Waterford – MaryLou Gannotti, who is slowly emerging from an episode of COVID-19, wants people to know the disease can ambush you without warning, even if you are the picture of health.
If ever there was a healthy family, the Gannottis would be. MaryLou described herself, her husband Greg, 56, and her two sons, Jake, 19, and Luke, 14, as “a family of fitness enthusiasts” who participate – and in Greg’s case, a trainer – to wrestling and outdoor activities including paddleboarding.
But at the end of December 2020, all four fell with COVID-19.
MaryLou also wants people to know “it takes a date that can last a second, 30 minutes, an hour, but if you think you’re safe with this great friend, you might not be.” “.
How did it happen
The Gannottis suspect they contracted COVID-19 from a friend of Greg’s because they had spent time together. MaryLou said her son started to clear his throat almost immediately after Christmas, although he did not cough. It seemed a little strange to her, but she didn’t think much about it.
Then, on December 28, MaryLou got up to go to work at Coastal Connecticut Research, a medical clinic in New London. She said she felt tired when she woke up, but attributed the feeling to being the mother of the family and recently ending the vacation. “I’m the one who cooks, cleans, does the shopping. So I said, “You know what, I’m just devastated.” I thought maybe I got the blues because I didn’t get to see my mom or other loved ones over Christmas.
At work that Monday, MaryLou received a text from Greg.
“He revealed to me that his friend’s wife had tested positive for COVID-19. He said, “We’re all going to get tested,” and I was like, “Don’t tell me the frog in my kid’s throat is COVID,” MaryLou said.
She then told her boss, who sent her home and closed the establishment for three days. All of his colleagues have tested negative. Greg and Luke discovered they had tested positive on Wednesday of this week; MaryLou and Jake, Thursday. None of them really thought they were sick until they received the positive results.
MaryLou harbored a certain disbelief; her family was in good health and had followed all protocols. It’s a family of fighters, and everything would be fine, she decided. She was emboldened when, in the first few days after testing positive, the symptoms were not overwhelming.
“At first I thought, I can get through this, it’s like your basic cold. Well guess what, I was wrong, ”she said. “Within days, my lungs became so compromised. We took our (temperatures) everyday, none of us ever got anything above 98.6 (degrees), but I ended up getting chills, I had body aches, j ‘had a headache. The biggest problem for me was my breathing: I felt like there was a stone on my chest. And I felt like someone had a rope around my lungs, and they kept pulling it tight.
His sons and his wife were not so sick. It has lost its taste and smell; They did not do it. Jake had the lighter case. Luke felt a tightness in his chest, but as MaryLou said, he’s 14 and she’s 50, “So he’s tougher than me. Greg had what looked like a fatty cough, while MaryLou had a hard time coughing – “It was just pain. And sealing. “
By her own admission, she should have gone to the hospital to take advantage of the supplemental breathing, as she learned after the ordeal from a nurse in her doctor’s office.
“My concern as a mother and wife is: what if I leave my family? I almost felt like if I left, I wouldn’t come back, “she said.” I’ve been a Catholic forever. They say the voice in your head is sometimes the voice of God, and the voice said to me, “Stay home. You will get there. I didn’t know I needed extra oxygen, but by the grace of God I did.
While MaryLou said she had lingering issues, she and the rest of her family were wiped out around January 7-9.
“I have had the flu, bronchitis before, I had illnesses that knocked me down, but then I get up. It’s not yours, you stay in bed for three days and then get up, ”she says. “It’s your, stay in bed nine days, start to get up, then you fall back on your keester.” I’m not exercising as much as I used to, trying to rebuild my lungs, started walking my dog again, who was starting to tear the house apart. I think going into this situation with good health helps recovery, but it certainly didn’t make the virus easier. He always divides and conquers.
The Gannottis have tried a litany of remedies while recovering with varying degrees of success. MaryLou took to Facebook to say she was out of breath and asked how to alleviate this. A friend of hers, who is an occupational therapist and has worked with patients with COVID-19, told her to lie on her stomach. Another friend said to practice yoga breathing.
MaryLou continued her own research on YouTube, where she found a doctor featured on the BBC describing a breathing technique and also advising spending time on the stomach.
“My friend said to spend at least two hours a day on your stomach. Don’t sleep on your back, don’t lie on your back, ”said MaryLou. “I forced everyone in this house to ‘spend time on the stomach.’ At that point, I almost felt like all I could do was sleep. I slept up to 12 to 15 hours a day. I had no energy, but I knew the only way to get over it was to sleep and shut off the outside world. I didn’t want anyone to share dark stats with me.
Another friend of MaryLou’s, who is a nurse, told her that she needed to start taking a certain amount of baby aspirin every day because people are more prone to blood clots with COVID-19. MaryLou has finally started a diet, which she calls “the COVID cocktail”, of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc and vitamin B12. A naturopath told her to start taking black cumin oil as well.
“While this was happening, I just wanted to survive. I knew I could live or die. I knew the statistics of this disease, I also knew that I wanted to live, ”she says. “I’m not saying that the deceased didn’t have the will to live, but I knew I wanted to get out.
Patrick Cahill, doctor at Backus Hospital, described how devastating COVID-19 can be for a family all living under one roof.
“Most of the time by the time the first person knows they have it, they’ve already passed it on to the rest of the household,” he said. “The period of greatest risk of transmission is about two days before symptoms appear. By the time someone is symptomatic, many times people are either trying to disassociate themselves from the reality that it is COVID. They’ll say it’s a cold, they could wait a few days, and then they could be tested when things get worse, and by then everyone they live with has likely been exposed.
Cahill confirmed that the healthier a person is in the face of the virus, the more likely they are to recover quickly. He also said he understood MaryLou’s decision not to go to the hospital.
“It’s totally understandable and it’s nothing anyone should ever blame themselves for, especially if they’re generally in excellent health,” Cahill said. “The thing I try to tell people soon after their diagnosis, which would probably be of great help, is see if they can buy a pulse oximeter or borrow one from a fair friend. to monitor their oxygen levels. “
He also advised people to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to be careful in case they fall into an eligibility group.
As people search for alternative methods to treat COVID-19, Cahill recommends that they see their doctor. And he said auto-pronation, or lying on the stomach, is one of the strategies “we tell everyone in the hospital to do it, because it was a very easy and non-invasive method. and non-toxic to improve results.
The kindness of others
While the time spent inside and struggling with her health was bleak for MaryLou, she said the people who contacted her were “angels” and significantly helped her through the ordeal. . The kindness of strangers even saved a birthday.
In addition to the fact that the whole family gets the coronavirus during the holiday season, it also happened on Luke’s birthday on January 2. And MaryLou’s 50th anniversary on January 12th.
“January is already a bad month for birthdays, but you mean the worst birthday month ever?” Said MaryLou. “But we’re getting out of it. I went to church last Sunday and a friend said to me, ‘It’s good to see you’ and I said to him, ‘It’s good to be seen.’ “
On Luke’s birthday, the family had ordered groceries to deliver to Walmart, including a cake. But the cake was not there. Greg contacted the delivery guy, but Walmart wouldn’t let her bring the cake back, so she took one for the family and put it on their doorstep.
“My husband gave him a big tip to cover the costs. A stranger we didn’t know took some money from her pocket and delivered a birthday cake. It’s stuff like that, ”MaryLou said through tears,“ that chokes me because they say Jesus shows up when people do things like that. We didn’t even know this woman, but she knew our order had been messed up, and she went to pick a birthday cake for our kids because we couldn’t.
Hope and family
MaryLou spoke of a defining element in her family history: her great-grandmother, Carmina DiBiasio, died of the flu in Italy in 1919, during another global pandemic.
“She was 32 when she passed away, leaving behind my grandfather Andrea, her brother Tommasso and her sisters Concettina and Caterina,” she said. “My grandfather was about to turn 11 when she died, and he was the oldest of his four children. He immigrated to the United States at age 16, and much of that had to do with his mean stepmom. “
The Gannottis are the ultimate uplifting tale in MaryLou’s eyes. She said the coronavirus is insidious – it can take hold of anyone at any time.
Still, MaryLou said she wanted to give people hope.
“There is hope in kindness, there is hope in compassion, the wonderful things that people prayed for us, sent messages to us, my brothers spoke to me, my sister, my mother, aunt, ”she said. “I had cousins who prayed for us. We appreciate the people who prayed for us. I don’t want to sound evangelical, but it makes a difference.