*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!
I tested positive for COVID-19 on August 10, 20-fucking-20.
It wasn’t a worry-wort test—like I had recently traveled to Italy or China or had been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19—I got tested because I felt awful.
The ‘Rona didn’t hit me as I expected after reading so many stories about the new coronavirus. I was on the lookout for a dry cough or a slow-onset fever. For some reason, everybody said “fever” is the keyword.
Instead, I suddenly developed chills, head and chest congestion, random dry cough, and entire-body aches. Seriously, my body hurts to touch.
I was afraid to shower because the thought of the water hitting my skin was a scary-ass thought. I had no taste or smell, a low fever (about 100.4-ish degrees Fahrenheit), and extreme fatigue.
I could hardly sleep because it hurt to lay on my body. I slept on my bed, my sofa, and in the spare bedroom—nothing helped. I’m a grown-ass woman who has cried in her sleep because everything hurt so damn bad. I had to keep rotating my body—my fingers, my toes, all of it—sort of like the flu, except on steroids.
I knew shit was real, so I went to my local urgent care to be tested the next day.
After gagging on the Harvard Step Test and having my brain swabbed through my nasal cavity, the building lost power due to yet another unpredicted rainstorm!
At this point, I felt like I was dying; it was dark, and all I wanted was to go home. The fire alarm got stuck on, and I heard the staff trying to figure out how to turn it off. I was in a dark room by myself; I wanted to lay on the floor and sleep. The fire alarm had already been nagging my pounding head, but I genuinely thought I could have slept through it because I was so damn tired!
I was done. I just needed my paperwork.
Finally, the nurse said I could leave if I didn’t want the paperwork. Holy shit! So I left.
And then the wait began.
Three days later, not one symptom eased up. And then I got the email saying, in bold red letters, that ‘Rona got me.
COVID-19 was detected—holy shit (again).
Then the calls started. Urgent care started blowing up my phone to make sure I was aware; my daddy started checking on me; my daughter wanted to know if I wanted blue Gatorade or orange or?
Here’s what I wasn’t prepared for:
>> Asking my 14-year-old daughter to back away from me and telling her that this scary thing that kept her out of school—had my job shut down three times in a year and upended the entire planet—is now inside our house. Inside her mom. Inside me.
>> I couldn’t hug her. But I reassured her that I would—soon. (I’m the one who really needed the hug. Sigh.)
>> The health department called to inform me to stay away from everyone, including my children.
It’s been one day. I’m overwhelmed by the love, compassion, and prayers of so many family members and friends! I’m truly blessed.
I did get a few of the, “They’re just sayin’ it’s COVID-19 to get the money” responses. Or “Hope you don’t give it to us!” Or no response at all (from the ones I expected it from anyways). I’m not looking for sympathy. Trust me. I’m good; it’s just a respect thing.
And above all, so many people are dying. My family is bracing for it to be someone we know. My problem—not being able to hug my kids for a while—is easy to have in comparison.
It’s not completely clear when or how I will be declared 100 percent well, or when I can safely hug my kids, or when I can leave my room without a mask. An emergency physician I trust, who is working on the COVID-19 response effort, told me it’s seven days after the onset of symptoms or 72 hours after my last fever. But I don’t know.
Everyone thinks they know everything—have to love uneducated opinions.
I asked my primary physician, as well as my rheumatologist, “What do I do now? ‘Rona got me!”
I was told to:
1. Monitor for shortness of breath.
2. Check oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter. It needs to be above 90 percent.
3. If it drops to less than 90 percent or you start feeling short of breath, go to the emergency room.
4. Drink plenty of fluids.
5. Tylenol as needed.
What the fuck?
Okay, okay; I got this. But do you know what the fuck a pulse oximeter is? Can you pronounce it? Do you happen to have one stashed in your medicine cabinet? Oh, I can’t just run out and get one?
This whole thing has taught me how little anyone knows for sure about all of it.
All I know is there’s nothing worse than being alone while experiencing something so crazy.
This COVID-19 stuff is a mental health crisis in the making, and we are all screwed. I pinky swear it.