ORILLIA - An Orillia native diagnosed with COVID-19 is sharing his experience in the hope people will spread awareness, not the virus.
Chad McKillop was diagnosed Monday, but he had been feeling the effects of the novel coronavirus for about a week prior to getting his test result.
McKillop, 34, who grew up in Orillia and now lives in Inglewood, Calif., travelled to New York with his wife, Bianca Ker, on her work trip during the March 6-8 weekend.
“We were in crowded areas, but we were being cautious,” he said, but added he believes that’s where he contracted the virus.
After returning home, the couple felt fine from March 9 to 13. That’s when McKillop began experiencing a “sporadic dry cough.” Two days later, he was having severe headaches, muscle stiffness, body aches and fatigue.
Ker, too, was experiencing some of the symptoms, so the two went to get tested at a hospital in Marina Del Rey.
Before getting to that test, doctors did a chest X-ray and tested for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. All tests were negative, so they were sent for the COVID-19 test, which included a series of “very uncomfortable” nasal swabs.
They were told the results would likely be available in a couple of days, but it ended up taking a week because the number of tests being conducted in the United States had gone up dramatically.
When the results were in, McKillop’s was positive and Ker’s was negative.
“We were certain she had it and so were the doctors,” he said, noting doctors reran Ker’s test and confirmed she had COVID-19, too.
McKillop and Ker were both convinced, prior to receiving the results, that they had the virus, which explains McKillop’s reaction to learning the news.
“It was kind of a sigh of relief for me because we were stressing out,” he said. “Now I could start to notify people at work who I was worried about and we could start taking more precautions.”
After a week suffering through the symptoms, “we were starting to feel a bit better,” McKillop said, adding they’ve been able to work out in their yard and get some fresh air. “From what I’ve read, we experienced a very mild case of it. We feel really lucky.”
They quickly learned not to be too optimistic that the virus had run its course. McKillop is still feeling a tightness in his neck, sporadic headaches and fatigue.
“Last night, (Ker) just got hit with another wave of headaches and she was tired,” he said. “It’s still there and it’s affecting us today, after more than 10 days. It is unnerving. We don’t know how long this is going to last.”
McKillop is a management consultant for a company in the aerospace industry. It is deemed an essential business, so he will be back at the office once he has stopped experiencing symptoms for 72 hours. Ker has been able to work from home.
McKillop posted about his experience on his Facebook page, hoping it would be a reality check for those who know him.
“A lot of people don’t know anyone who’s had it,” he said. “Take these precautions seriously. The more people follow these guidelines, the quicker we’re going to get through this. This is a very serious thing that’s going on. If they have the option to work from home, self-isolate and stay away from people, do so.”