I consider myself fortunate to have been infected with Coronavirus relatively early, in this pandemic, and to be able to help people on the other side of it. I’ve shared the soothers, strengtheners and remedies I employed to help me get through it on social media. As more and more people become infected with the virus, they or their loved ones are asking how I managed my Covid-19 from home. This is how I handled my case. I hope it helps. Please keep in mind that with Covid-19, we have seen a broad spectrum of varying symptoms and experiences in people. These were mine.
I thought my first symptom was “the” dry cough about which we so often hear. I noticed it on March 27. I immediately self-quarantined. Looking back, I realize that I probably had a couple of other symptoms a day or two before that: an unusual headache and a slight lower back ache. I believe a slight rash under one of my eyes that appeared several days before was probably an even earlier symptom. The blog article that precedes this one tells the story of how I drove America’s first ER doctor to die of Covid-19 home from his last hospital shift and how he taught me so much about the virus during that 35 minute drive. What he taught me inspired me to prepare for the inevitability that I would be infected and may have saved my life only a few days later. (https://renaebaker.com/i-drove-americas-first-er-to-die-of-cove-19-home-from-his-last-shift-what-he-taught-me-may-have-saved-my-life-heres-what-he-wanted-us-all-to-know/)
My Symptoms (in order of appearance:)
• Itchy bumps under one of my eyes (actually started several days before cough)
• Headache (intermittent)
• Slight lower back ache (which would increase exponentially)
• Dry cough
• Low body temperature (96º. I thought my thermometer was broken.)
• Fever which fluctuated between 99.1 and 101.4 for about 5 days
• Extreme body aches, most notably the lower back ache which became severe
• Extreme fatigue – I slept 20 out of 24 hours some days
• Mucus in throat
• Complete loss of smell (I couldn’t even smell Vick’s Vapor Rub right under my nostrils -l asted about a week
• Loss of most taste
• Foggy brain, aka: “Covid Brain” – (I thought I would get lots of writing done while I was sick. God said, “Oh yeah?”
• Shortness of breath when walking up stairs
• In weeks 2 and 3, constriction around the chest
• One breathing episode where I wasn’t able to get the oxygen through my lungs
• After all of the symptoms were gone, and even 6 weeks later when I finally tested negative for C19, a lingering, inexplicable smell of cigarette smoke in my nostrils for about 7 weeks (I’m not a smoker and don’t have smokers around me.)
How I handled my Covid-19 recovery at home:
• Took Mucinex cough syrup, which helps to break up mucus
• Gargled throughout the day with Alkalol mucus solvent and nasal rinse
• Started doing rib muscle (intercostal muscles) strengthening and lung- Expanding exercises. (See below for exercises.)
• Started doing phlegm-busting vocal exercises. (see below.)
• Used ice packs on my lower back ache to help me sleep before I had acetaminophen. (At the time, there was insufficient research about whether ibuprofen exacerbated Covid-19, and I didn’t want to do anything to compromise my immune system.)
• Once my “angels” sent acetaminophen, I took that for aches, pains and fever reducing.
• To aid in reducing inflammation in my chest and anywhere else, I started making a ginger root tea and drinking it all through the day. My friend, David Alan Arnold, shared his girlfriend, Nina’s, recipe. They call it “Nina’s Immunity Booster.” I adapted it a bit. It was a comforting, delicious, warm drink that helped to clear mucus and phlegm and also naturally reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system! (See directions below.)
• Staving off mucus is very important when dealing with Covid-19, so I stayed away from cheese (my big weakness,) caffeine and alcohol.
• My diet was comprised, mostly, of the ginger root tea and soups. Most of the time, I couldn’t taste much, which makes for little to no appetite. I lost a couple pounds. When I regained my appetite, I enjoyed food very (too) much and gained them back.
• Rest, rest, rest! The path to recovery from Covid-19, is NON-linear! It isn’t called “Corona Coaster” by survivors for nothing! I felt lousy and in pain a good deal of the time, and then I’d have a few hours where I’d feel like I wasn’t sick at all! On those days, I thought I was through it and wanted to start getting back to a more normal routine. I was told by my niece, (who is a nurse,) that even on the good days, to remember that I was operating on a compromised lung capacity and to limit exertion.
• Connected with my loved ones. I live alone, and this was great for my spirits and helped them to know what I needed and how I was doing.
• One scary incident: I filled my lungs with a full breath from which I was not getting what I needed, it felt like there was only one thing to do, and that was to continue taking in more air, (which soon became impossible.) This was terrifying, because it happened so quickly and without warning. I never imagined my life’s breath could be gone in one faulty breath. I felt like I was going to pass out in one or two seconds, but because of what Dr. Gabrin taught me, and because of the exercises I had been doing, I summoned my strength and did something that seemed almost suicidal – I forced my lungs to exhale that useless breath and quickly took in another. I believe this moment saved my life! I got some oxygen from the next breath, and started panting to get enough oxygen in. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do this without strong rib muscles and the lung capacity I had.
• Lastly, I realized that this illness can turn on a dime, so I created a note, folded it and put it in a plastic name tag holder on a lanyard (leftover from a conference.) I also inserted my driver’s license and insurance card in that plastic sheath. I wrote these things on the note:
Insurance co, policy and group number, phone number of Insurance co.
Allergies (None, but I indicated that anyway)
My wishes were I to be hospitalized (ie: No extreme measures to keep me alive, organ/tissue donor)
Names and numbers of people to call, including:
Grown children and their father
My mother and sister
My friend who knows where all of my documents are
I kept this lanyard right next to my bed and planned to put it around my neck if I needed to call 911. Thankfully, I didn’t need to!
I also created a google doc for my kids, telling them that I expected to be around for many more years to pester them, but thought I should start letting them know where things are, like insurance policy, records and my wishes upon my death.
Gruesome, I know, but I’m glad I had the fire lit under me to do it!
I hope that this helps you and your loved ones. I encourage you to begin the rib and lung exercises below even before you are sick and stock up on these ingredients and supplies.
Best Wishes for good health and meaningful connections during these troublesome times,
– Renae Baker
Rib (Intercostal) Muscle exercises:
What are Intercostal muscles? From Wikipedia: Intercostal muscles are several groups of muscles that run between the ribs, and help form and move the chest wall. The intercostal muscles are mainly involved in the mechanical aspect of breathing. These muscles help expand and shrink the size of the chest cavity to facilitate breathing.
– Try this to strengthen intercostal muscles:
Take in a full breath of air, expanding your rib cage as far as you are able. Exhale slowly, as though you were sending the air out through a tiny straw between your lips. As you release the air, keep your rib cage in the expanded position, being aware of the front, back and sides of your ribs. After the breath is completely expelled, relax your rib cage. Repeat several times. It may not be easy at first, but this is an exercise you can practice throughout the day, every day. With practice, you can strengthen those muscles and move your rib cage independently from your lungs, at will! I believe my strong intercostal muscles saved my life when – in my second week of Covid-19 – I had a breathing episode. (See previous article for details.)
– Try this to expand your lung capacity:
As if you were breathing through a small straw (it may help you to use an actual straw,) take in a full breath as slowly as you can. Once it feels like your lungs are at full capacity, exhale through that small opening as slowly as you are able. Repeat for at least one minute, several times a day. You will be doing well if you take in and exhale only three breaths in one minute.
– Try this to break up mucus:
One a single musical note, sing these vowels quickly, at a comfortable pitch and volume: “ee-you-ee-ay – ee-you-ee-ah – ee-you-ee-ay – ee-you-ee-ah.” Then bring the pitch up (modulate) a little and repeat. Keep modulating and repeating as long it is comfortable. You may actually feel the phlegm moving in your throat or on your vocal chords. This is good! Even if you cannot feel it, you are likely doing it. Do not try to force the sound out. You do not want to risk inflaming your throat or vocal chords. For even better results, spend time in the shower with very warm water beating on your upper back while you do this exercise.
Nina’s Immunity Booster (adapted)
(I eyeball all of the ingredients.)
1) Fill sauce pan about 3/4’s of the way full
2) Break off about 3 “knobs” from a fresh ginger root. Coarsely chop. Add to water
3) Generously shake powdered turmeric into pot (may also use fresh turmeric root)
4) Generously shake black pepper into pot
5) Add two cinnamon sticks to pot (powdered is also fine)
6) Bring to simmer
7) Squeeze fresh citrus juice into a mug (any is fine, but I preferred orange.)
8) Strain liquid from pot into mug, returning unused contents to pot
9) If you wish, add honey (raw preferably) to mug and stir.
10) Coarsely chop the squeezed citrus rinds and put into the pot (for next time.)
11) Add more water
Notes: I add the citrus and the raw honey to the mug and not the pot so as not to kill off the natural goodness of those ingredients with the heat. You can continue to add water and use this ginger for three days. It will become less potent each day. I like to continue to add more citrus rinds (after squeezing the juice into cups) and cinnamon sticks each day. Many thanks to Dave and Nina!