I was completely shocked when I opened an email late in September that read “you have tested positive for COVID-19”.
I had been tested for COVID-19 earlier that day, more so to “rule it out” since I was feeling slightly under the weather but figured it was just a run of the mill seasonal illness.
Two days before getting tested, I had experienced some aching in my lower back.
I thought this was related to my time of the month and it didn’t even occur to me that it could be a symptom of something bigger. The day before getting tested, I began to feel very tired. But again, this did not ring any alarm bells as I’m a stay-at-home mom to a 4, 3, and 1 year old, and being tired is one of the job requirements! The day I decided to get tested, it was because I realized I had developed a slight fever and instantly recognized that as a potential COVID-19 warning sign.
Still not really believing I had it, I scheduled a drive-through test at the nearby Cedar Rapids site, “just to be safe”.
My initial reaction was mixed. Part of me was relieved, thinking, “Well, my symptoms have been super mild, so if this is as bad as it gets for me, I’ll be happy to just get this virus over with.”
The other part of me was a little panicked, thinking, “Who have I all come into contact with in the past few days?”
“Will people judge me when I tell them?”
“Great, now my husband will have to stay home from work to quarantine during his busiest season.”
The “good” news was that I had only seen my parents and my mother-in-law in the days leading up to my positive test, so I only had a couple of phone calls to make to alert them, and they were all very gracious and reassuring. None of them panicked or tried to place blame.
They were all three a shining example of how to handle a phone call from a friend or family member with the news of COVID-19.
Another step we took was arranging a test for my husband and trying to make a quarantine plan. My husband had no symptoms whatsoever, so we were even further shocked when his test came back positive two days later!
But we were determined to see the bright side of this whole situation.
My husband was relieved that this unpredictable virus came with no symptoms in his case. The biggest downside was his necessary quarantine and him having to contact anyone he had seen in the past week, since that’s a phone call no one really wants to make or receive!
I did end up experiencing a few more symptoms including a fever that came and went for 3-4 days, some body aches and chills/sweats, heavy fatigue, and loss of taste and smell for about a week.
The worst part of the virus was that it just seemed to linger on indefinitely.
But for me, it was not nearly as bad as the seasonal flu that I experienced a year ago in September 2019. My husband at one point had a fever of 99.9 on two separate days but was otherwise asymptomatic.
When I look back at the whole ordeal, it’s my opinion that the second worst part of the virus was the social stigma.
We usually wear masks when out and about, but I barely ever leave the house (even before COVID!) since I have three kids four and under, and social distancing isn’t always realistic with young children. I mostly kept the result to myself and decided to wait to tell most friends and family (those we hadn’t come into contact with) until after we were out of quarantine.
It’s an unusual predicament that there’s social pressure to make a proclamation of your test result so as to be “transparent”, but also pressure to keep it on a “need to know” basis so as to avoid judgment and unnecessary panic.
As far as our three kids, we decided not to have them tested because none of them exhibited a fever or any serious symptoms. They had to quarantine with us whether they developed symptoms or not. Either they contracted COVID-19, too, and got through it asymptomatically, or they quarantined with two “positive” people for over two weeks and didn’t contract it.
Respect the Virus
We are fortunate that no one in our immediate family is high risk. My dad used a phrase to describe how he treats the virus and it feels like the perfect description. It’s right in the middle of fear and carelessness– we “respect” the virus. This means that we continue to live our lives and enjoy what we can while also eliminating risk within reason. We do our best to observe distancing practices and practice good hygiene, while also trying to strike a balance that allows for something outside of complete isolation.
We go to church, eat at restaurants, and have birthday parties for our kids. We wear masks at church, social distance at restaurants or order “to go”, and we split birthday parties into smaller gatherings to decrease risk for our grandparents on both sides.
We don’t judge or pester people who choose not to attend in-person, especially those who are high-risk, as we completely understand their decision.
I know not everyone faces this disease and comes out unscathed, and we know there have been many deaths from this unpredictable virus.
I tell my story to share just one experience, and as reassurance that most cases are mild to moderate.
Let’s continue to “respect” the virus, while also respecting each other.
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