My experience getting Covid-19.
It was like any other morning in quarantine except it was starting to feel like “normal”, maybe I was just getting used to this new life or maybe it was because I was on my way to get tested so I can accompany my two best friends on a baby moon, one last jaunt before my friends life would be changed forever. This was going to be a big deal, I basically had done nothing but stay home for the past seven months.
We hired a concierge service to come to one of our houses, and test us before leaving for the trip. I hadn’t so much as hugged my friends since March so this was exciting – to be able to drive in the same car as them, stay in the same hotel room – I couldn’t wait.
When my turn was up, it was a quick prick of the finger – ten minutes later the nurse was telling me I had covid-19. I was in total shock how could this be, out of everyone I knew, I was the most careful. I didn’t believe it, and the nurse wanted to rule out a false positive so she re-tested me, and again it was positive.
What followed in the week after was a reckoning. From watching non-stop news, and reading passed around articles, we all have an idea of covid in a larger sense but the personal experience was relatively unknown to me.
I quickly realized the people meant to take care of me, the doctors and nurses were just as terrified as I as, and some of them were just as clueless.
You think when you get diagnosed with coronavirus you will know exactly where you got it, when you got it, how long you’ve had it, which strain you have, and exactly what to do about it -and that couldn’t be further from the case.
The diagnostics are really elementary – they can detect corona but they can’t tell you how strong it is, which can be a huge indicator on how severe your infection will be. They can’t even guesstimate how long you’ve had it, they just say you got it within the past 10 days. You think these contact tracers are going to rush in to save the day, no one even called me or anyone I saw.
In the midst of being horrified, and petrified, it was on me to call and text people, to crush them – tell them to immediately get tested and stay home for 14 days, this is something they then had to tell their network of people and so on. Just one case is so disruptive to so many lives, and then of course there were the friends who got a negative results and went on with their lives refusing to quarantine, one even continued on with a vacation and was furious I had the nerve to ruffle it.
But most of them just wanted to know, where did I catch it? Who gave it to me? The most revelatory thing was that most people don’t ever figure out where they caught it from. My doctor who was treating several families at the same time as me, said most of her current and previous patients never figured out the origin.
What’s scarier about not knowing where you got it from, is you also don’t know who you gave it to. Everyone I purposefully saw in those previous ten days, my mother, my boyfriend and a few girlfriends never tested positive. But the people I passed on the beach? Or at the park? Or at a walk around my block – how I was supposed to find them? Were all of them okay? Did I give it to them? Did they give it to me? How would I or they ever know?
The question my medical team kept asking me was ‘When did your symptoms start?’ Looking back they started about five days before I tested positive. Some of them were so subtle it was easy to explain them away. Something I would have never done back in March. In fact I would have sworn two times before that I for sure had corona, from just one sneeze or one lethargic day.
But now desensitized from my own hysteria and it being September I thought nothing of the headache I’d come down with every other night. When my food tasted bland, I thought my own cooking was off, or the restaurants I ordered take out from had gone down hill in the face of the pandemic. When I experience muscle aches – I assumed it was because of those three Pilates classes I took online. Why would I ever think I had corona? I didn’t have a fever (I like many others purchased a temperature gun early on in the panic) or a horrible cough – in fact I had no cold or flu symptoms leading up to the test or the entire time I was infected.
The night I got diagnosed my symptoms began to worsen and new ones manifested. A part of me thinks it was the stress of going through the diagnosis – not knowing what to do, seeing the nurses be terrified, the thought of being totally alone for the next ten days. What if I got dangerously sick who would know? None of the stress helped, and shooting pains going up my legs and back set in, the horrible headache was somehow worse now, and a few days later shooting pains going up my arms and heart would alarm me in the middle of the night. What if I had a heart attack, or was I currently having one? Who would even know, I was totally alone and unmonitored.
I was terrified but mainly I was guilty, how could I be experiencing these symptoms I was young, wasn’t 33 young? I thought I was so healthy, I drink green juices, am a life-long vegetarian, avoid pesticides and run a health blog Stuff That’s Good For You. I had no underlying conditions, weren’t people like me supposed to be asymptomatic?
I actually think the narrative were told about corona not affecting young people is damaging. It makes the people who do get really sick feel like they shouldn’t, as well as everyone around them. I can’t tell you how many calls or texts I got from people confused why I was so sick, it was almost like they were insinuating something was wrong with me. I think it’s a lot easier to think your friend is being dramatic or is just particularly unlucky, then to realize you’re actually very vulnerable to this virus yourself. But the most damaging things this false narrative does, is encourage people to take risks they really shouldn’t.
The one thing they don’t truly capture on the news is how painful it is to contract this virus, the shooting pains, the muscle aches the horrible headaches.
They spend so much time talking about fevers, to the point where restaurant and offices check your temperatures now before you are allowed to enter. I wonder how effective temperature checks are, when people like me are infected and never once have a fever?
People also seem think there’s two outcomes, you either die or you don’t. Or once you overcome the corona virus that’s the end. That couldn’t be further from the case. I and many others experience symptoms way after the virus is out of our bodies. I still have shooting pains all over my body – which hopefully will go away but maybe never will. The truth is, I can’t tell you and neither will the doctors because no one really knows.