• Sarah Tian

My COVID Diary

Updated: Jul 15


At the peak of this omicron surge in Massachusetts, I tested positive for COVID.


It all began with my partner getting what we thought was just a common cold. We did one at-home COVID test on him and he tested negative, so we thought it was probably simply a common cold. Later on when I developed symptoms, I also tested negative for two consecutive days. We did not come into close contact with anyone that we know of who had COVID, and we both had three doses of the COVID vaccines as well as the flu shot. So this was quite a surprise.


So here is my story...


Day 1 - "I feel like I'm getting sick..."

On Saturday evening, I began to feel fatigued and went to bed early in order to get some sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat, the first signs of an infection.


Day 2 - "It's probably just a very mild cold"

When I woke up, my throat was no longer hurting, but it was just a tad scratchy. I was just plain exhausted for the rest of the day. I decided to cancel all activities and rest. I video-chatted my parents telling them I seem to have caught a cold from my partner, but it seemed very mild and I would probably sleep it off. I did a COVID test at home and it came out negative.


Day 3 - "I have a full-blown cold..."

I woke up with a full-blown sore throat, runny nose and cough. I developed a low grade fever by the afternoon. I did another COVID test and it came out negative. Apart from eating, I just slept pretty much the whole day, evening and night, hoping this would speed up my recovery. I scheduled an appointment for the CVS clinic the next day as my throat started to hurt more and more.


Day 4 - "[Swallow] OUCH!...", "I tested POSITIVE!"

My body was drenched in sweat when I woke up. I had a sharp pain in my throat and throbbing in my ears every time I tried to swallow. This sore throat was the most excruciating in my entire life so far. My throat hurt like someone was slicing open a fresh wound. I nearly went to urgent care, but opted against it since I already had an appointment at the clinic that afternoon. Every time I had to swallow, I had to stop and consider whether the agony was worth it... I also had a fever. I really thought I had tonsillitis caused by Strep. I also had to take a shower in the afternoon, because I was filthy from sweating so much throughout the night and during the day.


In the late afternoon, I finally went to the clinic.


First, the doctor measured my vitals: blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate - apart from elevated heart rate, everything else seemed normal. Then he told me he would perform a Strep test and a COVID test, and if both came out negative, then we try the Flu test. If that is also negative, then we can conclude it is just a common cold virus.


A throat swab was required for the Strep test. So he asked me to open my mouth and forced my tongue down to have access to my throat. I gagged and reflexively attempted to push his arms away, but he resisted expertly and swiftly swabbed the right side of my neck. No wonder how hard he tried to deliberately have a warm conversation with me beforehand to soften me up and build trust! He then allowed me to swab my nose for a COVID test. At that point, I was terrified about having to do another throat swab and just praying one of these tests would come back positive, sparing me from having to perform another.


In 5 minutes, the Strep test results were available, and to my surprise it was negative.


Then we waited for the COVID test, which would take another 5 minutes. My eyes were locked at the machine and counting down the last 20 seconds before the results would come out. 5...4...3...2...1...POSITIVE! I was shocked and blurted "Oh my god!". The doctor immediately put on his face shield on top of his two masks. Then he asked my partner (who was waiting outside) to come in to tell him the news and ask him to wait for me in the car. Then the nurse practitioner asked me a series of questions over the phone (to cut down time spent with me in the room) before coming into the room to listen to my breathing. My breathing seemed all normal. So I was prescribed some Tylenol and told to follow-up with my primary care provider.


At that point, I had mixed feelings of anxiety about COVID, and how my family would react, but I also felt a sense of relief knowing what I had. Reflecting back on my symptoms in the past days, it all made sense: the lower-back muscle pains, fever, cough and especially the sore throat was a marker symptom for omicron. I also felt grateful that I got the omicron and not the earlier, more lethal strains of the virus.


As I walked passed a few people on my way home, I tried to maintain distance and prayed they would not get infected by me.


I got home and took a Tylenol and it reduced the pain in my throat just a tiny tiny bit so that it was bearable to eat my dinner.


Day 5 - "It hurts on the right side of my throat"

I think if I did not do the Strep test the other day, my sore throat would have been much better by now. As I woke up, I swallowed and felt that the left side was no longer sore, but the right side where the doctor swabbed my throat for the Strep test was still throbbing. I tried to eat some oranges and a piece of banana bread for breakfast. That was a bad idea. The acid from the first piece of orange was stinging my throat. I quickly gave up on the rest of the pieces. Every time I swallowed a piece of the banana bread, it very slowly slid through my throat, rubbing against my "bruise" from the Strep test. It literally took me an hour to finish that one piece of banana bread (of course, this includes the time swiping my phone as a distraction from the pain).


My brother called to check on me. For some days, I had not had a consistent conversation with anybody. I discovered that I was unable to talk more than a minute without coughing and being out of breath. So our conversation did not last long before I needed to stop and rest. I had another Tylenol, popped in a cough drop and went to bed.


By the afternoon, I felt like I was better. Apart from a stuffy nose, my cough has grown drier as well.


Day 6 - "Sore throat is better, but [cough, cough, cough]"

The heavy coughing overnight resulted in me having to catch up sleep until midday. My sore throat has improved by 50% and I was able to eat more things with ease. In the afternoon, my nose became all blocked and coughing became more frequent, making it hard to sleep. Before going to sleep at night, it felt like I had allergic rhinitis. Every time I felt a puff of cold air coming past my nose and throat, I could not stop coughing. So I took a Claritin to calm the allergic reactions to help me to go sleep. However, my coughing was pretty bad throughout the night and had to wake up frequently.


Day 7 - "No more sore throat!"

I was relieved to see that my sore throat had entirely disappeared! Throughout the day, I would cough occasionally, and would cough more if I talked and let air into my throat. I had a runny and congested nose and coughed a lot, much as the night before.


Day 8 - "I can talk for longer periods of time!"

I'm the type of person who tries to avoid taking medications as much as possible, but today I gave in and took a cough suppressant after breakfast. I deliberately took the night-time one that has antihistamines to relieve my runny nose as well as suppress my coughing. After a long night of coughing, I didn't care if the antihistamines made me sleepy. A nice sleep was all I wanted right now. After taking the medication, I was able to sleep right through mid-afternoon.


After waking up, I immediately felt better. For the first time since I became ill, I was able to sit down and have a conversation with my parents over lunch for 1.5 hours!! However, by nighttime, I had a stuffy nose and heavy coughs again. And yet, another night of coughing fits and sleep deprivation!


Day 9 - "No more excessive sweating!"

This was the first day that I did not wake up with my clothes all soaked with sweat. I saw this as a sign my body was becoming stronger! My throat was a little itchy, I felt lots of phlegm stuck in my throat and had a difficult time coughing them out. My appetite was mostly back, but I still could not eat anything spicy as it would bother my throat. I had some night-time cough syrup and an allergic nasal spray to help with the stuffy nose before going to bed.


Day 10 - "Coughing is less frequent! Feeling much better!"

I woke up less number of times during the night with significantly less phlegm to spit out. My lower back was still painful. I felt my cough is much better. It looks like that's a common symptom of COVID as well.


Day 11-14 - "More productive coughs...worse at night"

The following days were filled with scattered coughs during the day that worsened towards the evening as the temperature fell. I had to wake up at least once during the night to cough and blow my nose. My lower-back pain was still there but was improving day by day.


Day 15 - "I slept straight through the night without having to cough!"

Last night was the first night I was not woken up by coughing! I feel pretty much recovered by now! :)


Summary of My Symptoms & Medications

Runny nose

Sore throat

Coughing

Low-grade fever (37.3-37.8 C)

Lower back pain

Excessive sweating

Fatigue

Medications

Day 1

Itchy throat

Day 2

Yes

Itchy throat

Yes

Yes

Day 3

Yes

Very painful

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tylenol

Day 4

Yes

Very painful

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tylenol

Day 5

Yes

Painful

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tylenol

Day 6

Yes

Painful

Yes

Yes

Yes

Day 7

Yes

Less painful

Yes

Yes

Yes

Claritin

Day 8

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tussin DM

Day 9

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tussin DM, allergic nasal spray

Day 10

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tips for those who are just starting to feel sick:

  • Get tested as soon as you can

  • If the antigen test comes out negative, test again the next day. You may not have enough virus in your body at first for the test to detect it, so you want to get tested again the next day.

  • Once you test positive and if you live with others, try to isolate yourself as much as you can from others.

Tips for those still recovering from COVID:

  • Monitor your blood-oxygen level (if you can) or just watch out for your breathing - seek help if you are having difficulty breathing.

  • Rest, sleep and hydrate as much as possible.

  • Use a humidifier when sleeping.

  • Drink soup - when my throat was in pain, I did not want to eat anything solid, so I drank lots of soup, such as "honey egg soup"(boil water and add in egg, and stir until cooked, then add honey).

  • Keep a positive frame of mind by reading and watching the tales of those who have healed.

  • Do things (e.g. watch a movie) that lighten up your mood (as your energy