Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

If you have ever used the Pine Sol brand of cleaner, you know how strong the scent is.

When Caroline McCormack used it in her winter home in Naples, Florida, her husband Tim McCormack didn’t notice.

“He lost his sense of smell,” said Caroline, 71. She and Tim, 72, live in the Ocean Park section of Old Orchard Beach in the spring and summer.

The inability to smell can be a symptom of COVID-19. But Tim had no idea. His symptoms began in early February. No one was talking about coronavirus then. But, soon, Tim and Caroline were looking for answers.

“On February 10th, he developed a cough and was very sick for two weeks,” she said. “In addition to the cough, he had extreme fatigue, a fierce headache and dizziness.

“He went to a (physician’s assistant) three times and had a multitude of tests – an MRI, blood tests, chest X-ray, Lyme test, etc., but nothing showed up.

“Being tested for COVID-19 was not on anyone’s radar at the time. It wasn’t on our radar either, until shortly after he recovered.

“We were baffled by his illness and wondered why he would lose his sense of smell when he wasn’t stuffy. We never told the PA about the loss of sense of smell because we didn’t know, at that time, that it was a fairly common symptom of the virus.”

But the symptoms were severe, and nothing relieved the pain.

“He tried Ibuprofen and Tylenol and perhaps a few more drugs, but nothing helped his headaches at all. He described them as ‘very deep’ in his head. That’s why he had the brain scan, because we thought he might have a brain tumor. They went on for days on end.  He took some Mucinex also for his chest. At the very end, the PA put him on an antibiotic, but by then he was starting to feel a little better, so we don’t know if that helped or not.

“Tim made a full recovery … he can smell Pine Sol now! … and I never got sick at all.”

Again, with no knowledge of COVID-19, Caroline did not quarantine herself while in Florida.

“Although I did stay home with Tim most of the time, I did go out with friends on occasion.”

A week later, COVID-19 and its symptoms were in the news.

“A friend who lives near us in Naples got a two-week illness a few weeks after Tim. She was sicker, but she tested negative for COVID. Again, they had no idea what she had. Tim and I think she had a false negative test because of her symptoms. We don’t know any friends who have tested positive, other than acquaintances in other towns whom we have not seen in a few years.”

The virus cut short their stay in Florida.

“We returned to Maine on March 18th because we wanted to get back before travel became difficult … As far as we can tell, Tim has no residual aftereffects from his illness. We are both active and in excellent health.”

Now, Caroline and Tim are hoping to be tested to see if they have immunity to the disease.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has said coronavirus antibody tests should be available soon.

“We want so badly to know if Tim and I have antibodies … We have been told by our doctors in Maine that there is no availability for an antibody test. The not knowing is very frustrating as we are both convinced he had it.”

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