As a primary care provider, Dr. Megan Taylor knew she had a risk of contacting COVID-19. So she followed safety protocols, wore PPE, practised diligent hygiene and sanitizing routines. But still, the virus that has infected millions across the world found its way into her body.
One day near the end of November as Taylor was finishing up her work day, she began to experience flu-like body aches and chills.
“I was certain it was COVID,” said Taylor. “I knew there wasn’t a flu circulating in the community.”
When she got home she went straight to her bedroom, telling her family she was entering quarantine. She then went online and booked a COVID test for the following day.
Taylor puts herself in the “moderately ill” category. Her acute phase lasted nine days and included a high fever, muscle aches, body pain, chills, headaches, profound fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia, cough and shortness of breath.
“It was like a really bad flu, that lasted a really long time,” says Taylor.
Being a doctor, Taylor had a few benefits that others do not have, including the ability to monitor her own oxygen saturation levels.
“I did feel reasonably short of breath, and didn’t want to be that person that dies at home with COVID,” she said. “But I also didn’t want to expose any of my colleagues unnecessarily.”
She treated her symptoms with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, lot of fluids and a lot of rest.
Her fever, muscle pains and headaches lasted nine days, but the fatigue, cough and shortness of breath lasted another 10 days.
Taylor said it took nearly two months to get her energy level back to normal.
She was able to return to work after three weeks, but was very tired.
Her quarantine techniques worked, and no one else in her household contracted the illness.
Taylor was open about sharing her experience from the beginning, reaching out to Castlegar News in early December with a public letter urging people to take the virus seriously.
She says she hasn’t experienced discrimination regarding her diagnoses.
“People have been kind,” said Taylor. “But I recognize that I benefit from people knowing I caught it at work.”
Taylor’s main message for others: “I don’t recommend getting COVID — it was not fun! But in all seriousness, I would like people to know that this is more than the flu — it is more contagious than regular flu and for many people it will cause much higher rates of death and disability than the flu. Please take it seriously.”
Taylor is encouraging everyone to follow the public health guidelines and to get the vaccine when it becomes available. But she doesn’t think people need to take extreme measures over and above the current regulations.
She does not have any extended family in the area, so she says she feels fortunate and thankful to have the many friends and colleagues who supported her in her illness. People dropped off food, sent messages of concern and colleagues stepped up to take care of her patients.
Even though current numbers in the area remain very low, Taylor is encouraging everyone to remain vigilant.
“Follow the rules, so if there is a case brought in, it just stops at that one case. Otherwise it can go from one case to 100 in a short time,” she says.
Fighting vaccine hesitancy is also really important to Taylor.
“I know we are all tired of COVID and just want our normal lives back,” adds Taylor. “We are getting closer. Don’t give up — do your best to follow the rules, get vaccinated when you can and try to maintain your hope.”