WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Justin Fulford is a proud family man. He’d do anything to protect his family. But the father of three with one on the way, will be the first to tell you he thought months ago COVID-19 was a hoax.
After Fulford started noticing the virus was spreading to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, he realized it was real but still didn’t think there was reason for personal concern.
“Because I didn’t know anybody who had it or had come in contact with it,” Fulford says. “It was like the only thing I was hearing was what I was hearing on television.”
He simply didn’t think it was that bad.
“I didn’t believe it. To be honest, I was almost out there like ’where’s it at? who’s got it?’...and it found me,” he recalled.
About a month ago, Fulford, the owner of Fulford Heating and Cooling, started noticing a tickling feeling in his throat. He didn’t give it much thought as he says that sensation is not that uncommon after working all day around insulation at construction sites.
Then the symptoms came on with a vengeance.
“It was in my chest, I felt it in my heart, my stomach,”Fulford says. “I couldn’t smell-- couldn’t taste. Just body aches all over. The worst cold chills I’ve ever had from any flu. When you are laying there and absolutely freezing cold but running a 102-degree fever.”
The 38-year-old avid surfer says he and a surfing buddy got it at the same time. He’s not sure who got it first but is convinced one gave it to the other.
“Our symptoms started the same day. But we don’t know if it was him getting ready for the hurricane at gas pumps and grocery stores or if it was myself out in an open environment,” he says. “I went the weekend prior --was at the beach with a lot of people around.”
Fulford says he was in bed for a solid 10 days. The recovery time took even longer.
“From the time I started getting symptoms to the time I was cleared from the doctor, 17 days is what it took to really get back to normal.”
When he was finally able to step outside to get some fresh air, his sense of smell was weird.
“It had like a chemical--like just burning, almost like an ammonia type smell.”
Earlier this week, Fulford posted about his experience with the virus on Facebook--headlining his message with “COVID-19 no joke!”
He pointed out that he took all the precautions--wearing a mask and using hand sanitizers. He wants people to know the virus is real and very contagious.
“Because for me--I wore my mask. When I was in public going to customers’ homes, I wore my mask. I’d sanitize my hands before I got out of the truck--when I came back to the truck. I tried to do all of the precautions but its like the flu, its like a virus--it’s around us.”
Because his wife is pregnant, he did self-isolate in a separate room. Still, while they weren’t tested, he believes his family had a mild case of the virus — his wife and daughter had low-grade fevers for two days.
While he wants people to avoid going through what he experienced at all costs, he is an example that most people survive COVID-19. About 99 percent of people with the virus recover.
Last week he put his body to the test.
“I pushed myself pretty hard and went out surfing just to see how my lungs were going to react to be me being back doing my athletic stuff and I feel very comfortable. I didn’t have any repercussions--any pains or anything like that. I feel good. I’m confident I’m clear and everything is good now.”
He just wants others to be aware. COVID-19 is real.
“That was mainly the reason to make that post. It’s real. And I want to make sure people know that. I’ve got a lot of friends--a lot of great people around me and I don’t want anybody to get hit by this virus. I don’t wish it on anybody.”