My COVID-19 story
On April 1, I received a phone call I had been waiting on for 11 days. I tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
This isn’t a story I wanted to write, and I wish it wasn’t my story to tell. But, I feel like I have to tell it because if it makes you think twice about taking that non-essential trip to the store or grabbing your girlfriends and going for a walk without a mask, without adhering to social distancing guidelines, then it’s worth it.
I can’t be certain, but I most likely contracted the virus around March 7. This was before it was really bad here in Washington and the rest of the country wasn’t taking this virus seriously. I thought I was being careful. I thought it would be okay. Well, it wasn’t. This virus is NOT the flu. It’s ugly and brutal and relentless.
I didn’t show any symptoms until March 17, ten days after exposure — and even then, my symptoms were mild. I was potentially contagious for ten days without knowing it. My symptoms started with a few sneezes and a runny nose. It felt like a mild cold for two days; so easy to ignore.
Then, on day three it got bad. I had a low-grade fever, chills, fatigue, aches, stomach cramps, severe dizziness, a dry cough and pain and tightness in the middle of my chest that radiated to my back and didn’t go away. The scariest part was the shortness of breath. I remember lying in bed, just focusing on breathing and making sure I could take a deep, uninhibited breath, and at the same time trying not to panic.
I called my doctor and asked for an appointment. They didn’t want sick patients coming into the office, so it was a virtual visit. My doctor decided I had enough symptoms to get tested. On March 20, I drove to an Urgent Care and was told to park in the back and stay in my car. The nurse and med tech came out from a back door, dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE). They gave me instructions from a safe distance away and then the med tech walked up to the car and swabbed my nose. They said I would have the results in three to five days, and I drove home.
My symptoms persisted on and off for the next two weeks. I didn’t leave my bed much. I kept calling to check on my test and was told the labs were severely backed up and it would be another three to five days. Towards the end, I convinced myself this was just an untimely flu — there was no way I had COVID-19.
On April 1, when my shortness of breath and chest pain came back after a welcomed two-day hiatus, I called again. I knew immediately the test was positive when the sweet girl on the phone said she had to get a nurse to discuss my results. I waited five minutes on hold, trying to hold it together.
When the nurse finally came on and told me my test was positive, I tried to ask as many questions as I could and book an appointment at MultiCare’s new respiratory clinic in Gig Harbor before I completely lost it. I was so scared for my husband and for my two little kids. I was angry with myself for not doing a better job of at home quarantine from my family. After I hung up, I couldn’t hold back anymore and completely broke down. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.
Because I was still having symptoms, I was able to get a same-day appointment to have my oxygen and lungs checked. The staff at the respiratory clinic were amazing and so kind. They did a thorough exam and sat patiently while I asked a million different questions. Even though I had to wait 11 days for my test results, I have never been so grateful for the amazing medical professionals who helped me through this process. They are truly heroes.
I’m hopeful I’ve made it through the worst and I think my family will be okay. But this is so much bigger than just me and my family or you and your family. It’s stressful, inconvenient, uncomfortable and frustrating to stay home but this isn’t going to get any better if we don’t do our part.
Please, please do your part and stay home.
If you do, hopefully someday soon we’ll be able to enjoy moments together again.
MultiCare is still seeing patients safely during the ongoing COVID-19 situation, including expanding virtual visits to all primary care and specialty clinics. Call your MultiCare clinic to discuss your needs and symptoms.
If you’re in the Puget Sound region and are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call 253-792-6931 to find out if the respiratory clinic is right for you. Residents in the Spokane area can call 509-233-5102 to reach our Inland Northwest region respiratory clinics.
About The Author
Carrianne Ekberg is a social media marketer and the owner of EConsultingPNW. She is also the co-founder of Too Cool For School (a virtual kids camp providing resources and support to parents with kids at home during COVID-19) and a Major in the Air Force Reserves. Carrianne lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, and she and her husband Reid have two children, Cora (5) and Milo (3). More stories by this author