By Debra Moore
Editor’s note: The following is one woman’s account of her experience with COVID-19. Her real name isn’t being used per her request. Our readers have told us that they appreciate reading first-hand accounts of those who have experienced the virus. To share your story email [email protected] or call 530-283-0800.
Nicole is a 46-year-old Quincy resident who was officially diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 16, and was among the first people in the county to be treated with the monoclonal antibody therapy, bamlanivimab. It’s a therapeutic approved for those with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are at risk for complications.
Nicole said that the first time she experienced coronavirus symptoms, she was “nauseous, super tired and couldn’t taste anything.” But the second time, “it went straight to my lungs.”
“I felt winded; I felt like I had pneumonia,” said this long-time smoker who had recently transitioned to vaping. She said that her physician, Dr. Ali Hunt, told her to go to the hospital immediately.
Once at Plumas District Hospital, Nicole was hooked up to an IV and received bamlanivimab. The process took about an hour and then she returned home. “The next day there was no pain in my chest,” Nicole said.
When the therapeutic first arrived in the county last November, Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Satterfield explained that the therapeutic is an appropriate treatment for some patients, such as those who have underlying health conditions, which could lead to hospitalization.
The FDA reports “While the safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy continues to be evaluated, bamlanivimab was shown in clinical trials to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression within 28 days after treatment when compared to placebo. Bamlanivimab is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19.”
Though the therapeutic improved Nicole’s breathing issues, she still experienced other symptoms. “I had a household to take care of, but I was exhausted all of the time,” she said. Nicole is also a student, but said that “Covid brain” made it very difficult to study.
She also experienced fever, body aches, migraines and a sore throat. She compared the mélange of symptoms to a kaleidescope of ever-changing ailments. “I would have a very bad sore throat and then it would go away, and then I would get a migraine, then the aches would start,” she said. At one point, her fever caused hallucinations, which required a trip to the emergency room.
Nicole wasn’t alone. Her boyfriend, who is employed by the Plumas County Correctional Facility, also tested positive and they quarantined together.
Nicole is convinced that she was exposed to coronavirus for the first time at a Thanksgiving gathering where there were just five people – three adults and two youth. “One kid was really quiet, and then he said he was sick and he couldn’t smell,” she said. Although Nicole tested negative after that event, she began experiencing symptoms. Then about a month and a half later, she received her confirmed positive test due to her boyfriend’s exposure at the jail, she said.
During the quarantine period, the Public Health Agency delivered meals, and checked in on the couple. “They called regularly and asked ‘What do you need?’” Nicole said.
On Feb. 18, Nicole received a negative COVID test, a little more than four weeks after her positive test. When asked how she was feeling, she said, “Pretty good, though a bit tired as usual.” Due to her illness, Nicole dropped a couple of her more challenging classes at Feather River College, but plans to enroll in them next semester. “I’m hoping my brain fog will ease up a bit,” she said.