PORTSMOUTH — More than 11 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, including more than one thousand in Scioto County. But Ellen Horsley, 37, is unique.
She is unique because, in the last three months, she’s contracted it twice.
“I can’t say how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘I wish I would just get it so I can be done with it,’” Horsley said, adding “I’m proof that you can get it a second time.”
It was early August the first time she tested positive. She had just returned from a trip to Disney and felt fine, but isolated for 10 days just to be safe. On the 10th day, she developed symptoms.
She already had mild nausea when her throat became “scratchy.” Then came the headaches. Then, a few days after testing positive, came the fever. All in all, though, she was lucky that her symptoms were mild. She never lost her sense of taste or smell. In fact, she said she wouldn’t have thought twice about her illness were it not for the ongoing pandemic.
After her recovery, she still felt “off,” but was at least glad to have a period of immunity from the virus. Or so she thought. Eighty-nine days later, she tested positive again. “It kind of blew the 90-day immunity theory I’ve been told out of the water.”
Her second bout with COVID-19 was different, and she described her symptoms as “the worst sinus infection ever.” Still, the thought that she might have COVID again didn’t cross her mind until she ate dinner that day. “When I was eating lunch, I did fine. I could taste it,” she said. “Later when I ate dinner, I couldn’t taste it. I went around smelling everything and realized I’d also lost my sense of smell.”
It was then that she realized she had contracted COVID a second time. Even though the two infections brought differing symptoms, there were some similarities:
First, Horsley said that even when you have “recovered” from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you feel better. The symptoms and general feeling of illness from her infections lingered long after she stopped being contagious. For example, her senses of taste and smell still have not returned.
Second, even though both of her experiences were comparatively mild, she said it bears no comparison to the flu.
“I know that’s what everybody wants to say. ‘It’s like the flu and you get over it,’” she said, “but I’ve never had the flu for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
Horsley is just now emerging from her second case of COVID-19 and knows there’s no reason to believe a third infection isn’t possible. For that reason, she acknowledges she is concerned about the coming holiday season.
“It’s out there,” Horsley said. “It’s more prevalent than it’s ever been. The risk of catching it and sharing it is greater than it’s ever been. I have parents and in-laws that are in categories we need to protect. As much as I love getting together, my family is more important than a family dinner.”
For more information about COVID-19, please refer to cdc.gov.