Covid hit my house last week.
And even this Doctor Mom had a few lessons to learn.
A few simple preparation tips would have lessened the confusion – and turmoil.
Here’s the 4 biggest lessons I learned from the precipitous arrival of Covid at my house.
Lesson 4: Have a plan for where your kids will go
As is the case for so many families in America today, we are a blended family. And we had kids heading all directions over Thanksgiving weekend. Covid was not part of that plan. So when my husband started coughing Tuesday evening while at his Mother’s house for her birthday, we quietly excused ourselves. We went home and took stock. We immediately determined who every member had been in contact with and took all precautions.
At least that’s how I wish the story played out. It didn’t. Instead, my husband stayed home the next day with the toddler only after a strongly-worded discussion on who had more important work to do the day before Thanksgiving. My step-son left for his Mom’s house. My daughters were both with my husband. And I was at work.
By Thursday morning, my husband was pretty sick. He was in bed with the cough, fever, chills, and diarrhea. And so was my Dad. As it turns out, after months of mom guilt from just knowing I would be the source for my family, the boys game of pickleball would be the ultimate Covid spreader instead.
So here was our dilemma: what to do with our older kids. The toddler had slept with my husband and so had I. The teens had kept some distance but had been in contact. They had no symptoms and were supposed to be headed to their other parents for the weekend.
As a physician Mom, here’s what I knew: If my teens did not get Covid, their 14 day quarantine would start at the end of their last contact with a family member who had the virus.
We made the decision to send my teenage daughter to her Dad’s house to quarantine there. My step-son would stay at his Mom’s house in quarantine. And they never got Covid. With that decision, I knew I was losing any help I would get with the toddler but it was the right decision for us. It would have saved a lot of frustration and worry had we had that plan in advance.
Lesson 3: Have more than toilet paper on hand
We have been very lucky with our Covid story. And I don’t take that lightly. As a physician and a Mom, I literally worried for months about how this disease would look in my family. I can tell you that it was different for every one of us. And not what you would expect.
My husband was the sickest – he slept for days, soaked the bed, had dizziness and diarrhea, and took the complete time course to recover. My 76-year-old Dad had a more mild course with cough, congestion, and intermittent fevers. I had the headache, chills, fevers, and an unexpected complication – see more below. And my toddler was actually pretty sick for a few days. I struggled to break her fever. I would never have expected to see my toddler more sick than my Dad.
I wish I had been prepared with Tylenol for all ages and lots of hydrating drinks in the fridge. Yes, the toilet paper matters. But those were the game changers at our house. And something I had not recently stocked up on.
Lesson 2: If you lose the taste, look at your diet
Let me be clear here, I am not telling you to start crash dieting in the middle of Covid. What I am saying, though, is that many of us are completely losing taste and smell. I mean, it’s gone. There is no taste to anything.
As a weight loss Doctor and coach, I was struck by how little interest I had in food once the pleasure of taste and smell went away. You need to eat to stay strong. Sugar does not have to be part of that picture. Eating healthy during Covid is good for your health. And it just might be the perfect time to give up sugar as those tastes will be gone for weeks I’m told.
Consider getting some healthy food options instead of those old carbohydrate heavy comfort foods (hello toast, chicken noodle soup, crackers) you are used to. It’s good for your health. For more on sugar addiction in your family, check out Is Your Child Addicted to Sugar?
Lesson 1: Mom, you have to take care of YOU, too
This was the hardest lesson for me. In fact, I was taking care of everyone. I was cooking meals, keeping the toddler, and running around like the typical Mom. That is until I had an unexpected complication.
I developed excruciating right-sided back pain while making breakfast one morning. I thought to myself, “Man, maybe I’m a wimp but these Covid body aches are way more intense than I thought they’d be.” Within an hour, I was doubled over in pain, vomiting, in the bathroom, and completely miserable.
My husband made me head to our Immediate Care where I was promptly diagnosed with not just Covid but a kidney stone on top. I have never had kidney stones. And they are painful. Having Covid and a kidney stone is not something I would wish on anyone. Don’t be me.
You cannot help others if you don’t take care of yourself. You need to rest. You need to hydrate. You need to take care of you. I have had so many sweet friends reach out to me and offer to bring by meals, to run errands for us, to help in any way. Covid in your family is not the time to do it all.
Take care of yourself too, Mom. Your family needs you.