For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know my 10 Day quarantine is now over. If you are interested in reading a timeline of my symptoms that led me to home isolation (instructed by my doctor), you can find that here. I’ve been documenting everything because so many families are going through the same experience (or will go through this experience in the weeks and months to come), and I know that when I started to feel sick, all I wanted to read was stories about people who successfully recovered at home. The news was filled with worst case scenarios and made me feel like I was given a death sentence. I could not watch.
I didn’t know my story would be a happy one when I started documenting, but I feel pretty safe saying that now. I’ve heard from a lot of you that following someone who has a more mild case of COVID-19 has helped lessen your anxiety. I’m so happy to be able to do that for everyone!
I kept a diary throughout because I’m hoping it’s helpful to read about my progression of symptoms day by day, and also how I handled being isolated in our guest room while having two young kids. It’s a challenge but it can be done, and I believe there was lots of good that came of it.
My family really rose to the occasion, which helped me focus on resting and getting better, without worrying that I was infecting anyone else.
Home Isolation Log
Day 1 (Sunday)
On Sunday morning, I got up really early, called urgent care, described my symptoms and they told me to come in. I left for the doctor before the kids were awake. The doctor said there was a 95% chance I had COVID-19 and instructed me to quarantine in a separate room from my family for the next ten days. I got back home at about 10am, so Sunday was my first full day of isolation.
The girls were really upset when I got home, because I went straight to the guest room and shut the door without going near them. Mike and I were trying to explain the situation, me on the other side of the door, but Harlow and Mazzy were both upset and worried. In retrospect, I should have talked to them on the phone before coming home, just to prepare them ahead of time. Mike was finally able to calm Harlow down by suggesting that she make me some pancakes for breakfast, one of her favorite things to do.
While Harlow was most upset about not being able to be near me, Mazzy was worried about me being really sick. Since she’s older, she was a lot more aware of the dangers of the virus. I explained to Mazzy that the doctor said I would be just fine, that I was not in a high risk group and I did not need to go to the hospital. For me, it would probably look like any other time I’ve been sick and needed rest. I told her that the reason I needed to stay isolated was so that someone else didn’t catch it. I also told them that we can FaceTime whenever they want and they can pass me notes through the door. It helped a lot that they could see me over FaceTime so they knew it looked like a normal sickness.
A half hour later, there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find Harlow’s pancakes on a tray. There was a portrait Harlow drew of me and two notes. One said “I love you” and the other “this is for making pancake tacos.” Harlow serenaded me through the door on her ukulele and then we facetimed while we both ate our breakfast. It was honestly the best.
My symptoms came and went throughout the day. I noticed an increase in my headaches, which got really bad at night, although my temperature was only slightly elevated. I had more consistent body aches, waves of nausea and chills. Occasionally I would get light-headed, which seemed to go hand-in-hand with my shortness of breath. I didn’t have any real fatigue and also not much coughing. I did, however, have the distorted sense of taste and smell people have been reporting. I tried to eat a piece of cheese at one point and it tasted like biting into a sponge.
Day 2 (Monday)
This morning, I woke up to heart shaped waffles. Mike brought me coffee with a spoon so I could do my coffee stirring on Instagram, something I often start my stories with on normal days. Next, the Mommy Shorts team had a virtual surprise party for Allie’s 26th birthday. I felt much better during the day, so I worked as normal. What else was I going to do in there?
Besides writing and fielding phone calls from my friends and family, the rest of the day consisted of Harlow passing artwork under my door. She made me an “I love you” poster to spruce up my room and then arranged to watch a movie with me over FaceTime. I also had a FaceTime happy hour with college friends, a dinner time call with my high school friends and an after party with my mom friends from school. I swear I’ve connected more with my friends and relatives in the first few days of isolation than I have in years. It’s like I have a better social life in quarantine! At the end of the night, Mazzy and I played Disney Trivia on House Party. All in all a pretty good day.
As for my symptoms, I woke up feeling much better than the night before. I still have waves of nausea, chills and general wooziness, but no headaches. I’m drinking a LOT of water. I also tried a smoothie, but that was a bad idea. After two sips, I could feel the milk sitting wrong in my stomach, so the plan is to stick to clear liquids until further notice. My preference is hot water with honey.
A weird thing about the virus (in my experience so far) is that the symptoms come and go, which makes it hard to tell where you are in the progression of things. It’s not linear like the flu, and that definitely adds to the anxiety about how things will go. I also read a lot about people feeling better and then the symptoms coming back more aggressively, so I kept close tabs on the friend I believe I contracted it from, so that I could see where she was at. She was eight days ahead of me and feeling pretty good, although not quite 100%.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
This morning, I woke up with a sore throat that felt very slimy, but it went away after about an hour. It’s probably from everything settling while I am sleeping, so I am trying to stay elevated throughout the day. I feel much better than last night, but that seems to be a pattern. The nights are much worse than the days. Mazzy slipped this card under my door this morning. I think the sound of a note or drawing sliding under my door is my favorite part of quarantine. Her tips on what you need to survive the virus are pretty accurate. Toilet paper, water, and Tiktok!
Also, just to give some real survival advice, I was told by my doctor to use Tylenol for headaches/body aches and Mucinex DM if I develop a cough. There has been some conflicting information about whether or not Ibprofen is safe to take. It seems to me that legally the doctors can’t say Ibprofen is bad, because they don’t have definitive research, but the doctor I saw at urgent care and every medical professional in my DMs told me to stay away. Tylenol only. Someone else told me that one reason people are having trouble breathing is because the mucus can harden in your lungs, so drink plenty of hot clear liquids to consistently break it up. I am also taking Vitamin C and an immune support supplement, both in liquid form.
Later in the day, Mazzy and Harlow came to my door to complain that they were bored (no, you don’t escape these kinds of conversations while in isolation), so I asked them to shoot something for my Instagram story. I thought they were just going to film what they were doing. Nope. Thirty minutes later, they returned and air dropped me a video through the door. IT WAS A COMMERCIAL FOR BAI WATER. I laughed so freakin’ hard, I was scared for my breathing. You can watch it on Instagram, but please keep in mind that my kids pronounce Bai wrong, and I do not believe it can do anything to help your allergies.Although I have been drinking a lot of Bai water, because it has electrolytes and helps with my nausea.
I took a shower and afterward, started sweating ridiculously. I asked Mike to bring me ice packs to cool me down but he said he had removed all the ice packs from the freezer to make room for food. I ended up running my wrists under cold water to cool down like in elementary school. After I finally stopped sweating, I felt the best I have felt in days. Hopefully that was my fever breaking.
My symptoms today consisted mostly of feeling lightheaded and short of breath. I noticed that when I try to talk too much on the phone, I start to feel dizzy. The waves of nausea are still there, but more mild. It was also the first night I went to sleep without a headache. I’m crossing my fingers and saying that my symptoms seem to be improving.
Day 4 (Wednesday)
Mike and I started the day with our morning coffee date. We are both watching the Morning Show and catching up with each other after each episode, although I am way ahead of him. It’s funny how quickly you can find new routines and settle into them under strange circumstances. Mike put a cushion at the end of the hall, so the kids know how far to sit when they want to talk to me with an open door.
At one point in the day, Mazzy discovered a box of my keepsakes from the 90s and decided to go through it from her spot all the way at the other end of the hallway. My mom had brought it over a few months ago (as parents do when they are trying to rid their house of extraneous stuff) and I hadn’t gone through it yet, so I was a little nervous about what she was going to find!
Mazzy was mostly appalled by the terrible photos and I tried to explain that back in the day, you had no idea what your photos looked like (or if your finger was covering the lens) until you got them developed a month later. She went through a scrapbook from my teen tour, some old letters from my sister sent from camp and lots of birthday cards. I eventually had to cut her off when she got to letters from ex-boyfriends, because YIKES, who knows what kind of things teenage Ilana was corresponding about.
Overall though, it was really cool to talk to Mazzy about things from my own childhood, and the only reason that conversation happened was because she found that box in the hallway closet right outside my room and wanted an excuse to spend time with me.
I finished the Morning Show and started watching Tiger King. That night, I chatted with my friends on House Party, while Mike finally got the girls off to bed. It was way past their bedtime, but since I’m not involved, I can’t complain!
My symptoms weren’t that bad today, which is starting to make the experience feel a bit indulgent. But, I know I am doing the right thing. I realized that even though I’m on the 4th day of doctor instructed quarantine, it’s actually the 8th day of symptoms (since I started to feel sick on a Thursday, but didn’t call my doctor until Sunday morning, because I wasn’t sure what I was dealing with.). My doctor said most people are sick for 8-10 days. I was feeling much less woozy, with no headache, no fever, and no cough. I still had some shortness of breath and lots of indigestion. It feels felt I have a huge air bubble lodged in my throat.
Day 5 (Thursday)
My Tiktok video went viral today. It’s wild over there! It took a pandemic, but I finally signed up for an account and it’s been something to do while I’m stuck in my room. The viral tiktok is about how I felt completely fine for 8 days between when I believe I contracted the virus and when I started to feel symptoms. The message is to stay home even if you don’t feel sick, because you could be unknowingly spreading it regardless. Right now, it’s at 4 million views!!! So hopefully, that means a lot of young people got the message.
The real highlight of the day was that Mike taught Harlow how to ride her bike without training wheels. I was a little sad I missed it, so I asked him to send me a video. You guys, no joke,the only video he took was of her crashing into the pavement. The fall looked BAD. Mike! Why??? Harlow is fine though, and very proud of herself.
Questionable video clips aside, one thing I have learned in this whole thing is that MY HUSBAND IS AMAZING IN A CRISIS. I wrote all about how he is enjoying having sole control over the household right now.
It’s been a full week since I watched the news. That was an intentional decision on my part. I am usually a news junkie, but with everything being focused on COVID-19 horror stories right now, I needed to do it in the interest of self-preservation. I got a news alert the other day with a headline about people thinking they had recovered and then the virus coming back more aggressively and I was like, NOPE. Not clicking on that. I’ve just been paying attention to my own body, which tells me that I am going to be fine.
My two favorite foods since this all started are chicken soup and spinach salad with avocado, olive oil and sea salt. I’ve been avoiding all acidic foods because I know that in the past, I’ve had issues with acid reflux aggravating a cough and I don’t want to do anything that might worsen my symptoms should a more serious cough arise.
My symptoms today continue to be on the mild side, although I have developed a slight cough which makes me nervous. Every morning, I wake up with a sore throat, but it goes away in about an hour. I had a few bouts of light headedness and lots of belching throughout the day. Then I had chills and the cough at night. I took a Mucinex DM for the first time.
Day 6 (Friday)
I need to do a quarantine photo series called “from my doorway.” Having food delivered to my door is the highlight of my day. Our rule is that the kids can bring me things, but only Mike can clear. That way he can take the proper precautions, carry the dishes with wipes and put them directly in the dishwasher.
The food that comes to my door is always a big reveal because the kids put it down, then run back to the other end of the hallway before they tell me to open the door. Sometimes they bring me good snacks and sometimes it’s all a big joke. On this occasion, I asked Mazzy and Harlow to make me a snack and they brought me a single uncut lime in a bowl. They thought it was hilarious.
I’ve also gotten cereal with a straw in it, a banana with the peel taped back on and a pack of gum. I prefer the heartfelt deliveries like the time Harlow delivered me homemade banana bread for dessert. Or the time Mazzy delivered graham crackers with pieces of chocolate.
This morning when I wanted breakfast, Mike was doing stuff in the yard and didn’t hear his phone, so I texted Mazzy. She texted back that she was going to make me “a surprise brunch meal.” I was expecting a joke but she toasted and buttered me a bagel.
I know that’s a small thing and most 10-year-olds should be able to make a bagel, but it made me tear up. I guess it took home isolation to teach the kids to do things for their mom for a change. That bagel meant a lot.
As far as symptoms go, today I continued a slight cough and had diarrhea in the morning, but no other major symptoms. I’m hoping this is just my body’s way of getting rid of the virus.
Day 7 (Saturday)
This morning, I showered and cleaned my room, which felt awesome. I feel like I’m on the other side of this thing now, just waiting for my quarantine to be over.
Mike taught the girls how to play baseball outside my window, which was fun to watch. Like several other things (Harlow riding her bike with no training wheels, Mazzy making breakfast, etc.), it took extreme circumstances for us to focus on simple things. It has been really interesting to see what we prioritize when our regular life is on pause.
I can tell that the kids are adapting to me being on quarantine, because instead of everyone waiting on me all day, everyone just kind of forgot I was in the bedroom! I kept screaming into the hallway, begging for snacks. I guess I should mention that my appetite was back.
Dinner finally showed up outside my door at 7:53 PM. Better late than never. We ended up having a family dinner all together, with me in my room and Mazzy, Harlow and Mike stationed down the hall.
Symptom wise, I am feeling good. I still have the same mild symptoms but they do not appear to be progressing. I had diarrhea once in the morning again, the same slight cough, occasional bouts of dizziness and indigestion. I am belching like crazy (the air bubble in my throat has yet to go away), which a few people told me they are experienced as well. My sense of taste and smell are not gone, just out of whack. A lot of things smell terrible which makes them impossible to eat, like steak and eggs.
Day 8 (Sunday)
I started watching the news again, which is a sure sign that I am feeling better and ready to come out of my bubble. It also means I saw the rising number of cases in NYC, how quickly it is spreading across the US, and the death toll all over the world. Meanwhile, in my little room, I watched Tiger King and attempted to learn the Savage dance, while Mike baked cookies with the girls downstairs. The juxtaposition between what is happening out there and what is happening in here is pretty stark. As I continue to take you through my personal experience, I hope I’m not minimizing the severity of what’s going on. I don’t want to create the Instagram-friendly version of this. I’m just trying to bring a bit of humor and hope to a pretty dire situation. And to lessen everyone’s anxiety by showing what most people who get the virus experience.
Mazzy and Harlow have both been slipping me tons of art under the door. Mazzy made me the “full protection mode” drawing above and Harlow painted me a mountain landscape. Very different styles! I think I might have to make a quarantine art gallery in the guest room when this is all over.
Harlow spent most of the day baking with Mike. They made chocolate chip sandwich cookies. It made me happy to know that Mike was subbing in as her baking assistant. He even unearthed some baking equipment from storage (like a turquoise Kitchen Aid mixer!) that I didn’t even know we owned.
Today, I realized that Mazzy is missing me the most. Harlow has seemed to be getting more used to my absence, while Mazzy is getting increasingly needy. She inches closer to my door each day and begs for hugs. Breaks my heart saying no.
My symptoms are down to a slight cough and diarrhea in the morning, but otherwise I’m ok. I ended the night with a homemade chocolate chip cookie delivery from Harlow. I can’t wait to hug my girls.
Day 9 (Monday)
For those of you who think I got out of distance learning because I was stuck in quarantine, NOPE. You would be mistaken. Distance learning officially started for the girls today. Harlow pulled up a little table and a chair to make herself a makeshift work space in the hallway right outside my room. The problem is, not only does Harlow need help with literally EVERYTHING (we are still working on reading over here), she also doesn’t know how to use a computer. So, it’s a little hard to help her from down the hall.
Mike decided to do something in the yard, so I was alone with the kids, while being unable to leave my room. I think he is over the isolation thing and just wants everything to return to normal (or as normal as possible) with childcare and household responsibilities fairly split.
I was tasked with teaching Harlow about transportation in the 1800s, the history of the Statue of Liberty and how to tell time. Meanwhile, Mazzy decided to spend her morning doing one of the weekly “specials” listed instead of the required math, social studies or writing assignments. She picked art and the link led her to an origami lesson. Mazzy couldn’t do it and then tried to enlist my help, which I could not give her. 1) Because she was downstairs. 2) Because I was in the middle of teaching Harlow. 3) Because I can’t touch her things, let alone fold paper for her and 4) I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DO ORIGAMI. She got upset because I couldn’t help her and I found myself screaming, “IF YOU WANT HELP WITH A MATH QUESTION, I AM HERE FOR YOU, BUT I AM NOT GOING TO SPEND ONE MORE SECOND STRESSING OVER ORIGAMI!!!!”
Holy crap, this is going to be a tough few months.
On the positive side, I had an almost symptom free day today! First day in three days without diarrhea in the morning. I still wake up with an icky throat and have a little cough, but I hear that can last for awhile after the virus has passed. Food tastes mostly fine except the kids brought me ice cream for dessert and I couldn’t eat it because it tasted sour.
Day 10 (Tuesday)
Today is my last official day in isolation, which has come at a good time because at this point my family is basically ignoring me and Harlow started filming me for her friends like I’m an animal in a zoo exhibit.
There were some highlights today though. The biggest? I taught Harlow how to tell time! This was our first successful homeschool lesson. We also had a virtual 75th birthday party for my stepdad Sam, and I finished Tiger King. If that’s not going out strong, I don’t know what is. The rest of my day consisted of me disinfecting my room for my big release tomorrow.
Since my quarantine is almost over, I have been reading up on what the rules are for safely exiting your isolation. The CDC states that you should have no fever for 72 hours (I haven’t had a fever for 8 days), you should have improved symptoms (my only symptom is an occasional cough and my taste buds are a little off) and it’s been at least 7 days since symptoms started (my symptoms started 13 days ago). This all means that I officially meet the guidelines.
Mike and I decided that we are still taking lots of precautions, because I’ve heard that symptoms can return. I am not going to kiss the girls, share any dishes or lie with them at night. I am also going to continue to sleep in the guest room and use that bathroom.
Mike made a delicious final supper (which he prepared while blasting Bon Jovi, ha!) of brussel sprouts, rice and marinated tuna. I listened to the kids laughing with their dad downstairs, while I ate alone in my room, trying to appreciate the last of what can be considered my “me” time.
I’m thrilled we were able to make the 10 Days of isolation work. I feel like it was the best thing for everyone and not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be in the beginning. When I felt sick enough to call my doctor, I thought I was at the onset of my symptoms, but now I realize that was probably the peak. The whole thing has been relatively mild, which I will attribute somewhat to my family giving me the space and time to rest. I also know I was really lucky. It felt like a low grade flu, with weird icky symptoms, but pretty manageable. The toughest part was feeling anxious because I kept thinking it was about to get worse.
Honestly, I have never felt so loved as I did when I was alone in my guest room for 10 days. My family bringing me food, Mike making sure everything was taken care of with the kids and in the house, the girls slipping letters and artwork under my door, the daily calls from my mom and dad, the zoom calls and house parties with friends, and all the love and support from the people following along on Instagram.
Over these last ten days, there has been increased scrutiny on influencers who are not adhering to CDC guidelines and I started to feel a little nervous about everything I was putting out there. I recognize the huge responsibility I have in this. When I first started posting about isolating, I was worried I was going to get criticism for taking my symptoms too seriously. So all of your messages encouraging me to keep sharing, whether it be because I was lessening your anxiety or because I was setting a good example or because it was useful in educating your kids or because you were isolating from your family as well, were all so appreciated. Thank you.
Now, I’m excited to be together with my family. You can catch our first hug here!
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