TROY — When Troy resident Sally Wood began experiencing symptoms like body aches and a fever that wouldn’t subside, she had good reason to believe she may have contracted the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Wood, 51, a licensed practical nurse at Koester Pavilion in Troy, had worked closely with a resident of KP who tested positive for the virus in March. On Monday, March 24, Wood said she began to experience an onset of symptoms.
“It started with just aches and pains and a dry cough; nothing major,” she said. “It just kept dragging me down and I felt worse and worse. I got home from work that evening and went straight to bed. By morning, my fever was 101 degrees.”
Wood said she called KP on Tuesday to alert the facility’s house doctor of her symptoms, and was given a prescription for a COVID-19 test. Wood and her husband, Carlos, went straight to the University of Dayton Arena parking lot where “drive-thru” testing is being conducted.
It was about five days later, Wood said, that she received the test results and her suspicion that she had contracted the virus was confirmed.
“I think I knew, so I wasn’t really surprised,” she said.
Wood’s husband Carlos said from the time Sally first expressed that she wasn’t feeling well, even before the test result came back, they put their house on “lock down.”
“I made the decision to not go back to my parents’ house to visit them,” he said. “We didn’t want to risk spreading this anywhere.”
Wood said her symptoms progressed quickly.
“The fever was the main thing, but the pain was severe, mostly in my lower back,” she said. “I had a headache and was very nauseated. I had (gastrointestinal) symptoms more than lung symptoms.”
However, Wood said she did experience some respiratory symptoms, especially at night.
“Right before we got the diagnoses, she wakes me up in the middle of the night and says, ‘Hey, will you watch me breathe because I feel like I’m stopping breathing,’” Carlos said. “I stayed up all night watching her.”
Wood said she would describe the breathing difficulty as “sleep apnea,” which is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
Along with physical symptoms, the virus can cause certain psychological challenges.
“I’ll tell you there was a dark time where I would just get fatigued very easily — even just taking a shower, I would have to sit down — and I would get worn down easily,” Wood said. “Mentally, it does take a toll on you because after seven days of having a fever and nothing seems to help, it’s like, ‘What is going on here?’ The isolation doesn’t help, but what choice do you have? It can get very depressing; I cried a lot.”
After receiving the diagnosis, Wood said she called her primary care doctor and asked for the medications hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax Z-Pak.
Hydroxychloroquine is an immunosuppressive drug used to treat malaria and other diseases and disorders, and when taken with the common antibiotic Z-Pak is thought to aid in the recovery of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. This assumption is likely based on a 2005 study, which found that chloroquine prevented the replication of the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused SARS in laboratory studies.
Wood said 24 hours after beginning the regimen, her fever and pain was gone. However, Wood added that while she believes the medications aided in her recovery, the combination may not work for everyone.
As for Carlos, Wood said she believes he may have also contracted the virus, though he was not tested and any symptoms he had were mild in comparison. The couple also live with two of their adult children, along with two grandchildren, ages 4 and 7.
“We believe we all had it,” Carlos said. “We have two sons and two grandchildren here and we all went through some of the symptoms, but it didn’t take a hold of us like it did (Sally). We believe it just didn’t affect us as heavily as it did her.”
Carlos said he experienced a cough and sore throat, while his grandchildren had just mild coughs. The entire family has been self-quarantined within their home since the onset of Sally’s symptoms.
Carlos added that he is “amazed” by how his wife handled the illness.
“Sally doesn’t complain about anything, ever, so when she began complaining, the amount of pain she was in blew my mind, as well as her lethargic nature,” he said. “It troubled me, but I was very proud of her from the standpoint that her depression came only because she couldn’t be in there helping her patients.”
Wood said she hopes her story may help people realize that the virus is serious, but to not get overwhelmed with the fear of it.
“It’s real, but fear doesn’t help anything,” she said. “All I can say is stay positive … I encourage people to stay home, stay safe, and follow the guidelines.”
Wood said she is feeling “great” now, two weeks after her onset of symptoms, and she is looking forward to returning to work this Wednesday.
The couple encourages anyone in the community who wishes to help to reach out to local organizations like the Lincoln Community Center, St. Pat’s Soup Kitchen, and Partners in Hope, all of which are working to assist people in various ways during this unprecedented time.