An anonymous Reedie shares their struggle with “severe symptoms”
CW: COVID-19, Mental Health, Vomit
I tested positive for COVID-19, and this is an account of the days I spent in isolation. I do not know how I contracted it; I wore a mask anytime I left my dorm, rarely left campus, and followed safety protocols put out by both the HCC [Health & Counseling Center] and the CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] and yet, I still contracted it. I have no underlying health conditions, and I still had severe symptoms. I am sharing my story so that people can learn from my experience. If you know who I am, I kindly ask you to help me remain anonymous to others; as you will see, my experience was traumatizing, and as a result I am trying to move past it. I ask you to help me with that.
Day 1: I was called by the HCC and alerted that my PCR saliva test from the day before came back positive. I packed as much as I could and left to MacNaughton [the quarantine dorm] all within 30 minutes of my call. I was asymptomatic, but the entire day is a blur due to the amount of stress and panic I was feeling. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I could have put my friends and others at risk, and this left me with immense guilt.
Day 2: I woke up with a 100.4 degree fever, mild chest pain, and severe body aches. The speed at which I went from asymptomatic to having multiple symptoms was faster than I could’ve imagined. I slept most of the day, but I became nauseous as the day went on and struggled to keep food down. The HCC called me to begin contact tracing, as well as check up on me and ask if I wanted to speak with a physician. My mental health took a back seat because I needed to take care of my body.
Day 3: I woke up with the same symptoms, but some were worse; my headache was debilitating, my chest hurt more, but my fever still hovered around the 99-100 degree range and my chills were the same. Multnomah County called to confirm my positive test and ask about my demographics. I remember this day fairly vividly because the janitors came to spray everything with disinfectant; both of them were in full hazmat suits and had respirators on. It made me feel as though I was toxic, a disease that no one could come near. This was the first day that COVID began to negatively affect my mental health.
Day 4: I woke up with no fever, but the fatigue and exhaustion set in; I was out of breath doing simple tasks, such as getting my food from downstairs or taking a shower. I did not eat breakfast, then could not keep my food down, which added to the fatigue. I became afraid to eat food and found it hard to give my body the fuel it needed to fight COVID. Being isolated from everyone was getting challenging. MacNaughton is particularly silent, and the lack of background noise left me feeling more alone with every passing day.
Day 5: My fever was down to a low 99 degrees and my aches were almost gone, so I was feeling fairly positive about the fact that the worst was behind me; that was until the evening, when my lips developed a blue hue and it got harder to breathe. I didn’t know what was happening with my body and when it would end. I had been told by the HCC, Multnomah County, and the COVID Coordinator that if my breathing worsened to skip all steps and call an ambulance. I did just that and was taken to OHSU [Oregon Health & Science University]. After about 30 minutes, my oxygen levels came back to normal; the doctors told me that a panic attack had heavied my breathing, and because my lungs were already compromised, the panic attack had particularly bad symptoms.
Day 6: Despite the night before, my symptoms were better. It was still difficult to breath, but I did not have a fever and my headache was tolerable. It is hard to put into words the amount of guilt I felt, both on this day and throughout the whole isolation; I put so many at risk and through so much stress. I couldn’t think about it for a long period of time before I ended up in tears, hating myself for the danger I put others in.
Day 7-12: The rest of my isolation was physically boring but mentally was some of the most challenging days of my life. The loneliness combined with the guilt, and I felt so isolated from the world. I felt that because I had been away from others, other people didn’t want to be near me. Little things helped me, such as the rain and facetime calls, but there was very little that I could do to help myself.
I can not describe how much of a toll the coronavirus took on my body. A vast majority of young adults who contract the virus experience no symptoms, but for those like me, mentally and physically, it was some of the hardest days of my life. I am not contagious anymore and as a result, I am no longer a threat to public health. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get through this; from the HCC to my friends and family, every little thing meant the world. For those reading this: please take COVID-19 seriously. I understand that the pandemic is impeding on activities that a normal college student would partake in. But if your mindset is to put social activities above community safety, I hope my experience encourages you to reconsider your priorities.