I have Coronavirus …. and I’m in recovery. Listen, when I say the last three weeks have been one of the scariest times of my life, I mean it. Recovery is half the battle. But, I want to share my story with all of you because everything they’re saying on the news is real. I’m like so many of you: I was skeptic, and I kept thinking my chances of catching the flu were higher. Sure, I wash my hands frequently, practice good hygiene, etc …. and so the thought of people freaking out over washing their hands was actually amusing.
It all started a little over two weeks ago on St. Patrick’s Day. My job site was sending us all home in the midst of everything happening and it was the last day in the building. So I cleared my desk, like my colleagues, unaware of when we would return. Three days later, I woke up with a sore throat, and that was just the beginning. By the end of the day that “tiny” sore throat still hadn’t gone away, so I popped a couple of cough drops and went to bed. I had no idea that the next morning I would wake up with a fever, insane body chills, and a headache that didn’t seem to go away. So. I treated it like a cold and thought nothing more of it …. but deep down, something was wrong and I felt it.
My fever continued over the course of four days, I couldn’t eat, and could barely manage to stand without every bone in my body feeling as if it were going to break if I tried to walk. I was scared, tremendously. Of course with everything happening, my mind began to wonder and yet I kept telling myself, “Relax, Alana, there’s no way it’s Coronavirus, there’s no possible way.” Six days into the “flu,” I grew progressively worse. I’d lost all sense of smell and taste, I could barely drink broth without the insane urge to vomit, and began having diarrhea. By then, my aunt took it upon herself to do research as to what was happening. She bought vitamins, made liquid Vitamin C, tea with honey with lemon…. everything she could to help.
I called the “Coronavirus” hotline the local hospitals are offering at least 15 times …. and with each call, a nurse would ask me to describe my symptoms and every time I was told it could be anything, but Coronavirus. The flu? Maybe. Pneumonia? Possibly.
Because I hadn’t traveled out of the country or potentially been exposed, I was told not to go to the hospital and tests were a priority for people over 60. Sure, I get it … but at the time, I couldn’t fathom why I told all these nurses my symptoms and they continued to tell me that there wasn’t a chance it would be Covid-19.
By now, I couldn’t walk from my bedroom to the bathroom (a mere 10 feet away) without feeling like my heart was pounding out of my chest. Taking a few steps felt as if I ran a marathon, and I was struggling to catch my breath. I felt as if somebody was sitting on my chest, and I was going to die. I was forced to sleep and spend everyday confined to a recliner, because I could not physically lie down without feeling as if I were choking and I would cough uncontrollably until I cried … or vomited.
It had been 11 days.
ELEVEN. People, this is not normal. Not in the slightest bit. During this time, I still remained in self quarantine from others in my household – my room and bathroom were blocked off, and I was confined to those areas, only.
I finally managed to make my way to the ER where I, once again, described all of my symptoms in great detail, given a chest x-ray, and was FINALLY given the test for Coronavirus. Since there’s no cure for Covid, I was sent home with antibiotics, cough medicine, and an inhaler to help relieve the limited amount of breathing I could do. Of course, my results came back …. positive. I received my “New test results” email from Sentara, and held my breath, briefly. At this point I already knew, and yet the shock still cut through my body like knives. It only made things more official when I got the call.
Through everything, my aunt definitely kept me calm. I truly believe that her research saved me. I wanted to share my story, because this is serious. One symptom turned into something major, and it happened in the blink of an eye. I’ve learned a lot during this ordeal, especially how compromised my immune system is and will be for quite some time. This hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be for a while. People, listen to your body and don’t stop fighting until somebody listens to you. It took me eleven days of torture and being turned down phone call after phone call to take a stand and go to the emergency room. In hindsight, I should’ve listened to my friends and family sooner, as well.
Furthermore, we need to start taking this virus seriously. Imagine walking around thinking everything is fine and boom, eleven days later you can barely walk five feet. Imagine the feeling of being confined to your room and not being able to be around the ones that you love the most, and imagine those in the hospital right now alone and unsure of what’s going to happen. So many of us are concerned with going out …. going to parties and turning up. Shit, three weeks ago that’s all I wanted to do, too. And yet, in the last three weeks building my immune system and getting better is all I’ve wanted to do – not just for me, but for the people around me. I still remain in self quarantine at least for another few days until my cough subsides, and my family has been continuing to wipe down surfaces, and I air out my room daily (good thing I sleep downstairs so opening a few windows is always refreshing). Communicating with my family via FaceTime everyday has been crazy, seeing the looks of concern on my niece’s and nephew’s faces has literally drained me, and seeing the amazing lengths my aunt has gone through to make sure I got better is nothing short of amazing.
Please, take care of yourselves during this time. If you need to go out, take every precaution necessary. If you don’t need to go, STAY HOME. Stop putting yourselves at risk, it’s not worth it, I promise. Again, I’m in recovery and it’s definitely going to be a long road, but I’m taking it day by day.