BERWICK — Don’t tell Nicole Boivin that the threat of COVID-19 is being overblown. Two weeks after she tested positive for the virus, the 45-year-old school worker is only now beginning to feel like herself again. 

Nicole Boivin Submitted photo

“I have just come out of the darkness of this thing after 12 days of the worst illness I have ever experienced in my life and hope to never experience again,” Boivin, a University at Farmington graduate, said this week. “If you think the social distancing practices are a joke; if you think the stay-at-home order is bogus; if you cannot appreciate the major risk you are putting yourself, your loved ones or your neighbors in by not following these parameters, you are so very wrong.” 

Boivin lives in Berwick and works at a residential school for students with autism and other neurological disorders in Andover, Massachusetts. Around the middle of March, as the world was just starting to learn more about coronavirus, she started to feel out of sorts. 

It started with a slight headache that morphed into a fever during the night. In the morning, the fever spiked and Boivin developed a dry cough. 

She reached out to her personal care physician and a test was recommended. Boivin was tested on March 19, within 24 hours of developing symptoms. Two days later, the dreaded news was delivered: She had tested positive for COVID-19 and her home quarantine was to continue. 

Boivin describes those early days of suffering with the virus: 

“The biggest thing was staying on top of hydration,” she said. “I had a pretty significant loss of appetite for several days, but worked hard to keep fluids going all day. For me, Tylenol and Advil worked for keeping the fever down and keeping the headache at a tolerable level — my partner also ended up testing positive and she ended up requiring prescription medication for management of the headache and nausea due to the severity of those symptoms for her.” 

With COVID-19, there is sickness and isolation, but there is also uncertainty. When would it be over? How bad could it possibly get? 

“One of the most difficult parts of the experience was the duration,” Boivin said. “I am generally a very healthy person and rarely get sick even with a common cold, and when I do, I typically bounce back within 24-48 hours. So the day after day after day of the headache, cough and pain with breathing, fever, loss of smell, taste and appetite was very discouraging.  

“There were two days in which my fever broke and I thought I had turned the corner,” Boivin said, “only to have the fever and headache return, which was also very discouraging. It was very difficult not knowing how or when it would end.” 

While she was laid low, Boivin said she was helped by friends and family members who checked in on her daily. There were also several contacts with people at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention who, Boivin said, seemed genuinely interested in her well-being. 

Little by little, her symptoms faded. Over the course of two weeks, Boivin began to recover. By this week, she was mostly feeling like herself again. 

“My direct symptoms — fever, headache, cough/pain with breathing, etc. — have fully resolved,” she said. “I continue to work on building back my energy level, but I am getting there.” 

By the time she was interviewed by the Sun Journal, Boivin was 72 hours symptom free. She’s been cleared to return to her normal routine and to go back to work Monday. 

Boivin and COVID-19 have parted ways, but the memory of that experience is still fresh, and she feels compelled to share it with others, as a warning. 

“I had what was considered a ‘mild’ case, which means that I did not require oxygen to manage my symptoms,” Boivin said. “I was one of the lucky ones who did not require hospitalization or any major medical care. This illness is very serious. I feel so fortunate to be on the other side of it, but now I will live with the worry of my loved ones coming into contact with it until someone can find a vaccine. 

“Please take it seriously,” she said, “please be safe. We all have to look out for each other until this ordeal is over.” 

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