By Meagan Nair
In this blog post, Meagan Nair shares her experience of contracting COVID-19 and caring for her boyfriend, Michael, who became severely ill with the virus and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit. Both Meagan and Michael are 35 years old and in good health.
The week of Thanksgiving began like any other. I spent the weekend with my boyfriend, Michael, visiting a couple of stores as we typically do, then relaxing at home. When my children returned from their dad’s Sunday evening, I geared up for a short week of virtual school and work before Thanksgiving break.
This time of year, Michael and I suffer from frequent sinus congestion and coughs so when we felt run down Wednesday, we simply stocked up on over-the-counter cold medicine. He and I planned to split Thanksgiving Day between each of our families and lie low the rest of the weekend; however, Michael felt worse Thursday and skipped the festivities. Since I was only experiencing minor congestion, I kept my dinner plans.
Michael’s condition declined Friday. He developed a fever with body aches, so I took care of him by keeping him hydrated and continued over-the-counter medication. COVID-19 crossed our minds at this point, but it seemed unlikely considering I had no symptoms. Although we visited a couple of stores the weekend prior, we always wear masks, wash and sanitize our hands. Michael’s fever broke Saturday evening which allowed him to sit up and eat a meal. He and I were relieved that the worst was over, assuming it was the flu or a bad cold.
On Sunday morning, Michael’s fever returned at 102.8 degrees, he could barely move or speak, and his chest crackled when he breathed. I was scared; he’s a strong-willed person and even when he’s not feeling well, pushes through and stays positive, but I could see the fear in him as well. I scheduled a telemedicine appointment in which we were urged to head to the Emergency Room (ER) for possible pneumonia and a COVID-19 test.
I helped him get dressed and managed to get him to the ER where thankfully he was seen immediately. I gave the nurses all the information I could, as he was too weak to speak. They swabbed him for COVID-19, numerous other viruses, and gave him a chest x-ray. I was there with him for three hours, but once his COVID-19 test was administered, hospital policy required I leave. I was scared to leave him there alone but assured myself he was in the best hands possible at this point and it was time to switch back to “mom mode” and pick my children up from their dad.
Michael was confirmed positive for COVID-19 and pneumonia. Although I knew this was the likely diagnosis, my heart sank. We were probably exposed the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, and I was likely positive as well. Unknowingly, I had exposed my family and my children on Thanksgiving when I went to dinner. To minimize the risk of further exposing my ex-husband, I brought my children home that evening.
The next several days were a whirlwind. Michael took a turn for the worse and was put on full oxygen in the Intensive Care Unit. My COVID-19 test was positive and my “head cold symptoms” returned full force with a fever and extreme fatigue that was only worsened by keeping up on my children’s virtual schooling, meals, bedtime, etc. To keep them safe, I wore a mask during all waking hours, quarantined myself as much as I could in my bedroom, and washed my hands to the point they were cracked and bleeding. Lysol might as well have been my new air freshener. I felt terrible for not being able to cuddle with my kids on the couch, or hug and kiss them good night for bed. They had to entertain themselves a lot those couple of weeks and spent more time on devices than I care to admit. The constant worry that I was going to get my kids sick weighed heavy on my shoulders and while Michael was able to text here and there, I was anxious with worry over his recovery. Hours went by with no update and my mind created terrible scenarios until I finally heard from either him or his mom.
Finally, after nearly two weeks, my fever broke. I was never so happy to leave my bedroom, not wear a mask, play with and hug my kids again. After 12 days, Michael was released from the hospital and while he was still on oxygen for the better part of the day, he was home and safe. His recovery happened quicker once home than anyone expected and within a week of hospital release, he was back to work. Life slowly got back to normal and I’ve never been happier for “normal and boring” than I am now.
There are a lot of opinions about COVID-19. Before this experience, I thought I was being diligent in keeping safe, but I also had the “it’s not going to happen to me” mentality. Michael and I are healthy, 35-year-olds with no underlying health conditions. Going through COVID-19 – having the virus myself and watching my healthy boyfriend fall incredibly ill to it – changed the way I view this virus. It took days to feel normal again, days before I could think about this experience and not burst into hyperventilating tears, days before I felt safe to go outside again. I have heightened my safety precautions and I do not go out unless absolutely necessary, and I always wear my mask and carry hand sanitizer. Michael and I don’t know where we were exposed and that might be the scariest part because it makes you realize this virus really is everywhere.
Meagan Nair is the mother of two boys and lives in Morgantown, West Virginia. She spends her free time reading Stephen King novels and putting together LEGOs with her children.
Thank you, Meagan, for sharing your COVID-19 story. We wish you and Michael good health and thank you for raising awareness about the seriousness of the virus.
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