It was a day we all knew would possibly come but hoped it never would. The day the outbreak hit.
I remember, back in March, I was just about to return home from a socially distanced vacation in my Florida home with my mom and grandpa, when my dad called to tell us he was feeling sick. At the time, President Trump hadn't closed the borders, my school was still going back after Easter, and sheer panic hadn't yet flooded our news outlets. We were meant to return home on Saturday, but when the borders closed on Thursday, things got a little more serious.
My dad went to our local urgent care and asked to be "tested" to make sure he wouldn't expose us when picking us up from the airport only a few days later. His doctor tested him for the flu and strep. They both came back negative. COVID-19 tests were not readily available at the time, and his doctor did not want to waste one of the few they had on him. He didn't realize he hadn't been COVID tested until we were already home. On Tuesday my mom started to feel warm and run down. I felt fine. My brother had developed a cough, and my dad had a tickle in his throat that wouldn't go away. They chalked these things up to allergies and phantom symptoms. But by Thursday, my daily walks had shortened by half, and walking up the stairs left me out of breath. When my mom's fever spiked she knew she needed to get tested — she was positive. Since tests were still scarce, and we were all exposed and showing symptoms, my mother's doctor told us we were all presumed positive cases and should proceed as such.
Today at Providence College, while waiting in line alongside my fellow off-campus students to be tested, I experienced the same fear and anxiety I felt all those months ago. I looked around seeing some worried faces, others tired and frustrated. This is our new reality, and we have to face it whether we like it or not.
Coronavirus is debilitating, serious, and very very scary. I relate it to turning off the lights. When you think of turning off the lights, it seems like something only an ignorant kid would fear. But when the lights are off, and you hear a noise, your stomach drops. COVID-19 isn't very scary until it's in your own home and there's nothing you can do to escape it. But, if you have it, the only way to get through it is to get through it.
1. Stay calm and be kind to yourself
Whatever the reason was that you got sick, you're sick. And you have to deal with that. But half the battle of getting better is mental. There's no use in dwelling on what could've or should've been, this is what it is now. Instead, pay attention to the small but positive improvements that come with each day. My favorite day was the day I was strong enough to complete my treadmill routine again.
2. Keep track of your symptoms and emotions
Even if it's just a list in the notes folder of your phone, write down specific things about how you're feeling every day. A lot of time can be lost to sleep or drowsiness when you're sick, making days start to melt together. Keeping track of each day will help guide you through your illness, and also alert you when the symptoms start to lessen. This can also work for keeping track of emotions. If there are days you feel overwhelmed, try writing about it, or confiding in a friend. This pandemic is global, so I can assure you, you are not the only one feeling this way.
3. Drink plenty of fluids and get some sleep
Even though our world has been virtually turned on its head by the COVID, at the end of the day, it's still a virus. Therefore you should treat it the same way as you would any other virus. Drink a ton of water and sleep as much as you can. I understand that you're still obligated to attend Zoom classes, but outside of those, get as much sleep as possible — it's not like you have anything better to do, you're in quarantine! As for drinking water, my suggestions are to keep a water bottle either always in your hand or by your side and to drink half your body weight in ounces. Having water with you at all times will make it easier to drink. I like to adopt the, "well if it's in front of me I have no reason not to drink it" mentality. Fluids will only help to flush out your system and guide those bad germs out as well.
4. Take Tylenol
While there have been conflicting reports around COVID-19 treatments, studies have shown that anti-inflammatory medications can be linked to the development of more severe illnesses. If you have a fever, Tylenol is your safest bet for quelling the discomfort. Now is the time to be mindful of everything you're putting into your body, you don't want to unintentionally make yourself feel worse.
5. Do your part, so no one else has to feel this way
If you are feeling the symptoms I've described, please, stay home until you test negative. You don't want someone to feel the same way you do. If you're positive but feel fine — I get it, but just stay home. There will be days when you feel fine, frustrated, and ready to break out of your quarantined home. But I'm telling you, the risk of getting others sick is not worth it. If you failed to do your part before, now is the time to redeem yourself. So do your part — stay home, get better, and live to remember that you prevented anyone else from getting sick.
This is going to be a long next few weeks, but I have faith that we'll get through it. If you are reading this and you currently have coronavirus, I hope these tips helped. I'll be praying for you and your recovery. But while we're all in our homes, waiting for a clean bill of health, or to be let free from quarantine, let us reflect on how fast this virus made its way through our community, and make sure we don't let it spread any further.