This is the honest truth and struggle of what really happened when I got COVID.
One Tuesday afternoon I felt a nauseous wave plummet through the back of my throat. It was so bad I ended up leaving my first block class. Throughout the day, the sick feeling began to worsen, sharp pains stabbed my temples and every so often I felt like a thick wave of mucus was crawling up my throat.
That Wednesday, I spent my whole day in bed. I felt awful. I was starving, but unable to move. When my parents came home from work they informed me they had received a COVID-19 exposure letter from my second block science class. I felt my heart drop to the floor as I let out a gasp of fear.
“Relax, it’s just a harmless cold,” my brother Mark said, rolling his eyes.
The thought of a possible contraction seemed pretty probable, so I booked a COVID test for the next day.
The day of my test I stayed alone in my room unable to move, starving and feeling dreadful, until my mom could come home to take me to my test.
Friday afternoon my results came in: I had tested positive for COVID-19.
My brother Mark and his girlfriend Ingrid had never been the type to follow the COVID-19 guidelines before I tested positive, and that made me nervous. I knew Mark and Ingrid wouldn’t bother to self isolate even if I tested positive. Just as I imagined, Ingrid continued to attend work, and Mark continued to run his detailing business from the side of our garage. They continued to visit my grandparents and other older at-risk folks.
There was a phrase Mark constantly taunted me with: “Come on, live a little.” It played over and over in my head. It wasn’t the time to “live a little,” not while my health was at stake.
My sister Hannah and my mom were doing their part to limit the spread. My mom didn’t go to work for a month, Hannah didn’t attend school either and we had our groceries delivered to our house from Save-on-Foods delivery service. Besides Mark and Ingrid, we remained inside for about a month. My mom and Hannah would cook and clean for five people. I ached to help them, but was confined to my room. My dad didn’t stay in our house for the purpose of being able to safely continue working without violating any protocols or put anyone at risk.
Towards the end of my brutal isolation period, Hannah contracted COVID from me. I felt horrible as it was my fault and on top of that, she has asthma and I knew her lungs wouldn’t be able to fight the virus. I felt even more guilty that Hannah was missing out on school. I knew how important graduating early was to her. She went into isolation right when I was able to get out.
There were many nights when my mom and I would make dinner for everyone, but Mark and Ingrid wouldn’t show up. We would leave them food for when they got home but many times we would find the dinner carelessly tossed in the big garbage bins outside. They lied to the Health Authority about not going to work and other things that could put them in legal trouble. The lying between the two of them became constant, unbearable and honestly, quite offensive.
Further into Hannah’s isolation period, she became unable to breathe. At three o’clock in the morning, on a bland Monday, she was taken to Burnaby General Hospital. The next morning Mark and Ingrid texted the family group chat asking if Hannah was really in the hospital; thinking my mom was making it all up just to stress how serious the virus was. They thought that there was no possible way that the “harmless cold,” could do so much damage.
Her results came back and it turned out that she had permanent lung scarring with no cure. There were constant arguments between my mom and Mark regarding his refusal to follow the health and safety guidelines. He stated that the “virus isn’t real” and that we were “blowing it out of proportion.”
Needless to say, Hannah and I found this incomprehensible and infuriating..
Currently, Hannah has continued to excel in her academics. My mom succeeded in creating a welcoming learning environment at the school where she works and my dad is back sleeping at home. I have resumed back to my normal life activities, like walks and playing with my cat.
As for Mark and Ingrid, let’s just say that their political view on COVID has remained unphased.
My mom reminds Hannah and I constantly. “You are so lucky to be alive.”