Advice From An Iowa Nursing Student Sick With COVID-19

Education is coming to life in the form of COVID-19 for one Iowa nursing student.

Knowing she was already saddled with a compromised immune system, after a cough turned into a fever last month she feared the worst. On April 18 she was tested for COVID-19 and on April 21, her fears were confirmed: she tested positive.

On the road to recovery, this 26-year-old Iowa nursing student shared her story with Starting Line under the condition of anonymity. She explained how it was anything but flu-like symptoms.

Our conversation is below and has been edited for conciseness:

What was it like having COVID-19?

It was terrible and now it’s even worse. The virus itself sucks and it wasn’t like having a cold for me. Everyone is different but I was coughing, coughing and coughing, then I had gastrointestinal issues on top of that. The cough was worse at night and I had a fever that got up to 103 degrees. It was just miserable and I was really scared. It was not good.

Then after you recover from COVID-19, they say 50 percent of these cases end up with a bacterial infection. So that’s what I’m currently dealing with.

It’s just never ending.

What was quarantine like?

It was like I was getting punished for having this.

I live alone and usually my boyfriend will come over quite a bit, but when I first started coughing, I immediately told him I couldn’t be around him because he has terrible asthma. It’s been a month and I’m still not around him. Thankfully my boyfriend did not get this, he was just under mandatory quarantine as well because he was around me.

I’m recovered and am able to go out, but there’s no point with this cough. I’m not contagious and I’m on antibiotics for this bacterial disease, but with the cough I have, if you cough in Target people are going to look at you. So I’m just home alone, still in school and trying to get through finals week.

When did you start to feel better?

About two weeks ago, then all of a sudden you get the second part of this. So I’m still quarantining mostly because of the cough I have.

How do you treat a virus that has no cure?

For COVID-19, I was on prednisone and there are protocols we take as far as treatment. But every day there’s something new coming out.

We’ve found out that ibuprofen and prednisone actually does not help COVID-19 and could actually make it worse, so that was something. There’s constantly new information coming out that changes everything, so the way we were treating it, now it’s completely different.

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What advice would you give someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

Stay home! This is new for everyone and new information about the virus is coming out every day. We know so much more today than we did two months ago. But just like any other illness, stay home until you’re better and stay away from friends or family. This is far from the flu, we know how to treat that and have vaccines to “prevent” or at least lessen the severity of.

If you test positive, Vicks vapor rub or peppermint oil came in handy for me, as well as a humidifier. I drank a lot of hot tea with honey and colored a lot of coloring books. Make sure to drink water to avoid dehydration from fevers and GI upset.

Did anything surprise you about COVID-19?

COVID itself didn’t surprise me as we all knew the gist of it, what surprised me most was the way I was treated. It really did feel like I was being punished.

When people are fearful of something, they tend to be on edge or even a little irritable—and rightfully so considering how the virus is portrayed in the media. It’s almost like we are forgetting the people who are testing positive, are still people. Not everyone who tests positive was not listening to the recommendations, I followed each and every one, especially being a medical professional.

But when people hear that you tested positive, they automatically assume that you were being the worst person in society, not listening to any of the recommendations and I guess that is what surprised me the most. You can follow the guidelines and recommendations and still get this virus. That doesn’t mean you were doing anything wrong.


by Joey Aguirre
Posted 5/19/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

3 Comments on "Advice From An Iowa Nursing Student Sick With COVID-19"

  • Thanks for writing, and thanks to the nursing student for staying home and putting up with all this. It’s hugely important to hear these personal stories, and realize that we can still get the virus even when we’ve been social distancing and whatnot. Everyone, make an effort to smile and wave at people wearing masks, or doing anything to keep others safe! And whoever is in quarantine deserves our help, especially when they had tried to do the right thing.

  • Hear, hear! You put yourselves on the front line for all of the rest of us – and then when you (inevitably) contract the disease, you become a pariah – for no other reason than trying to help your fellow man. I can’t say enough about your service!

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