Enduring the virus: Inside one Tulalip family’s corona experience

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a worldwide crisis. Its rapid spread has reached Earth’s far corners and no end to the infectious pandemic is in sight. On the global level, at the time this article was written, there are 184,976 confirmed cases and 7,529 deaths reported in 159 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Because of a general lack of testing or lack of sufficient supplies to even perform accurate testing amongst the global health community, the number of people who have contracted the virus is presumed to be much higher than the confirmed cases. The good news is that the infected mortality rate is estimated between 1% – 3.4%, and fewer than 5% of all confirmed cases are deemed critical.

People of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus. However, older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

Typical symptoms, which develop quickly, include a high fever, dry cough, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. In the most severe cases, breathing difficulties arise that require intensive medical care.

With the endless supply of fear and panic-inducing content produced from most mainstream 24/7 news cycles, it’s increasingly difficult to remain calm in the wake of corona chaos. Yet, it’s in these trying times that being mindful is of utmost importance. Being properly prepared and knowing what to expect can make all the difference. 

One Tulalip family who recently contracted, endured and overcame the infamous virus shared their experience with Tulalip News under the condition their identities remain anonymous. We will refer to them as the Doe family; husband John, wife Jane, and their child Jaimie. 

On Sunday, March 8, the family felt great. They were living out their normal weekend routines and preparing for the week ahead. Little did they know their sense of normalcy would come to a screeching halt just hours later.

Their Monday morning routine went as usual with John going to work. But as the day went along he started to feel a little warmer than normal. Around noon he received a phone call from his wife Jane who said she had a fever. Finding the timing odd, he called their child Jaimie who also admitted to running a temperature. So John went home and checked his temperature with a thermometer. It showed 101. He knew then the situation was worrisome. 

“I called my primary doctor and answered a series of questions over the phone,” said John. “He recommended we call Snohomish County Health District and notify them first, then go to Everett Clinic in Smokey Pt. because they were doing COVID-19 testing.”

The family unit went to the Everett Clinic facility at 6:00p.m. where they were triaged in a large medical tent with medical personal masked up, just like a scene out of a movie. By that point, each member of the family were experiencing fever, sinus pressure and headache. They underwent testing for nearly an hour, including being tested for two of the most common strains of influenza or the flu. 

“At that time, we were told they were only administering the COVID-19 test to first responders and people who’ve come into confirmed contact with the virus,” explained John. “You could say we were never officially diagnosed with it because they refused to give us the COVID test, but we tested negative for the flu and everything else. Multiple members of the medical staff told us that our symptoms lined up exactly with coronavirus and there was no need to test us because the results were obvious.

“We were told then to contact our local health precincts and let them know of our status and that we’d be self-quarantining until our fever was gone for at least 72-hours,” continued John. “Of course we wanted the confirmation test so we’d have peace of mind. But we were literally told by members of Snohomish County Health District and Everett Clinic, ‘From your symptoms it’s obvious what the results will be. There’s no need for a confirmation test. If any member of the family begins to experience breathing problem, then go to the hospital.’”

They returned home, reached out to each person’s job, Tulalip Community Health, the Board of Directors, and Tulalip Bay Fire Department to make them all aware they’d be self-quarantining. They even posted a sign in the window letting their neighbors and anyone else know of their status.

Over the next few days their symptoms continued to worsen. The fever would continually spike at 104, while a persistent dry cough made the muscle ache and headache worsen.

“The worst part by far is the fever, followed by the constant head pressure that feels like someone is literally squeezing your head,” shared the family via telephone on Day 5 of their self-quarantine.

Fortunately, the Doe family had been taking precautionary measures as early as January when the first confirmed case of COVID-19 struck Washington State. That case was in Snohomish County. It was shortly after hearing that news, John and Jane began slowly stockpiling necessities. They were pretty much set on the essentials, but found out they hadn’t exactly prepared for conditions when they came down with the sickness.

“So many people are buying supplies now to remain indoors and avoid getting COVID, but what you’ve also got to prepare for is the scenario where you and your family actually catch the virus,” advised the recovering family from their first-hand experience. “What worked best for us was Gatorade and Ibuprofen. A lot of both.”

Gatorade to replenish the body’s fluids and provide essential electrolytes being lost from a 104 degree fever, and Ibuprofen to help reduce the non-stop muscle aches and head pressure. Any kind of electrolyte beverage or on-the-shelf anti-inflammatory may be just as effective to help alleviate the signature symptoms of coronavirus. A thermometer to occasionally check on body temperature and immune boosters, like Airborne or Emergen-C, are also highly recommended.

Prices reflect availability at Tulalip Walmart, as of March 15, 2020.

Being in self-quarantine, they relied on a family member to complete resupply runs and door drops when needed. When they were running low on Gatorade, Ibuprofen, and any other essential items they’d simply call or text their designated support member and he’d fill their order and drop it outside their door. This system fulfilled the intended results of a self-quarantine, which is to minimize the risk of passing on an infection to anyone else.

The Doe family reported not really having much of an appetite nor any digestive issues. They went as far as finding the current toilet paper crisis pretty amusing. “We don’t understand why everyone wants to horde all the toilet paper. Or food for that matter. The priority should definitely be to have enough adequate medicine and fluids on hand,” shared the family. 

By Day 7 of their self-quarantine, the family reported being fever-free. Their cough had all but subsided and only mentioned some slight chest pressure. On Day 8 they said their spirits have returned fully, the fever remains gone, and they were looking forward to resuming some semblance of normalcy. With so many businesses shut down, entire school districts closed, and large public gatherings outright prohibited for the foreseeable future, what their new normal will be is a mystery. For now, they are simply relieved to have endured a pandemic sweeping the globe and intend to share their experience to help others be prepared.