Honestly, the first few days I was sick with COVID-19, I started to understand why some people have described it as "just a bad cold." Sure, I had all-over body aches with hot and cold flashes, and I ran a low-grade fever for a day. But about four days after symptoms started, I actually started to feel better.
Then the real difficult symptoms came on.
I started to have that unique cough. No sore throat, no drippy gunk from my nose. But I had sporadic dry coughing fits that seemed to come straight from my lungs for a few minutes at a time, then I'd go hours without coughing again.
I had next to no appetite. I was extremely fatigued. A brain fog set in making things feel dreamlike even before I started taking cold medicine.
I took sick time from work, and while I'd already been holed up at home for days, I dug into a strict schedule of sleeping as long as possible, then moving to my couch to lay down and binge TV. Maybe I'd get enough energy to eat one meal that day. Around 4 am, I'd usually wake up on the couch, move to my bedroom and fall asleep again. I didn't change my clothes for five days. All I did was sleep and survive.
Eight or nine days into symptoms, my breathing was so strained that walking down to my building's front door to pick up necessities delivered by loved ones became a massive task. No matter how slowly I went, even taking breaks, walking up just two flights of stairs sent me into a coughing fit. It felt like I'd just sprinted up 15 stories.
Thankfully I have a strong support network of friends and family who delivered me food, vitamins and medicine, and checked in on me regularly while I was isolated in my apartment. I had a telehealth appointment with a doctor and was prescribed an inhaler and cough suppressants, and a friend was able to pick up the prescription.
But I was scared to realize that even if I wanted to go get that medicine myself, walking a block to my car was out of the question. I cried hard that afternoon, both scared of the independence I'd lost in just a week, and overwhelmed as many people, some I rarely talk to, messaged me to check in and offer support. It was comforting knowing how many people care about me, but at a certain point you get the sense that everyone has suddenly been reminded you will die someday.
The next day I felt even worse. The day after was worse still. In my morning check-in text with my mom, I let her know that walking to the next room left me panting.
The doctor had told me to try the meds for a few days and monitor how I felt. I promised that if the inhaler still didn't seem to be helping by that evening, I'd go to the ER.
Thankfully, that day was my turning point. Within several hours I started to improve. By the next morning I could breathe significantly better, and I actually had energy. Days later my cough was gone, and I felt good enough to leave my building for the first time in two weeks.
Before, I had worried about older loved ones getting the virus. I never thought it would affect me that badly, but it did. Just because it didn't affect you much doesn't mean it can't horribly affect someone else. Not being able to breathe is one of the scariest ways I can think of to die, and the way hospitals remain now, it's also incredibly lonely. So my request is simple: Please continue to take this seriously, and please, get vaccinated. ♦