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Maryland Department of Health

CovidCONNECT

Family and Friends Help Small Businessman

Vincent DiGiortio
Montgomery County

Vincent has muscled through migraine headaches before. So he hunkered down when one hit in mid-March. 

“I began with a massive, massive headache,” Vincent says of his first symptoms of COVID-19. “Then I got a fever and what I call feel-bads: weakness and just not feeling well.”

Vincent, 50, knew this  was not something he had experienced before. This grinding headache persisted for days.

“It just wouldn’t go away. I had to sleep with it,” he says. The diagnosis of COVID-19 positive came on March 23. 

In the two days between when the test was administered and results came back, Vincent also lost his senses of smell and taste.

Vincent went into isolation in his home, and overcame the disease thanks to sleep, cable TV and, as he put it, “a wife willing to deliver food to my room.” 

Ultimately he was able to get some relief from the headache with medication tailored to his situation – but COVID-19 made eating a particularly insidious kind of torture. Family friends were dropping off some particularly tasty dishes to support him.

“People would bring food and it looked so good, but I realized I couldn’t taste it,” Vincent says.

Over the next few days, he began to feel better.  “Then one day, I realized: I can smell! I can taste!”

In this stage of his recovery, however, Vincent started to feel other effects of the disease. The smallest of efforts would make him out of breath, a condition that took weeks to plow through. By May 18, he was finally able to work on his fishing boat on Solomon’s Island.

Meanwhile, his business, an event production company, has taken a hit because of COVID-19 and the shutdown. His firm is contracted for weddings and other large scale social and corporate events, the type of activity that isn’t safe given the contagious nature of the disease.

“I had to lay off 40 people from the business,” he says sadly. It affects his outlook, Vincent admits. 

 A lingering effect of being sick is that people are wary of being around him.

“They say, ‘I love you, but stay away!’” Vincent says. It’s a sentiment he understands: “People are still scared to be around me. You can’t take it personally.”

Meanwhile, Vincent  bristles when he hears people talking about COVID-19 not being that big a deal or downplaying its seriousness. A piece he heard on the radio in early May prompted him to respond on social media.

He continues to spread the word to friends, family and anyone else who’ll listen: “Respect it. It’s real.”