(Editor’s note: Col. Eugenia Guilmartin, executive officer to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon and former assistant commandant for the U.S. Army Military Police School, is currently recovering from COVID-19 in isolation. She has agreed to share her recovery story with the GUIDON.)
Col. Eugenia Guilmartin said as she recovers from COVID-19 in isolation at her home in the Washington D.C. area, the many acts of kindness from friends and family – far and wide – have been amazing.
“During my free time, it has been awesome to reconnect with old friends – online and telephonically – including many I made at Fort Leonard Wood and in St. Robert and Waynesville,” she said. “There have been surprises showing up in the mail, and my family did an online Easter supper with cousins, aunts and uncles up and down the East Coast.”
Guilmartin said she’s also tackling home maintenance and organization to-do lists while watching national and state updates and listening to local radio.
“I am fascinated with how businesses, media and entertainers have been adapting to continue to connect with the public and meet demands,” she said. “My favorite restaurant not only delivers dinner, but is also selling their toilet paper – limit two each.”
While teleworking for the past month, Guilmartin said she’s been impressed with the adaptations in communication she’s witnessed.
“For the first time in my Army career, everyone is exercising all possible communication methods and developing new business rules,” she said. “It has been interesting to watch. We are learning tricks from our younger employees; more senior employees are getting more comfortable with technology. Each week we are getting more efficient and effective.”
Managing the symptoms
The strangest effect of the virus, according to Guilmartin, has been the diminished sense of smell and taste.
“My sense of smell is definitely still reduced,” she said. “Coffee tastes like water and I taste sweet and sour foods better than other foods. I also have developed phantom smells of burning wood and trash. The first time I noticed it, I walked all around my house trying to figure out if my house was on fire.”
One of Guilmartin’s friends is an oncologist, and recommended eating easily metabolized foods.
“Chicken soup, simple carbs like crackers and noodles, no heavy proteins like steak,” she said. “He also recommended adding extra Vitamin C and Zinc, both of which counter viruses.”
She said for those with mild symptoms like hers, managing those symptoms in whatever way brings comfort is important.
“Steamy showers, heating pads, hot beverages – it is also important to not downplay your symptoms,” she said. “If anyone is having trouble breathing, seek medical assistance immediately. Don’t take chances.”
Guilmartin has had one negative test recently and said she feels “87 percent” back to normal.
“This virus seems to hang on for a while,” she said. “The worst of it lasted about two weeks where I had a froggy throat, body aches and fatigue. I was blessed to never have a cough or any breathing problems, and I never developed a fever. I still need more sleep than prior to COVID-19, however.”
Keeping medical providers informed on symptoms is important, Guilmartin said.
“Be an advocate for your own care – do not accept no for an answer if you are not improving,” she said.
She advises everyone to avoid touching their face, wear a mask and gloves when going out and treat all surfaces as if they’re contaminated until they’ve been cleaned well.
“Think back to all the principles you learned in (Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) training and apply them,” she said.
Anyone in the Fort Leonard Wood area experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should call the Harper Screening Facility at 573.596.3663.