Self-isolation takes a mental toll on SF family waiting a week for coronavirus test result

ByJuan Carlos Guerrero via KGO logo
Saturday, March 21, 2020
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A week has passed since a San Francisco woman got ill with a fever and cough. She took a coronavirus test and self-quarantined as a precaution, but waiting for the test result is taking a mental toll.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News Producer Juan Carlos Guerrero has been chronicling the toll uncertainty is taking on his family as they wait for a coronavirus test result. Follow their story, with all the updates, here.

Today is Friday, which means we are officially in the five to seven-day window of getting the test results back. That means every phone call and every email causes some anxiety for me and my wife, Ma. Leticia Gomez, who was tested for the coronavirus COVID-19 on Monday.

"I've never picked up so many telemarketing calls, hoping that it's from Kaiser," she told me jokingly as she sat against some pillows in our bedroom, where she has stayed since she developed a slight fever last Friday.

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The mental toll of self-quarantine has been especially hard for her. She has restricted herself to the bedroom and one bathroom. It brings back painful memories of the 16-months of cancer treatment that she underwent recently.

"I was homebound for a year-and-a-half, but even through the most difficult times of radiation and chemotherapy, I always managed to go to the dinner table to have dinner," she explained.

She was also able to venture outside on a wheelchair because she was too weak to walk. At one point, we went to a friend's backyard birthday party. The driveway was made of gravel so we could not push the wheelchair, so a friend helped me to carry her. It was a big sacrifice for her because afterwards she had to climb 42 steps to get back to our apartment.

"Those are days I want to forget," she said. With this illness, she is more restricted. She is starting to feel desperate after a week inside our bedroom. She decided to limit herself to one room because that is what the Centers for Disease Control recommend for someone who may be infected with COVID-19.

I am self-isolation as a precaution as well, but I can still walk around the house and go outside to walk the dog.

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These past two years have beaten down her usually happy demeanor. For nearly 20 years, my wife was the anchor at a Spanish-language television station and received a lot of attention as many people who work in television get. She left the industry and is now the head of communications for a local government entity. Her bosses have been extremely supportive during the treatment and recovery. But losing some of that glamour and then suffering through painful treatment that made her lose her hair, left a scar on her scalp and still requires she walk with a cane is hard to accept at times.

Dealing with this illness and the quarantine has added another layer of pain and anxiety. Not knowing if she is restricting herself to one room is necessary is very frustrating. And now it seems that frustration will linger even longer.

This afternoon we got an email from her doctor. It said the test results are still in process and that she recommends to check back early next week. This was a blow. More days of self-quarantine are hard to swallow. The weekend will seem longer and more somber.

The news also affects me because it means that I don't know if I am infected. My daughters just finished up the winter quarter at UC San Diego but I won't be able to move them out (the spring quarter will be online). Fortunately, my brother will drive to get them. That is a big favor. It is at least a seven-hour drive. I hope the statewide shelter-in-place order announced by the governor last night won't affect the trip.

In the meantime, we will keep waiting for the test results.

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