An Early Survivor: My COVID-19 Story
At the beginning of March, I started feeling sick when traveling home, from Seattle to Iceland, for spring vacation. I didn’t think much of it as the cases of COVID-19 weren’t high in either country. I just assumed it was “the normal flu” or jet-lag. Over the next couple of days, I felt more ill. Being surrounded by news of the pandemic, I decided to contact my doctor and ask if I should get tested for the COVID-19 virus. The doctor tried to calm my nerves by telling me that the cases weren’t many and that no one coming from Seattle to Iceland had been tested positive. Even though this was probably supposed to calm my nerves, I decided to be firm and convince him why I should get tested. Thankfully after a few calls back and forth, I was allowed to get tested. After the test, I tried to stay calm and repeat the doctor’s voice in my head, saying, “no one traveling from Seattle to Iceland has been tested positive.” The day after, I received a call from the doctor’s office. I had tested positive for the COVID-19, and so my journey began.
I was diagnosed with sensitive lungs and asthma when I was a child and had dealt with that most of my life. A few years ago, I felt the need to try my best to train my lung capacity and toss the asthma medication aside, which I did and ended up running a half marathon without any medication. But since I had a background of lung sensitivity, my doctors were afraid of how the virus would affect me. I began taking my prescriptions for asthma, and a lung specialist called me every day to check how my breathing was going. At first, I thought this would go okay as I am a young, healthy adult, and this would all blow over in a month maximum. Oh man, was I wrong! I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in my lungs, as gasoline was poured down my throat and a match lit. This was no ordinary flu; it was COVID-19.
I was admitted to the hospital on the tenth day, and that experience is something I will never forget. I was transported to the hospital in a van specially equipped for picking up COVID-19 patients, every inch covered in plastic, and I put in a hazmat suit before entering. When arriving at the hospital, I was placed in a container outside that had been flipped into a COVID-19 room. After the check-up, the doctors decided to have me admitted and transported to an isolated area inside the hospital (for the safety of other patients). In my hazmat suit, I was pushed in a wheelchair through the snow into a special entryway. Every inch I touched was scrubbed with a sanitizer, and when entering the room, the doors were closed, and the airway under it taped. I felt like the most contagious person in the world, away from everyone, in isolation.
When sick, I was so well cared for, the doctors, nurses, and staff were terrific, and I felt safe. However, being considered “recovered” by the system, I felt so alone. I wasn’t my healthy self, and I felt sick every day, I didn’t know why, and the doctors had no answers. A couple of weeks went by, thinking I was alone in not feeling like my old self, and unable to find articles online or hearing any news about the post COVID symptoms. Then I got an invite to be a part of a Facebook group for COVID-19 patients here in Iceland, unsure what it was, I accepted and began reading. The sigh of relief when reading other people’s stories of how difficult their road to recovery had been and seeing that the weird symptoms I had been experiencing weren’t only “in my head” or only affecting me. Even though you never wish harm or any ill towards others, there was a sense of comfort knowing that what I had been going through was valid, and I finally had a place where I could talk about it to others who understood.
Most of us felt lost, experiencing all these symptoms day by day, everchanging, and sharing lists of symptoms with our doctors. The doctors wanted to help but had no treatments or solutions to a quicker recovery, due to the virus being so new and lack of information available. I downloaded endless apps, wrote my symptoms in journals, trying to keep track of it. I quit after a while, as the unexplained pains were so many, and I had no one or nothing to analyze or help me make sense of it all. Still hoping that there will be a time where I feel like myself again, I can only imagine how others who have chronic illness’ may feel. Being in constant pain, or caring for someone who is, you want to be able to have something that can help you, help yourself or others. I hope that today’s technology that some type of equipment will be available soon to make documenting and analyzing symptoms and pain easier for yourself and your caretakers.