By Sorayda Rivera
Student Life Editor
Graphic by Mary Mone
2020 was a time no one will ever forget. It was a dreadful year full of anxiety, fear, sadness and loss. I am aware not all things were terrible, but for the most part, it was tense. Everyone has their own COVID-19 stories and experiences. Some people grew emotionally because of the turbulent times the virus brought and some became wiser and stronger. There are over seven billion people on this planet and while most of our stories might have some similarities, everyone’s story is unique to them.
I live with a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 3. My fiancé has type 1 diabetes, my mom is older with high blood pressure and her significant other has a list of health issues. We all have comorbidities and I feared the worst if we got sick with COVID-19.
You can only imagine the panic I felt and the anxiety I had to live with after hearing the news that this virus was especially deadly for those at high risk. I am high risk! I hated it. I hated having to change my life around because I was scared to die. I lived with that fear. The two times I had to quarantine, I felt scared and extremely depressed.
Then it finally happened. The day we all were dreading was here. COVID-19 had infiltrated my household. Our nightmare came true on Dec. 4 when my mom tested positive. She woke up that day feeling icky and I immediately had her get tested. Shortly after finding out of her results, I contacted a doctor who had experience treating COVID patients. She put our house on a strict regimen of over-the-counter and prescription medications, along with intense hourly breathing exercises.
For the first few days, my mom was OK. She felt ill but nothing horrible. By the third day, she was ready to go to the hospital, but I didn’t want her to go. I was scared if she went in, I might never see her alive again. So, I decided to become her No. 1 cheerleader and supporter. I knew being around her was not good for me, but I couldn’t let my mother and best friend wither away by this stupid virus. I would wear a face shield and a mask, and I kept my distance as much as I could. I would go to where she was laying every hour on the hour. I wanted her to keep her spirits up, and I needed to make sure she was following the strict doctor’s orders.
After a long and agonizing 13 days of her feeling ill, she finally began to make a comeback. She started eating again after having no appetite. She got her smell and her taste back, and she wasn’t in pain. Thankfully, she began to feel better because what I have learned is this virus has a domino effect, and shortly after she got better, we all started coming down with symptoms and positive results fast.
For me, it was quite a different experience than for my mom. My journey with the virus started with lower flank pain. My pain was getting progressively worse as the day progressed. I decided that same day to go to the doctor to get checked out. On the way to the doctor’s office, I began to feel overwhelmingly weird. I was feeling lethargic, and I was out of it. While I was in the examination room talking to the doctor, I began to experience a running nose and chest congestion. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on. I was getting sick so fast. I was still in denial that I was going to get sick. Foolishly, I had convinced myself I was immune to the virus. Boy, was I wrong!
Some people will say COVID for them was like having a mild cold or flu. I can honestly say those people are very fortunate to feel only that. For me, COVID-19 felt like I got ran over multiple times by a dump truck. Every inch of my body was in pain. My head ached, my eyes burned, and my brain was dead! The worst pain of all was the pain in my nasal cavity.
You know that tortuous feeling you get when water accidentally gets up your nose when you go swimming? After that happens, you know that burning feeling that follows that? Yeah, I felt that all the time. It was so miserable. Also, by day five, my stomach could hardly handle the cocktail of daily medications that were keeping me out of the hospital. I didn’t completely lose my taste and smell, but food still wasn’t appetizing.
The fun part began on day seven or eight. I began to have night terrors. I would wake up shortly after dosing off to sleep in a cold sweat, fearing for my life. It was so terrifying. I had three straight nights of experiencing a mixture of sleep paralysis, to crazy demon figures, to my Grogu doll walking across my room.
There came the point in the 12 days while I was sick that felt like I was never going to get better. I am an optimistic person, and even in the worst of times, I try to have a positive attitude, but the nights of pain and restlessness were tearing me down.
As you can see, I survived! My honest review about having COVID is that it sucked. I wouldn’t wish this sickness on anyone. While our experience was unpleasant, my family and I are blessed because we all survived. No one in my household had to go to the hospital, and a month later, we are all doing better. My biggest fear of the year has come and gone.
The sad truth is this virus does rob people of their health and their lives. People are still dying every day. Just this year, I have lost one of my favorite great aunts. It has not been easy coming to terms with her death.
Even though everyone in my house still got sick with COVID-19, I still believe in taking the proper precautions. This virus is very much real and very much alive. I believe in doing my part to help stop the spread of this nightmare.