My Experience Catching COVID

Last updated: December 2022

I have severe neutrophilic asthma. That means it is hard to control. Good control for me means I take Symbicort RapiHaler preventer - two puffs three times, and, that I rely on about eight to 10 puffs of Ventolin in a day, twice a week. That is not the usual definition of "good control," but it's what works for me.

Asthma and COVID Precautions

Since COVID started I have been to the hospital emergency department only once, in February 2020. I have averaged about three episodes a year that have required steroids to get back on track. This year, I have even managed a regular exercise program. I have to take two puffs of Ventolin before exercising (I don't count this as part of the control of my asthma).

Until now I have avoided COVID infection. I take sensible precautions for myself. I wear a PN95 mask in public places (admittedly not specially fitted). I only eat in cafes that have outdoor facilities. I will not go to crowded events. Many of these actions or, choices, preceded COVID due to the severe nature of my asthma. Better to avoid infections and triggers than to end up in the hospital.

Now I know what having asthma and COVID feels like

Well, 10 days ago I came down with COVID. It happened after my granddaughter flew here to visit us for three weeks. Three days later, she came down with COVID. I was next, and then my husband. My husband and I are both classed as "high risk" so immediately started a course of antivirals.

It was not a nice experience. Shattering bouts of coughing - always with heaps of mucous, extremely sore throat, excruciating headaches and fevers, terrible body aches in every muscle and joint... and the exhaustion was overwhelming. My sense of smell was affected. I felt like I could smell "smoke" all the time. It was very hard having all three of us very ill at the same time. People can be kind, and helped us to get medications etc.

My asthma is still bad despite being COVID negative

Despite now testing negative, I am still unwell. Still having fevers, sore throat, runny nose and coughing up this yellow mucous. The other two in our household are recovered and out and about. Though I must say that we all still feel very, very tired.

I am now back on a large dose of steroids and antibiotics. It's apparently not uncommon to get a secondary infection especially with compromised airways. So another nine days or so of not feeling myself. And, of course my exercise program has gone out the window. I was so happy to be able to go swimming three or more times per week, and go for walks.

What I've learned about asthma and COVID

Here in Australia, staying home when COVID positive is not obligatory, just "recommended." If you are sick with respiratory symptoms, it is assumed you are uninfectious after five days and that you will stay home. You don't even have to report that you have COVID. This is not what medical experts recommend at all.

What I have learnt in the last 11 days is that COVID:

  • Is debilitating
  • Requires significant rest (actual sleep!)
  • Comparing it to the flu is not valid
  • Being well after five days is a myth, being negative after five days is another myth
  • Everyone recovers at a different rate
  • Antivirals are wonderful
  • Is putting immense pressure on our medical system
  • My GP was great and responded within a few hours to my phone calls when I needed help
  • Ignore the myths around...
  • Find legitimate information sources (e.g. medical sites, and that isn't necessarily our Australian government sources) and follow that legitimate advice
  • I won't be changing wearing my mask, nor where I choose to go. I will travel, but not on planes nor public transport, not when so many in my country, Australia, are behaving as if COVID is over.

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