Interview with SW Resident who Beat COVID-19

By Mike Goodman

Lisa Taylor; Courtesy of Lisa Taylor

Many have wondered what it is like to be infected with COVID-19. While it varies greatly depending on the individual, “The Southwester” thought it might be helpful to hear from one of our neighbors who went through it, and was lucky enough to beat the virus. 

Lisa Taylor lives in Southwest, and is an active member of the community, including Board membership on the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA). “The Southwester” asked her about her experience with the virus.

When did you first suspect you might have Coronavirus? 

I first thought maybe I had it after several days of a dry cough that got worse and worse and then eventually I got a fever. The dry cough was like nothing I’ve ever had before and given what information was out about COVID at that time, I thought “wow, I think I may have this thing.”  

And how do you think you got it, if you know?  

I have no idea. As far as I know, there have been very little contact tracing efforts. If I had to narrow it down, it would be 1. The gym (I am an instructor); 2. The metro; 3. L’enfant plaza (where my office is located).

What were your symptoms initially, and then throughout? 

Initially, I had this weird dry cough. It wasn’t very strong so brushed it off as allergies or a cold. As the days passed, the cough got worse and worse where I could not carry on a conversation. Then I got a fever and started feeling terrible which prompted me to do a telehealth visit with my doctor who told me I had all the symptoms of coronavirus. I also experienced light-headedness and dizziness which later the doctors informed me were symptoms of hypoxia due to the lack of oxygen getting to me. The last symptom that I got that also lasted the longest was the loss of my sense of smell and taste. Several weeks after I recovered, I was reading an article in the New York Times about COVID toes and realized I had those as well! I thought I had just picked up some weird foot fungus, but nope, it was COVID!

How long did it last? 

From onset of first symptoms to full recovery, it was about 2.5 weeks.

What was your experience like getting tested? 

My initial test was very apocalyptic. I got tested at the height of my sickness which is a terrible situation to be in. I was running a 102 fever, was lightheaded and just felt miserable but since I could not be around anyone (i.e., take an uber, metro, have my boyfriend drive me) I had to drive myself to Bethesda where my doctor’s testing site was. The tests were being done out of a back of a truck in a Safeway parking lot so you can imagine what that looks like. The doctors/staff were in full hazmat outfits which reminded me of the movie Outbreak. Prior to getting tested, you fill out a bunch of paperwork so they basically just look at your ID and then proceed with administering the test. My first test was a throat swab so they took two long cotton swabs and scraped out the back of my throat which hurt for days afterwards. I got tested two more times after that so that I could participate in a plasma donation program. Both of those tests were nose swabs and were done at Georgetown hospital so a bit less end-of-the-world feeling (though navigating the maze that is Georgetown hospital was an entire endeavor in itself!).

What was your experience like with medical personnel? 

Everyone has been great! I think everyone is still learning, trying to understand the disease and trying to keep up with all the latest information and research. I tested positive three times which was very stressful and disheartening. However, being able to talk to the epidemiologist at Georgetown who helped explain to me that it wasn’t unusual to test positive multiple times and that not to worry because I was no longer contagious, helped put my mind at ease. I mean these people are going above and beyond putting their lives at risk testing and treating people. They were calling me late in the night to follow up to explain my test results and providing me with their personal numbers in case I had any questions. It was just above and beyond anything I’ve experienced.  

Were you worried? 

I was not worried about getting worse and ending up in the hospital. I am very healthy (haven’t been to the doctor in like five years) and had just had a physical in early February so knew I was in good health. I did worry about others I might have been in contact with and whether I could have infected them or not which was an additional stressor to make a list of everyone I had been in contact with and let them know I tested positive.

How did you feel mentally and emotionally? 

I was completely overwhelmed by it all and my anxiety was very high. Since I feel I caught COVID very early on, there was just so much confusion and misinformation out there. I mean I had the disease that shut down the planet! How do you even process that? I had to completely stop watching, reading and listening to the news and get off social media. Compounding everything is that I was in complete quarantine and so was not able to be with the people that could care for me and support me. It’s a lot to handle on your own. I’m very lucky to have great neighbors, colleagues and friends who dropped food items, flowers and cards off to help me get through it all! Oh, and big shout out to my 18-year-old cat, Bozer, who was my rock during this time. Luckily, he did not catch COVID!

What do you think SW residents should know about the virus, now that you have been through it?  

It’s hard to say as there is so much more information out there now and more testing that wasn’t happening when I first caught this. Now we’re starting to open things back up so I’m a bit concerned after the protests and everything that there will be a spike. I guess I would say be diligent and follow the guidelines. If somehow you know gets it, it’s OK to feel stressed and anxious and keep in mind, the majority of people who get it recover. 

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