so happy to be part of the mix again; the isolation was getting to her, mentally.

Day 9: November 26, 2020

It was a great day. She did not eat a lot during the day but ended up eating a veggie sausage sandwich and a cheeseburger. Then, she had the nerve to text me at midnight that she was hungry. Leah said that all her symptoms are gone and that she could smell and taste just a little bit.

Day 10: November 27, 2020

We were down to the final stretch. This was the last day of quarantine. She ate well. She was in better spirits. I think the isolation was just as bad as the symptoms for Leah. She really needed that human stimulation, that feeling of family and togetherness.

So, we made it through the 10-day quarantine, and I can honestly say that this pandemic is affecting both the physical and mental wellbeing of people. If I did not spend those nights talking to my daughter, her mind would have been in a dark place and she would not have been able to heal entirely. Even though I was asymptomatic, the mental exhaustion of this plague swallowing my family was brutal. Every night and at every still moment, I would think of the worst possible circumstance. For Leah. For my youngest daughter and my husband. For me. For my community. It was very mentally draining to keep myself uplifted.

And then, I tested positive.

Day 1 (again): November 27, 2020

I was tested on the tenth day of Leah’s quarantine and went through the exact same things as my daughter. But when I was weak, my family was strong. They were right there to pick up the slack for me. My daughter even returned the kind gesture of talking to me through the night from her cell phone in the other room. Thankfully, no one else got it in our home.

So, the next time things get tough, the next time the unexpected happens, I will read these journals. I will remember that, through love, family, and a couple olfactory tests, we can make it through. Just take each situation as it comes, day by day.

This is the story of Keyrah

Keyrah was raised by a loving mother who taught her the value of having a good family support system. She was able to see how and why this was so important when her daughter caught Covid-19. Taking care of her daughter’s mental and physical health caused her to catch the virus as well, but they are both healed now and thriving. Keyrah now spends her time still working-from-home. She is thankful that she can spend more time with her children in the safety of her own home. In their free time, they enjoy cooking healthy meals together.

This story first touched our hearts on December 8, 2020

Writer: Melodie Hunter | Editor: Colleen Walker

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