Our Covid Christmas

As most of you already know, the Faulk family got a special gift this Christmas. Yes, we all four got Covid-19! What fun!

We’ve all seen all kinds of stuff all over the internet about Covid-19 all year long, and I know for me personally, I was always looking for real answers from real people who had experienced it. Unfortunately, there seems to be a stigma attached to this virus, and we’ve found that a lot of people who’ve had it are hesitant to say much of anything about it for fear of being shunned, shamed, or having an exorcist sent to their home. How do I know this? Because when we first said that we’d caught it, we got private messages and texts from these people, telling us that they’d been there done that way earlier in 2020. Really? Yes! Everyone out there who keeps saying “I don’t know anyone who’s had Covid” – guess what? You probably do! They just haven’t been talking about it and letting you know what it’s like, what it could be like for you.

So that’s what I’m here to do for you. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I’m not an EMT, a biology expert, or a health care worker. I write Christian romance novels, which is not at all helpful when it comes to fighting a pandemic or creating a vaccine. But I’ve had Covid-19, everyone in my house has had it, and we’ve come out on the other side. I only speak from my experience and not from my expertise. Okay? Okay!

We’ve done our best since March to practice social distancing, and we wear masks any time we leave our house. We took a couple of road trips this summer and were in areas that were high risk – the San Antonio Riverwalk, restaurants in Houston, Walt Disney World – and we traveled to Colorado in November. We go grocery shopping and go to church, have been to a lot of football games this fall, and have eaten at a few local restaurants over the last few months – all while wearing masks and social distancing. Our girls have also been going to school in person since September. We’ve been living our lives as normally as possible, knowing that it wasn’t a matter of if we caught the virus but when.

Emma started complaining of a headache on the evening of December 11th. I checked her temperature, and it was normal. I chalked it up to a busier than normal time at school preparing for tests and studying at home and sent her to bed after giving her some Tylenol for the headache. Wes and Ana left the next morning for our church’s Christmas Toy Shop, and I let Emma sleep in. She woke up much later than normal and came into the living room complaining about not feeling well. I checked her temperature, and she was at 102 degrees. I couldn’t get her fever down with medication and was already thinking ahead to church the next day. I took her to an urgent care clinic for a Covid test, thinking that she’d test negative, which would clear Wes to go to church as normal. Unfortunately, she tested positive. I asked the doctor if we’d all need to be tested if we came down with symptoms, and he told me that we could just assume we were positive if/when we came down with symptoms and to only go to the doctor if we started having serious problems. He told me that we all needed to stay at home for the next ten days (which we would do) and to quarantine poor, pitiful Emma with her now 103 degree temperature away from the rest of us (which I wouldn’t do).

“You win!” I told Emma as I drove her home. “You’re the first one of us to get it!” We speculated on where she could have picked it up, and she told me about one classmate who sat at her desk who had gone home sick the week before. The school does a great job of sanitizing and keeping to the protocols, but some things are inevitable. I got Emma home, and we started the countdown. Emma’s fever climbed to 103 degrees, and I couldn’t leave her by herself. I just couldn’t. I slept in her room that first night so I could check on her during the worst of the fever, and I woke up with her breathing and coughing right in my face. Awesome.

“It’s only a matter of time now,” I told Wes. And sure enough, he and I both started showing symptoms on December 15th. The countdown started again. And despite our best efforts and all the praying she did, poor Ana started showing symptoms on December 23rd. The countdown started yet again at that point.

I’ve heard a lot about Covid and how it affects people. I’ve heard that it doesn’t affect young people as much as older people. I’ve heard that if you have the right blood type, you’re not as much at risk. I’ve heard that you lose your sense of taste and smell when you’ve got Covid. I’ve heard that it’s like a bad flu. I’ve heard that taking vitamins keeps you from getting it. Well, every theory that attempts to put this virus into a box was blown into bits by the four of us and our vastly different experiences with it.  Here’s a bit of background on us all…

I’m 42. I have no health issues. I don’t take any medication for anything. I take a daily multivitamin and run five miles every weekday. Wes is 39. He has no health issues. He takes an OTC allergy pill for seasonal allergies. Despite a foot injury that has kept him from regular cardio exercise, he still has excellent blood pressure and heart health because of his history as a triathlete and marathon runner. Emma is 13 with no health issues, and Ana is 14 with no health issues. Both are active, regular teenagers. We all have O+ blood type. None of us are overweight or under a doctor’s care for anything.

That said, this thing kicked our butts. Well, it kicked three of our butts. (More on that to come later.)

Emma had a high fever for two days straight, and ibuprofen and Tylenol only brought it down to 101. (Which is still a high fever!) She was congested, had a runny nose, had all kinds of tummy issues, and slept most of the time for the first few days. Even now that those symptoms have abated, she’s still easily exhausted and spends the evenings lying around, which is out of character for her.

I never ran a fever but had headaches that were so extreme that I felt them in my teeth and couldn’t stand for the lights to be on. I had one night where my heart raced and I felt like someone was sitting on my chest as breathing was more difficult than normal. I’ve been exhausted, and my digestive system was all out of sorts for about five days. I never lost my sense of taste and smell. I’m still getting headaches, two weeks after showing my first symptoms.

Wes has had it worse than the rest of us. He’s had chills, body aches, headaches, a cough, and digestive issues. While he would tell you that the exhaustion has been the worst part, I would argue that his breathing and the way that the sound of his cough kept changing there in the middle of all of this was more worrisome. We kept him on cold medicine and decongestants around the clock, praying that nothing would settle on his lungs. He preached virtually on Sunday, and afterwards, he was wiped out for the rest of the day. The exhaustion has been unsettling, and he’s still dealing with it. He was the only one of us who lost his sense of taste, but he only noticed it with some things. He couldn’t taste Dr. Pepper, and that was probably the only time that the gravity of all of this got to him, lol!

And then, there’s Ana. Ana, who had a fever for just one day. That’s it. Just one day of fever. That’s all that she had. She was back to normal less than twenty-four hours later.

All that said, the most bizarre thing about Covid for us has been how one day we’d wake up feeling okay, which would make us question if we really had it. Then a few hours later, it would have us laid out again. I’ve had the flu before, and this wasn’t the flu. The lows were more extreme, and the unpredictability of it all was surprising. None of us had the exact same symptoms, and none of us could have predicted beforehand how our bodies would handle it. There’s no rhyme or reason why I had a racing pulse and no one else did or why both girls had such high fevers and Wes and I stayed at our normal temperatures. There’s certainly no explanation behind why Ana is better off than the rest of us even now or why Wes was the only one whose sense of taste was off.

Covid – who knows?

So maybe all of this wasn’t helpful at all, lol! But I think the greatest takeaway from our varied experiences is this – you have no idea what Covid is going to do to you until you get it. And while all of us had very mild experiences compared to most, we can affirm that it’s real, that it’s not just like the flu, and that it’s not something that you want. And, yes, we were wearing masks and still got it. But our prayer and our hope is that because we were wearing masks, we didn’t pass it on to anyone else after we were unknowingly exposed.

Thank you so much to all of you who checked in on us, fed us, and prayed for us. We’re coming out of quarantine soon and can’t wait to gather with the church again.

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