I know I’m about to sound insane, but I’m fairly certain I contracted COVID-19 in mid February, and on February 18, 2020, started to show evident symptoms of the virus.
How do I know?
I documented it.
With random one liners and short entries to myself about my body’s state. Did I know then I was documenting a novel coronavirus in my system? Nope. Not at all.
FEB 18, 2020 – “Coughing up the stickiest, greenest snot!”
I later changed the word snot to “phlegm” when I realized it wasn’t snot since I wasn’t congested at all. In all my life, I’ve only ever considered myself sick when I happened to catch colds with a mostly runny nose or sinus infections. In the latter part of 2019, going into 2020, I had some severe sinus issues I went in to get checked and find relief for, so come mid February when I started hacking out sticky green stuff, I thought, “Probably that time of year for a cold.”
I had just resigned my teaching position a week before Feb 18, and prior to the resignation, the pent up anxiety and stress over my position and the duress I felt from witnessing the injustices before me, kept me up late into the nights and early mornings, where I found myself showering at 2:00 in the morning and falling asleep with my hair wet just to wake up 4 hours later to ready myself for a grueling day of work. Yes, not the wisest idea in hindsight, but under immense pressure and a confusing haze, that’s what I did.
So, when I started coughing, I thought, “Weird, I’m never sick with a cough,“ but also, “AUGH, I shouldn’t have left my hair wet.”
That’s when talk of the “foreign” Coronavirus started heating up on headlines because it was crossing over to American territory. I was even tracking the cases in the U.S. for the news source I work for, since they were popping up in the west coast. That’s when I started seriously googling symptoms.
- Dry cough. Uhhhhh.
- Body aches. Uhhhhh.
- Shortness of breath. Uhhhhh.
- Fever. Oh, yeah, don’t have that.
FEB 20, 2020 – “Up in the middle of the night because of this irritating sickness and to learn Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.”
I felt myself crashing at 1:00 AM, Thursday night, and sent a text to my clients telling them I wouldn’t be in. “I haven’t properly taken care of myself, and it’s caught up to me. It’s 1:00 AM and I feel awful and restless.” I finally took the sick day I needed after neglecting my body all week, and the only reason I even neglected my body was because I only had a cough.
I slept all day Friday, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from unrest again that night.
FEB 21, 2020 – “Frozen II @ 2:00 AM.”
Literally. Frozen II at 2:00 AM.
FEB 22, 2020 – “I obviously wasn’t taking care of myself, because after a day of mostly bed rest, little movement, freshly washed bedding, and consistent medicine intake, I finally slept through the night.”
Because I was feeling infinitely better with an abundance of rest and little movement, I just figured my sickness had more to do with exhaustion and my cough would fade in the next few days.
I got up on Saturday and went about business as usual, sitting in tea shops and cafes, writing.
I celebrated too early because, come late Sunday night, I was feeling awful again with my cough growing more intense and giving me headaches because of how hard I was hacking. And yes, I could feel it across my chest.
FEB 23, 2020 – “Make some mov kua dis or let my body eat its own fat because I’m still down for the count?”
I didn’t eat anything. I was too worn. That night, I turned iPhone speak on to read me my story to sleep.
When I woke up the next day, I went right back to work.
FEB 26, 2020 – “Tired AF is a real thing.”
Three days later, I was still exhausted.
Mind you, inside all of this sporadic commentary on how my body was faring, I was still walking around doing my normal routine.
(Knowing what we know now of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 that first started in Wuhan, China and traveled through and to six different continents, it is highly contagious, so I was likely spreading it around unknowingly.)
It was actually around Feb 26 that my news source and others started reporting on the first positive community spread case of COVID-19 in my cities—the one I work in and the one I live in. Even then, as an editor, I was highly mindful of not panicking the public with the words we used to share information regarding the community spread of Coronavirus, partly because it’s an editor’s responsibility to be vigilant and partly because I didn’t yet understand or believe in the severity of the virus. I found myself covering much, if not all, of the COVID-19 articles during this time, and started looking more seriously into the symptoms. Almost daily I was pulling them up.
- Dry cough. Yes.
- Body aches. Exhaustion’s been real.
- Shortness of breath. Not extreme, but what’s up with the random, consistent hiccuping and having to stretch my arms over the top of my head to deep breathe?
- Fever. No, never had a fever inside this entire sickness of mine.
- Gastrointestinal issues. Ohhhhh shoot.
All of a sudden, studies were showing that some patients with COVID-19 were reporting digestive issues as a symptom.
I have a relatively well regulated system, but inside the week and month of my sickness, my digestive system was random and weirdly relentless. It was manageable, but just like my abnormal cough, before my sickness, I didn’t have diarrhetic issues often (if at all) AND I certainly never had the symptoms of a heavy cough and bowel irregularities at the same time AND for an extended period of time.
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?
MARCH 16, 2020 – “My cough is back with a vengeance tonight.”
It never fully went away since February, but it definitely returned Monday night, weeks later, with an intensity all across my chest and head. My head was throbbing from hacking all night, after I spent the day running around in the rain, trying to gather food and supplies for a friend. I called in the next day, on Tuesday.
MARCH 17, 2020 – That same Tuesday:
- Schools announced likely closures through the end of the school year.
- My city went into legal lockdown.
- The projections of mass deaths in the U.S. were released to the public about COVID-19′s contagiousness.
What… just happened?
As I replayed my personal sickness in the past month in my head, I knew. In three decades of life, I’d never coughed or experienced stomach issues like that before, and at the same time.
The moment I knew I could be endangering the lives of others, I shut myself down and out completely.
I didn’t tell anyone about all of the above—not even my family—because, on March 17, people were still in disbelief that COVID-19 had infiltrated U.S. territory. Just a day earlier, I had people scoffing at me for being cautious of the virus, like I was some superstitious, paranoid lunatic. I’m just grateful the mandatory lockdown on my city and neighboring cities fell in line with the return of my cough, because I’m certain I wouldn’t have been allowed my 14 day quarantine.
MARCH 31, 2020 – Final day of my 14 day quarantine.
Alas, I, my city, my state, and most of the United States are about 14 days into legal lockdown, and it’s not about to pass soon.
I will likely go down untallied as a mild case of COVID-19, which is fine by me.
I made it. With completely cleared symptoms. No cough, my digestive system re-regulating, exhaustion replaced with mostly boredom.
By the grace of God, I weirdly did a lot of things right inside all of my symptoms (except for self-isolating early on, of course). Explaining how I did right by my body would take several more paragraphs, so I will spare myself and the rest of the world.
TODAY – This thing is no joke.
I would really like to not die by COVID-19, and I would really like for friends and family to live past this pandemic as well. We literally have the power to preserve our lives and the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors.
Please do right by your fellow humans and the healthcare system. STAY HOME AS MUCH AS YOU ARE ABLE. The only way to outrun it is to not run. We will sort through the financial, mental, emotional, spiritual strains that come with quarantine together.
The sooner we do our part, the sooner we’re out of the dark.
Praying sense over the ignorant, compassion over hardened hearts, and protection over everyone considered essential during these delicate times.
I am ever grateful for the sacrifices of many.
Give where you can.
Follow me on instagram @thecrazedpoet.