The rona had me in her sights. Like many, I haven’t always made the most conservative decisions for my health lately. I attended church services twice in the past three weeks. I got my hair cut and colored. The loved ones in my social bubble haven’t all been social distancing; one regularly attends family gatherings. I’m not as cautious as I was a few months ago and have gotten lax with sanitizing surfaces and not singing entire song verses when washing my hands. After my experience this past week, I know I need to do better.
I first began experiencing symptoms a week ago. Beginning last Sunday, I noticed joint and muscle stiffness, a mild sore throat and low energy. This past Wednesday, my sore throat had intensified and I developed a headache. My temperature hovered around 99.6 most of the day. In adults, that temperature is not considered a fever; it became normal by bedtime.The following day the muscle aches and sore throat had worsened and my digestive system took a turn for the worst. I wasn’t able to keep down any food. Friday morning I felt better so I did work out at home. My breathing wasn’t labored so I felt encouraged that I was recovering. Saturday I had wanted to go for a run because I haven’t done so in a few weeks but my joints and muscles were still sore and stiff. I took my usual Zumba class. My breathing was fine though my energy was low. That night after our daily walk I felt exhausted and I felt that my chest congestion had worsened. Sunday morning I woke up congested and feeling chest pressure so I called the advice nurse. I was set up for a video call. After we discussed my symptoms, the doctor recommended I get tested for Covid-19. He said my healthcare provider has experienced a shortage of tests and that many were having to wait until the end of the week to be tested. However because I was experiencing symptoms for several days, he felt that my need to test was urgent. He said he would speak to the supervising doctor about expediting my test. I was called within 20 minutes and given an appointment for 11:40 in the morning. After prayer, meditation and some tears, I headed to my test site.
I drove into the parking garage where I was directed to park my car until it was my turn for testing. I was then directed to pull into a parking slot where I was finally allowed to lower my window. The nurse described the test process. It would be both a nasal and oral test with a swab. Both tonsils and both nostrils would be swabbed. I was told that it would be uncomfortable but that it would be brief. I was then asked to remove my mask for the oral exam. I was asked to sing ahhh for ten very long seconds. I gagged but it was more uncomfortable than painful. Then we moved on to swabbing the right tonsil. I was directed to place my mask back on while the next test was prepared. I was directed to only lower my mask so my nose was visible. I remembered what a friend had told me about keeping absolutely still during the nasal swab so I tried to not move. As with the oral swab the nurse counted out 10 seconds while swabbing each nostril. I tried not to visualize where the swab was going. I thought of calming images though I wanted to flinch. Then it was over. I was asked to adjust my mask. The nurse told me that negative results would be sent via email and positive results would be communicated through a phone call. She told me to take care of myself. I thanked her and drove out of the parking structure.
At home I moved into self-isolation. Because I have been taking a class which was due to end Tuesday, I decided to move into our home office. I brought in a sleeping bag and pillow and blanket and sufficient water. I spent the majority of the day completing my class and watching YouTube videos featuring my favorite Pose actors. Earlier that morning I had asked the doctor about exercise. He had said he had no objection so long as I was mindful about not being contagious to others. I went on my evening walk by myself and wore a mask as usual. As I’ve been doing for many days, I applied Vicks Vapor Rub before going to bed.
Today I woke up and felt that my chest congestion had dramatically improved. I also saw that I had received an email from my healthcare provider. I knew the news was good. I am negative for Covid-19. The doctor sent a follow-up email recommending that I continue to self isolate until my symptoms improve and to monitor my health.
This experience terrified me. While most of my symptoms have subsided, I am still experiencing joint and muscle pain. I’m grateful I don’t have Covid-19 but I am still susceptible to catching a virus. We all are. This is not a hoax. My brother lost a good friend. I have friends who have lost relatives and friends. One of my former students is on life support. We can’t lose sight of what’s most important. Without our health, we can’t make beautiful memories with those we love. That’s what I most feared, being separated from my daughter and my husband. My eyebrows can wait. I can attend Mass from the comfort of my desktop. I can only hope that more of us realize how important it is that we protect ourselves and one another.