Wash hands now, forever

By CATHERINE KIRK CKIRK@DDTONLINE.COM,

This is my first week back in my office at the Delta Democrat-Times in over two weeks, and I wasn’t on vacation.

On March 13, I had a normal Friday at work and even when 5 p.m. came, I was excited for the weekend.

By the time I made it home, I was feeling a bit off. I was running a low grade fever of 99.2 and popped a couple ibuprofen pills. I didn’t think much of it and was sure I would feel better soon.

My symptoms continued to worsen from there, and quickly. By the time my husband and I were putting the children to bed, my temperature had reached 100.6 and I felt as though I had just run a 5K. Exhausted, I went to bed. I began coughing and fell asleep.

When I woke up, my coughing had worsened and my fever was at 101.3. My entire body ached and I spent the entire day in bed, sleeping between regular doses of DayQuil.

By that night, the coughing was so intense I was wheezing and struggling to catch my breathe. I was having body chills and shaking. I went back to sleep, just hoping this would go away.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a temperature of 102.4 and my cough so intensified I could barely breath. My sweet husband gave me more medicine, rubbed my chest with Vicks VapoRub — his go-to anytime someone is sick — and helped me into our living room recliner.

My 2-year-old daughter has a nebulizer and even though her doses are for someone much, much smaller than myself, I used one of her doses of Albuterol hoping it might help any. It didn’t.

I anxiously waited for the Delta Quick Clinic to open. I called first, explained my symptoms and they advised I call the Delta Regional Medical Center COVID-19 hotline. I called, told them my symptoms and their next question was if I had recently traveled outside of Greenville. I was in Memphis one week prior. They then asked if we were anywhere with a lot of people and I said we stayed in a hotel in downtown Memphis, spent most of our time on Beale Street and watched a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game at the FedEx Forum. After hearing my answers, they said I should go to the quick clinic to be examined there.

And so, that’s where I went. As soon as I entered the doors, the women behind the counter immediately asked if I had symptoms. I explained my symptoms and what DRMC told me to do.

I was initially told if I tested negative for the flu, I would be sent to DRMC for the COVID-19 test.

My flu test came back negative, but I was never sent to the hospital.

I was told I probably have bronchitis and was sent on my way with amoxicillin.

A couple days went by and I was not feeling better. My fever was holding strong and I was so tired and weak, I could barely walk or hold my head up. My coughing was steadily getting worse and my breathing sounded like a worn-out squeak toy. The most concerning symptom was my lips and hands were starting to go numb.

That afternoon, my husband took me to the Emergency Room at DRMC. I was given another flu test, which also came back negative.

It took two breathing treatments before my breathing improved some. The doctor said I most likely had bronchitis and I was sent home again.

After this, no one wanted to be around me and I don’t blame them. Whatever illness I had sure wasn’t something I wanted to pass on to anyone else.

My fever ended up lasting for 10 days. I felt weak and exhausted even longer than that.

Maybe my illness was a severe case of bronchitis, we will never truly know. Regardless, we still treated it as if I had COVID-19.

I think it’s great that so many people are practicing social distancing during this pandemic, I just wish they did the same with any other illness they may get.

If you are sick, even if it’s the common cold, please follow the same practices of regularly washing your hands, coughing into your elbow and staying at home. In fact, it shouldn’t take a special occasion to regularly wash your hands. We should do that every single day of the year, regardless of circumstance.

I am glad to be back in my office instead of working from home. We are all practicing social distancing, keeping to ourselves in our offices.

My heart goes out to those who are unable to work during this time. I have relatives who are unable to work and I have friends who are unable to operate their business. It’s a tough time for so many.

If everyone practices true social distancing during this pandemic, we can help shorten its longevity. Let's do our part.

Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at ckirk@ddtonline.com.