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14 things I took to try to recover fast from COVID while unvaccinated
All my symptoms and treatments -- Ivermectin to Vitamin C -- and why it's okay to get very sick
Note to Readers: I am not giving medical advice. As you read in my first story, this is a personal account of getting COVID for the first time. My exact COVID treatment, dosing of the prescriptions, vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications are at the bottom of the story. Click here to go directly to my list.
Note continued: I experimented to see how quickly I could recover by trying everything recommended by two doctors, a bunch of friends and Dr. Google. DO NOT make your health decisions based on my pill-popping approach.
Also, if you’re new here, I’m not vaccinated but not anti-vax. I was at the FDA in the Trump administration during the vaccine development. But I believe it’s a personal health decision. For me, I knew I’d never get sick enough from COVID to get hospitalized so I didn’t need a shot.
Monday, Day 0, Going down hard
I get out of bed slowly and wobbled over to get Zinc lozenges from my medicine cabinet — which is just a small box in my closet, mostly filled with bandaids. I’ve never had the flu as an adult and haven’t had a cold in many years.
All my life I’ve taken vitamins and supplements. My mom was ahead of her time with them. She would take a handful every morning. She only gave us one children’s multivitamin, but she influenced me to start taking vitamins when I went to college.
I’ve switched it up over the years as different ones become known or popular. When I got COVID, I was already taking a daily multivitamin, 500 mg of Vitamin C, 1,000 IU of Vitamin D, fish oil, magnesium and B complex (The detailed list is at the bottom.)
I’m not a horse
I’ve written multiple stories for over a year about how the FDA and most doctors have shamed and ridiculed ivermectin (IVM) as an early treatment for COVID. I was deplatformed on Facebook and Instagram for writing about a sheriff's deputy’s lawsuit against his hospital for refusing his right to t to try the drug.
I’d planned to see how it worked on me if I got COVID. Last summer, I went to My Free Doctor, which is donation based, to get prescriptions for IVM and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) because I wanted them on hand.
We all followed Dr. Mary Talley Bowden's early treatment COVID protocol
The virtual doctor emailed and then prescribe both medications. He gave a list of pharmacies in various states that could fill them. I ended up not buying it in advance because there were more expensive than I expected, plus I still didn’t think I would get COVID.
After that, I established a relationship with a COVID specialist doctor — Dr. Kent— so that I could get these early treatment medications in the Washington, D.C. area when I needed them.
After I tested positive for COVID, Dr. Kent recommended I take IVM, HCQ and azithromycin (aka a Z-Pak). The snag was I needed to find a local pharmacy that would fill the IVM.
The fatigue from COVID is unlike anything almost any of us had experienced.
I asked my friend Jane*, who keeps a stock of ivermectin (what she calls “the I vitamin”) at home for her family. Jane gets hers prescribed by “the compassionate and kind” Dr. Kimberly DeVolld in South Carolina, who is also licensed for patients in Virginia. She recommends looking at the FLCCC website to find doctors in your home state.
Jane gets them filled by a pharmacy in Florida that is a little less expensive. But I needed it quickly. She said she heard that McLean Pharmacy in Virginia was filling it. I called, and they do, so Dr. Kent called my prescription into there. It was expensive - $250.
The HCQ and Z pack were from Walgreens and covered by insurance. It was late in the day so none of these would be ready until COVID day one.
Meanwhile, I texted my four friends who also had COVID. One of them was like a COVID Santa Claus. Packages started arriving within hours of my telling her I was positive and has no cold or flu medicines at home. She wisely and kindly sent all the things I should have had on hand but did not (see the photo below.)
I used the new vitamins to double my regular daily dosing of Vitamins C and D. But I was getting worse as the day progressed.
By 8 p.m., I developed a hacking cough so I went through the care package and took the highest dose of Mucinex and used the nasal spray (specifics of these in the list at the bottom.)
Lesson: The list at the bottom is everything my Santa friend sent me in multiple deliveries that I should have had at home for when I got COVID (or get it again.) Also, if you know someone with COVID, consider sending a care package of the list of self-care things she sent. It made me feel taken care of and cared for while very sick.
I opened the box for the pulse oximeter and checked my blood oxygen level. My friend said it should be at least 98. Mine was 95, which I wrote down to track. I ate the chicken noodle soup, which got me a little energy back.
An hour later, I suddenly had a terrible headache. I don’t get headaches, but I knew this was a common symptom. I took an Aleve.
I drink a lot of water normally. People comment on it as seeming excessive. But I get easily dehydrated. So when I got COVID, I didn't have to remind myself to drink water. I didn’t track the water, but my bottles add up to about 100 ounces and I refilled them about twice a day.
Lesson: Put big water bottles filled and in every location you could reach-- bed, couch, bathroom, kitchen. Make them into hydration stations with kleenex boxes and chapstick. You’ll never have to remind yourself to drink water. Refill them all at the same time so you drink the bottles that are still full.
My friend also sent SmartWater which I love because I know I need electrolytes to balance all the water. I drink electrolyte powdered water most days before or after I exercise (specifics at the bottom.) I always have a case of the Costco version of electrolyte water in my home and car.
My friend told me to take a bath with the Epson salts she sent. But by 11 p.m. I was too tired to get in a bathtub. I worried I’d fall asleep in the water (which happened later to another friend, but she was fine.)
The fatigue from COVID is unlike anything almost any of us had experienced. It scared me. I felt powerless, which I hated.
Tuesday: Day 1, Getting worse
I woke up at 5 a.m. and was coughing up so much that I couldn’t sleep. I did a shot of Mucinex, which helped me sleep for five more hours. I woke up and my throat was in pain, it wasn’t just sore. It hurt to swallow. It hurt my ears.
Then I got really cold and put on a ton of blankets and turned up the heat. I woke up a few hours later and was so hot, I had to turn off the heat and take off the layers. I wasn’t sweaty though.
It finally occurred to me to take my temperature, and it was 100 degrees. I was stunned because I’d never had a fever as an adult. I’d bought the thermometer at the beginning of the pandemic when we were told to check our temperatures but never used it.
Getting IVM and HCQ
I dragged myself out of bed and drove to Walgreens to get my prescriptions. While I was there, I bought whatever I could find that said “sore throat” on the package. There aren’t many things— just the classic childhood Chrloseptic spray and one type of lozenge.
At the store, I was leaning on a shelf to stay upright (in a mask) while I waited to get the drugs. The pharmacist kept citing more problems that made me wait.
“I’m really sick, so the longer you leave me here, the more I’m spreading germs,” I said to her behind the plexiglass in an effort to speed up the process. It didn’t matter. I still waited. I felt like sleeping on the floor.
Lesson: Figure out now what pharmacies near you have the medications you’ll want and deliver. Assume everyone in your house will have COVID at the same time.
By 12:30 p.m., I was able to take my first dose of hydroxychloroquine 200 mg and two pills of azithromycin 250mg.
I could no longer talk on the phone because I had lost my voice, plus it hurt too much to talk. I also added probiotics (from the care package) which was good timing to go with the antibiotics.
The ivermectin was delivered by McLean Pharmacy at 2:45 p.m. It said to take it with food, which I did.
At 4 p.m. I pushed myself to take an Epson salt hot bath until I sweated. It felt really good and helped decongest too. I don’t like baths but took them while I had COVID to try to heal faster.
I took my oxygen and it was down to 93. I was worried until I put it on a different finger and left it on longer and it was 97.
Lesson: The oxygen monitors can be way off in tracking. I suggest leaving it on for 30 seconds or a minute to get a good reading. If it comes back far off the last reading, try switching fingers or hands and sitting down for it. Mine stayed at about 95 throughout COVID, so I knew I was never seriously ill.
I realized I was losing track of all the medicines which had very different instructions. “COVID brain” seems to be a real thing. I was forgetting a lot.
The Ivermectin was 7 pills of 3mg each once a day. The HCQ was one pill twice a day. The antibiotic was two pills on the first day and one each of the next four days. The Mucinex was every 4 hours. I was taking the vitamins in two daily doses to be easier on my stomach.
Lesson: I use giant pill dividers (these from Amazon) to put all my vitamins for each day for two weeks in advance. I decided to change my method to using one divider each for morning and night. Then I added in my COVID meds. After counting out all the pills, I put away all the medicine bottles and boxes so I wouldn’t accidentally take too much.
Dr. Mary Talley Bowden's recommendations:
This pill organization project made me realize that I was guessing about the vitamin and supplement dosage. For over a year, I’ve interviewed Dr. Mary Talley Bowden, a Houston COVID physician, about her medical philosophy for the 4,500 COVID patients she had treated since March 2020. She has a substack called.
I once asked Dr. Bowden if she would publicly share her recommended protocol for early treatment. She told me it was on her website. I shared the link with my friends with COVID. We all decided to adjust our vitamins and supps to loosely match the recommended doses.
I increased three vitamins based on Dr. Bowden’s recommendations -- Vitamin D to 4,000 IU per day, Vitamin C to 2,000 mg a day and Zinc to 100 mg per day. Dr. Bowden also recommended aspirin 325 mg, which I added to my meds from the low-dose pills I got from the care package. Read Dr. Bowden’s full list here.
Dr. Bowden also recommended considering ivermectin 0.5mg once a day for five days and hydroxychloroquine 200mg twice a day for five days. I was the only one of my COVID friends who tried out those.
What are ‘flu-like’ symptoms?
Since I’d never had the flu as an adult, I didn’t recognize symptoms that are obvious to other people. For example, every time I tried to climb in or out of bed, I was in terrible pain. I assumed it was from falling on a tree while running the day before.
I kept thinking I was sore on my back from doing heavy lat pull-downs at the gym -- except I hadn’t been to the gym. It then hit me — I was experiencing muscle aches or body aches. If you too have never had the flu, it feels exactly like being sore from exercising hard.
My throat pain was more intense, especially as I moved my head forward or back. I tried drinking hot water and lemon and hot tea. The throat spray and lozenges helped somewhat for about a couple of hours at a time (specific brands in the list below.)
The really bad headaches started at 5 p.m. I wrote this in my notes:
“It feels like I went from 6 cups of coffee a day to zero in the last hour.”
I was now constantly coughing. I texted my COIVD friends: What’s the opposite of a dry cough? A productive cough, I was told. (Why isn’t a wet cough? Do the doctors think we’ll feel better knowing the cough is “productive” to getting better?) What’s the yellow stuff that I keep spitting out? Phlegm. Gross.
At 7 p.m., I wrote in my notes:
“If this isn’t the worst day, I’ll be very depressed.”
I had some lukewarm chicken noodle soup because the hot soup burned my throat. At 8 p.m., I did my regular 4-hour round of over-the-counter drugs: Mucinex, nasal spray, sore throat spray and a sore throat drop.
I texted Dr. Kent to ask if I was supposed to be feeling better. In hindsight, this made no sense because I had been on the IVM and HCQ for less than 12 hours. But I thought I’d be cured in a day.
The doc said to take 800 mg of Advil twice a day. I only had Aleve at home so guesstimated what was equal and put them in the pill dividers.
Tuesday, Day 1, Getting Worse
I slept on and off for 13 hours and felt even worse on day two. My throat was the most painful part. I was coughing up yellow stuff (I’m done using the gross correct term.)
I spent the next few hours too exhausted to even watch TV. I texted my COVID friends all day and night in our virtual, symptom check, treatment advice and support system.
I tried the Vicks vapor rub. The consistency was gross, but it seemed to slow the cough. I had taken all my medications and the over-the-counter stuff, which made me worry about why I seemed to be getting worse after hearing for months from people saying Omicron is weak and barely noticeable.
I started to blame myself for this. I tried to think of what I did after being exposed that was different than the other times I’d spent the same amount of time close to a friend with COVID. I read that the new variant XBB.1.5 — now called Kracken— is the most transmissible strain to date and makes up most of the cases in D.C. So at least there was a scientific reason.
But I also wondered if I got sick this time because I drank alcohol and ate sugary foods in the four days after exposure, which was all of Christmas weekend. I’m not a big drinker. I haven’t had alcohol that many days in a row maybe since last Christmas. I also avoid eating sugar and keep a low-carb diet, so that may have added to my immunity being weaker than usual.
Lesson: I wish I had started at least on the higher dose of vitamins and supplements after being exposed. I also wish I had kept my normal, healthy lifestyle instead a holiday one. I might have evaded it one more time.
I was worse by evening. I wrote this in my notes: “The Chinese did this.”
It’s okay to get sick
I’m making all my symptoms and treatment public in this part of the series because we have too much shame about being sick. Even though COVID really knocked me down for a week, I was publicly silent about it until I was sure I was recovering.
I was embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t get out of bed. I was upset that I didn’t have, as so many others get these days, “just a cold.” I felt like a failure for not bouncing back in a day or two, as others do. I thought getting ivermectin would end the sickness immediately, but it did not.
I admitted to Jane that I was angry at myself for not being better after 72 hours. She comforted me perfectly and opened my eyes to our culture’s problem with admitting illness.
“It’s ok to get sick. It’s ok to get very sick. That happens in life. And it is not a personal failing,” Jane, who is also unvaccinated, told me.
“There was so much fear put into us during COVID that sickness is something to be ashamed of,” said Jane. “We’ve countered that in our home. We’ve stressed to our kids that you live life, and you enjoy life, and you enjoy others. If sickness comes, we deal with it and move on.”
I felt better because Jane was a bold leader during the pandemic. She never did shutdowns or lockdowns in an urban area. She changed her kids to an in-person school. She found a new church that was the first in the area to reopen.
It’s ok to get sick. It’s ok to get very sick.
She suspects that she has had COVID multiple times, but she has never tested. She believes ivermectin along with Tylenol and Motrin work to get her family well quickly.
I compare her outlook to so many others who have tested, vaccinated, masked, and quarantined in terror of COIVD. And then they hide their symptoms when they got sick — as if they did something wrong or shameful.
I hope that by being honest about my symptoms and mental struggle with being sick, I can help open up the conversation that it’s okay to be ill.
We’ll all help each other if we just tell the truth about our COVID symptoms, how long we were sick and what treatments worked or not. That is why I added some lessons to this story. Let’s share more about what it is really like having COVID, so we are better prepared physically and mentally to tackle the virus.
Low point - Doctor shames me for being unvaccinated
Since I never get sick, I decided to call my primary care physician to just report on my symptoms. The doctor’s office blamed my bad symptoms on being unvaccinated and then refused to consult on my medications because I was taking ivermectin.
Read exactly what happened in part three of this series: here: Doctors shame unvaccinated and refuse treatment for ivermectin users with COVID
*All the names in this story have been changed for their privacy.
Exactly what I took for COVID**
The exact prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements and devices I used to treat COVID symptoms are listed below. Consult with your own physician.
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Azithromycin (antibiotic) 250 mg - Two tables the first day, then one a day for four days
Ivermectin 3mg - Seven tablets once a day for seven days
Hydroxychloroquine 200mg - One tablet, twice a day for 10 days
Benzonatate (cough suppressant) 200 mg - One tablet, three times a day as needed
Mucinex Fast-Max Severe Congestion and Cough Liquid, 1 dose (capful of liquid) every four hours
Mucinex Maximum Strength 12-Hour Chest Congestion Expectorant, 1200 mg guaifenesin, 14 tablets- One pill in the morning and one at night. I switched to this version of Mucinex when I didn’t need the added medicines in the severe congression one. I took it at night during week two until I finished the pack. https://bit.ly/3ZdcZBc
Sore throat pray - Chloraseptic cherry
Nasal mist - Simply Saline Allergy & Sinus Relief Nasal Mist https://bit.ly/3WWvVCS
Aspirin Regimen Bayer 81mg Enteric Coated Tablets - Took 4 once a day
Aleve - Naproxen Sodium Pain Reliever Caplets (NSAID) - one in the morning and one at night https://bit.ly/3vNgX65
Vitamins and supplements
Zinc Lozenges — 365 Brand, 23mg with Vitamin C - Directions say to dissolve in your mouth no more than twice a day, but I took four a day until I got the higher dose Zinc.
Note: I’ve been taking these for years because they stop colds for me. They are hard to find on the shelves at Whole Foods so ask customer service for help. I once found them in stock on Amazon at the link above.
Zinc — Solgar Zinc 50 mg
Probiotic — Culturelle daily, two a day while on antibiotics, then one a day
Vitamin D- Thorne Vitamin D-1,000 - Vitamin D3 - One per day before getting COVID. Three per day while having COVID until I got a higher dose of Vitamin D
Note: I used to take Thorne brand 5,000 IU, but my doctor asked why I was taking so much since my blood levels didn’t show a Vitamin D deficiency, likely because I’m outside in the sun year-round. I told my doctor I was doing it just in case. He said that was unnecessary, but if I insisted on taking it, cut down to 1,000 IU. I’ll go back to that level when I’m totally recovered.
Vitamin D — Nature Made Vitamin D3 2000 IU (50 mcg) - Two per day, one in the morning and one at night. I’m still taking this dosage in week two.
Vitamin C — Nature Made brand Vitamin C Softgels 500mg – Before COVID, one per day. During COVID, two a day, morning and night. I’m sticking with this dosage until all my symptoms go away. https://amzn.to/3X8LLul
Vitamin C — Nature Made Chewable 500 mg- My friend sent these in the care package. Note: I used to eat these every night for dessert because they taste like candy. But then I got into my pill dividers so needed a capsule of Vitamin C. I’m still eating these now that I have them again.
Oxygen Monitor — CVS Health Pulse Oximeter https://bit.ly/3igRfUE
Thermometer — Oral Thermometer with Fever Alert, Memory Recall, C/F Switchable
Pill Dividers- 2 Pack Extra Large Weekly Pill Organizer, 7 Day with XL Compartment for Fish Oils, Travel Friendly Medicine Organizer Pill Case for Vitamins, Supplements
Care package for self-care
Epson Salts Bath — Dr Teal's Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, Soothe & Sleep, Lavender, 3lbs and Dr Teal's Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, Relax & Relief, Eucalyptus and Spearmint, 3lbs - Put two cups of salt in a hot bath
Lip Balm— Burts Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, 4 Tubes Variety Pack — The exact flavors are out of stock on the CVS website, but these look good. I used the tubes to test if I lost my sense of smell (I didn’t.)
Face Mask— Burt Bee’s brand, “refreshing” sheet mask with cucumber https://bit.ly/3IDjNCx
Tea — Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Herbal Tea https://bit.ly/3QqAMK2. Pukka Supreme Matcha Green Organic Tea Bags. https://bit.ly/3Zk2BHQ. Twinings of London Lemon & Ginger Herbal Tea Bags https://bit.ly/3Zp5rvw
Soup — Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Several varieties. https://bit.ly/3Xin3Hc
Water: SmartWater vapor distilled premium with electrolytes https://bit.ly/3IDk3Bv
Crackers— Premium Original Saltine Crackers
Kleenex tissues (four boxes)
Clementines (vitamin C)
Crudite vegetables - eat healthy without cutting yourself
Healthy Pizza — Wegmans Frozen Cauliflower Crust Spicy Cup Uncured Pepperoni Pizza. It tasted so good as I got better and spices helped clear congestion.
**Some links are affiliated, meaning I get a small percentage (1-3%) if you buy through these links from my website (not on the emails.) I’d appreciate the support for my research.
You can assess for yourself from my story if any of these things got me better faster. I’ll give the rest of the symptoms and timing in part three.
Have any of your own recommendations for treating COVID? Leave it below in the comments so others can share. Also do you think our culture unnecessarily shames people for getting very sick from COVID?