feel like? Aches, fever and more
EVERETT — Tyler Chism, 33, is willing to share his experience in recovering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but he’s got one serious concern.
“I really want people to take it seriously and self-isolate,” he said.
It was March 1 when he first had symptoms of what would later test positive for COVID-19 and he immediately chose to self-isolate, just in case. When interviewed nearly a month later, he was still recovering.
When he first got sick, “it just hit me like a ton of bricks,” Chism said. “All of my muscles ached and felt very stiff, and I just felt really uncomfortable. I also lost my sense of smell and taste.”
During the first bout of illness, he had a fever of 100.5 that was sporadic, changing hour by hour. Some symptoms felt different than a flu he had earlier in the year. COVID-19, for him, came with lingering chest aches as well as sharpness in his chest and lungs. Some people have gastrointestinal upset, but he did not experience that symptom. Some of those infected have a cough.
“I didn’t have (much of a) cough unless I breathed really deep,” Chism said. “My lungs stung, like I had gone for a run in the freezing cold.”
He did not request a test at the time. He was staying away from people, and tests were scarce. As a physically active vegetarian who does not drink, he expected a clean bill of health. He thought it was a bad cold that took a turn when he resumed usual activity a bit too soon, at the three-week mark of his illness. He tested on March 12, and had to wait several days for an answer. The results showed he had the illness.
While a surprise, that news came with some relief for his choice to avoid people, except his wife, Laura, 36, who shares a home with him.
Chism works as a tourism and events coordinator for the City of Everett, and has been away from his office since Feb. 28. He continues to work from home now.
He said, for him, “the fever has been the worst part of it — in bed, feeling helpless.” He was sleeping 10 hours at a time.
Still on the mend a month later, he was past earlier symptoms but waiting for his energy level to return to normal. He was cleared to be in public places by a health official just prior to Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders, but avoided public spaces anyway out of concern for spreading the illness.
They also said to assume he could get it again. Data on the virus is not yet clear on whether a one-time illness creates immunity for a second round.
Researchers worldwide are putting vaccines and medications through clinical trials to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19. One vaccine started March 16 in Seattle. Doctors await data on the virus and its medical match.
Chism is an optimist, but has his worries: his elderly dad, and as his wife goes through the illness and what symptoms will arise for her. He is also worried about “the health of my family and neighbors (and) the healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.”
For the community, he’s concerned about the financial state of the city of Everett, which many have worked so hard to build. He worries if the events this spring and summer will happen, and how businesses will remain open.
Chism just celebrated a birthday in the midst of it all. For his 33rd birthday on March 15, he and his wife took a picnic to Deception Pass and “we ate lunch with the windows rolled up,” he said.
Chism has gratitude for how it played out for him.
“I don’t want to downplay it,” Chism said. “I seemed to have recovered fine so far, but that doesn’t mean other people in our community will. Let’s keep the elderly and immunocompromised in our minds when we make decisions about leaving the house.”
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