I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in the middle of August. Here are some tips for dealing with returning to work and normalcy.
First Day of Symptoms
On Monday, August 10, after an afternoon on the golf course, I returned home and immediately starting feeling similar symptoms to a head cold or flu. My temperature had risen and I was stuffed up.
Within a few days, and lots of DayQuil later, I started to feel much better. I still felt a little warmer than normal, and the air was warm when I exhaled through my nose. It was hard to tell if that was from wearing a mask as much as it was from still being stuffed up though.
First Attempt at a Test
I had already received two previous tests as I had a flare-up of kidney stones and one of the side effects from those are chills. So, in May, I had received my first negative test. After seeing a urologist, we decided to go in for surgery in June to break up the kidney stones since they were not passing on their own. For surgeries, you are required to receive a negative test result to proceed—which I did.
For my work, I am around a lot of people, so when my symptoms hit on August 10 and then diminished, I figured it best to get a third test just to be sure it wasn't more than just a cold. I called our local county health board on Thursday, August 13 in the later afternoon and asked if I could get in for a test. I was told I need a referral from my primary care physician and would need to reach out to them.
I hung up and called my physician's office, but reached their answering service and left a message detailing my condition and needs. Since it was so late, I figured there was a good chance I would get a reply on Friday. After heading in to work for a little bit on Friday, that call never came.
The Testing Process
I worked again Saturday for a little bit, and by Sunday, August 16 I started investigating walk-in options at one of the local health clinics. They were able to get me in by late afternoon on Sunday for a test, six days since my initial symptoms.
I had been feeling fine, with just slightly warmer breathing through my nasal cavity as the only thing that was off from normal. I never had headaches, muscle soreness, or coughing at this point.
When they administered the test, they also tested me for strep throat, so I had the back of my throat and each nostril tickled. They checked my temperature, and it was 98.9 degrees. I actually apologized for what I thought was a waste of time since I was mostly asymptomatic. The strep test came back negative.
They told me the test was going to take between 3-5 days, and I would likely be able to sign-in to an online account after three days to check my results. If I was positive, they would call me. I was to quarantine until I got my result back
During this time, I tried to stay home as much as possible, making a few runs out for food and an occasional trip to work for no more than 15 minutes at a time, which I regretted doing after the fact.
On Tuesday, August 18, I did feel a little off in the evening, like my muscles were weak, but not necessarily sore.
Getting the Call
Around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 20, I got the call from the clinic. They asked how I was feeling and I told them pretty normal. Then they told me that I had tested positive for the virus. I was actually shocked since I had gone back to mostly normal with the exception of some slightly warmer breathing.
They informed me that the county board of health would be calling me to get some information. I was also told that since my initial symptoms had begun on August 10, that I would not need to be quarantined. Since ten days had passed, I would likely no longer be a contagion worry. Odd, I thought.
After I hung up with the clinic, I called my supervisor to inform him of my positive result, and then our Covid-19 contact at work to let him know who I had interactions with in the past few days. Our work contact would coordinate with the county health board to determine the steps needed for those I had seen since my symptoms.
County Health Board Call
The next morning on Friday, August 21, I got the call from the county health board. We discussed who I had been in contact with since my symptoms started and potentially where I was exposed. They listened as I explained how that when I had gone into work, I had followed the social distancing and mask guidelines and they determined that no one there needed to be put into quarantine because I had mostly outside interactions with the majority of the people.
My friend who I had golfed with on August 10 was put into quarantine until August 24, and thankfully, never ended up showing symptoms.
I hypothesized that I was exposed on a hike on August 6 when we ended up on a small summit and four younger adults arrived. None of us were masked since we had just ascended the mountain. We discovered that the four had come in from North Carolina and Virginia two days earlier and had disregarded the two-week quarantine guidelines New York had in place for out-of-state visitors from high-risk areas.
The Week After Testing Positive
In the days after, I informed friends at work that I had received a positive result and that I would be out of work until the symptoms had completely disappeared.
I started to realize by the following Monday that my smell was off. Normally when I change garbage bags, the new bag smells strongly of lemon. I could not smell it until I put it very close to my nostrils. I started to feel a little foggy on a few nights—just a little off mentally. My throat ended up getting a little dry as well and I had a slight cough at times.
My family sent me a portable hand-held infrared thermometer to monitor my body temps. Not reading the directions, I put the batteries in, turned it on, and held it near my forehead. It read 83.6 degrees. Turns out, I set it to read the room temperature instead of my temperature. I read the instructions and measured my temperature—97.9 degrees. Ok, lower than the average human.
On August 23, I went out for a light walk around the neighborhood since I had been cooped up at home for the past three days. Since I was not required to quarantine, I thought this would be fine. I went for about a mile at a normal pace. I ended up getting a slight headache and was a little more sweaty than I normally would have been on walks I had taken pre-COVID.
Returning to Work
On August 25, my supervisor texted me and asked if I had traveled out of state recently. Odd, but I told him where I thought I had been exposed. I received an e-mail from Human Resources and they wanted to talk about my experience. I was out on another walk when they called and we discussed everything that had happened.
We talked about the process of returning to work, and they were a little unsure of how to proceed. They suggested I call the county health board again and then get back to them with their thoughts.
The next day, I went public on Facebook, letting everyone know that I had received a positive result, had pretty mild symptoms, and the mistakes I had made about not getting in for a test sooner. One of my other COVID-trained co-workers informed me that I would need two negative tests in a 24-hour period before I would be allowed back to work. In all, there were seventy-seven friends who commented on my post, many noting I was the first person they knew to get the virus.
On Thursday, August 28, one week since my positive test result, I went online to the walk-in clinic's site and signed up for a time at 5:40 p.m. to go in for another test. I was eager to see if I was still testing positive, or if my body had begun developing the antibodies to fight off the disease.
I had read online that it could as little as seven days and as much as fifty-five in one case. I had also talked to a friend I knew who had gotten COVID from traveling abroad and he told me not to push the workouts for a while, and that it took him a few months before he felt normal again during physical exertion.
I went into the clinic, which was now offering same-day test results. The first time I went, there were three people going for tests. This time, I must have seen twenty-five different people around the clinic. I told them I had tested positive a week earlier and needed negative results to return to work. They got me in, tested me quickly, and sent me home. They called me fifteen minutes later and asked me to come back in. They told me I tested positive, and I reminded them that I had been positive previously.
The nurse there told me about something she had been doing with her home care. She suggested a Neti Pot to give myself a nasal rinse with distilled water. This would hopefully flush some of the virus out and help me speed up the negative test result. I went to the local grocery store and bought one, and have been using it the past few evenings. A second suggestion, which wasn't too different than my normal home care, was to take a little bit longer with the Listerine gargle a few times per day. This would hopefully kill any virus in the back of the mouth.
After resting at home, I made plans to go back next Thursday (September 3) for another round of testing. I decided to take the occasional aspirin or shot of DayQuil and a cough drop when my throat gets a little dry to prevent a cough, which had been happening often.
I discovered that my normal temperature is closer to ninety-seven to ninety-seven and a half degrees with tests a few times per day. So when I went in for the original test, I was like a little warmer than my average, but not completely feverish at something above one hundred degrees.
Two weeks after receiving my first positive test result, and twenty-four days total after feeling my initial symptoms, I went in for a same-day test and received a negative result on September 3. During this round, they not only offered me the test for the virus but the option for antibodies. I signed in to their online portal just after midnight on the third and requested a 10 a.m. test time. When I arrived, they made me sign in to a different portal and I didn't get seen until closer to 11:15 in the morning. I was a bit annoyed by that.
As I needed a second negative test within a twenty-four hour period, I did the just past midnight sign-in on both portals. I got a call just after they opened and they told me I was first on the list for that day when they opened at eight in the morning. After they called, I got dressed and drove down and was the second one in at 8:15 a.m. and had my test results back fifteen minutes later - my second negative.
By the week after my testing, people said they were having seven-hour waits at the same clinic. Another went at noon and was turned away because they had already reached their capacity for the day. These same-day tests are becoming popular as people are being exposed to those who have tested positive. Our college-town community had 43 positive cases in the first three days of the week where this happened.
Some research has been hitting the internet, and I thought it prudent to post it here. One thing I'm going to start adding to my diet is Vitamin D as my toes have felt a little off in the past few days. Apparently, that is a symptom, and they explain in an article relating to the Bradykinin Hypothesis.
Additionally, while CDC guidelines note that after 10 days, patients should be fine to leave quarantine, a recent study notes that the virus can live in the body for as little as eight days to a maximum of up to 37 days.
Since testing negative, there have been a few lingering symptoms. A dry cough has been evident on most days, for which I've added some Vitamin D gummies each morning. The second thing of note is that there seems to be more phlegm coming from my lungs than would normally be happening at this time of year.
I've kept my workouts to walks only, just to be safe. By early October, I'm hoping to get back to longer distances in my workouts and adding in some shorter hikes.
I had been very cautious whenever I was indoors to stay socially distanced and masked. As I was in nature when I was likely infected, I took it for granted with my mask protocols. I would recommend not having a weak moment with these guidelines.
The Neti Pot and Listerine sound like preventative measures as well as after-the-fact therapeutics, so if you have concerns about exposure, you could speak to your doctor about these ideas.
If you get any of the symptoms, I recommend the same-day testing. The guilt I felt that I may have infected others was going to be devastating. Take the quarantine protocols seriously. So far, I've been lucky that my supervisor and other co-workers I had run into briefly at work have come back with negative tests. Others just cleared the 14-day observation window, so I had some worry for them as well.
Hopefully, there are lessons in here for people to learn from my mistakes. Stay safe everyone and thanks for reading!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.