I'm not a doctor. I'm someone who got a mild case of COVID. This story happened in the summer of 2020, and I'm writing about my experiences with the disease. I'm not out to downplay the disease but to raise awareness of the more mild cases out there. COVID hits everyone differently; what's mild for one person can hospitalize another.
I expected a lot when I got sick. I expected to struggle to breathe, but I wasn’t wheezing. I expected a trip to the hospital, but I didn’t have to leave the house. I expected to be so weak I couldn’t get out of bed, but I had enough energy for small chores around the house.
If someone I was around hadn’t tested positive, I would’ve never thought about getting the test myself. The disease put that person in the hospital, but I got out with nothing more than a head cold.
Before I got sick, I thought of COVID-19 in two extremes: you died or ended up in the hospital. When I suspected I had COVID in March, some of my family told me it wasn’t possible because I wasn’t in the hospital on a ventilator.
I was more scared of the disease than my fiance and his children. An article came out saying fat people were more vulnerable. Overweight people have a history of being ignored when they go to the doctor’s office. People died because symptoms that have nothing to do with their weight get blown off by a doctor’s fat bias.
I know from personal experience how easy it is for a doctor to dismiss my concerns. No matter what I say, the answer is always, “Lose some weight.”
So when I started sniffing in August, I didn’t think anything of it. I looked up my symptoms and saw nothing worse than hay fever. When my partner started sniffing, I realized I had a cold.
I was sick for two weeks before I got tested. I wore a mask everywhere I went, but I still had symptoms. I didn’t suspect a thing until I learned someone I knew tested positive. Three days later, I tested positive.
My diagnosis filled me with questions
Being a millennial, I remember the media showing a new disease to be worried about every year. I was a freshman in high school when SARS broke out in 2003, a college student studying abroad in China when H1N1 hit, and living in Northern Michigan through the Ebola pandemic.
I didn’t know anyone who got sick from those diseases. When people I knew started getting sick with COVID, I took it seriously. Then I got sick, and I found myself doubting again.
- Did I get duped by the media?
- Do I need to tell everyone?
- How are many others like me running around with mild symptoms?
- How much are the numbers skewed because of these symptoms?
First off, I don’t feel duped by the media
I live in a small town in Northern Michigan. If I listened to the news nonstop and didn’t talk to people, I’d be rolling my eyes when COVID came up in conversation.
I didn’t know anyone directly affected by SARS, H1N1, or Ebola. So I never took any of those diseases seriously.
COVID-19 was a different story. I have friends in China who were forced into isolation because of the virus. I know nurses who saw how harmful the virus could be and were terrified of it.
I know teachers who are nervous about the school year. Some of them are scared and don’t want to go back to school. Others don’t like masks but understand it’s the only way to see their students.
I don’t personally know anyone who believes COVID-19 is a hoax. Nor do I know anyone who’s thrown a temper tantrum when a business asks them to wear a mask. I watched the videos and wondered if the people were acting like that because they were getting recorded.
Every other country on the planet is going through the pandemic. If that many people were involved in such an enormous hoax, someone would’ve said something by now.
I stayed silent because my symptoms were mild
Most people like to put every detail of their lives on social media. Facebook was the reason I found out about people I know having COVID-19.
I have an aversion to telling everyone every detail of my life on social media and wrote an article about why we shouldn’t. I decided not to announce I was sick and only told people I saw before I got tested.
You never know how people are going to react when they find out you’re sick. My mom called me every day for a week when she found out. My aunt didn’t believe I felt as fine as I did.
Most of my neighborhood didn’t know I got sick. I hardly left the house when I started feeling ill, and when I did, I wore a mask. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to say anything or not but self-isolated instead.
The only reason I got tested was that someone I came in contact with was infected
In my area, people are getting sniffles and blowing them off as allergies. I walked around thinking I had hay fever until I noticed my partner getting sick.
We’re so convinced we’re going to end up in the hospital after getting COVID we under-react when we get sick. Our expectations are so high we’re surprised when it doesn’t show up like we think it will. We could be infecting people and not knowing it because we’re blowing off our symptoms as a cold.
Not all cases of COVID-19 end in hospitalization. Mild symptoms are as contagious as the severe ones.
At my sickest, I had a low-grade fever, pounding headache, and fatigue with a perpetually congested nose. I was miserable, but I wasn’t the sickest I’d ever been in my life.
I made myself a giant batch of chicken noodle soup, so I wouldn’t have to leave the house for a while. I stayed cautious, but that doesn’t mean other people would’ve done the same.
I can only guess how many people had mild cases and didn’t know it. Now, I wonder how much higher the cases and recovery numbers could be if people took mild cases as seriously as the severe ones.
My symptoms were mild, but I’m not taking COVID less seriously
The doctor said I had antibodies for the next 90 days. When I asked her about immunity, she said it’s still too early to tell. I hope by the time my 90 days are up, they’ll know for sure if I am.
Until then, I’ll still take precautions as if I were contagious. I heard three different stories on when contagion ends. And the CDC had a something different, too.
So I’ll still wash my hands, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask, even though I’m not contagious anymore. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life, but I want to help in any way I can.