Caitlin Houston is the blogger behind the self-titled Caitlin Houston Blog, which covers topics like Home, Motherhood, Fashion and Travel. Recently, though, the Wallingford, Connecticut mother of two (daughter Annabelle is 6 and Ailey is 3) shared her Covid-19 diagnosis with followers. We reached out to Caitlin, who is 26 days into the virus and still recovering, about her symptoms, testing process, treatment with Plaquenil, and why this experience has her feeling grateful.
When did you first feel symptoms and what were they?
On Sunday March 22 I woke up with a sore throat, headache, itchy ears, and an overall feeling of fatigue/lethargy. I attributed allergies to how I was feeling since I have horrible environmental allergies and had spent the previous day outside. On Monday I felt better, just a mild headache, more energetic and my sore throat was gone. However I awoke Tuesday feeling awful again and as the day went on, my symptoms worsened drastically.
How did the symptoms progress?
I went from feeling fine to sudden body aches/skin sensitivity (burning pains), low grade fever, headache, intense chills, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue. I developed a cough a few days later, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. I’m currently on Day 26 of the virus and experiencing headaches, shortness of breath, a deep cough in the evenings, and fatigue. There are also days where my oxygen levels will drop after I overexert myself.
What was your testing process like and how long did it take to get your results?
I was tested exactly one week after experiencing my first symptom at a drive thru testing center for Yale New Haven Hospital. The entire process took four minutes from the time I drove into the site. I was swabbed twice—once in my nose and once in my throat. The nasal swab test was most painful, sort of like a flu test but the nurse must insert the swab very deep into your nasal cavity. It is quick, but seemed to last forever as the nurse moved the swab around and around to ensure she took a good sample. The throat swab was just like a strep test, but also a little more in-depth as she swabbed my entire throat from side to side. I received my results in three days on April 1. My primary care doctor called with what she called “preliminary results” and said I was positive for Covid-19.
What was your treatment like and where were you treated?
After my doctor received my positive test results she immediately started me on a high dose of Azithromycin—500mg twice a day for five days—and I was also prescribed two inhalers. After three days I started Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) for six days. Both medications caused me to feel extremely nauseous and more run down than I already felt. The Plaquenil made me feel dizzy too. My symptoms improved, but I still felt terrible. I visited the ER on April 6th to have a chest X-ray and was sent home with instructions to continue resting. On April 7 I started treatment for a sinus infection and Shingles.
You have two daughters. How did they, and your husband Brandon, cope with you being sick?
My husband has been working from home full time since March 6th, but after I became sick he had to not only continue working, but also take care of our daughters without me. He helped the girls with virtual learning and delivered medication/meals to the doorway of our bedroom. I was isolated in quarantine for about a week and a half, but was unable to do much around the house. My daughters have been incredibly brave and strong throughout this ordeal—aside from their normal bickering, they adapted to life without mom for the time I was unable to get out of bed. Despite their strength, we still have noticed my oldest being more emotional about little things and our youngest has started sucking her thumb when she is sad. I know this has been hard on them!
That must have been so hard. What was the toughest part of this as a mom?
The overall feeling of helplessness and not being able to hug my daughters when I could hear they were sad/frustrated. I have always been there for their every waking moment and even at Day 26 of this virus I’m still not able to be 100% for them.
What would you tell other moms reading this?
If you catch Covid-19, my best advice is to quarantine yourself and REST. This is the longest I’ve ever been sick and every time I try to jump back into my Mom role, I’m set back in recovery. It’s been difficult to let go of my OCD desire to have a clean organized house—but I know my health takes precedence. Remember, we can’t take care of anyone if we aren’t well—so take care of yourself first.
Great advice. And for people who are watching the 24/7 news cycle, and dealing with anxiety, what would you share?
Not everyone who catches Covid-19 ends up in the hospital—I am proof of that! The worst symptoms lasted 1.5-2 weeks, and yes my recovery has been LONG, but I know there are brighter days ahead. I also have some followers on social media who have reached out to say they only had mild symptoms.
That’s great to hear. Have there been any silver linings for you in this experience?
I’ve never been more grateful to be alive and more thankful for the generous and thoughtful people in my life than I am now. This virus has taught me that life can change drastically when you least expect it—so I have to be cognizant of being in the moment, instead of worrying about the future. I’m more aware of my inability to let go of control over the little things, which is something I’ve struggled to accept over the years. I appreciate MORE of life than I ever have—from the adorable way my daughters play together to the silly things my husband does to get me to laugh—from the sound of birds in the morning to the overwhelming and powerful sense of peace I can find just by stepping outside my back door and taking a deep breath of air.
Such a wonderful outlook. Do you plan to donate antibodies to help others with research/treatment?
Once I am completely recovered from the virus (2-3 days without coughing) I will absolutely be looking into a local place to donate my blood.
How are you feeling now?
Every day is different. I’m very emotional and frustrated that this virus won’t leave my body. Today I had some extra energy to work with since I spent yesterday off my feet, but taking a 15 minute shower exhausted me so much that I’m off my feet again for the day. I’ve been battling a sinus infection that won’t go away, so in addition to my Coronavirus cough and fatigue, I also have an annoying headache. My doctor usually treats my sinus infections with steroids, but I’m not allowed to take them while I have the virus. I’m optimistic that I will get better soon, but I don’t know when it’s going to happen. All I can do is continue to take it easy so my body heals itself from inside out.
To anyone reading this: I have NO idea where I caught Coronavirus, so just be careful whenever you leave your house. If you have Coronavirus and don’t get knocked down by the symptoms, remember you are still contagious if you have a fever or are coughing.