When the New York Times podcast, The Daily, came out with their episode titled, The Coronavirus Goes Global, I started paying attention to the impending pandemic. I made my boomer parents listen to the episode, put in an order for N95 masks, and started tracking the virus intimately. It helped that I had co-workers who were equally caught up with the pandemonium as I was; our slack channel is filled with the latest news/rumors/preparation guides on The Virus. We are the most coronavirus obsessed squad at my company.
While the world was beginning to wake up to The Virus I was getting ready for a business trip to NYC. Only a handful of cases had been reported, no lockdowns had been issued and I was not too concerned for my safety. After all, I researched all the basics: no face touching, wipe down all surfaces, and use sanitizer. Also, I’m young and supposedly low-risk. I was going to be fine.
I was in NYC for 36 hours and one day later I slacked my co-workers who were on my trip and said,
“Guys don’t freak out but I have a slight dry cough”.
That dry cough progressed to 101 degree fever and when I read the thermometer, I just lost it. I started crying out of fear that I indeed had The Virus. My mom looked at me straight in the eyes and said over and over again with full confidence,
“You. Don’t. Have. It”.
We texted my doctor and talked to her the next day. She felt it was unlikely I had the virus and all I could do was ride it out. She also had the most defeated, frustrated, and helpless tone I had ever heard from a medical professional. Even if I had it, there was nothing she could do to help. My mom called The Virus hotline to see if I could get tested and since I did not exhibit all the symptoms I was not eligible. I needed to be gasping for air walking to the bathroom to even be considered for a test.
So ride it out I did, it took 3 days to break my fever, for my pounding headache to go away, and for my body to stop aching. The dry cough still persisted. It felt like the regular flu. Each day my co-workers and friends would ask, “Are you still alive?” to which I responded dryly,
“I’ve lived to see another day”.
10 days later I am mostly recovered but the dry cough lingering, my doctor finally scored some testing kits and got me tested for The Virus. I needed to know definitively. Not because I was paranoid or that it would change my non-existent treatment regimen but because I was worried about the rest of my family living in the same house as me. This kicked off a whole new drama and guessing game of whether I had it or not.
11 days later the results finally came in (if you’re keeping a tally, I’ve been in quarantine for 21 days at this point). I tested positive for SARS-CoV2 aka COVID-19. I was 1 of the 240,120 confirmed cases in the USA. My doctor was upbeat when delivering the news,
‘Yes, you have this highly contagious virus but you survived it and no one else in your household is showing symptoms! This is actually good news.’
By the looks of it I am going to be 1 of the 10,365 recovered cases. I got off the phone and told my family. I cried. I cried because it was scary. I cried because I was worried about the rest of my family. I cried because I knew I was lucky. I cried because I was grateful. Especially grateful for a body that was able to heal and fight.
I was also relieved that I received the results after recovering from The Virus. Had I known during it all, the stress of maybe dying would have made it a harder recovery. Is it odd that kind of stress never existed when I cross a street or get in a car or when I backpacked through Latin America or worked in the slums or scuba dived with sharks?
The last time I had a health scare my perspective on life and what I valued changed dramatically. This time it has become a good “check yourself” moment. I believe in signs and I’ve learned to pay attention. Take this thing seriously, if you’re young and healthy you are not invincible.