Fort Collins woman with coronavirus: 'My lungs have never felt this restricted'
A Fort Collins woman who learned Friday night that she has the coronavirus said she’s been bed-ridden for eight days and never before felt as sick as she does now.
The woman, who is in her 30s and has underlying health conditions, asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy. She told the Coloradoan over the phone Saturday that she has a low-grade fever, body aches, chills and tightness in her chest that makes it difficult to breathe, particularly when she’s standing.
She has basically stayed in bed since March 13, when she first started experiencing symptoms, including “a bad headache,” fever and chest pain. She said she does not have a cough, though.
“I’ve had the flu before, but it’s never affected my lungs in this way,” she said. “Even bronchitis and that coughing. But my lungs have never felt this restricted before. … I’ve never felt anything like it before.”
She wanted to share her experience as a warning to others in the community to take the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and the “social-distancing” guidelines and mandates of public health officials seriously.
“This is much more serious than people realize,” she said.
The woman was first diagnosed with the flu through an online app and prescribed Tamiflu and Tylenol to control the fever, plus rest. As the tightness in her chest increased last weekend, she turned to UCHealth’s Virtual Urgent Care on Monday and was instructed by a doctor to be tested for the coronavirus. She has an autoimmune disease, that puts her in a high-risk category, even though she works from home and has a child under the age of 1.
She underwent a nasal swab test at a temporary drive-through facility later that day at UCHealth’s Harmony Campus and was notified of the results at 7:30 p.m. Friday, she said. Drive-through testing of community members at UCHealth locations has since been suspended, a spokeswoman said, "due to the limited availability of testing supplies." Hospitalized patients and health care workers who meet certain criteria are still being tested, spokeswoman Kelly Tracer said.
“I’m bedridden. My husband is having to take care of our child 24/7,” the woman said. “I can get up and probably move around for about 10 minutes and then I get out of breath, need to lay down and am wiped out.
“… It’s been a low-grade fever the entire time and no cough,” she said. “It just feels like my lungs are bruised almost, and it hurts to take a deep breath.”
Her condition hasn’t improved or worsened over the past eight days, she said. She takes Tylenol to control the fever and was told by a doctor to continue resting at home unless her fever worsens or her breathing becomes even more difficult than it already is. Should she need to be hospitalized, she was told to let the 911 dispatcher and/or emergency-room personnel know ahead of time of her diagnoses, so they can take precautions to protect themselves and others she might come in contact with.
She believes she contracted the virus from her husband, who she would only identify as a “college professor” currently on spring break.
He had mild, cold-like symptoms — sore throat, fatigue and “very minor chest tightness,” for a few days just before she became ill.
“We have no known contact with anyone who had traveled to any of the areas that were considered high-risk, so it’s got to be community spread,” she said.
As of Saturday afternoon, it was possible that the woman was listed among 19 confirmed cases in Larimer County reported so far by the county health department. Two Fort Collins women in their 30s were listed.
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Kelly Lyell is a reporter for the Coloradoan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @KellyLyell and find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KellyLyell.news. Help support Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.