I didn’t think I would get coronavirus, but I did.
By Laura Osterlund
My favorite month is May. It brings new beginnings, nice weather, get-togethers and my birthday. This year, however, nothing can start. I can’t go enjoy the weather. Social events have been canceled and I won’t be able to celebrate my 21st birthday with all of my friends. I would have never guessed that I’d spend the first half of the month sick with coronavirus.
As we pulled up to the white open-air awning and opened the car windows, they started testing us. The nurse told me what she was doing and instructed me to relax and sit on my hands.
“I like your nail color,” she said. “Ready? One, two, three. OK, all done!”
The test didn’t last long, but it was one of the weirdest feelings. In those three short seconds, she stuck a cotton swab up my nose to my brain and twisted it around. Afterward, I felt like I had water in my nose while simultaneously having the urge to sneeze.
All there’s left to do now is wait.
I have mild symptoms that could be related to allergies: a scratchy throat and a headache.
There’s still no word with my results. I have started thinking about the what-ifs. What if I am the only person in my family not to have it? Would I have to find somewhere else to live for two weeks? Would I have to do everything around the house? What if we all had it? How would we be able to get groceries? Would I still be able to finish the semester?
I still couldn’t believe that this could happen to me. I don’t personally know anyone else who got coronavirus, making me a trailblazer.
My entire family of four has to wear masks around the house now. We eat meals in shifts. No one cooks, and there’s been a lot of soup and Jell-O consumed. This is the new normal around the Osterlund household for who knows how long.
My back and head still ache, I’m more tired and I have less energy. I don’t feel sick, just off.
I woke up that morning to a phone call.
“Hello?” I mumbled.
“Hi,” the lady said way too perkily for 9 a.m. “I have your test results. I just need you to verify your last name and birth date.”
As soon as I did, she told me I tested positive. She started rambling about other things, but my brain was too fuzzy to process anything. All I heard was the teacher from Charlie Brown.
I wasn’t ready to say my diagnosis out loud yet. I still couldn’t believe it.
They don’t tell you what to do after getting the results. They only tell you not to go outside. Am I supposed to do schoolwork as normal, even though I don’t have the energy to think? Do I rest and focus on recovery? I told myself I should do what I can, but I’m not sure what that is.
My symptoms remained the same. I still had a constant headache, and I felt tired all the time. I was hungry, but I never had the appetite to eat. My diet consisted of whatever sounded good at the time: graham crackers or chicken nuggets.
The new day carried encouragement. As word spread, my family received calls and texts with prayers from friends and extended family members. Several people offered to bring meals and homemade face masks.
My symptoms were the worst so far. I didn’t have the energy to do anything except shower, eat and lay on the couch. I felt guilty for not doing anything, but I physically couldn’t.
I made it to the halfway point. At least that’s what the nurse said: 10 days of isolation before I theoretically no longer have the virus. But until then, I was consistently reminded of my support system. More check-ins, prayers and good vibes were sent my way.
Through this experience, my outlook on humanity has changed. Though my family is isolated, we are not alone. And while I knew it wouldn’t stop my symptoms, all of the love made me feel better.
My symptoms became milder, and I was starting to feel like myself again. I was cautiously optimistic, but I reminded myself to keep taking it one day at a time. I learned that the virus comes in waves with the second being more powerful than the first.
If that’s the case, I was in the eye of the hurricane at this point, the calm before the storm. I used these days to my advantage and got as much done as I could.
This was my last day of self-isolation, according to the medical professional. The last few days were rough to say the least. The second wave of the virus hit me. My mom and brother were on the mend, but my dad went to the hospital a few days earlier and was still there. We didn’t know how long he’d be stuck there.
While my situation wasn’t optimal, I tried to keep my spirits up. The end was in sight. I was almost through it. I knew that once it was all over, I’d have another story to share. A story that would only add to the madness of my junior year at Bethel.
I was finally recovering. This virus left me just the way it came: quietly, then suddenly. After a few days of feeling crummy, I had minimal symptoms and enough energy to take the lead in an interview over a video call. I probably wouldn’t feel 100 percent for awhile, but I was glad that I was able to get through the worst of it. My dad also was discharged from the hospital, meaning the whole family was under the same roof again.
Throughout this experience, I’ve been amazed by the support that my family received: cards, flowers, meals and many prayers.
Two weeks after the call, I could say that I survived my COVID-19 diagnosis. Weirdly, I don’t think there was a time when I could feel myself recovering, I just felt better. Then came the hard part: catching up on the work I couldn’t do while I was sick.
I believe that this global pandemic has brought out the best in humanity. People have started showing their appreciation toward others, spreading positivity and acting more kind to each other. It’s still disappointing that I got sick and that everything I looked forward to this summer got canceled. But I continue to wear my rose-colored glasses and look to the future with the hope that we will emerge from this better and stronger.