Sarah Dyer didn’t know she was sick until she tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
And now that she’s recovered, that bothers her every day. “It makes me sick to think I could have possibly made someone very sick,” said Dyer, a 41-year-old health care worker in central Maine who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 2.
“I think it’s very important that the community understand it’s not just the people with symptoms you need to be cautious of,” she said. “There are many out there who have little to no symptoms and are probably positive. Those are the people you want to be scared of. We tell everyone that if you’re sick with a fever or cough to stay home. Well, then there’s me.”
Dyer did not feel ill. Then one day while out with her husband, Rawni, she said he complained to her “of a putrid smell he was smelling. I told him to cut it out, that it couldn’t be that bad. I can’t smell it.”
That was on the weekend of March 28-29. On April 2, while she was preparing to go to work, she saw a report on television of a woman whose first symptom of COVID-19 was a loss of smell.
“I had noticed I couldn’t smell my coffee a couple of days earlier, but thought nothing of it,” she said. “So I went into the bathroom and started opening my lotions. I couldn’t smell them. I opened a bottle of fingernail polish remover. You can smell fingernail polish remover. I couldn’t smell that either.”
She informed her employer and was told to get tested and go home. The next day, her test came back positive, and she went into quarantine.
She stayed in one sector of the Windsor home she shares with her husband and four children, they stayed in another. She celebrated her birthday while in quarantine. “My family knocked on the door, I opened it and there was a cake with candles and my family, standing eight feet away, singing ‘Happy Birthday,’” she said. “It was kind of sweet.”
Dyer never experienced fever, coughing or shortness of breath. She had body aches and “a headache I just couldn’t kick,” she said. “And I was just tired. I was sleeping a lot, and that’s not usual for me.”
She has recovered and returned to work, although she has still not regained her sense of smell. She wears a mask constantly. But, she wonders, “How long before I was tested was I contagious?”
And that bothers her. “People need to know, symptoms or no symptoms, stay at home! Wear a mask! Wash your hands. Not just to protect you, but to protect others who can’t fight this.”