One family, three Cases of COVID-19, with three different manifestations of the virus

Hydroxychloroquine: ‘It’s a miracle’

Meet Moses Turkov. He’s an athletic, energetic 20-year-old who will graduate from Washington State University Vancouver in one more semester with a degree in history.

Last March, he was the first in his family to get COVID-19. Ultimately, his mom and dad also got COVID-19, but all three had very different experiences.

The Turkov family each experienced COVID-19 in very different ways. For the 20-year-old son, it wasn’t a big deal. For mom, it was three days of fever and feeling weak and out of breath. But for Tim, the dad, it was 12 long days of no improvements until he took hydroxychloroquine. Photo by John Ley
The Turkov family each experienced COVID-19 in very different ways. For the 20-year-old son, it wasn’t a big deal. For mom, it was three days of fever and feeling weak and out of breath. But for Tim, the dad, it was 12 long days of no improvements until he took hydroxychloroquine. Photo by John Ley

On March 3 or 4, Moses got sick, according to Yelena Turkov, his mom. He was sick for two days and then rapidly improved. He had sweats for a day or so and also lost his sense of smell.

“That was that was one of weirdest things I’ve ever experienced; literally not being able to smell anything for at least a month after that,” said Moses..”And then severe body aches. But that was definitely only for the one day.” 

Moses explained that he had a general achiness for a week or so. “I felt as if I had worked out really hard at the gym,” he said. “Overall, it was pretty insignificant for me.”

He never was tested for the virus. Yelena said “I never even thought of COVID” at the time.

Yelena is a dental hygienist and continued to work, since this was early in the pandemic and before the lockdown. There was a lot people who didn’t know or understand in early March.

On Sun., March 8, the family went to church. Yelena and husband Tim sang a duet for the church. “When we started singing, I didn’t feel like I had enough breath,” said Yelena. ”In the middle of the line, I didn’t have any breath left.” 

She felt very weak after church so went home and took a nap. The next morning her body was very achy.and she felt very weak. Her boss told her to stay home.after hearing about Yelena’s symptoms.

“I was a little bit feverish for three days, and lost my sense of smell,” she said. .”I stayed home and took ibuprofen.” 

Tim got sick while Yelena was sick. He too started getting a fever. 

After Yelena’s fever broke and she recovered (other than the sense of smell), her boss told her to go to the doctor and get a COVID-19 test. She and Tim went to an urgent care clinic, but the clinic staff members didn’t want to give them a test. The doctors were hearing all the stories of not enough tests, and expecting thousands of people coming down with symptoms and needing to be tested.

Yelena and Tim persisted and were tested. It took 10 days for the results to come back, confirming that they both had COVID-19.

Yelena and Tim Turkov got COVID-19. For Yelena, it was three days until she felt better. For Tim, it was a very rough 12 days, until he took hydroxychloroquine. Photo John Ley
Yelena and Tim Turkov got COVID-19. For Yelena, it was three days until she felt better. For Tim, it was a very rough 12 days, until he took hydroxychloroquine. Photo John Ley

Tim got very weak.and lost his appetite. After six days of illness, he started having a really bad cough. Yelena described it as “a wheezing noise after he takes a breath.” 

He got extremely nauseous and wanted to go to the hospital. Initially, a physician’s assistant from their church came by and listened to TIm’s lungs. He said they sounded normal, in spite of TIm’s wheezing. 

Tim wasn’t sleeping well, and would wake up in the middle of the night with a very bad case of the chills. He also had bad coughing spells. He finally said he was going to the hospital.

He was admitted for observation initially. Test results indicated he had pneumonia. Tim was put on Zithromax and cough medicine. 

A short time later, another doctor came in and said they were sending Tim home. Apparently, concerns about a large wave of COVID patients that would cause the doctors to keep hospital beds open. Tim was in the hospital for roughly five hours.

At home, Tim’s symptoms got worse. Yelena worried because you usually see improvement within two or three days of taking antibiotics.

On the fifth day of taking the Zithromax, Tim continued to get worse. “He could not open his eyes,” said Yelena. “He could not lift his head up to take medications.”

They took Tim back to the hospital, but the staff didn’t want to admit him. Yelena protested. Tim was in a wheelchair and could not keep his head up. But the staff said “there’s no treatment.” This was around March 15.

The hospital was empty. “There were no people in the waiting room,” said Yelena. “They were waiting for a big wave (of COVID) to come.” Tim was sent back home.

After some soul searching and prayers, Yelena began searching the internet. She came across a doctor she knew who spoke glowingly about Hydroxychloroquine. They arranged a teleconference consultation and Tim was prescribed Hydroxychloroquine.

“I didn’t think we had COVID yet, because we didn’t have the test results,” said Yelena. But the doctor assured her it was safe for Tim to take the medication, so he did.

Tim took his first pill early in the evening. He slept through the night for the first time in 12 days. 

On the second day after taking Hydroxychloroquine, Tim felt good enough to take a shower. On the morning of the third day, Tim came downstairs for breakfast. “It was just a miracle!” Yelena said.

The church

Back at the church, others were getting sick. Apparently, a week or two before the Turkov’s got sick, the church had hosted a conference. Pastors from around the world attended. Church members hosted the guests in their homes. The Turkov’s did as well.

Yelena thinks that there were about four or five people from the church who got sick before Moses did.

Later on, there was a group of about 25 people from the church who became ill. But word had spread about the “miracle” of Tim’s recovery and the fact that the entire Turkov family had been sick. The Turkov’s phone began ringing. They listened, they researched, and ultimately acted as a go-between for the doctor.

Doctors were mainly doing telemedicine at this point, so the Turkov’s assisted in collecting information and sharing it with the doctor who had treated Tim. He then arranged the zoom telemedicine conference with each patient.

Ultimately, about 40 people from the church came down with COVID-19 like symptoms. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and Hydroxychloroquine. The Turkov’s believe the doctor stopped the further spread of COVID with his treatments.

Tim is a man of few words. He lost a lot of weight and he too lost his sense of smell for a long time. But today he says he feels better than before he got sick. Yelena chimed in that it took Tim two months to be able to get back to work. 

Moses Turkov was the first family member to get COVID-19. Photo John Ley
Moses Turkov was the first family member to get COVID-19. Photo John Ley

The Turkov’s didn’t know for sure where Moses initially contacted COVID. The grandparents of a good friend got the virus, so that was one possibility. School could be another possibility, but he doesn’t think so. WSU Vancouver was still open until after Moses had recovered. Or it could have been through the church pastor’s conference.

In the end, they feel blessed to have cared for each other and to have recovered. They saw “the miracle” of Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax. They feel privileged to have shared what they learned with the members of their church. 

And for Moses, he looks forward to graduating from WSU Vancouver in one semester. He plans to continue at WSU and get his Master’s degree in History. He loves history, and hopes to become a teacher, sharing that passion with his students.

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About The Author

John is a retired airline pilot, serving Delta for over 31 years. Prior to Delta, he served in the US Air Force for 11 and a half years; three and a half years as a Public Affairs Officer and eight years as a pilot. John flew multiple airplanes around the world for Delta, retiring as a B-767 Captain. During his 31 years at Delta, John served as a member of the pilot’s union leadership, representing the Portland-based pilots for five years. John got involved in area politics during the Columbia River Crossing debate. He became a citizen activist, speaking out against wasteful spending and fighting for common sense transportation solutions. He ran for the Washington state legislature twice, a Representative position in 2014 and Senate in 2020. John is the eldest of six children. He remains extremely close with members of his family and lives in Oregon and Washington. He has 14 nieces and nephews and a growing number of “grands” in the next generation. John has enjoyed skiing, scuba diving, travel, and time on his Harley when he’s not busy with local issues or flying.

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