Six months ago, I thought I had hay fever. I couldn't stop sneezing, I blew my nose all the time, and I had a low-grade fever. One day, I had an intense, pounding headache that left me in bed. Hay fever runs in my family, so I didn't think anything of it. But I kept a mask on to avoid other people's glares if I went out in public.
Then, while out of town, my partner found out his grandma tested positive for COVID-19. My partner and I saw her before she got tested, so I had a feeling. I also made sure anyone I saw in the past two weeks knew too. Finally, I got tested. Three days later, I found out I was positive.
My symptoms were mild; no one would've guessed I got sick. I worried about having to go to the hospital, but it never happened. I got lucky, but I know not everyone had had the same level of luck.
After six months, my health is mostly back to normal. I have the occasional lingering issue, but it's not so bad I can't do anything about it.
Let me make one thing clear. I'm not out to downplay the virus, nor am I out to give medical advice. I'm not a doctor. My experience with COVID is going to be different than someone else's. It's what makes this virus so strange and unpredictable.
A handful of people don't believe I had COVID.
The day I got diagnosed, I got two phone calls: one from the health department in Mt. Pleasant and one from the testing center in Gladwin. The second phone call was an uneventful one. All the nurse said was to quarantine myself for ten days after telling me I tested positive.
The first phone call was more thorough. The woman asked me about my health and all the places I'd been in the past two weeks. However, she only asked for one phone number: my partner's. He was with me when I got the call.
Weeks after I got better, I found out the health department made no calls. My brother runs my family's bar, and he didn't get a call saying someone tested positive. None of my parents received a call when we found out I had COVID. I was the one that called them.
As I gradually told anyone I came in contact with I had the virus, I'd get calls from other relatives, asking if I was sure I was okay.
Some people didn't believe I had COVID. They thought I got tested, and they thought I got sick. But I didn't end up in the hospital like so many people in the news. They wondered if somehow my test results got mixed up with someone else's.
I can understand why they would think like this. People are getting worried because of what they see on TV. People that should've had a call after I got sick didn't get anything. I can see why some would think the way they did.
There is still a cough after six months.
By the end of the month, I developed a cough that's only now starting to disappear. There are two levels to it. The first cough is intense; I can feel the ache in my bones when it happens. When the cough first appeared, the pain would go from my ribs and spread to my elbows. Now, when I cough, my elbows ache.
The second one is more annoying than anything else. It feels like something is crawling up my throat, and it gets more intense until I finally start coughing. It's okay if I'm home alone, but I get glares when I'm in public. It doesn't matter if I'm wearing a mask or not; people get nervous when they hear me hacking.
The good news is, I can calm down the coughs. All I need is a glass of water. At least it's motivation to keep me hydrated.
The lack of consistency with the virus is still a concern.
Both of the phone calls I received had different days on when I could appear in public again. The first call gave me a tentative date where I wouldn't be contagious anymore. The second call told me to stay home for the next ten days.
I have a friend who lives in Wisconsin. She had a relative affected by COVID, and he went to the hospital. When I told her what the phone calls told me, she was horrified. The hospital wouldn't let her relative out until he went three days without a fever.
Even the CDC website had something different! The CDC said I was fine after going twenty-four hours without a fever. I couldn't figure out what was right and what wasn't. I stuck with what the CDC site said to be safe.
Masks are still a conversation piece. I can go into one city and watch every business refuse to let people in who don't wear masks. The next town over doesn't care about masks and allows everyone in their companies. You never know how one town is going to react to the sight of someone in a mask.
My health bounced back fast after I got infected with COVID. I was down for about a month, and then I felt mostly back to normal. Once this cough goes away, I'll be back to 100%.
Until it's my turn for the vaccine, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing. I'll still wear a mask when I'm in a store and stay home unless I need to go somewhere.
I don't want to stay in quarantine forever. Even the biggest introverts don't want to remain under lockdown for the rest of their days. It hasn't been an easy year at all, and I want to see this pandemic end. We have to work together to get to that point.