By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Sisters Carolyn Moore of Norfolk and Ann Blackwell of Virginia Beach are remarkably close.
They are often referred to as “Two peas in a pod” or “twins”, and they share the love of food, family,
church, and work ethics.
But last November the two sisters shared an unnerving experience that threatened their lives and well-being.
Shortly after Thanksgiving Day, the two were
diagnosed with COVID-19.
They both survived and are doing fine these days, and they show few after-effects of the virus which kills about 4,000 persons a day in the United States.
They say they are still piecing together clues as to how they contracted it.
The two joined other family members for Thanksgiving last November, but they were the only two participants who came down with COVID afterward.
Both are over 50 and neither had any pre-existing medical condition and are very health conscious.
They say they were strict practitioners of the protocols to deter infection, including social distancing, washing their hands, and encouraging those around them to do the same.
Moore said she has never been hospitalized for any major illness.
“I was totally surprised,” said Moore, who is retired from a package delivery service provider and provides home healthcare aid for the elderly.
“Never in a million years did I think I would catch COVID. We have a large family and at the Thanksgiving dinner, we were socially distanced and were outside at times to make sure.”
Moore said right after Thanksgiving, she felt she had “symptoms like the flu.”
“My body was achy with chills and a little irritation in my chest,” said Moore. “Then I lost my sense of taste and smell.”
A test for COVID two days later revealed she had a positive result and she immediately began her self-imposed quarantine, on the first level of her home, erecting a partition in one room of her home to isolate herself from other family members to reduce their
exposure to her.
While in isolation, her space was sanitized daily, including washing her clothing and materials that she used or came in contact and she wore a mask.
She said her husband and other family members fixed meals and left them at a distance for her to retrieve.
“All I ate for three weeks was soup and water,” said Moore. “I felt tired, had a slight headache and I just wanted to sleep.”
At the end of the second week, Moore said she could see some improvement. She had a little cough. She had an air purifier nearby and used various aromatic oils and other vaporizing substances to
clear her sinuses.
Moore said she also drank green and other tea varieties and began a regimen of multivitamins to build up her immune system.
By the third week or 20 days, a COVID test revealed a negative result.
She felt confident enough to walk around the house and outside for fresh air.
“I went to the grocery store to just test myself,” Moore said.
“When I came back from the store, I felt exhausted. But I knew I was better.
“I also tried walking upstairs and got winded.
“I called my employer about work. He said they would leave it to me to determine if I felt strong enough to come back to work.”
The Christmas holidays were coming up, and she returned to work, but was not as active as she was in the past.
“Around Christmas, I had no cough and congestion, but I did get winded after 10 steps or so,” Moore recalled. “I did not take any meds. The health officials said I had to let it run its course in my body.”
The day before the family’s Thanksgiving gathering, Ann Blackwell said she encountered symptoms like the flu and began to combat them with over-the-counter cold medicines.
“I noticed my temperature went up a little on Thanksgiving and the day after,” said Blackwell. “I took the Mucinex and Tylenol to drive it down. I felt if the temperature did not go down, I would call my
By Sunday it spiked, and Monday morning she called her doctor, who instructed her to get tested at a local test center, scheduled on December 3.
The next day, Blackwell said she experienced violent coughs, with spots of blood and aches and pains.
“I called my doctor and told him about it,” she recalled. “I was instructed to go to the emergency room. I slowly got dressed and drove myself to
the nearest one.
The E.R. doctor ordered a test for flu, COVID-19 and an X-Ray of her chest. The flu test result was negative.
She was given a prescription for antibiotics and she bought more Tylenol and went home feeling weak and lethargic.
The next day she was told she had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was so surprised. I am the COVID police in the family,” said Blackwell, a contract and finance specialist at a local Norfolk Shipyard, and an Adjunct College instructor.
“I was always careful. I monitor everybody. When people come to my home, I have a sanitizing station near my front door. At work, we are socially distanced. I even wear gloves when I am running around.”
Blackwell said, like her sister, her house has three levels and she isolated herself on the third floor.
“I had a bathroom nearby, but it seems so far because I was so weak and tired,” said Blackwell. “I talked to my daughter through the door. I had a high temperature and a cough with vomiting, often on an empty stomach. I did not lose taste or smell. In fact, my taste buds were on overtime. I had lost my appetite and when I did try to eat, the food was either too salty or sweet. When I brushed my teeth, I could taste every chemical it was made of.”
“Maybe it was due to my fever…but at one point I was so sick I was having out of body experiences,” said Blackwell laughing. “I could not focus. I prayed to God as well as talked to myself. At the same time, my spiritual sense was high, and I felt people praying for me.”
She was in daily contact with the local hospital’s COVID care unit and Health Department, updating them on her vital signs over the phone.
The health professionals walked both women through the different phases of the COVID experience and how to cope with their symptoms.
The siblings reached out to each other daily to check on their status and give each other encouragement.
By December 12, according to Blackwell, her fever broke and begin to drop and stabilize. She also began feeling better and ended her 10 days of isolation.
“I was weak and had to hold on to things to stand,” she recalled. “I walked around the house and worked on sitting up in the bed. I finally went outside to get some fresh air.”
Initially, she had trouble climbing the stairs. Like her sister, she ventured out to the grocery store, and the excursion was exhausting.
These days both sisters report being winded if they exert themselves but they have regained their strength.
And they have become even more conscious and guarded, to assure COVID is no longer a factor in their life or other family members or friends.
“I am still the COVID police…in fact, I am the chief,” said Blackwell. “I do not want anyone to go through what I went through.
“Pull up that mask and wash those hands. Do not take life for granted. COVID can get anyone. This is not a hoax.”
Moore said she is a bit leery about taking the vaccine and will take a wait and see approach to see if people who have taken it, will experience any negative side effects.
“I prayed through it all. I know it was God who delivered us from it,” said Moore. “I do not want anyone to go through what we did. I tell people to be careful. you do not want to be a statistic.”