I found out I was positive for the Coronavirus on April 21st nearly two weeks after I was first tested. However, my symptoms began on March 25th, but because I have asthma, and the constant weather changes, it was hard to tell the difference.
When I went to get tested, masks were handed out and the healthcare workers were being sprayed down with disinfectant after every patient. Police officers were directing people to a long line marked with yellow X’s on the sidewalk. My chest tightened and every cough hammered into my ribs. The pain was so intense I kneeled over and almost fell into the barricade. I was directed to stand by a number and wait.
As the healthcare workers rushed to get the test kits prepared for everyone, a worker came to check my vitals, lungs and checked my throat for any swelling or abnormalities. The mask against my face felt so gross as I gave deep breaths and tried my best to cooperate with what I was being told. I felt weaker. Fifteen minutes later, I was being tested. The worker gave me directions to look straight, relax my face and to not move.
The sharpest pain I’ve ever felt in my nose shot through to my eye sockets. “Okay, you’re doing great. One more nostril left.” I tried not to wince. She then put the swabs she took inside of a tube, “You’re all done.” she said. “Just wait for the doctor to come back out.” Another fifteen minutes later the doctor gave me a few prescription medications to treat my asthma. My nose began to feel runny from the swab test.
My lungs felt like they were going to explode, but I didn’t stop walking home. I dropped the prescription off at my pharmacy and had my medicine delivered to my house an hour later. It wasn’t until April 21st that I received my results and the jarring fear of dying that made me take the Covid-19 threat seriously. I was first told it was a respiratory infection and I would be fine, but I was positive and the symptoms started taking their toll.
I began vomiting the medications up and sleeping on the bathroom floor because I was too weak to move. My fever went from my normal 98.6 temperature to 104.6 all in the span of 6 hours. I slept in my bedroom when I could and ate a lot of spicy foods because I couldn’t smell or taste them. My grandma even tried calling the hospital for help. The receptionist said, “WELL IF SHE DOESN’T NEED A VENTILATOR SHE ISN’T GOING TO BE TREATED!” “But she’s sick! She’s going to die!” “WE DON’T HAVE THE ROOM TO TREAT HER!” The receptionist had slammed the phone down. My grandmother was worried, trying to figure out what she would do if she or her 92-year-old mother got sick as well. Her resolution was to stop the spread of germs by bleaching the entire house daily and giving my cats a bath once every two days.
I slept on an air mattress with sheets we could toss away and pillow cases I could clean up if I got any throw up or drool on them. Some days I could have the energy to participate in class, but other days I could barely stand up to open a window. Every doctor visit I had, said the same thing, “She doesn’t need a ventilator, so there’s nothing we can do.” Along with new medicines, remedies, vitamins, anything over the counter, and I still was symptomatic. I feared my health was on a downward spiral.
I apologized for my late assignments and missing classes, but even then, I kept my video off and my microphone muted because I was on my nebulizer with an increased treatment. I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror, let alone my classmates. My body was deteriorating and I felt like I couldn’t fight anymore. I still had to perform for my Applied lessons, and keep up with the new exercises I was being taught. (An Applied lesson is a private coaching lesson for a student in the Music, Dance and Theatre Department to get better at their voice or instrument(s)). I laid in bed praying that I would get better. If I didn’t, I would fail my juries (graded playing exams at the end of a semester) and have to repeat the same course over. I worked too hard for me to not perform in front of the music department staff.
One evening, I heard a doctor talking with my grandmother on the phone in another room of the house. The walls are paper thin, so I eavesdropped as best I could. “I’m sorry. Your granddaughter is going to die. I’ve done all I could. It’s been three weeks now. She keeps getting worse. The best I could do is give her something for the pain.” I went to bed crying. “I didn’t even get my degree.” I half-heartedly joked between sobs. I could actively feel my lungs shutting down.
The next morning I did the same routine. I tried eating, took my medications, did a nebulizer treatment and laid in bed. I attended class and spent the day sleeping. There wasn’t much energy in me to do much else. Three days went by and I got another coronavirus test at home. “You’re still positive but your charts look a little better.” My temperature went down to 97.5 and my lungs began opening up. For once, I ate something and tasted it. The next day I could smell something cooking. Could I finally be getting better, or was the virus playing a cruel trick on me?
As I regained my health, the doctor visited the house and I opened the door. “Oh. Angela, how are you?” I smiled. “Better”. Still positive, I stayed inside the tiny quarantine space my grandma had set up.
For the first time in 3 weeks, I had taken a shower without falling. My temperature remained the same 98.6, and by May 14th I was back to my normal self. I went to my local test site again, and waited on a shorter line. My results were negative, and I couldn’t be more overjoyed.
I went home with my head held high as I felt much better, but the coronavirus left its damage on my lungs. I still have to take medication for my lungs, I’m still on my nebulizer six times a day (once every two hours), I can barely eat big meals, and I still struggle with smelling things. Any practice time over one hour on my flute leaves me with a tightened chest and pains towards my back area where my lungs are.
Being able to push through having Coronavirus wasn’t easy. I almost died on my living room couch because of how little air I was receiving to my lungs. I could feel the burning sensation every time I swallowed or took a gasp of air.
The reality is, I almost died. I could blame it on the people who came in contact with me after the curfew was implemented, or the 13 second hand washes I was doing because I needed to run back to the register, or maybe the gloveless cash transactions I took because I didn’t have the correct amount of protective gear. The truth is, all of this could’ve been a huge factor in why I got sick, but I am grateful I’m better.
Since April 9th, I have NOT been back to work, I haven’t collected any benefits because my job will not pay for the days I’ve been out (this includes sick pay and paid time off), and I now take care of my two elderly grandmothers full time because I do all of the essential trips to the store.