Comparing coronavirus symptoms with others doesn’t always arrive at a diagnosis
By Angela Widdis This pandemic is happening in real time and as the novel coronavirus makes it spread across Berrien County, people in the Tri-City area are now more likely than ever before to know someone who has presented with some of the known symptoms. Since the symptoms are similar to those of pneumonia, influenza and the common cold, only a diagnostic test can confirm whether an individual has coronavirus or not. Yet, these symptoms are leaving some people questioning as to whether or not they have the virus if they are not eligible for testing.
Sharon Crotser-Toy felt ill but symptoms didn’t merit a test In the case of Sharon Crotser-Toy, 61, of Lawrence Township, she was told that she did not meet the criteria for testing after she went to Bronson LakeView Family Care in Paw Paw on April 1. Crotser-Toy’s only symptom in the beginning was a sore throat that began on March 30. But it wasn’t until the onset of fatigue and a low-grade fever that had her worried enough to reach out to her primary care physician for further instructions. During the call, her primary care doctor was not confident in making the diagnosis of COVID-19. That is when she drove herself to LakeView Family Care to seek medical advice. There her lung function and oxygen levels were examined and she was told that based on those tests she was not a candidate to receive the coronavirus swab. They instructed her to return home and assume that she does have the virus and self isolate. Plenty of panic ensued when Sharon returned home alone that Wednesday and started to experience profuse sweating and rigors that were accompanied with a rise in her temperature that would ultimately last for two weeks. Seeking only relief with acetaminophen, she personally managed her condition by trying to replenish her body with plenty of liquids and rest to try and balance the body’s response to rid itself of the infection. Sharon said that she was in contact with her PCP’s after-hour care line and a few of her closest friends whenever she needed both medical advice and emotional support. Reflecting on her experience, she knows the value of the idiom “better safe than sorry”. Sharon proclaimed, “When you run into someone you are not just bringing your germs, you are bringing with you everyone’s germs that you have come in contact with, and germs that those people might be bringing from their encounters. So, self isolation increases the possibility of saving lives.” The thing that Sharon struggles with is the fact of the unknown. Was it the coronavirus or not? Not having a definitive diagnosis leaves her hyper focused on the low-grade fever she is still experiencing on and off and being mindful about any new or mysterious symptoms because she suffers with Fibromyalgia. She knows she was sick, she knows it was like something she had never experienced before, but she doesn’t know the name. A name that only testing could provide. Sharon Crotser-Toy is the director at the Watervliet District Library. Both of these cases should remind people to be concerned enough to pay attention to the CDC updates and guidelines, as well as the information from our state and local health departments as new information is released. Not every case presents the same nor is it treated the same or meets the parameters for testing. We must recognize that we are dealing with a new virus that is why it has been referred to as novel, it is an unprecedented pandemic with many questions that are left unanswered, and all of this is uncharted territory with its reach yet unknown. With this in mind, in the absence of wide-spread testing, proven and effective therapies, or a vaccine to provide immunity against this disease, social distancing becomes the most important course of action that will potentially help to save lives by limiting the spread of COVID-19.