Maryland Department of Health
Pikesville grandmother feels she is the ‘luckiest person in the world’
Anne and her husband took a trip to Florida on March 11. From that point on, things changed in their lives.
“I was supposed to stay for a couple of weeks, but because of the closings back in Maryland, the school closings and everything else, we flew home on March 13,” Anne recalls. She had picked up a small cough on the trip, she adds.
During Anne’s abbreviated Florida trip, things in Maryland were changing rapidly. It was during the same span in that second week of March that the first COVID-19 cases were being confirmed in the state. It was on March 16, after Anne was back at home in Pikesville, that bars and restaurants were ordered closed.
In those few days, COVID-19 went from being just another subject for the daily news to the one thing that was affecting everyone. And for Anne, 71, there was that cough.
“It was a dry cough. Not much, just a nagging little cough,” she recalled. Initially that was the only symptom, but on March 15 a fever started. The following day, she called her family doctor, who ordered that she be tested for COVID-19.
As a precaution, she went into self-quarantine. Nine days later, the test results confirmed she had contracted the novel coronavirus.
Anne was contacted by health officials after testing positive, but the reality of the crowds in the planes, grocery store and other pre-lockdown venues made tracing her contacts “just about impossible” at that point.
Anne alerted those with whom she knew she shared close quarters. The day before being tested, she and her husband had babysat for grandchildren. As a result, the children, along with Anne’s son and daughter-in-law, ended up in self-quarantine as well. Likewise, her daughter and a friend from New York who were also in Florida ended up in quarantine in New York.
Thankfully, no one in her circle tested positive for the virus, and Anne’s symptoms never got any worse. The day after she was tested, she took acetaminophen and the fever went away. During quarantine, the cough faded.
“I was the luckiest person in the world. The one with the mildest case,” she said, adding, “I never really felt sick.”
That said, being in quarantine for two weeks is a difficult experience. Helping Anne through it was her husband, who also was on voluntary quarantine (though he did leave their house to take daily walks, being careful to wear a mask and keep a good distance between himself and others).
Staying mentally fit during quarantine also involved plenty of social interaction, all of it via electronic connection.
“There was social media, Facebook, the phone, Netflix – just staying in touch,” she explained. There were even occasions for online happy hour gatherings via the Internet platform Zoom.
Although she realizes she was lucky, Anne laments some of the losses resulting from the pandemic, as well as the many inconveniences it has caused. Her grandchildren usually look forward to visiting pools and going to summer camp at this time of year. For her children and other parents, there also is the issue of daycare.
On the whole, though, Anne says she believes the COVID-19 experience has helped to strengthen social connections for her and her family.
“Some good has come out of this.” she said.
Her perspective comes not only from having been through the isolation of a COVID-19 self-quarantine, but also from having breast cancer nine years ago.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor, so every day is a gift,” she said. Even during her quarantine, and in the subsequent relative solitude of the state shut-down, she is inclined to see the bright side.
“I’ve never stayed home so much in my life, but I have a lovely home and I’ve been able to enjoy it,” she said, adding, “We’ve all had to get a little more creative.”