Surprising symptoms, in-home isolation and experimental drugs – Amy Herzog has had a whirlwind of a month.
“It all started so strangely,” the 35-year-old Montz resident, who works full-time as a nurse, said.
What started on Friday, April 3, as typical seasonal allergies symptoms had progressed to a headache the next day.
“On Monday I called my doctor for allergies worsening and sinusitis,” she said. “He prescribed me a Z-Pak so it wouldn’t get worse … I suffer from seasonal allergies so this wasn’t something I was unfamiliar with …since I work in healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic, I figured I would take the antibiotics so it didn’t get worse.”
Herzog initially experienced no sore throat, congestion, fever or chest pain.
“I had more of a head cold,” she said. “By Tuesday night I lost my sense of smell and taste completely and I knew people who had been diagnosed with coronavirus had complained of this … I knew this was not allergies.”
Scheduled to work the next day, April 8, Herzog instead went to get tested for coronavirus.
“To my surprise I tested positive,” she said. “After that point life was a whirlwind … I remember sitting in the parking lot crying trying to figure out how I was going to navigate my life.”
She was plagued with concerns about the health and well-being of her family, including wondering if they would get sick. Other thoughts swirling in her mind, Herzog said, were how she would homeschool her children, how she was going to be able to make sure her house was sanitized and concerns about if she would go into respiratory distress or have to be hospitalized.
When Herzog called her doctor to let him know the diagnosis, he called in a prescription for Plaquenil, also known as Hydroxychloroquine.
“I was advised on the side effects and how to take it,” she said. “Being a nurse, I had read about this drug and knew it was being tried on coronavirus patients with success.”
The medication is an immunosuppressant anti-parasite drug used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
“It’s a drug that’s been around for a long time, so it’s not an investigational drug,” she said. “Since there is little known about covid I figured I had to at least give this medication a try … I’m nervous to take any medication and don’t typically take antibiotics unless I really need them, but I knew there wasn’t anything else I could take, so I figured why not.”
Upon Herzog’s arrival back to her home after testing, she self-isolated in her room. Her husband Justin immediately began to work from home, clean and sanitize, homeschool their children and take care of her.
Herzog stayed isolated in her room for five days, and during that time Justin and their children – Mason, 9, and Madison, 6 – wore masks in the home.
“Family and friends dropped off masks, Lysol, hand sanitizer, and food,” she said. “I have had amazing support from family, friends, neighbors and coworkers … I have had so many people praying for me … It was a very scary, depressing and lonely five days.”
Madison had the hardest time not being able to around her, Herzog said.
“I started getting air hugs and blown kisses when she would peak in my room masked up to check on me,” she said. “Mason was great … I had him do a research assignment on coronavirus the week prior to my diagnosis so he could have a better understanding on the severity of the disease and why our lives that we were so used to was so very different.”
Her symptoms got worse before they got better, Herzog said, but she was able to avoid hospitalization during her illness.
“The symptoms are like a roller coaster of symptoms,” she said, explaining her symptoms have included complete loss of taste and smell, head cold, migraines, body aches, GI symptoms, chest pain, chest tightness, chest discomfort, loss of appetite and depression.
As her symptoms are subsiding, Herzog said she is regaining energy. She’s not positive where contracted the virus, but because she had been staying home and going to work, she thinks she most likely contracted it in the hospital where she works.
“I’m not 100 percent yet,” Herzog said. “I still have good and not so good days … I can’t say bad days because I feel like the worse is hopefully over for me … I have definitely learned to slow down.”
Thankfully, her family has remained healthy.
“We have been very vigilant on cleaning, sanitizing, hand washing and masking up … hopefully this will continue to be successful,” she said. “I’m hoping once I recover, I can donate plasma to help others who are much worse off than I was … I now feel blessed and that God had a hand in this, and I will be able to save lives.”