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COVID hit me hard! But I’m alive, I didn’t kill anyone

woman at hospital

(Private photo: Valeria Laura Rigo)

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I made the decision to finally be rebellious and skip the 8:30pm very boring recurring Zoom meeting to go and do my favourite weekday activity: my spinning class. I wore my best clothes and gave it my all, then came back home and ordered a kebab because that’s top 5 on the list of things that make me happy.

Everything was fine… except it was not. Little did I know but that single decision would be life changing in many ways.

Two days later, in the first family trip ever with my boyfriend’s parents (I promise I’ll tell you all about that later), I got a headache so strong that not even three ibuprofens and a slice of cake could kill it. I thought, “It’s okay, I’m an overstressed millennial with too much screen time during the day… I’ll let it pass.”

The next morning, I woke up with an even worse headache and a cough that you could hear from the next building. Two major COVID symptoms. But… could it really be COVID? I wear the mask and carry the sanitizer everywhere, and I stay very far away from people. I always made the joke about how I wanted to get COVID so I didn’t have to work until 3 am every day. It couldn’t be COVID – my mom via text, my boyfriend, and my inner calming voice all agreed.

Hello Valeria, we are writing to inform you that the professor of your spinning class on Tuesday tested positive for COVID

But then came the email: “Hello Valeria, we are writing to inform you that the professor of your spinning class on Tuesday tested positive for COVID”, and then 40 other emails of people in that class who had tested positive as well.

I went to get tested knowing what the result would be. And, like the drama queen I am, the hours I spent in that waiting room were full of emotions: tears of guilt and fear, text messages to my boyfriend begging him not to leave me because “You gave my whole family COVID” is a big enough excuse to break up with someone (thankfully, I only gave COVID to him and he was asymptomatic), and jokes about how I would sue the gym that gave me COVID and become a millionaire.

I felt like a bad citizen, and an even worse person: I was the one that I had been hearing about on the news for months, the irresponsible dumb person that goes out, gets COVID, and gives it to people. The “young girl gives COVID to a whole family and they all die” (I told you, drama queen) story. I also felt betrayed by life: how can I get so sick doing one of the things I love the most? Is this some sort of sign from the universe that I shouldn’t prioritize myself but attend all my late-night meetings?

Before telling you the funny part, let me give you an overview of the tough part first – COVID hit me hard. Everything that could go wrong in my body went terrible: constant cramps in every muscle, conjunctivitis, massive headaches, being so tired that you can’t even speak, and a pneumonia that seriously affected my ability to breathe and made me spend a few days in hospital. Every new day is like an adventure and you don’t know exactly which new symptom you’re going to get, which is scary as hell.

I WANT MY MOM

But it’s all about the silver linings, I guess, so here are my COVID highlights:

I have a boyfriend so amazing that not only did he not leave me but took care of me the whole time. We had only been a couple for two months when he decided to share the isolation with me in my one-bedroom apartment, and he was all I could ever ask for: he cooked, he cleaned, he ordered cinnamon rolls regularly, and cuddled me the 5 to 10 times I cried a day because COVID got too hard, or someone died in Grey’s Anatomy.

I watched around 1 season of Grey’s Anatomy per day. I have to admit that binging on Grey’s before you get admitted to hospital is not a good idea: I saw myself being taken to an OR with doctors running and sad but very cool background music. When doctors were taking too long, I thought they were having sex in an on-call room, and I expected a cool roommate with an amazing life story, but I was half naked (because I was never able to learn how to put on the robe) alone in an isolation room.

The only symptom that I did not have was the loss of smell and taste, and the only thing I could do was eat, so I spent a large part of my day thinking about food. I asked “What are we going to have for lunch?” at 9 am, browsed the food delivery app more than I am proud of, and got obsessed with McFlurrys.

Seems like when you get COVID, you get kind of famous because my phone was on fire: text messages from people from work who had never talked to me, DMs from everyone you know, and calls from different doctors and governmental institutions. I also have to admit that at some point I had a dream that I would die and my boss would yell at my grave because I got COVID before finishing a big presentation.

Two more things about spending your COVID hell with a new boyfriend – he had to ask me to shower and change clothes more times than is acceptable in a new relationship (and even my mom via text told me “Please try to look at least decent and shower”), and getting a terrible virus is a very good way for the parents to meet each other: my mom and my boyfriend’s mom are now besties.

Finally, when they admitted me to the hospital, all I could ever think of was: I WANT MY MOM. I even told a few doctors, who looked at me, a 23-year-old adult, very confused.

I’m alive, I didn’t kill anyone, and so many people were there to help me along the way

I’m still re-training myself on how to breathe and do stuff at the same time and consuming insane amounts of ginger per day.  Being the very energetic person I tend to be, not being able to talk and walk at the same time is a little heartbreaking.

But I’m also thankful, because I’m alive, I didn’t kill anyone, and so many people were there to help me along the way.

And, of course, I have become a massive freak about social distancing and COVID protocols: I have purchased 100 masks, I’m guilty of throwing sanitizer at things and sometimes people, and I’m now one of those “Sorry, I can’t go to your event because of COVID” people. If COVID taught me anything, it’s that I never ever want to have it again, and that McFlurrys are amazing.

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COVID hit me hard! But I’m alive, I didn’t kill anyoneby

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