Back in June, I got the news that my mom had tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I am an only child, living with both my parents. One of them, my dad, is retired, the other, my mom, works at a daycare. She didn’t get tested because she had symptoms, but because a positive case had been reported at her worksite, leading her to take the appropriate precaution in getting tested. And despite not coming into close contact with this positive tester, wouldn’t you know it, she had the virus. Once I had learned that my mom had tested positive, I called my employer (I work as a cashier at a grocery store) and let them know that I would need to quarantine.
No more than a couple of days later, I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold. Or maybe it was seasonal allergies. But I didn’t want to take any chances, I wanted to go in to get tested in the off chance that I was experiencing early symptoms of the virus. I was able to get tested a couple of days after my onset of symptoms. The nasal swab was as uncomfortable as you’d expect. I didn’t get my results back right away, it took nearly a week for my testing center to get my results back to me. I eventually got the phone call telling me that I had tested positive for COVID-19. So it wasn’t a cold or allergies that I was dealing with. Once I got the news, I was bound and determined to kick the thing’s ass.
Thankfully, my mom was entirely asymptomatic and my dad tested negative. My mom was hospitalized for pneumonia in 2019, so you could imagine my concern when she passed her news along to me. I wasn’t as fortunate, as I dealt with those cold-like symptoms (mainly a sore throat and sneezing fits) at first. I understand a fever is a common symptom of the virus, but I never had one. My cold-like symptoms lasted for roughly 3-4 days. After those seemed to subside, I realized that my sense of smell (but not taste) was completely gone. It wasn’t that feeling of being unable to smell anything because you’re stuffy, I didn’t feel stuffy at all, I just couldn’t smell anything. You could’ve held a package of rotten eggs in front of my nose and I wouldn’t have been able to smell it at all. It was very bizarre. At the same time, I was getting easily fatigued. For example, I would walk up the short flight of stairs in my house and that would leave me tired. It took me a couple of weeks to start feeling more like myself again.
I felt up to going back to work and gave my employer a call, letting them know I was largely symptom-free. However, when I called them, they let me know that I’d need to be out for a full 30 days. Fortunately, during my 30-day period, I was getting paid leave. But still, after those first two weeks, I was itching to get out of the house and be around people again. As fun as getting paid to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons and watch a bunch of movies and Netflix shows in your room sounds, it got old fast. Really, really fast. Sure, the time allowed me to do things like watching the entirety of Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time, but the cabin fever was getting serious. When they told me I’d have to be off for another two weeks, it was honestly brutal. But, it was smart thinking on their part. I don’t blame them for ensuring their employees are back to health and aren’t at risk of being carriers any longer. The scary thing about the Coronavirus is, anyone could have it. Assuming you haven’t already gone through it like me, you could have it right now and have no idea. Hell, you could’ve already had it and had no clue you did. You could’ve been 100% asymptomatic like my mom. The only way we knew she had it was because she went in for testing after being exposed. She didn’t even come into close contact with this person at her daycare, but being the airborne virus that it is, she wound up getting it.
And that is why it drives me crazy that this pandemic has become so political in the States. It never had to be this bad. There’s no way around it, there were unfortunately going to be statistics before we could get this virus completely under control. But if everyone took this thing seriously and cooperated with CDC guidelines, doing their part to keep themselves, and more importantly, their neighbors safe, we wouldn’t be looking at 315k deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, there are certain people out there that still think this thing is a hoax, that it’s “just the flu”. From October 1st, 2019 to April 4, 2020, the CDC reported an estimated 24,000-62,000 deaths by the flu. Whereas, as of December 21st, 2020, the CDC has reported 315k deaths caused by COVID-19 in the United States since January 21st, 2020. Out of every 100,000 people, 18 people die from influenza (stats coming most recently from 2018). Out of every 100,000 people, 96 people die from the Coronavirus.
Even people that have seemingly won the battle against the virus have had their health impacted. A perfect example would be Eduardo Rodriguez, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Rodriguez had COVID-19 in June and after a series of negative tests, he was cleared to participate in training camp. At training camp, he had to cut bullpen sessions short because he was experiencing fatigue. He wound up getting looked at, and was subsequently diagnosed with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), which not only put him out of competition for the year, but also out of physical exertion for three months. In late September, he was finally given the green light by doctors to begin walking again. The Red Sox are optimistic that Rodriguez will be able to attend Spring Training in 2021 and pitch for them next season. I also have a co-worker, who had no prior heart problems before contracting COVID-19, have to be on a heart monitor when they first returned to work because they were experiencing rapid heart rates. Even I myself have noticed myself having to sometimes catch my breath after bending down to scan items on the bottom of a customer’s grocery cart, something that I had never had a problem with. It goes to show you that, just when you think you’re out of the water, the virus can leave one last parting gift for you before going to its next victim.
Hope is on the horizon. For starters, we’re almost out of 2020. 2021 is almost here, as we can finally say goodbye to the nightmare that has been 2020. But more importantly, a vaccine has been made and has been cleared for use by regulators. As we speak, it is making its initial rounds, as healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities are being offered the vaccine first. I have seen some people express concern about how safe the vaccine is and the side effects that may come along with it, with it being “rushed out” and not going through years of trials before getting approved for release. I think some of that speedy development comes from the extraordinary amount of funding that went into research for the vaccine, which greatly sped up its timeline. Sure, there isn’t a way of truly knowing its long-term effects on someone yet, but it’s clear that this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, no thanks to the selfishness and sheer ineptitude of some to follow simple guidelines. With that in mind, I’d gladly take my chances, if that means returning to normal sooner than waiting for the vaccine to go through a traditional development.
I want to end this lengthy post thanking healthcare workers, who are putting their lives on the line, working around the clock to treat people with this virus. I can’t imagine how exhausted they must be. Every single one of them deserves a long vacation when this is all over. I’ve always had the utmost appreciation for medical professionals, but this pandemic has made me appreciate them more than ever before. They truly are heroes. I also want to thank everyone else working on the front lines. Whether that’d be first responders, delivery drivers or grocery store clerks such as myself (I can’t tell you how many times my customers have personally thanked me for working), the selflessness of today’s essential workers cannot be understated. Though this pandemic has brought out the worst in some, it has also brought out the best in others. I hope the majority of us can come out of this as better people. I know I will.
Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.