A Day-by-Day Journal of COVID-19
April 10th, 2020
Day 1, Saturday:
I woke up with a headache, feeling hot and stuffy. I knew immediately that it was a fever. But I’ve had fevers like this before, and they’ve always gone away quickly. After confirming that my temperature was above average at 101.0, my parents and I agreed that I should self-isolate in my room. They would bring me my meals and clean laundry, and I would only come out to use the bathroom. Better safe than sorry, just in case it was COVID-19, right? But there was no way it could be corona, because I had been socially distancing myself for a whole week. I dismissed the thought and took my Tylenol. The entire day, I shifted between warmth and chilliness, feeling very fatigued, and a little voice in my head kept repeating the word “corona” over and over. In the evening, my fever was 100.9. A tiny improvement. I fell asleep feeling worried about the coronavirus but hopeful that my fever was getting better.
Day 2, Sunday:
My fever was at 100.4 in the morning. Thank gosh, I was getting better. I took my Tylenol and tried to concentrate on my work. I was mildly tired, and a bit stuffy, but generally I was better than the day before. So why was I having trouble focusing on my work? And why were thoughts of the coronavirus still popping into my head? No, not popping into my head. Stationed is a better word. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After all, wasn’t a fever the first sign of coronavirus? I tried to push the thoughts out of my head and keep working. In the evening, my temperature was 99.4, and I was feeling a lot better. I fell asleep hoping that I would be okay tomorrow.
Day 3, Monday:
My temperature was at 98.0 when I woke up. Finally, the fever was gone and I could return to normal. I’d stay in my room away from my family for another day or two, and then everything would be fine. But as soon as I got up, I noticed that I couldn’t breathe as deeply as usual. I wasn’t sure if this breathing issue was a real occurrence or just something my anxious thoughts had created to mess with my brain. Throughout the day, I became increasingly more worried. What if I was actually experiencing the next symptom of coronavirus? I tried everything, from FaceTiming friends to meditating, to get the intrusive thoughts off of my mind. Then, I could determine if my supposed breathing issues were just a product of my anxiety. But by the end of the day, I was thoroughly convinced that the tightness around my chest was real. It felt like I was wearing a really tight bra, or like a small weight was weighing down my chest. To put it more technically, I felt like I couldn’t inhale to my full lung capacity. Of course, the anxiety only got worse. What if it got way worse while I was sleeping? What if I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air? My mom gave me my brother’s humidifier for the night, and I went to sleep feeling nervous, powerless, and scared.
Day 4, Tuesday:
I woke up with the same chest tightness as the day before. I was very relieved that nothing had happened to me while I was sleeping, and I resolved to focus on my schoolwork the rest of the day. But of course, it didn’t go exactly as planned. First of all, I was very very fatigued the entire day, and it got so overwhelming that I took a nap directly after my online classes ended. The weirdest thing, though, was at dinner. My mom gave me some fish and vegetables, strawberries, and ice cream with a Thin Mint on top. The main course and ice cream were normal, but when I tasted the strawberries, I noticed a sickly sweet taste that was very unusual. I thought back to earlier and realized I had noticed the same taste in the strawberries I had that morning and the apple that I had for lunch, as well as in my cinnamon-flavored toothpaste and the Thin Mint on top of the ice cream. Weird. I texted my mom about it, and we realized that taste distortion (which is what I seemed to be experiencing) was related to one of the symptoms of coronavirus, loss of smell. Taste distortion was a rarer occurrence than loss of smell in terms of symptoms, but it was still a sign of the virus. At this point, I resigned myself to any hope of being virus-free. I mean, I had fever, shortness of breath, and taste distortion, three key symptoms of COVID-19. I went to sleep feeling disappointed, but my anxiety about the virus began to go away. The worst part so far had been the fever on Day 1, and it hopefully would only get better from there.
Day 5, Wednesday:
When I woke up, I still felt the chest tightness, about the same as the day before. Luckily, I felt much less anxious, and a little calmer than the previous few days. I’d gotten through two days in this state, I could get through another one. I avoided strawberries, apples, and Thin Mints throughout the day, though unfortunately I still had to use my toothpaste. It was this day, though, that I began to go a little crazy from the self-isolation. I had been FaceTiming friends throughout the whole ordeal, so I hadn’t been completely alone, but the fact that I hadn’t been outside in a week was driving me a little nuts. Opening the windows didn’t do it justice. That night, I broke down sobbing out of nowhere. I was overwhelmed by work, had a big project due the next day in the most stressful class, hadn’t interacted face-to-face with anybody in five days, and on top of that I was dealing with symptoms of the virus that caused the whole global lockdown in the first place. My mom heard me crying, but there was little she could do from the doorway. Eventually, I calmed down. I emailed my teacher whose project was due the next day, even though it was extremely late, and told her about my situation. I told her that I was extremely overwhelmed and would get the project to her as soon as possible. I went to sleep, project unfinished, feeling sad and as if the world was against me. Why me? Why did I have to get this stupid virus?
Day 6, Thursday:
Fortunately, I really needed the breakdown of the previous night to feel better mentally. When I woke up, I felt very refreshed and much more energized. And on top of that, my breathing felt a little relieved. It wasn’t perfect yet, but for the last three days I hadn’t been able to find a comfortable position to sit in my chair, and now I could. In addition, my teacher emailed me back with the sweetest response possible, which also helped alleviate some of the anxiety about the project. Overall, the day was pretty relaxing. I went to sleep feeling a lot better about my situation, and knowing that I was finally healing.
Thursday is where the last significant change happened in terms of my mental and physical health. Every day since then, I have slowly been getting better, and as I am writing this on Day 13, I have been completely symptom-free for three days. I am eating strawberries and the other foods again, and everything tastes normal. My breathing feels normal too, and my overall mental health has greatly improved since my breakdown.
One question I receive almost every time I tell someone that I may have had coronavirus is: “Did you get tested?” I did not get tested because by the time I started experiencing symptoms (March 21st), testing in New York City was only available to people with serious enough symptoms to get hospitalized. I am very lucky to be a healthy teenager, and having experienced very mild symptoms, I feel so much empathy for anyone who has to experience symptoms on a worse level than mine. Whether or not I actually had the coronavirus, I don’t think I will ever know. But the experience of being symptomatic is something I will never forget. I will be able to interact with my family and go outside in two days, and I’ve never been more excited. And after experiencing such a rollercoaster of physical states and emotional anxiety, I have never been so grateful to feel normal.