MATTHEWS: Things I learned from my family’s battle with COVID-19

AP Illustration by Peter Hamlin

COVID-19 hit my family like a Mack truck on Aug. 14.

My mother’s first symptoms were dry coughing. The onset was slow, which made us think she was dealing with the occasional cough she sometimes has. My dad also had a cough, but he assumed it was from allergies and another ongoing health issue he’s dealt with for several years now.

My symptoms started Monday the seventeenth. I was so fatigued I could barely get out of the bed. It was hard to wake up. My coughing did not start until later in the week, but it was a very mild cough.

Mom’s coughing picked up considerably throughout the week. Dad’s stayed the same, but it was a pretty intense cough. Again, not unusual at all for him to have that kind of cough, but with mom, him, and me all suffering from various symptoms that at the very least were a cold, mom and I scheduled COVID tests.

I found out I was positive that Sunday, as did mom. We were both devastated because we were the ones who did everything we knew to be right.

We wore masks when we were in the car together. We social-distanced in the house as best we could with being caregivers for my dad. We wiped down everything we bought into the house with anti-bacterial wipes. We washed our hands religiously and used hand sanitizer and hand wipes when we couldn’t wash our hands. We Lysoled the house periodically and wiped down surfaces.

Mom’s and dad’s only trips out of the house the last few months have been to take him to dialysis treatments three times a week, get prescriptions from the drugstore drive-thru, and sometimes popping by local fast food drive-thrus.

My trips out were much the same.

But short of wrapping yourself in bubble-wrap and not leaving your house for months at a time, there is no way you can fully protect yourself from catching the coronavirus.

My dad took the test two days later and found out he was positive as well. This was especially scary because he is in the highest risk category due to age and multiple underlying conditions.

We’ve fought the virus as best we could, using OTC meds like Tylenol and cough syrup as necessary per the doctor’s office. My dad was hospitalized briefly last week but only for a few days in order to get dialysis treatments and some rest.

The biggest lesson we learned is to listen to your body. If it’s telling you to slow down, slow down. If you feel you have symptoms, schedule a COVID test with a drive-up clinic, or get a referral from your doctor to get tested as soon as you can. Don’t wait.

Eat food and drink fluids like your life depends on them, because it does. We were hungry more last week than we had been in ages. We knew it was our bodies using the food as energy to fight the virus.

We tried to rest as much as possible, because trying to do too much was self-defeating.

We also learned that doing temperature checks is NOT a reliable indicator for whether someone has the coronavirus. Neither mom, dad, nor I have ever had a fever throughout this.

As of this writing, we appear to be on the mend, for which we are immensely thankful to God. But it has been quite the battle, and we continue to struggle with fatigue and tiredness. We’re still coughing, too, but it’s not as persistent.

I can’t stress enough for people to listen to their bodies and get tested if they think they’ve come down with the coronavirus. It’s better to know as soon as possible, not just for your health but also for the health of those around you.

Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.