Hopkins County resident Triston Pullen reported recently being diagnosed with and suffering from COVID-19. Although considered recovered, Pullen like others who have experienced the coronavirus, continues to work to rebuild his health.
“It’s real. For some people it’s a walk in the park. For some people it’s the worst sickness they’ve ever had. For some, it’s asymptomatic,” Pullen said. “It was bad. People are not wrong. It’s like the flu, only it’s 50 times worse than the flu.”
Pullen said he only spent about 3 days in bed with the flu, but COVID-19 hung around for about 2 weeks.
Pullen, at first, thought he had a really bad sinus infection. After his symptoms continued to worsen he contacted a medical professional. they acknowledged the sinus pressure was evident in his ear and the drainage in his throat, the 24-year-old Hopkins County resident told KSST in a phone interview this week.
He said he contracted COVID-19 despite the many precautions he took. He explained that he has been helping take care of his 72-year-old grandmother since February, so he took precautions to reduce the likelihood of contracting and spreading the illness to his grandmother.
He thought he was prepared for COVID, deep cleaning, following health guidelines and using GermX and Lysol often.
“I took every precaution – face mask I made, gloves – I did everything the CDC said,” Pullen said.
He’d reportedly returned to Hopkins County for only 2 days, after being out-of-state, when he got sick.
He initially believed it to be a sinus infections. On May 31, Pullen reported becoming “really sick all of a sudden,” so he quarantined himself in his room as a precaution and protective measure for his family.
“I got it from someone asymptomatic. No one knew. I know who I got it from and who they got it from. The COVID-19 chain – we all actively knew each other,” Pullen said.
He said for three days he could barely stay awake, and only for about 4 hours a day. He didn’t eat, lost his sense of smell and taste, and his body hurt from the virus.
He reported having a fever of 99.7-103 degrees for 5 days.
On Wednesday, June 3, he said he finally went to a doctor, who agreed he did have some symptoms of a sinus infection, Pullen noted. However, the COVID-19 test was conducted as a precaution and he was sent home to await his test results. If the result was negative for COVID-19 the doctors planned to to recommend mediation for the sinus infection.
“I went home and the fever got worse. Saturday morning around 4 it finally broke,” but that was replaced by coughing and difficulty breathing. That night, June 6, Pullen received the results of his COVID-19 test. He said Sunday and Monday he continued coughing and had difficulty breathing. Tuesday, his cough had gone, but breathing was tough. Wednesday, he woke up breathing better.
“I had 2 heart procedures, one senior year and one freshman year during undergrad. I was sick in February and down for a week. This is the worst sickness I’ve ever had,” Pullen said. “It completely fatigues you. You can’t get out of bed.”
Pullen said his doctor had referred him to therapy in Hopkins County because he is still having some breathing problems.
“I felt like people were squeezing my lungs. I couldn’t catch my breath,” Pullen said during the phone interview with KSST. “Thursday, the day after I tested, was my worst day. I couldn’t sleep all night because of the fever. I was so scared, so sick, so alone,” said Pullen.
He’d been in isolation across the house from his family. His mom had been bringing food and leaving it outside his door. When he contacted his mom, she opened the door and looked at him, so she could see him and he wasn’t alone.
He’d been trying to figure out what to do if his symptoms got any worse. He weighed the merits of trying to drive himself to the hospital in his condition, calling 911 and waiting for EMS to arrive for a transport or to call his mom. His mom, who works during the day, had offered to come get him.
“The reality is I knew how bad I was hurting. I didn’t want my mom to feel that. I definitely didn’t want my grandma to have it,” Pullen said.
He also noted feeling dizzy, and losing his breath when he tried to get up.
“I’m 24 years old. I could not physically get out of bed. I had never slept so much in my life,” Pullen said.
His aunt, a nurse, emphasized the importance of staying hydrated and getting rest. He recalled waking up one morning with fever, and his mouth, skin and even eyeballs felt so dry. He said he stayed up long enough to drink a gallon of distilled water before returning to bed, all the while struggling to breath.
One morning, he woke up and felt the virus was gone. That doesn’t mean he isn’t still experiencing some of the after affects being reported. He said he’s still working on his breathing, and gets out of breath if he talks too long. He’s still not able to sing, and said his full sense of taste and smell isn’t back. He estimates the latter has returned at 50-65 percent. He said he can’t smell lavender or rosemary, and wasn’t able to taste a chicken sandwich.
Just as he began feeling better, Pullen recounted, his mother was contacted at her place of work by someone claiming to be with the CDC. She was told she couldn’t be released back to work for 14 days, then, later was told that she should quarantine and needed to test negative for coronavirus, Pullen alleged.
When he found out what had transpired, Pullen said he checked into the matter and obtained the latest CDC guidelines. He was unhappy someone had obtained his personal information and harassed his mom.
“When all this came about, mom tried to get a test. They wouldn’t give her a test. She had no symptoms,” Pullen said
He was also surprised that he was not contacted while at home in quarantine by the Local Health Authority. He’d heard that the Local Health Authority was contacting people. His experience did not include being called daily by the LHA.
The nurse for the LHA Thursday explained that the Local Health Authority follows up with patients, if needed, to offer support and to put COVID-19 patients in contact with services they may need while at home, but does not contact all patients daily.
Pullen encourages anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, especially those with breathing problems, to be tested and counted. The virus has no political agenda or social economic preference, but can affect anyone exposed to it, he pointed out.
“I think, in my opinion, a lot of people are not getting tested in Hopkins County, due to price, lack of information or they’re scared of going in there. I don’t usually care what people think of me, but I was scared someone would see me walk in there. There is a stigma,” Pullen said. “… I don’t understand the stigma. There’s no harassment of people who’ve got the flu, but you get COVID and it’s like you did something wrong. That’s not true. People can be the safest, take the most precautions and still get it.”