I kept telling myself, “I’ll be fine, I just need sleep.”
I was in bed on the phone with my mother each day reassuring her of that as well.
I tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 6. The previous day, I had a persistent cough, and when I got home and plopped down in bed, I began to sweat and have body chills at the same time.
I talked myself into getting tested for COVID-19 because I wanted to be responsible.
I took a test the next morning that was supposed to come back in a few days. Those few days passed, and I still had no news. I had mild headaches and persistent coughing, so I decided to schedule an appointment for a rapid test early in the morning at a local clinic.
I had a fever of 100, which surprised me. I thought it was a coincidence. After waiting for 20 minutes, a doctor walked in and casually told me I tested positive and was required to quarantine for two weeks.
I stayed relatively calm. I was mostly just shocked that I actually had it, and I was wondering how I would get groceries without leaving my apartment. In reality, that was the least of my concerns.
I called my parents and my girlfriend to let them know I tested positive. Then, I drove home and sat in my bedroom wondering what to do next.
My question was quickly answered for me.
Within days, my symptoms became much more aggressive. The mild headaches I had turned into migraines. I laid shaking in a pool of sweat, and yet I was restless. Nothing felt right. It was as if my body was revolting against me. I was zapped of all my energy and shivering even though my body was overheating.
I thought that would be the worst of it, but it was not.
My fever skyrocketed and topped out at 105 degrees. I became unable to keep food or water down, and I ended up not eating for eight days. I leaned on walls to balance when stumbling out of bed, but I could barely do anything more than that. My lungs became weakened to the point that I could only draw short, shallow breaths. Standing up from my bed left me unable to breathe.
It scared me. I had never been this sick before in my life, and I had never worried about my own health before. Now, my immune system was struggling badly to keep up with the virus raging through my body.
At the urging of my family, I checked myself into the hospital after three days of not being able to keep fluids down and even more days of not eating. At that point, I had only had COVID-19 for seven days. I knew I had to do something, considering the virus usually lasts at least two weeks when symptoms are present.
I felt half alive, or half dead.
The doctor I spoke to told me I was severely dehydrated, as well more than likely malnourished. By then, I was half awake and drained of whatever little energy I had left.
The nurses hooked me up to an IV and gave me painkillers and a Benadryl injection, which immediately put me to sleep. When I woke up after staying on the IV for three hours, I was deemed fit to go home. The doctor told me my lung x-rays looked good showed no signs of damage, which provided me some emotional relief.
He told me to go home and sleep, so I did… For 26 hours. I slept from 10 a.m. until noon the next day. It was the longest I’ve ever slept in my life.
I continued to be unable to keep fluids down for another three days – six total. If I didn’t go to the hospital on my own, I would have ended up there in an ambulance later.
At my worst, I isolated myself more than just physically. I didn’t call my parents, my girlfriend, anyone. I was alone. I responded to texts once a day, if that, to let people know I was still alive. I wanted to suffer alone. I didn’t want any company or for anyone to check on me.
I learned that, for whatever reason, when I become extremely sick, I go into emotional isolation. It’s probably not healthy, but it is how I coped. I don’t have any pets. I stayed in bed with the lights off and the blinds shut for nearly three weeks. I cut myself off from social media.
The people I loved were worried about me because I was not only suffering physically, but mentally as well. I learned much about myself during the experience – not all of it comforting. I felt like a dying dog.
Finally, about two weeks into my sickness, I woke up and immediately noticed I felt more energetic. I still could only breathe in about half as deep as I should, but my temperature had gone down to 102, and I actually felt thirsty. What a great feeling.
In the coming days, I was eventually able to consistently eat and drink again, but my respiratory issues remained until I regained my strength. I began walking slowly with shaky legs, but I didn’t have to use the walls to balance anymore.
Once my symptoms dissipated, I scheduled another rapid COVID-19 test. I tested negative, to my immense relief.
My battle with COVID-19 lasted 20 days. The only people I knew who had it experienced mild symptoms. My battle with COVID-19 brought the horror stories I had read about to life. And yet, other people had it much worse.
I wanted to tell people about this because I’m 24. I have no underlying health conditions, and yet COVID-19 destroyed my body.
If COVID-19 did what it did to me, what could it do to someone with cancer, heart disease or asthma? What about people who are immunocompromised? And even so, it has killed healthy people and young people.
I urge you to be cautious. Be safe. Wear a mask. COVID-19 could be mild for you. Or, it could be hell.