Borregan Recounts Her Coronavirus Experience
Last updated 8/3/2020 at 1:06pm
Borrego Springs resident Deniese Devaux had no Coronavirus symptoms, but decided to be tested in a drive-up test at the Borrego Medical Clinic on May 15. “It just seemed the prudent thing to do,” she said. Her test results came back positive. While all such test results are private, Deniese went in the opposite direction and announced it publicly on Facebook. The Borrego Springs Coronavirus Task Force recently asked her to further share her experience in this interview, and she agreed.
Who contacted you with the test results, and what did they tell you?
DD: I was initially contacted by the county, told I tested positive, and that I was considered “asymptomatic.” I was advised to quarantine in place for three weeks, and that they would be in touch with me. But they did not contact me again. I wrote my list of contacts in anticipation of being contacted by “tracers.”
What did you think or do when you were told of the positive results?
DD: I began researching. I tried to steer clear of all the political stuff out there and stuck to medical and scientific resources, WHO, CDC, MEDSCAPE Mayo Clinic, nutritionists, along with health professionals I knew personally. I made use of the county’s 211 number, too.
Why did you go public with your test results?
DD: I decided to go public as it became evident early on that fear was rampant in Borrego concerning the virus, and I hoped to create a dialogue. I felt my community deserved transparency if only from my experience and personal research. I was also concerned that I had infected others. I notified the people on my “Tracer’s List” and urged them to get tested.
How did people react to that?
DD: During my time online, I was first and foremost offered help, laughter, and encouragement. That, eventually, morphed into bizarre political conspiracies. Some people didn’t really care to exchange ideas, they only wanted to promulgate their own ideologies. I wasn’t going to change them. I am not confrontational! I state my own opinions and leave others to formulate theirs. I would be the first to help them if needed, without judgement.
Were you completely asymptomatic?
DD: In the second week, I developed a fever, night sweats, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and overwhelming fatigue.
Was there anyone who checked up on you on a regular basis?
DD: There was no professional follow-up for the first three weeks of my quarantine. I was contacted by county health only once, told to quarantine, and go to emergency if I had trouble breathing. The Borrego COVID Task Force was actually the first team to offer some help. My best friend/neighbor called me daily, my sister did my laundry and my running around.
What did you most look forward to while you were quarantined?
DD: I live alone with two dogs and consider myself to be self-sufficient and a creative problem solver. What I most looked forward to during my recovery varied from day-to-day, but most consistently I wanted a hug. I felt disconnected, disenfranchised, and alone. At one point, I was looking for a thermometer to take and record daily temperatures, and none were available in Borrego. I also fantasized about a Double Margarita with a meal cooked by someone else, and when the task force saw this on Facebook they offered to bring me all three items. When I was released, I first went next door, got my hug, and then went off to visit my sister.
How and when were you released from quarantine?
DD: When I heard Dr. James Huot was back at the clinic, during week three, I called to say my three weeks were up. They had me come to an area in the side parking lot for what I thought was my final test. Later that evening, Cindi from the clinic called and said “Don’t go anywhere, Dr. Huot wants to talk with you.” Dr. Huot called the next day and advised me to schedule another test for one week later. It returned negative. I was told to have a third test and to continue to quarantine until I got those results, which were ultimately negative. In all, I was in quarantine for five weeks. I requested a letter from Dr. Huot stating that I was cleared.
Have you had any after-effects?
DD: I continue to be plagued with chronic fatigue. It hits me like a Mack Truck. I can sleep 10 hours during the day, wake up tired, and go to bed for the night. Otherwise I’m great!
How have people treated you since being cleared? Are some friends hesitant about seeing you?
DD: I have one close friend and my sister and they continue to treat me the same.
What advice do you have for Borregans, after having been through this journey?
DD: The only advice I have to give to my community is to treat this crisis as reality. Don’t wait until it hits home for you. Don’t wait until it takes away a friend or a family member. Take the very basic precautions, wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance. Be mindful of your health and be kind to those around you.
Anything else you would like to say?
DD: I want to thank Jessica Simpson Hair Design, Carlee’s, Groceries, and Village Liquor, who all helped create the first contact-free curb side delivery service in San Diego County. Also, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, get a letter saying so. This will set you up for such services as meal delivery and volunteer services to help during quarantine. Same thing on the other end, saying you are free to return to work, have dental care, elective surgeries, and volunteer. ASK FOR HELP! Especially local help who will keep your anonymity, such as the Borrego Springs COVID-19 task force team. They can assist you. Call 211 for other resources.
The Borrego Springs Coronavirus Task Force is a local group of volunteers with Epidemiologist Bruce Kelley, Ph.D., as chair. The goal of the task force is to provide timely and accurate information to the community about the virus, how to avoid it and stay healthy, while offering support to those affected by it. Please visit the task force website at http://www.accesshealthborrego.org or email us with any questions you might have, firstname.lastname@example.org.