How My Daughter and I Got Covid-19, While My Wife and Two Other Daughters Didn’t
When I received my notification, by secure email on August 14th, 2020, that I had tested positive for Covid-19, I was shocked. After all, nearly two weeks earlier, I had scheduled my Coronavirus test as a precautionary measure only.
I remember that morning vividly. It was the fifth day in a row that I had not felt quite myself. Given that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, I naturally thought that perhaps I had Covid-19. Yet there were multiple signs pointing against it. One, I had none of the classic Coronavirus symptoms that we have been told to look for:
- Fever (none — never above 98 — checked at least 10 times over the first 5 days of not feeling well)
- Shortness of breath (none)
- Loss of sense of taste or smell (none)
Yet, I was not feeling like myself, and there were two symptoms which for me defined my Covid-19 experience.
The first was fatigue. I remember when it first hit me, at around 8pm on Wednesday, July 29th. Imagine that one minute you are going about what amounts to your normal life. And then suddenly, you are so tired that all you can think about is going to sleep. So you do. Then the next morning, instead of feeling refreshed, you are virtually right back where you started the night before. This was my experience during my first five nights of sleep. My fatigue got better the 2nd week, and went away on the morning of Day 11.
The second was pressure in my sinus cavity. I felt that pressure the first night. It was like I had a large pointer finger high up each nostril, pressing inward. While the pressure was not constant, it was consistent; like the fatigue, it was a symptom that I was unable to relieve, despite taking extra strength tylenol, tylenol with phenylephrine HCl, Flonase, and Afrin. This symptom also went away on the morning of Day 11.
I also had a tickle in my throat, and an occasional cough. These were symptoms that I attributed to the beautiful 2020 summer we had in Michigan, and the approach of hay fever season, which often triggers my allergies. In retrospect, this was a Covid-19 related symptom, and the one symptom that lingered a month or so after my infection. Also, around a week after I first experienced symptoms, I felt some strange muscular tightness — around my right knee and my jaw. Each of those symptoms went away after a few days.
My wife, three of my daughters (13, 11, 5 at the time) and I retested the following Monday. I tested positive again, likely still carrying “dead virus”, but not infectious of others. Surprisingly, and not surprisingly, my 11 year old daughter tested positive as well.
What was surprising is that an 11 year old healthy child who has been largely at home and only seeing her intermediate family contracted the virus. To this day, I can not identify any particular moments in which I feel she was at high risk. She went to swim with one friend in an outdoor backyard pool. Could she have caught it then? What about at an outdoor art class with 6 other kids?
What was not surprising was that if someone else was going to test positive in our household, that it would be her. This is because back in early July, my 11 year old daughter was complaining of “allergies”. We knew that was strange: Allergies in July? From an 11 year old who rarely had them? So we took her to her pediatrician, who suggested allergy medications. When those didn’t work, we could have said: “Ok. Allergy medicine not working. Not allergies. What else could this be?” Instead, we waited a few more days, and the symptoms went away, yet not before, in all likelihood, I was infected.
My advice to you: If you are someone you care about is feeling “off,” then you or that person should get the molecular Covid-19 test right away and stay at home to await the results, usually by the very next day.
My story has a happy ending. Three to four weeks after exposure, I was symptom-free. My four immediate family members, and the few I have been in contact with from my extended family, did not contract the virus. Weeks later, on Labor Day, I donated my Plasma, which I understand was infused only days later into a hospitalized Covid-19 patient.
Ultimately, I will likely never know for sure how I contracted Covid-19. Working from home since mid-March, and with the exception of a week in a rented house in Northern, MI back in June, I had largely been sheltering in place. Despite wearing a mask each time, could I have been exposed during a trip to the grocery store? While pumping gas? At the drive-thru Starbucks? Or did I get it from my non-traditionally symptomatic 11 year old daughter?
Most of us infected by Covid-19 will likely never know the answer to our puzzling positive diagnosis. What I do know, is that my daughter and I got the Coronavirus despite having no classic symptoms. If you are feeling “off”, then you may have it too.
Adam Kaplan, 48, lives in Huntington Woods, MI with his wife and daughters. He likely contracted the Coronavirus in 2020 sometime between 7/22 and 7/27, began feeling unwell on 7/29, got tested on 8/5, and received his positive diagnosis on 8/14. He strongly urges anyone feeling “off”, to get tested for Covid-19 immediately.
Update — Adam wrote about getting Covid again in 2021, despite being fully vaccinated.