Editor’s note: Connie and Scott Mitchum from Ellinwood have both experienced symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and have agreed to share their stories with the Great Bend Tribune. The Tribune is interested in hearing the experiences of other readers. For more information contact Managing Editor Dale Hogg by email at email@example.com.
I am Connie Mitchum, a 64-year-old retired teacher who has been substituting for the last two years. My first COVID-19 symptom was a 100.7 degree fever along with a persistent pain on my left side. My husband and granddaughter had been diagnosed with strep throat so I assumed that I had caught strep too. I was tested on October 26 and found out I had both strep and COVID-19.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the strep.
My husband is diabetic and has a heart condition. Immediately, I shut myself in the bedroom hoping that I would not infect him.
The fever and body pains grew worse. I could not concentrate enough to read or watch TV. I lost my sense of smell and then taste. After three days locked in the bedroom, my husband and granddaughter both had a fever. They both tested positive.
I came out of the bedroom thinking I could take care of the house and meals. I had no strength. Everything I did seemed to take hours and I became frustrated and angry. I was still running a fever. I was taking fever reducers around the clock. At the end of four hours when the fever reducer began to wear off, I had severe chills. When I got up or moved, the air felt freezing. After a dose of fever reducer, the chills would go away in about an hour. The highest fever I had was 101.7 degrees.
At the end of the first week, I thought I was over it and went outside and cleaned up some plants. The next day I felt worse than I ever had the previous week. Every time I walked or moved, I was panting. The oximeter read 90 to 91. I was afraid to measure my O2 level for fear of ending up in the hospital. The fever continued. I felt like I could not move. My appetite was gone. After about 10 days, my husband talked me into calling the clinic. I received a steroid prescription. My fever finally broke two days into my steroid prescription. I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. My head was clearing, but I was shaky and weak.
It has been three and a half weeks since I first showed symptoms. I am still weak and shaky and have night sweats. I am thankful that I don’t work full time because I would not have the strength.
I always wore a mask and assumed that my case was not more severe because I did not take in a heavy virus load. My granddaughter fared better than me. She had a few days of fever and headache. She was tired and cranky. Her father (my son), tested negative and never showed symptoms.
I also take care of my 91-year-old father. Fortunately, he did not become ill. His hardship was me not being able to see him for two weeks or bring him meals. I am grateful for his neighbors who looked out for him.
I have had major surgery (colon resection). I felt very weak after that surgery because I had some blood loss. In comparison, I would say COVID-19 has affected me the same or worse. Worse because it seems like the healing process is so incremental. There are good days and bad days. I know that this shaky weakness is with me for a while.
This is not like the flu at all. It is not a “24 hour bug.”
I will forever count myself and my husband as being extremely fortunate that we got off this easy.
I am Connie’s husband Scott Mitchum, and I work as the Technology Director at Central Plains High School in Claflin. I have also done the livestream broadcasts for Central Plains for the last 10 years. My COVID-19 story follows the timeline of my wife’s by about three days. My symptoms came on very suddenly the Thursday morning after Connie tested positive on Monday. Within half an hour I went from feeling fine to having a fever over 101 with headache and body pains seemingly exploding all over my body.
I called the Ellinwood Clinic and was tested positive for COVID-19 by 3 p.m. I was sent home with recommendations for four vitamin supplements to take for a month. By the next week I was also prescribed steroids for a period of five days and with an inhaler was very fortunate to keep the worst of the virus out of my lungs.
At 68 years old with at least two preconditions I feel I would not have survived if it had gotten into my lungs. The headaches and body pain have been worse than any of the several surgeries I have had, including heart bypass and double knee replacement. The body pains feel very much like almost every bone in my body was broken with a hammer. I also totally lost the senses of taste and smell and they are only slowly coming back to me at this point in time. Fatigue has also been worse than recovery from any of those surgeries.
After two weeks I was starting to feel a bit better and tried to do some things around the house but two days later I was almost back to square one in terms of pain and fatigue. Like my wife said, we have tried very, very hard to be careful, wear masks and maintain social distancing when we had to be out in public. We were very lucky and pray for everyone who has lost a family member to this pandemic that should never have been allowed to reach this point.