Anecdotal Symptoms

Hair loss is not one of them. 

Guys, if you see my husband out and about, first, he has his “papers” from the Burlington County Department of Health! Don’t worry; he is NOT contagious!

Second, he’s bald.

My husband is a very disciplined guy who doesn’t like it when his hair touches his ears (we all have our thing, right?). His haircut is planned out on his calendar every four weeks. He and our son go and have Five Guys burgers and make a guys night of it. 

That’s not in the plans right now for obvious reasons. The other night, he was entertained by a friend on Facebook live who was shaving heads in his garage. Slightly confused over who was bribing who for the head shave, he convinced our son to shave his head for a donation. 

The other thing to note about my husband: he gets things done.

So when he had the idea for a Go Fund Me, I knew this was heading into a “hairy” situation (I just can’t help myself sometimes!).

Using haircuts, a typical expense that many of us don’t think of, whether you go to a barbershop or a salon, to donate to those affected by COVID-19, he decided on the Food Bank of South Jersey. Because on top of all the physical effects of COVID-19, the amount of unemployment and financial struggle will last far longer than the virus. 

Not to be outdone by his kid, he put a price on his head to meet his goal, which as of writing this, has EXCEEDED $5,000! (Actually, much more than that!)

So if you see my husband walking around with no hair, it’s not from COVID-19!

This post is not intended to give medical advice. It is anecdotal and personal to our experience. I’ve provided links and resources where necessary for more information. Please call your physician if you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19. 

“Our” Symptoms of COVID-19

About halfway through my husband’s illness, things took a sharp turn, and no matter how much I googled, I found it nearly impossible to find any information that would give me any idea as to what to expect as a caretaker. I could only find the following, plus incredibly scary tales of worst-case scenarios. 

According to the WHO’s website, the most common symptoms are “fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. The incubation period for COVID-19 ranges from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.” Nothing states how long the symptoms typically last.

According to the CDC’s website, the symptoms of COVID-19 are “fever, cough, and shortness of breath” and that these symptoms may appear “2-14 days after exposure”. Nothing states how long the symptoms typically last.

According to the Burlington County Department of Health website, symptoms include “fever, cough, and shortness of breath.” and symptoms may appear “in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus”. Nothing states how long the symptoms typically last.

The following is the timeline of my husband’s symptoms, as well as his treatment on those days.

Day 1

Symptoms: Fever, body aches, chills

Treatment: Tylenol, Motrin * (will discuss further below)

Day 2

Symptoms: Fever, body aches, chills

Treatment: Tylenol + Motrin

Day 3

Symptoms: None

Treatment: None

Day 4

Symptoms: High fever, body aches, chills, sweating, dry cough, loss of sense of taste

Treatment: Tylenol, Motrin

Day 5

Symptoms: High fever, body aches, chills, sweating, dry cough, loss of sense of taste 

Treatment: Tylenol, Motrin

Day 6

Symptoms: High fever, body aches, chills, sweating, dry cough, loss of sense of taste

Treatment: Tylenol, Motrin

Day 7 

Symptoms: Loss of sense of taste

Treatment: (none)

Day 8

Symptoms: Passing out upon standing (2x), fever, body aches, chills, sweating, shaking, loss of sense of taste, worsened cough, extreme fatigue, diminished appetite 

Treatment: Tylenol, Motrin

Day 9

Symptoms: Fever, body aches, chills, sweating, shaking, loss of sense of taste, worsened cough, extreme fatigue, no appetite, nausea, shortness of breath, feeling of suffocation upon rising (this is hard for me to type, as my husband didn’t express that to me at the time *)

Treatment: Tylenol

Day 10 

Symptoms: Fever, body aches, chills, sweating, shaking, loss of sense of taste, worsened cough, extreme fatigue, no appetite, nausea, shortness of breath, feeling of suffocation upon rising, agitation, shallow nighttime breathing

Treatment: Tylenol, Chloroquine *

Day 11

Symptoms: Fever, body aches, chills, sweating, shaking, loss of sense of taste, worsened cough, extreme fatigue, no appetite, nausea, shortness of breath, feeling of suffocation upon rising, digestive issues

Treatment: Chloroquine + zinc* + azithromycin*

Improvement: Fever less than 100 degrees in PM

Day 12

Symptoms: Loss of sense of taste, cough, minimal appetite

Treatment: Chloroquine + zinc, + azithromycin

Improvement: Sitting up for small meals

Day 13

Symptoms: Loss of sense of taste, average cough, weakness, easily winded, couldn’t complete daily tasks

Treatment: Chloroquine + zinc + azithromycin

Improvement: The first day out of bed since Day 8, eating small, frequent meals

Day 14

Symptoms: Loss of sense of taste, minimal cough, easily winded

Treatment: Chloroquine + zinc + azithromycin

Improvement: Able to complete some daily tasks

Day 15


Treatment: Zinc + azithromycin

Improvement: Able to TASTE COFFEE!!!

On the morning of the 8th day, I woke up early to let the dogs out. I vaguely remembered hearing a loud bang, but it sounded like a cell phone dropping on the floor above me, so I assumed that it was my daughter’s, and I didn’t think anything of it. 

Shortly after, my husband staggered downstairs with a huge red mark on his face. He had gotten up to use the bathroom and passed out twice, hitting on his face. 

(Note to self: The joke “Does your face hurt? ‘Cause it’s killing me!”, totally inappropriate and not well received in this scenario. Don’t ask me how I know.)

He settled into the couch, but could not sit upright. He was attempting to participate in a conference call that morning, but I could tell he was struggling to remain focused and alert. While he was on the phone, I put out an APB on Gatorade. 

STOP. I know my holistic nutritionist friends just gasped with disgust. But a little Gatorade wasn’t going to be his biggest issue here (keeping it real and realistic). He had drunk a ton of water the day before – too much, in my opinion. 

It is possible to overhydrate with water, flushing out vitamins and minerals without replenishing them. Ideally, you replace your electrolytes and keep your blood sugar balanced from a mixture of nutrient-dense food, extra salt, and water. Chicken soup, the age-old remedy, is fantastic when recovering from being sick because it includes all of the ingredients for replenishment.

But when you have someone who is no longer eating or drinking, and doesn’t want anything hot like soup because they are sweating profusely, it becomes more difficult. In that case, I am an advocate for WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU.

At that point, I also had symptoms for a few days. They probably began on my husband’s Day 6 and included: 

  • Digestive issues
  • Minor fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • The MOST DISGUSTING tasting mucous in my mouth and throat ever (perhaps due to a change in my sense of taste)
  • A sensation that I was short of breath
  • A heavy / burning feeling in my chest
  • Low-grade fever

Disclaimer: I am an unconfirmed case since I had no test.

I was able to function relatively normally. I think my anxiety about getting worse far exceeded the symptoms, but still, I didn’t feel pleasant, and I knew I had “it”.

The symptoms also didn’t feel like any other illness I ever had. The feeling of being short of breath was strong, but I WASN’T short of breath. I could perform tasks and even felt good enough to work out one day (which ended up being a bad idea, because that worsened my cough). So I get that description “shortness of breath.” 

Since I was having symptoms, I also felt a little liberated in the sense that I can take care of my husband without the worry of exposure. (Silver linings?)

His cough was also more intense and frequent. And the sweating. He was sweating through his clothes and blankets repeatedly. He tried so hard to remain a part of the family routine that day. But I could see him struggling, and quite honestly, we were struggling.

Each cough was harder to listen to than the last, and the kids seemed stressed by that. Instead of taking his temperature twice a day, he was asking for the thermometer every few hours. And the fever was creeping up to close to 104 at some points. 

Up to that day, the emotional toll far outweighed the physical symptoms. We had been spending hours of our day fielding texts and calls and squashing fears and rumors. But I quickly realized this wasn’t something he was going to push through by just feeling a little under the weather on the couch. My gut said this would be different now. 

So I relegated him to the bedroom. And since we had two false alarm days with no symptoms, I told him he wasn’t getting out of bed until he had TWO days of no fever. 

All along, our family physician was texting me. Although my husband is in healthcare, I am into holistic nutrition. But we both believe in an integrative approach – because why can’t and shouldn’t you have BOTH? Last summer, we switched to a more wellness-minded physician, who prides himself on preventative medicine and his connection with his patients.

Probably the best decision we made last year. Because our doctor was on this. The day my husband seemed to nosedive, he mentioned a drug combination that was being used in other countries, that anecdotally was working. He offered to prescribe if we wanted to try it. At first, my husband was hesitant, but I had the script sent to the pharmacy just in case.

The drug in question is chloroquine, which is used to treat malaria. And there had been one small study in France, that statistically speaking, was a small group of patients and lacked clinical outcomes according to the JHU (totally using my husband’s alma mater here). Here’s the study if you’re into picking apart that kind of thing. 

I am not a doctor, so I have to trust my doctor. And I trust mine implicitly. 

The pharmacy didn’t have any, so we ordered the drug, which was not yet been announced by the government as a possible treatment option. We were like two days ahead of that game. 

My husband went to bed that night, and the fear set in. My son, who is more sensitive than most of the family, thought his dad was going to die because that’s what the kids on the bus said happens if you get coronavirus. 

Here is where this virus takes hold of you in more ways than physical. The dread and publicized death is a separate virus, in my opinion. I am not arguing that this isn’t serious, because I know first hand, it’s dangerous. 

But our children hear everything we say, and they hear what others say.

So I tell him: “We see with our eyes, not with our ears. You see dad, and he’s ok.” (Meanwhile, I am crossing every single finger and toe). And we snuggle all night, while I get up and check on my husband every hour. 

Day 9. When I tell you I asked this man no less than eleven million times “are you short of breath,” I asked him. And every time I said to him, “this is NOT the time to be lying to me. You need to promise me you will tell me if you are short of breath.” 

“I promise.” (He also probably had all of his fingers and toes crossed.)

And then, after his recovery, he goes and starts telling me about how he felt like he was suffocating every time he got up?! I mean, in my mind, that would be shortness of breath? No? But I also had the “sensation” I was short of breath, and I wasn’t.

He wasn’t moving all that much. Every time I checked on him, he was laying incredibly still, either in a fetal position or flat on his back, three blankets on him, shaking. He was barely awake all day that Wednesday and wouldn’t eat much real food. The only thing he asked for was clementines and his temperature to be taken, followed by Tylenol and Motrin. I forced him to alternate Gatorade and water. But now I understand why he didn’t move. Because when he did, he “felt” like he was “suffocating”.

That night, more of the same – only I’m playing musical beds, and I’m pretty sure that was the night my daughter had her breaking point.

I get up and checked on him every time I hear him cough. Every parent out there knows how quickly you can make it from a bed to your kids’ room; only I was doing it in reverse. I think I scaled an entire wall going up the stairs at one point. 

By the next morning, my concern is getting overwhelming. I am worried because I’m starting to feel like I can’t take care of this. I am doing all the things you do: rest, hydration, asking if he’s short of breath, but I was tired. I felt emotionally and physically drained.

And I was trying NOT to read too much. Because really, I’m not even finding the information I’m looking for (like “how long will COVID-19 systems last?!”). And I just keep seeing worst-case scenarios. 

But I came across an article that indicated ibuprofen could make the symptoms of COVID-19 worse. I currently can not find any reliable source to back this claim, and most of the information in the U.S. is refuting it. 

As a nutritional therapist, a lot of time, all we have to go on is anecdotal evidence, because my clients come to me with a combination of symptoms that their physicians can’t trace to a diagnosis. They haven’t been reported in an actual medical study. But that doesn’t make their experience less real. So I cut him off the Motrin, thinking that as long as we have Tylenol and it’s working, we are ok. If the fever gets too high or won’t break, we still have Motrin as a treatment option. NSAIDs shouldn’t be used for more than a few days anyway, and at this point, he had been taking it for over a week. 

By the evening of Day 10, I am sensing a growing agitation in addition to the symptoms. I mean, he’s irritated by me asking if he’s short of breath, but it was also physical agitation that I could see. He was so incredibly uncomfortable, even when sleeping. I paced the house, tiptoed into the room when he slept to make sure he was breathing, measuring how much remained in his glass of water, and got him to eat a clementine the few minutes he was awake.

And then we ran out of clementines! So I put the APB on them from the village, only no one can get their hands on any. 

My friends were all being so available, and I’m getting the texts and the calls, and I feel so supported. Our family doctor is checking in several times per day. 

But I needed to contact the hospital. I had food. I had friends. I had our family doctor. But there still wasn’t a second of the day that I wasn’t worried about my decision-making skills in caring for this. 

So I reach out to my husband’s partner for the contact of infectious disease at the hospital. I needed to know when we go to the hospital and how do we logistically handle that. Just to be prepared in my mind.

I tell my husband that I’m taking things into my own hands, but of course, even at his worst moment, he’s gotta’ get things done, and he calls himself (and I think he knows I was going to ask about hospital logistics, which he was doing everything to avoid). 

And they tell him, just stay home. Stay. Home. If you aren’t short of breath, do not come to the hospital.

I don’t know what I wanted him to tell me at that moment. 

I know several women right now whose significant others are fighting for their lives on ventilators and they can’t be there with them. This is absolutely the tragedy of this virus—human disconnection in the most vulnerable and urgent time. 

I was scared. I really did try so hard to keep a level head about the situation. But the longer it went on, and the fact that no one could tell me how long this might last, it was liking staring at a blank page in front of me. That intensified all of the feelings and all of the symptoms.

And then my husband asked for the chloroquine, because he would do anything at that point to feel relief.

On Thursday, March 19th, did you hear a woman yelling from my “side of town”? Because that woman was me. 

THEY NEVER ORDERED THE CHLOROQUINE. I. lost. My. Mind. And then the pharmacist told me that the President had announced the FDA was testing chloroquine and I likely wouldn’t be able to find it. 

Queue the tears. 

To redeem this individual, I (not so) calmly explained my situation and asked that she PLEASE check again. Because the first time I had called two days earlier, one person thought they had it, and then another person said they didn’t. 

I had zero faith in anything these people were telling me.

Well, guys. It was a miracle. Because somehow, on a shelf where it didn’t belong, they found me nine pills. Nine. I ask my doctor if that was enough, and he replied, “let’s hope so.”

On the night of Day 10, he took his first dose of chloroquine. That night was probably the worst night we had. My son was up in my room sitting with him, and he had to leave because he said: “Daddy was making funny noises when he breathes.”

And he was. He was restless, and his breathing was more shallow than it had been. 

There was nothing more I could do. I waited for the sun to come up that next morning, not having slept. I called my friend crying. And I tried to keep myself together for my kids when it was time to start our school work.

Distance learning was probably the only thing that got us through that week because it gave us an outlet. And the more work, the better. You want me to roll five coins 25 times and tally the heads and tails? How about we’ll do it 30! (Today I may or may not have given my son a math answer because I ran out of patience, so don’t worry, I’m right on track with the rest of the world now). 

I waited for my husband to text me for his morning temperature. And when it came up over 100 again, he was so defeated. His body was so tired of fighting.

We added in the zinc and azithromycin that we had received that morning as part of his new protocol, and I left him to rest, thinking about how I was going to get him to the hospital that afternoon.

By mid-afternoon, he was asking for the thermometer again. 

Do you have a thermometer that beeps? 

Ours has two beeps for normal temp or low-grade fever, and a rapid set of beeps for a temp higher than 101.3. Every single time that stupid thing would fast beep, and it became this incredible source of anxiety for both of us. 

We took a total of 96 temperatures between the four of us, NOT including all the times my husband needed to check in the middle of the day. I have PTSD, and I am not exaggerating. When I was finally able to put the thermometer away in the cabinet, I could feel my heart racing as I was holding it. 

If I never hear a thermometer beep again, it will be too soon. 

Only this time, when we took his temp that day, it didn’t rapid beep.

We looked at each other, and I said, “We’re going to pretend like that didn’t happen,” and I left the room.

And when I came back to check on him, I saw the Tylenol from the morning sitting on the nightstand. I left those two Tylenol there for three days.

By some grace, whether it was the medication or the virus running its course, things were improving for the first time all week, and I could see his body relax every so slightly. But ever so slightly on that day was what we needed for my mental health and his physical health. 

The next morning, I got a text with this photo saying: “Hey guys, Liz has clementines.” There’s that village again.

Things were improving by the hour at this point, as you can see by the symptom timeline above. As rapidly as the virus came, it was leaving. 

We were waiting until he had at least 36 hours of either a low grade or no fever to attempt my husband getting out of bed and joining the family downstairs. Which I think was essential to do. There were too many ups and downs those first seven days, too many false alarms, too much false hope. And he finally rejoined us on Day 13.

That Monday, Day 14, two fulls weeks from the first day of symptoms, my son had to answer a question on a FlipGrid video for school. The question was, “what do you like best about distance learning?”

And he said, “I love having my sister across from me, my mom next to me, and my dad on the couch.”

My husband narrowly avoided the hospital. 

But I questioned myself for days, not knowing what to look for when it was “time.”

This week, I asked a local ER doctor to hop on the blog for an interview to ask what guidance she would give to a caretaker on how we can do our part not to overload the emergency room right now. What questions should we ask ourselves, who should we call first if we do feel that we need to take someone to the ER, and what will that process be like?

She also happens to be a mom, coping with different types of physical and emotional challenges that are unique to her. 

Again, she will not be giving medical advice! These are our stories to share and use as a reference. 

Through my research, I’ve also found some good, grounded people who are sharing medical research on a daily basis through all types of outlets: Instagram, email newsletters, and Youtube. I will share those with you. 

This post was meant to give you our personal experience with how COVID-19 presented in our home. I think it’s important always to remember, we all get things in different ways. All of our bodies have unique weaknesses and underlying conditions that we may or may not know about.

I won’t pretend to know how to treat or cure this virus. 

But what I do know is that for MOST people, the anxiety of the unknown is far worse than the virus itself. And so I continue my mission of sharing a real-life recovery experience so that I can ease the fear.

My husband was sick, and it was indeed scary as his caretaker.

But he is ok. We can get incredibly sick. And we can recover. Look at him up there shaving heads and giving back! I don’t want YOU to have that fear.

We have to trust our bodies to know when it’s time to be still and heal, and when it’s time to seek assistance. We also have to be honest with our caretakers (ahem…).

Much of this occurs with staying present.

There are MANY shades in between the “no symptoms” and the ultimate “worst-case scenario”. 

Let’s learn together first, how to manage the in-between right now, because that is the place we can make the most impact in our own life. And second, how we can support our community around us as we navigate through.



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Lifestyle Nutrition Plans


  1. Rachel Bowser on April 4, 2020 at 7:19 PM

    Thank you, Liz. I just cannot fathom what that must have been I,e. I so appreciate you sharing this with us. Thank you, so much!

  2. Beth VanDusen on April 7, 2020 at 10:48 AM

    Liz – Such a powerful post, thank you for sharing. You and your family have shown both the devastation but also the inspirational part of this experience and you should be so proud of that for so many reasons 💕

  3. […] they see more than just shortness of breath. I listed all of my husband’s symptoms in my last blog, and they far exceeded the “fever, cough, and shortness of breath” officially listed. […]

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