Tips for Coping with Coronavirus at Home

Unfortunately, despite staying at home and being careful I recently contracted COVID-19. We think somehow my husband Richard was exposed on an outing to the pharmacy or in our condo building, despite all his careful measures (like wearing a mask and washing hands), and then I caught it from him.

A mild case of coronavirus

Thankfully, I was lucky to have a relatively mild case. While we monitored for serious warning symptoms, I was able to recuperate at home and did not need to go to the hospital. My doctors also checked in with me regularly to make sure I was doing OK and were able to advise swift action should I have needed help.

Take precautions for health & safety

It is my hope that should people with rheumatoid arthritis contract the virus, that most folks will be OK with the illness at home. As much as we can avoid getting sick, the better. People who are immune-compromised or have other conditions (like diabetes and heart disease) should maintain social distancing and take extra precautions for their health and safety.

Sharing my personal experience with coronavirus

However, many people may contract the virus at some point and I’m hoping sharing some tips from my experience can be helpful to think about preparations for coping with the virus and recovery at home. In my case, I started experiencing cold symptoms (congestion, sore throat, and cough) and contacted my doctors.

They advised an exam and test to be cautious, which I did, and learned my positive result. It was helpful to have that quick visit and also to get guidance on the serious warning symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) for alerting me about when to go to the hospital.

Guidance from my healthcare providers

My doctors advised me to monitor my symptoms, take cold medicines to help with symptoms, drink a lot of fluids, and take a lot of rest. Additionally, I emailed my rheumatologist every day about how I was feeling so that, if I had any problems, he could give me guidance. I was also instructed to go to the emergency room should I have any of the serious warning symptoms, which thankfully never occurred.

Recovering from coronavirus at home

For recovering at home, it helped to take these steps:

  • Get supplies. I already had a couple good electronic thermometers. It was important to monitor for fever because my doctors wanted me to go to the ER if I had a high fever. I never did experience a fever, which often happens as I rarely register a fever due to my RA medications. We already had plenty of tissues, cold medicines (the night-time was especially helpful to aid with sleeping), and comfort foods in the house. The one item I wish I had and ordered (but it took a week to arrive) was a pulse oximeter. This device goes on your finger and reports your pulse and oxygen level. This is handy to use for monitoring your breathing as should your oxygen drop too low, it’s best to get to the ER quickly. Thankfully I never had this issue.
  • Plan on rest and more rest. Rest was essential. When I had pneumonia several years ago, the only thing that got me to recover was annoying amounts of rest. I knew my body needed to focus my impaired immune system and so prescribed myself rest, even when I didn’t feel like it. I’m so used to pushing through fatigue that I had to schedule myself rest and make sure I took it. In retrospect, I really think being diligent on my rest is what helped me most to recover from the virus.
  • Be patient. So, after several days, it is easy to feel sick of being sick, especially on top of all the other health issues we have to deal with. It’s hard to stick with medications and drinking liquids and resting. You just want to be done! But hang in there and be patient. Put something on Netflix and keep with the recovery program.
  • Stay in regular contact with your doctor. My doctors asked for regular updates. In fact, my rheumatologist asked me to message him every day about how I was doing. Additionally, he called me and when I didn’t pick up he called my husband to make sure I was OK. It was really great to know that although I was home (and not in the hospital), my doctors were still looking out for me and ready to jump into action should I need anything.
  • Ask for help: from work, from neighbors, and loved ones. Thankfully Richard’s virus was fairly mild and he had mostly recovered when I fell sick, so he was well enough to help me and ply me with extra cups of tea. I was very lucky to have many offers to help from friends, neighbors, and coworkers. My support system offered to drop off meals, groceries, or go fetch items from the pharmacy. I also really appreciated my coworkers stepping up to take over tasks so that I didn’t have to worry about work and could take the time I needed to rest and recover—this was huge.

Support and resources for recovery

While I’m hoping you can avoid COVID-19, if that fails I wish you a mild case and lots of help and support in your recovery. Take it one step at a time and gather your resources for the smoothest recovery.

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