By Nickie Hayes
In the United States, there have now been over 32 million cases of COVID-19. In the world, this number has risen to over 142 million COVID-19 cases, according to worldometer.com. I am one of the millions of people who have contracted the coronavirus. Luckily because of my age and my good health status prior, I made it through the sickness and have made almost a full recovery after two weeks. This is my COVID-19 experience.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary immensely from person to person. However, the CDC states that the most common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. The Monday of the week that I came down with COVID-19, I had no symptoms present other than a stomach ache. That was not on the list of symptoms I had ever heard of, so I went about my week.
Although, Thursday hit, and that stomach ache turned into something much different. I woke up drenched in sweat, and at that point, I knew something was wrong. I could barely get up for work, and I instantly had a weird feeling. My symptoms turned from a stomach ache to a 100.7-degree fever, extreme fatigue, an entire body ached, a headache and congestion.
I got tested later that day, but I was already pretty sure that I had it. After I got the confirmation from my doctor that I did indeed have COVID-19, I think I had more emotional trouble than anything else. I was honestly scared. This pandemic had already been going on for an entire year, and I thankfully did not have any friends or family who had become sick with it. I was now one of the people who have this illness.
I have been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and depression, and those flared immensely after figuring out I had COVID-19. I could not control my emotions, which made my other symptoms feel even worse. I was filled with remorse because I had done all the things I would normally do during the week, and I had come in contact with so many other people. Wednesday evening, the night before my symptoms surfaced, I even went to one of the boxing and mixed martial arts classes I take. I think going to the class was my downfall and what pushed my body over the edge.
The first few days I was in quarantine, my sporadic emotions kept me almost completely bedridden in combination with my COVID-19 symptoms. Thankfully, as a young adult, the worst symptoms for me were loss of taste and smell, headache, congestion and body aches. I felt like garbage, though. The easiest way I found describing how it was to have COVID-19 was feeling like having five different illnesses at once.
Being separated from others, besides my immediate family, was one of the most difficult parts about quarantine. I do not consider myself a social butterfly, but I have a close group of friends and loved ones I do like to see often. To my surprise, one of the best things that helped me through quarantine was playing video games. I was lent an old Xbox One console, along with a headset, and that aided in breaking the barrier I felt being confined to my room for the ten days.
I was given the ability to talk to my friends, have fun playing some of my favorite games, and know I was keeping the ones around me safe. I also cleaned and organized my room when I had some extra energy, which made the days go by faster. Even though I could not do those things for long periods, I still got some things done that I had been pushing off for so long. As well, making sure I took a shower and got dressed every day helped. It eased my nerves and alleviated my physical symptoms, at least for a little while.
After my ten days of quarantine were up, my mood brightened considerably. By that point, I regained most of my taste and smell and got rid of the persistent headache. Yet, I was still fairly congested, had body aches and was fatigued. My doctor said it was common to feel symptoms even after the quarantine was over, but as long as they were improving, I was free to be a member of society again.
I was extremely fortunate to have my family and friends help me through COVID-19. Everyone does not have that luxury. There are people who have had to do this on their own and I admire anyone who got through this without their loved ones. COVID-19 is not only a physical struggle; there is also a mental battle that comes with it. For those going through this alone, there are resources that can give support.
HelpGuide.org is a website people can use to educate themselves about their mental health problems and find encouraging articles. The Disaster Distress Hotline is a way to find immediate crisis counseling for those who are experiencing emotional distress. That number is 1-800-985-5990 and is 24/7, 365-day-a-year free service. COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide is another reliable resource for questions about COVID-19. This website provides helpful information and guidance for many common inquiries.
My experience with COVID-19 was not pleasant, but I tried to make the best of the time I was stuck in quarantine. I am almost fully recovered and happy to say my mental health is also improving. There are ways to get through the sickness, and I hope it is comforting to know that no one is completely alone in this. Others have shared their unique experiences on this website, COVID-19 Patient Stories.