After a year with this pandemic, Alton and I decided to travel for rest and relaxation to the Virgin Islands. We had cautiously been traveling within the southeastern US with masks and limited to small gatherings. Most important, we were actively moving, hydrating, eating immune building and gut-healing foods, and restoring our bodies through deep, consistent sleep. Our confidence was in our God-given immune system which was functioning as God intended. And if we contracted COVID-19, our cases would hopefully be mild.
To travel to the US Virgin Islands, one must have a negative COVID-19 test within a few days of flying. Our airlines, Delta, was still blocking out the middle seats and sanitizing the planes between each flight. (Thanks Delta!) In addition, we used a sanitizing wipe to make sure our touch screen, table tray and armrests were germ-free. I even wore a plastic glove to get through the airport, and we avoided the transport systems and walked instead. But the night before, we lost our night’s sleep when my husband tripped during the night and busted his head open. We were able to stop the bleeding and catch our plane, but I looked like I was traveling with Gorbachev!
The first night at our resort, I intended to catch up on the sleep I’d missed, only to find the mattress was too hard for this Goldilocks. After a loss of two nights sleep, I finally used several blankets and sheets from the sofa bed to soften the mattress so it would be just right. The third night, I finally slept through the night. The next morning, I began sneezing. I was not sure if it was allergies or a mild cold. I did not let it stop me from swimming, snorkeling or walking several miles on the beach daily. The resort had a temperature check to enter certain areas, and my highest temperature was 97.3. Allergies, I kept thinking as I passed rows of blossoming flowers and trees.
A few days later, my husband developed a little cough, but it was controlled with cough drops when needed. I always cough in response to pollen, but neither of us coughed at night. So we kept on swimming, walking on beaches and enjoying the beauty around us. We had brought our own food and ate mainly in our condo. A few days later, another couple joined us in our spare bedroom and then we traveled to St John. We returned home a few days later.
When the couple with us called to say she had a fever and body aches and pains, the day after I returned I got a COVID-19 test. Since I was NEGATIVE, my husband decided not to be tested. But I insisted. The shock was when his test came back POSITIVE. He was almost asymptomatic! I immediately called the other couple advising them to get tested, and they both tested POSITIVE even though one had no symptoms at all. DHEC advised me to keep testing. Two additional tests showed NEGATIVE results. Here are some things we learned from our US Virgin Islands trip:
You may or may not have a fever. Three of us had no fever at all, and one had a mild fever with body aches. Most cases have a mild to moderate fevers and some have high fevers, but don’t count COVID out just because you have no fever or body aches.
Loss of appetite is one of the possible symptoms. Yet I never saw that on the CDC website. I only heard about the loss of taste or smell. This actually happens more often, and both Alton and I experienced a loss of appetite. When we got home and weighed on the scales, we’d both lost weight. This rarely happens on a vacation!
Don’t discount even a slight cough. Even though we did not cough at night, both of us had mild coughs controlled by cough drops. We were fortunate that neither of us had shortness of breath which is common with COVID-19. During this pandemic, that mild cough might mean something.
An active lifestyle is sometimes possible with COVID-19. The fact that we could swim, snorkel and take long walks was wonderful and put our minds at ease. We never guessed that one of both of us could be carriers. But fatigue is common to many with COVID-19, and we both felt it more the second week. Even asymptomatic individuals can become exhausted. It takes energy for your immune system to fight off such a foe.
You are most contagious two days before symptoms and 3-5 days afterwards. Just to be sure, DHEC asked Alton to quarantine 10 days out from the first symptoms. We both added an extra week just to make sure.
A mild case has its benefits. After everyone we traveled with tested positive, I finally went to my doctor. I was relieved when he said my lungs were clear. He immediately felt that I had experienced a cold or allergies. When I told him about the positive cases around me, he went a step further. He ordered an antibody test. And it was POSITIVE! That means I had it all along. But his next words were comforting, “Now you have natural immunity—as least for a while.”
According to the CDC, these are the most common symptoms:
• Muscle or body aches
• Loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
**Interesting that I only had one of these symptoms and it was mild.
In looking back, my immune system was suppressed with the loss of those first two nights of sleep. That opened the door. But then we wondered, “Where did we catch this from?” We may never know for sure. The more I thought about it, it appears the taxi cab may be the culprit. Think of all the passengers in and out of that cab daily, and the air was stagnant. They advertised that each cab would be sanitized in between customers, but careful observation showed they were not doing that. We would have been better off if we’d rented our own car or stayed home.
On a positive note, our senior citizen immune systems overall were working well and preventing us from what could have been much worse. I still believe that keeping our immune system strong is one of our best defenses. Next time, I’ll work harder on the sleep and make sure there’s nothing in the pathway for my husband to trip over. For now, I’m glad we both have natural immunity! Even if you get the vaccine, your immune system is key to allowing the vaccine to work.
Next week, we’ll look at the research showing that some people have increased immunity that diminishes their chances of contracting COVID-19 or developing complications.
What have you learned from others or your own personal experiences about COVID-19?
For Your Health,
Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Unleash Your God-Given Healing was released in May 2020 after her journey with cancer and was recently awarded the First Place Golden Scrolls Award for Memoirs and named a Selah Awards Finalist. It was written with commentary from an oncologist. Learn more and cancer and wellness prevention blog and book information at www.ginnybrant.com.