We don’t know a lot about the coronavirus disease, called COVID-19.
But now that there is a positive case in Gothenburg, we have the ability to better understand the disease through the eyes of Patient 1, whom we will not identify by name.
While a positive case in our community is something we hoped would not happen, the information Patient 1 can provide may be helpful to medical professionals as they continue to wage the war against COVID-19.
Most patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 have exhibited fever and symptoms of respiratory distress like a cough or difficulty breathing.
Patient 1 spoke to the Leader and shared some information in an effort to better inform the community.
The patient traveled to Denver and returned to Gothenburg on March 3.
The following day, Patient 1 traveled to North Platte for a procedure at the North Platte Surgical Center, and on March 13 went to Gothenburg Health for a follow-up appointment.
“I was feeling a little sore, but thought that was surgery related,” Patient 1 said. “I went into Gothenburg Health for a follow-up check and the doctor wanted to do a COVID-19 test as a precaution.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for testing for COVID-19 have been developed based on what is known about the virus, and as more information becomes available, those guidelines may change.
Criteria has been laid out by the CDC for physicians to determine if a patient has symptoms that would warrant a test. Typical symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, sore throat and a dry cough.
Patient 1 said none of those symptoms were present at the follow-up appointment.
“Gothenburg Health is utilizing the constantly changing CDC guidelines for COVID-19 testing to determine when and who to test,” said Dr. Carol Shackleton, chief medical officer at Gothenburg Health.
Patient 1 began showing symptoms March 16. Once they began, it was a progression into what it might be like to have the flu and a head cold all at once.
“On March 16 I had a sore throat and I had a low-grade fever of about 99.2. On the 18th, my fever spiked to 101.3 and I started coughing and feeling really tired. The following days the cough got worse and my fevers would go up and down. The body ache has been constant, especially in my neck.”
Patient 1 also stated that due to an underlying medical condition, they experienced chest pain and a spike in heart rate, as well as coughing up blood.
The course of treatment is supportive care, or care that treats the symptoms. There is no antibiotic or vaccination for COVID-19.
“I am treating my symptoms accordingly. I am marking down temps and symptoms to help my health care professionals. I am taking Mucinex to help with my symptoms and my doctors have prescribed cough syrup to help.”
Medication isn’t the only thing that has been helping Patient 1.
“Netflix and lots of baths soaking with essential oils and salts to help ease the aches. Sleeping upright is a must. Breathing exercises help and doing daily yoga, even though I hurt, to help calm my mind. Gatoraid is a must to stay hydrated.”
Shackleton echoes the CDC recommendation for home care.
“Over 80% of individuals experience mild symptoms and can recover at home. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms,” she said.
If you suspect you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, Shackleton offered these guidelines:
Stay home from work, school and away from other public places. If you must go out, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing or taxis.
Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately.
Get rest and stay hydrated.
For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
Patient 1 is in quarantine at home and the rest of the family is self-isolating.
The CDC states that anyone staying in a home with a COVID-19 positive patient should be in another room and be separated from the patient as much as possible.
A separate bathroom should be used by the patient and other family members, and visitors should be barred.
Performing hygiene frequently is imperative — washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Cleaning high-touch surfaces — door knobs, light switches, counters, cellphones and the like — frequently and washing clothes thoroughly are strongly suggested.
“If you do feel you are developing symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, STAY HOME and practice strict self-isolation,” Shackleton said with emphasis. “Symptoms can include a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Follow the advice mentioned previously about home care. Monitor any fever and call your provider if your temperature is over 100.4, or you develop chest pressure or increasing shortness of breath. Please call Gothenburg Health at 308-537-3661 before coming into the facility for any potential COVID-19 symptoms.”
Patient 1 said keeping a positive attitude is another important part of the healing process, as well.
“I tell myself each day there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but to get to that light you must go through the tunnel. My faith in God helps a lot knowing I am not alone and his will will be done. Is it scary? Yes, but I need to keep positive for me and for my family.”