In the latest edition of our Covid Series fatshion influencer and Fat Girls Traveling member Emily Ho of Authenically Emmie is staying true to her brand. In this interview she honestly and authentically reveals what she would do differently after testing positive Covid-19.
It’s important for us to share these stories to help educate and normalize these experiences. Which is why we were happy to see Emily share her experience along with way on social media in hopes it would encourage others to stay home and stay safe.
Here are a few questions we had for Emily after folloi
What precautions were you taking before testing positive?
Since mid-March, my husband and I canceled vacations and family visits, and for the most part, stopped socializing other than for curbside carryout or for groceries. Like most people, we were frequently hand washing, especially before and after handling packages, and I regularly sanitized high touch surfaces in the house such as door knobs and light switches. When we left the house we were always masked. I spent a lot of time sewing hundreds of masks for various healthcare and non profit organizations that requested them when masks were in short supply.
That being said, I had professional commitments that required me to drive to a different part of my state each month, so I assumed more risk by being around a larger group of people during professional development sessions. Even though we were always masked when not eating, socially distanced, and following state guidelines – staying in a hotel and being around that many people was a risk, and what eventually exposed me to COVID.
What motivated you to get tested?
As a precaution, I would test when I returned from one of my work sessions. I already had the test scheduled in advance, and the night before, I felt like all the energy had left my body and I developed a fever. When I was waiting in my car for the swab, I learned someone I had a work dinner with tested positive. As soon as I got home from testing, I lost my sense of taste and smell. I didn’t need the results to know that I had it.
Which symptoms did you have?
My symptoms were; high fever, body aches, loss of sense of taste and smell. I was extremely winded doing anything – even just walking a few steps to the bathroom.
How did you feel when your symptoms were their worst?
I contemplated going to the hospital as my fever wasn’t going down even after taking a fever reducer. It was over 103F, my heart rate was higher than normal, I felt like my body was bruised from head to toe, and I didn’t have any energy to move even off the bed. This was the day before Thanksgiving, and hospital capacity was being discussed a lot.
As a fat person, I had mental Olympics about worrying that EMTs might have trouble getting me to an ambulance since I was isolated on a second floor.
I thought about driving myself, but didn’t even know how I’d get the energy to put clothes on, much less drive to the hospital. My husband is asthmatic, so under no circumstances did I want him near me – I isolated immediately after getting symptoms. During all the internal dialogue, I ended up falling asleep and miraculously woke up to a broken fever and feeling much better. Still horrible – but a very noticeable difference.
When did you first start feeling better? Which symptoms did you kick first?
After day 5 from symptom onset, I started to feel much better because my fever went away. As soon as that happened, the body aches subsided. The shortness of breath and sense of taste and smell took much longer to resolve.
Do you have any lingering long haul symptoms or side effects?
It’s been 2 months since my recovery and I am so thankful to say that I don’t currently have lingering long haul symptoms or side effects. The shortness of breath and sense of taste and smell took about 4 weeks to resolve, but nothing since then. So little is known about this disease, so even though I feel 100% now, I am concerned about the after-effects and also potential clotting, which is a known issue. I feel very lucky to have recovered as I did.
What inspired you to tell your story and share your daily progress on Instagram?
It was a combination of several things. People were gearing up to travel for Thanksgiving, saying they couldn’t be away from family any longer. I really hoped that sharing my story might make someone reconsider – if not for their health, for the health of their loved ones. I also hadn’t really seen anyone my age talk about having it, yet cases were rising.
As soon as I broke the news, I had so many messages from people saying they had it. I was seriously shocked. I would have had no idea because no one is talking about it! Talking about it makes it more real, and I really wanted people to take it more seriously.
Were you worried about getting judged after sharing your test results?
Yes. I knew that I’d judged people harshly for going out with their friends every weekend, having wine nights with girlfriends, flying to all-inclusive resorts; yet I also exposed myself to risk, even if it was for professional reasons. I was really upset with myself. I felt like I’d sacrificed so much socially, yet I still took a risk and paid the price. If I was going to go through this, I wanted something good to come from it. Maybe it would make someone reconsider their plans.
What did your social life look like before you tested positive?
Like many people, I feel like I’ve not had a social life since March. Early on in the pandemic, I had 2 friends over (separately) for outdoor, socially distanced chats, and I did go to brunch with friends once and I shouldn’t have. Other than that, my dog and my husband have been my social life.
What does your social life look like now?
Same, but my professional obligations with travel are over, so there’s really no outside interaction. I’ve turned down enough invites since March that I think people just don’t ask anymore. (And I’m not initiating, because I don’t want to interact with people unnecessarily.) Since I was sick, I’ve bumped into 1 friend at a store, and I saw my photographer for a socially distanced shoot. That’s it.
Words of wisdom you wish you knew?
I just wish more people were talking about it and sharing their experiences. I heard from people that are my age or younger and who I’d consider to be very healthy who were really sick and some that have long haul symptoms. It can affect anyone, regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.
What would you have done differently if anything?
This is tough, because the program that had me traveling every month was one of the best (if not THE best) experiences of my professional life. It was really important to me, and I wanted to honor my commitment. If someone were to say, “if you go here, there’s a 100% chance you’ll get COVID” I would have stayed home. Yet, at the time I’d calculated my acceptable level of risk and decided it was worth it.
One thing I would have done for certain: I would have gone to the hospital instead of waiting until I got too sick to figure it out. I was really stubborn. Even though it worked out fine for me, I know there could have been a very different outcome if my body didn’t break that fever when it did. I was very, very fortunate.
What’s a common misconception about testing positive?
That people will judge you harshly for it if they find out. I beat myself up a lot over the guilt, which didn’t help anything. Think about it: if your friend got sick, would you say “it’s your own fault” or would you offer to help in any way possible? There have been 25 million cases in the US so far: someone you know has had it, even if they’ve never talked about it. Give yourself some grace and take care of yourself, and ask for help if needed.
Do you want to share your Covid Story with the community? Or any other story? We’re currently accepting fat positive story submissions.