I remember the morning I realized I might have COVID-19.
I had taken a shower and I just had to sit down, I was so tired. I remember thinking that something just wasn’t right. I took my temperature and it was up, just a tiny bit. I brushed it off and went on into the living room where I had to sit down again, so tired.
I distinctly remember thinking that if I knew I was going to feel this tired the rest of my life I just wouldn’t want to live. It was a strange thought and I’m not sure where it came from, but it scared me. I had just a slight headache, right between my eyes.
I went to my doctor, who assured me he didn’t think it was COVID, but instead gave me an antibiotic and a steroid shot. I felt much better by the end of the day. Steroid shots always give me a boost of energy.
Still a voice in the back of my mind said “get a test.” So I signed up online and drove to CVS for a do-it-yourself drive through test and went on about my business.
I felt so much better that Charles and I took a short trip out of town to see the ocean. We so needed to see the sea.
I drove and Charles slept all the way to our rental house. I put that down to being exhausted from work, but he continued to drag around as we unloaded the car and immediately went to bed. The next day I enjoyed ocean views and the breeze and Charles, well, he slept.
The following day I got a text that my test results were ready. I had decided all was well and I was feeling better and had almost forgotten about the test. I put off logging on to look at it but when I did, there it was. Positive.
Suddenly it all made sense.
We headed home because we knew enough to know things could get better and then take a bad turn and we didn’t want to be away from home.
And things did. They got worse.
I developed the cough, I couldn’t inhale my asthma meds without going into a coughing fit that was hard to stop. I got diarrhea. I took a shower and fell across the bed where I stayed for the next three hours.
Charles went for a test at CVS and of course it came back positive too.
I called my pulmonologist in a panic and left a message. The nurse, when she called me back, told me to get a pulse oximeter (thanks Zach for loaning us yours) and to check my oxygen levels frequently, telling me I might not feel as if I wasn’t getting enough oxygen, but I might not be. She told me to expect that I could feel much better in the morning and take a bad turn by afternoon. She was gentle but she didn’t sugarcoat it. If mine or my husband’s oxygen levels fell below 90, head to the hospital.
I took breathing treatments and we both took high doses of vitamin C (thanks my dear friend, you know who you are, for leaving me doses in our mailbox) and we slept and slept and slept all we could.
The scariest thing was knowing you had something that no one completely understood and that had killed healthier and younger folks than we are. It took a good month for it to “let go.” You’d feel better for a few days and then get knocked on your backside again.
We got antibody tests recently and learned the happy news that we have antibodies (not everyone does after COVID).
Still, I haven’t changed my behavior and neither has my husband and we don’t plan to. We mask up. We social distance and we avoid unnecessary situations, for our sake and for others. It was a quiet Thanksgiving and a quiet Christmas, and it was OK.
Last week, as an employee of Piedmont Athens, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Praise God. I have never been so happy to feel a needle go in my arm. It was a needle full of hope.
I pray that soon Charles, my son Zack, my daughter Miranda and her family and all my loved ones and friends can get those needles full of hope.
I think of all the suffering this virus is causing and working at the hospital I see a little of it firsthand. My heart goes out to those who come in so sick they can’t catch a breath and can barely stand as they head for the emergency department doors. And my heart goes out to all those frontline workers – the EMS workers, the medical staff, the environmental service staff and all the support staff who are putting their lives on the line every day to care for the sick and the frightened.
I feel safe in saying that most, if not all, of you reading this now know someone who has or who has had COVID-19. You may know at least one person who has died from it.
I now know quite a few.
It no longer seems so abstract to this tiny rural community set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains does it? Although I have to say the way I see some people still behaving, it seems they still haven’t taken it to heart or maybe they still manage to believe that it’s “fake news.”
Believe me, it’s not fake news nor is it fake numbers.
Please, please wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and watch your distance. We have to have the will, the common sense and the gumption to get through this.
And when your turn comes, roll up your sleeve and get your needle full of hope and be thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Many won’t get that chance.
Margie Richards is a reporter for The Madison County Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.