You know the fear.
We’ve all had this same fear for over a year now. You walk outside and the dread hits you. The grocery store, once comforting as it brought you nourishment, is now terrifying. The mall? Not even open.
It’s exhausting, this fear.
That you may end up getting COVID-19. It’s a strain to live in a pandemic. What used to be simple, like going out your door, now has added weights and thoughts. Pandemic fatigue is real.
But what happens when the fear comes true? What happens when you actually get the dreaded disease?
When You Have COVID-19
It started out like cold symptoms. I came home from working at the Clinic at the front desk in Dickinson, my nose feeling a bit stuffy. It made my gut drop with dread. Not because of COVID-19 but because I knew I would have to inform the clinic where I worked.
And would have to stay home for a stuffy nose.
But I couldn't not say something as there is always that chance that the stuffy nose is more. I couldn't do that to other people, even if all my PTO would have to disappear.
So I informed them, was told to stay home, and got tested.
I even coughed just before the long Q-tip was shoved up my nostril; that had me wondering if maybe it was something more, but only in the back of my mind.
I drove home and had a normal day, though the ‘cold’ grew worse. I didn’t think much of it. After all, I was careful. I wore a mask, washed my hands, sanitized my work area, and stayed home after. And Dickinson wasn’t such a big town, what did I have to worry about. I had been safe.
It couldn’t be COVID-19. Could it?
The results normally arrive the next morning — mine came that night.
I was positive for COVID-19.
The Problems With Testing Positive That Have Nothing To Do With COVID-19 Symptoms
The first thing that happens when you test positive for COVID-19 is much the same as when you first heard about it, except you can’t race out and buy toilet paper. You’re ordered to stay home.
Fear is first.
You think about all the people you’ve been around, if at all. And of those you live with.
Our house is full as our in-laws live with us. I thought of my husband. My kids. I felt like poison to all those around me and immediately wanted to hide and isolate myself.
Though, I knew it wouldn't help completely. My husband was already having cold-like symptoms, too.
Yet, you isolate with hope.
“Our brains have evolved for socialisation.” — ScienceFocus.com
The act of hiding away in your room or house is difficult as we all know well by now. Terrible. Exhausting. You sit in your room and wonder if the symptoms you’re having are from COVID-19 or from being cooped up all day.
Even though North Dakotans are used to being indoors due to cold winters, this isolation is hard.
You have to break plans with others. Sometimes, plans you had been really looking forward to. For me, I broke my daughter’s heart as she had been counting down the days when she could go to church again.
Not only did I have to tell her we couldn’t go but that she had to stay away from me. It hurt physically and mentally.
“While every patient is different, doctors say that days five through 10 of the illness are often the most worrisome time for respiratory complications of Covid-19.” — NY Times
You have a lot of time on your hands when you’re diagnosed, especially when you can’t work. You worry about each new symptom, and whether you’ll make it past the 10 days without your immune system going haywire.
- You worry about anyone you may have seen recently, even though you were masked.
- You worry about how you got it.
- Then you watch others be tested. And turn positive. And you worry about them.
My entire household, besides the kids, has tested positive.
You may not have to in your hometown but here in Dickinson, North Dakota, you must report your symptoms to the state. Every day. And for those around you if they can’t, like my kids. Plus, all the paperwork that goes with being off of work. This all ends up feeling a bit like work. No real time off.
And lastly, if you are cooped up with others, there is a chance that arguments start. There is a good amount of stress for all those involved, and each person — positive or not — has these same symptoms of worry, heartbreak, and the exhaustion of isolation. It’s tough, and temperatures, mental and physical, rise.
All this can get to you, and some of it can’t be helped.
But, if you do get sick with COVID-19, there are a few things you can do to help you through, as learned through experience.
It’s tempting to sit around in your PJ’s all day because you have nowhere to go. But the act of getting dressed can make you feel normal, and possibly even trick your brain into thinking maybe you’re not so sick.
A symptom of COVID-19 is fatigue so this may not always be easy, but when you’re awake, keep yourself busy. Distracted. Read a book. Binge a show (thanks WandaVision), or do something you love. I wrote, as I’m doing now.
Tempers rise but you should keep an open line of communication going, if possible, with your significant other. Talk about the symptoms or what you’re looking forward to after.
For the Kiddos
Help the kids see that this is only temporary. Talk to them and explain as best as you can. They understand more than we know.
Give air hugs and kisses.
My husband and I each gave a (clean!) pair of clothing to our kids since we couldn’t hug them, two shirts. They slept in them. My daughter is now currently counting down the days until we can hug again.
Give your worries to God. Let them go.
Sitting too long is painful. Get up and keep your body moving, even if it’s just in your room. Do Yoga, or find a fitness app like FitOn, which is my go-to.
Do Activities Together
For those who are sick, it’s easy to isolate yourself from the other person even if you’re right next to them. Try doing an activity together, even if that’s just watching a show. Laugh at the same thing. Be in each other's world.
And with each of these things, you’ll find the days going by faster. You’ll work through the worry and fear. This is new for all of us and we really are in it together.
You knew the fear, now you’ve lived through it. Walked through the hard days. The symptoms and effects.
And while, as always, we’re thinking of those who didn’t make it, maybe, just maybe, you’ll come out of this a bit stronger.
And keep safe out there.