“A lonely illness that eats away at your soul”

Eastern Shore mother urges community to take COVID-19 seriously after month-long battle with disease

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When Blair Lober headed to the doctor last week her young son nearly burst into tears.

 

He and his brothers feared that she may never return.

 

Lober, who lives on the Eastern Shore, has been battling COVID-19 for more than a month, first locked in her room for two weeks, and then the hospital, suffering from fever, low blood pressure, rapid and then low heart rate, aches, pains, diarrhea and more.

 

She has taken to social media to beg the community to understand the devastation the disease causes.

 

“I just ask that people please take it seriously! This is not a hoax! Not only has having COVID affected me but it has affected my loved ones. My husband has been without a wife for over a month and my poor babies have practically been without their mommy,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, for many families, their loved ones never return. Stay safe, stay responsible and hug your loved ones!” 

On March 30, Lober, a nurse practitioner, woke up with a dry cough but felt fine otherwise. That night she noticed mild aches as she drifted to sleep.

The next day she woke up without symptoms. That was the last time the mother of three felt normal. Around lunchtime, Lober said she started to feel bad and went to lie down.

She would not leave her bedroom for 14 days.

By mid-afternoon she had a fever of over 100 degrees, and a dry cough. Initially, Lober said she wasn’t worried. Why should she be?

She was just 34, not in the target group for severe COVID-19 response. She has no immunity issues or underlying health problems.

Now after battling the disease, and continuing to deal with residual health issues, she wants everyone to understand, we are all at risk.

“If you think you’re exempt from COVID-19, think again. COVID does not discriminate and COVID plays by no rules. It chooses them as it goes. I am not the elderly and I am not the immunocompromised. I am a 34-years-old with no underlying health conditions, I take no medications and my yearly labs are as normal as they could be. Yet, here I sit 30 days out from testing positive for COVID-19, writing this from a hospital bed and wondering when this nightmare will be over,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Lober spent 14 days battling the virus at home, suffering from rapid heart rate, decreased heart rate, labored breathing, aches, pains, fever and low blood pressure. She has lost 14 pounds.

On Easter Sunday Lober had been fever free for three days. She had passed the 14-day quarantine mark and emerged from her bedroom to be with her family for the holiday.

She thought she had turned a corner.

Days later she began having diarrhea and feeling poorly, though not as severely as in the first few days.

On day 26 her blood pressure dropped. Her heart rate soared. Her fingers and toes turned blue and Lober was admitted to the hospital.

While lying in the hospital bed that night, I’d be lying if I didn’t think there was a possibility I could die that night. I felt that bad,” she said in an email interview. “Throughout the weekend in the hospital, the impending doom feeling subsided.” 

 

Now, it has been more than 30 days since she contracted the virus. She has tested negative three times since her original positive diagnosis but struggles with residual effects including pneumonia. She worries the virus has also attacked her heart or nervous system.

She said when she hears people compare COVID-19 to the flu, “it makes me want to cry.”

“I understand that each individual is affected differently with this virus but I can promise you this isn’t the flu. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.  

So far her husband and three sons have shown no symptoms.

She prays every day that the community continues to take precautions as businesses open their doors and life continues. Masks are imperative to stopping the spread, she said.

“I do hope that individuals remain socially responsible and think of others and just not themselves. If you can wear a mask, please do! It is a small gesture for you to do to help protect others,” Lober said.

COVID-19 day by day

Blair Lober, a nurse practitioner from the Eastern Shore, fell ill with COVID-19 on March 30. She kept a diary of her symptoms. This is an excerpt that she posted online.

“COVID-19 does not just steal your health but your time, your dignity, and your mental health. It is a lonely illness that eats away at your soul as you sit alone and wonder when it will pass. I am blessed to be one of the lucky ones whose life it has not stolen but I grieve for the precious time lost with my 3 beautiful boys, my amazing husband (who has taken on the role of Mom and Dad while working full time from home) and the inability to contribute to society during this pandemic. That it my calling and I cannot help!

… I have had many people ask what my symptoms have been and how they have progressed. I have tried to keep a timeline but I’m sure there is much that has been missed as there were several days I did not have the energy to even write anything down. I hope this helps people who are wondering if they may have it or not. Keep in mind that everyone’s course is different. While some individuals may have mild cases, I can promise you that this is NOT ‘just the flu!’

Monday, March 29: Dry cough, mild body aches

Tuesday, March 30: Fever over 100 degrees, cough. Excruciating pain in left side under rib cage unrelieved by Tylenol. Was tested for COVID today

Wednesday, April 1: 2:30 a.m. fever spiked to 103.3 degrees. Felt terrible. Continued same symptoms as above. No taste at dinner and then realized I had no smell

Thursday, April 2: Fatigue the worst it has been so far. Can barely lift arm off bed. Temperature is 100.7 Was mostly in 99s during day but started rising in late afternoon and evening. Terrible body pain at night.

Friday, April 3: Short of breath, bradycardia (low heart rate) into 40s, chest tightness and heaviness.

Sunday, April 5: Feeling some better. Sat in chair for 30 minutes and was dizzy and exhausted. Had to get back in bed and slept for almost 3 hours. Decreased appetite. I have lost 8 lbs. Still short of breath and chest pain.

Monday, April 6: Fever at 101, headache, coughing, short of breath, nausea, vomit from coughing, Postural tachycardia (increased heart rate) into 170s.

Tuesday, April 7: Chest still hurts, increased heart rate, low grade fever in late afternoon/evening of 100.4, in a funk and feeling down

Wed, April 8: Rough morning. Worsening chest pain when standing. Coughing and vomiting. Heart rate went to 160s. Still erratic. Nausea. Lunch time feeling some better. Temperature to 100.6 in the evening.

Thursday, April 9: Heart rate still goes up over 40 BPM from resting rate when I stand. Feeling a little better, Still short of breath. Still coughing.

Saturday, April 11: Temperature in the low 99s

Sunday April 12: Came out of my room. Headache. Still fatigued

Tuesday, April 14: Headache at night. Body chills

Wednesday, April 15: Headache, Low heart rate, Chills. Weird chest feeling. Maybe palpitations.

Friday, April 17: Temperature is 99.5

Saturday, April 18: Diarrhea

Sunday, April 19: Diarrhea. Lost 2 pounds in 1 day.

Monday, April 20: Diarrhea. Total of 11 pounds lost. Achy. Feel bad.

Tuesday, April 21: Shortness of breath with exertion. Temperature of 100.8. Achy at night

Wednesday, April 22: Shortness of breath at rest, chest tightness. Temperature 101.3. Go to ER for CXR.

Re-swabbed for COVID-19.  Blood pressure is 74/41 at night. Dizzy.

Thursday, April 23: Temperature of 100.7, SBP 80s, Tired. Still SOB.

Friday, April 24: Low blood pressure. Heart Rate jumping into 160s.

Fingers and toes started turning blue. Admitted to USA. A total of 14 pounds lost.

Monday April 27:

Discharged in the afternoon. Still no appetite.

Tuesday, April 28: Diarrhea. Dizzy. Low heart rate. Nausea. Chest tightness

Tingling cold fingers and toes.

 

Wednesday, April 29: Nausea and vomiting (three times in the first hour awake). Diarrhea five times within first three hours awake and continued throughout day. (Hoping it is because of antibiotic). Completed antibiotics today. Heart rate 148. Chest pain. Temperature of 100.4.

 

Thursday, April 30: Shortness of breath. Chest tightness. Nausea

Heart rate goes into 160s. Saw my PCP today and am being referred to cardiology and pulmonology. Temperature of 100.5. Still have mild cough. Still not much of appetite. Continued tingling in fingers and toes