How an APU student caught and managed to overcome the virus
It’s been very easy for teenagers and young adults to assume that they are immune to the effects of COVID-19, if they don’t have any underlying health conditions. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those individuals. I was getting too relaxed and a bit reckless when it came to protecting myself from the virus.
That all changed when I tested positive for the virus. I found out, the hard way, that the virus doesn’t pick and choose its victims, and none of us can fully protect ourselves or our loved ones.
Before I Caught COVID-19
Let me explain to you the type of reckless behavior I am referring to. I say that because some might not see what I’m about to describe as rash. I’m from Indio, California (the city where Coachella and Stagecoach are held), and I live in a house of 11.
Despite The Center for Disease Control’s warnings to avoid big gatherings, that just was simply impossible for my family and I. I’m honestly still surprised we didn’t catch it sooner.
My family are not the type of people to walk into Walmart and take off their masks or go to parties. We kept our distance when we left the house, wore our masks when needed and got into the habit of using hand sanitizer. However, most of my family members’ lives didn’t stop because of the virus. Six of the 11 people in the house still had jobs and all of those jobs involved being close to other people (waitressing, bartending and so on). Though I hate to admit it, we did have the occasional family friend over. Nothing too extreme, maybe an extra two people in the house. If you’re from the Coachella Valley or have ever visited, you know how hot it can get. On some days, the temperature would rise to 120 degrees or higher. To avoid cooking alive, we would sometimes head to the beach or a restaurant, but always followed the rules that the CDC established.
Despite our precautions, COVID-19 still managed to sneak its way into our household. Some of my family members were lucky enough to not develop any major symptoms. I did not happen to be one of the lucky ones and dealt with harsh symptoms when I caught COVID-19.
On the first day of my symptoms, I had woken up with a bit of a sore throat and a headache, but I didn’t make much of it. I’m the type of person that gets headaches often so I brushed it off. Later that day, the sore throat got a bit worse so I decided to get some cough drops (honey and lemon are the elite cough drop flavor). I had fallen asleep with a headache and sore throat, hoping that by tomorrow, I’d feel better.
My sore throat had gotten worse. I had also developed a cough, and my headache had gotten so bad that if someone turned the lights on, I would want to throw my whole head away.
I had woken up in significantly more pain than the day before. My brain felt like it was going to pop out of my head and my sensitivity to light was stronger. I would want to rip out my eyeballs anytime a light came on. By this day, my mother had started to feel a bit under the weather so we made a trip down to urgent care. After conversing with a doctor, I was diagnosed with a bad fever and my mother with low blood sugar. They sent us home with some antibiotics, and we rushed to the closest 24-hour pharmacy. This was also the day I decided to get tested for the virus just in case.
My pain started to subside, lifting a giant weight off my shoulders. I could finally get the thought of possibly having COVID-19 out of my head. Taking the medicine the night before and throughout the day had helped my fever go down. My sore throat and cough also improved, leading me to believe that the doctor was right. With school right around the corner, I had to return to Azusa Pacific University to start my Resident Advisor training. Meaning, I would be one of a few hundred students living on campus for the school year.
Day 5 & 6
At this point, I only had a cough and was starting to feel like myself again. The fever was gone, my throat felt fine, the headache was completely gone and everything was starting to work out. However, I decided to stay in for the weekend to make sure my condition didn’t worsen. Though I was better, my concerns were still high.
Day 7 — The struggle begins
Everything felt normal until I received a call from an unknown number. It was a nurse calling to tell me that I had COVID-19. After the call ended, I just stood there. I was in complete disbelief that I caught the virus. The chances were so slim, but I had still won the reverse lottery.
The nurse’s diagnosis completely opposed the advice I received from the doctor at Urgent Care. He stood confident in his advice and I truly believed him. I don’t believe that this doctor completely dismissed my mother and I because he didn’t want to deal with us for any particular reason; I’m still convinced that he truly believed my mother and I would be fine.
At this point, I had entered into quarantine by myself in my University Village (APU’s student housing) apartment. Since I had been feeling sick the week before, professionals recommended over the phone that I stay in for two weeks from the day that I started feeling sick. Little did I know that the next two weeks would be some of the most emotionally challenging in my life.
I did what I could to keep busy. This included playing Animal Crossing New Horizons, facetiming my family members at least five times a day, doing virtual RA training and even redownloading some old dating apps (which I don’t recommend doing). But my days still went by very slowly.
With the medicine I was prescribed, my physical pain faded away. The hard part about this quarantine was the effects it was having on my mental state.
By the time I had tested positive, my whole family —minus my grandfather — had also tested positive. Once my mother and I tested positive, the rest of my family went to get tested and soon received their positive test results. Hearing about my family developing their first round of symptoms was difficult, especially because three of them had underlying health conditions. I care more about my loved ones more than I do about myself, and I honestly wasn’t worried about what would happen to me. But I did care that my cousins, brothers, grandmother and mom were going through during their first round of symptoms. The thought of them in pain struck the deepest part of my being.
They’d call and give me updates and I would have to hold back tears over the phone. It was difficult to be away from them during this time, even more so because we had just spent the past six months together in quarantine. Now I was 100 miles away and wishing I was back home so I could do something to make them feel better.
During this time, I didn’t want to express my feelings to my family. I knew that would only make them feel worse. Instead, I confided in my mom’s best friend, and she helped me deal with these dark thoughts in a healthy manner.
Being alone, in and of itself, was torture. I consider myself an extreme extrovert and had just spent the last six months of quarantine in a house of 11 people. I got used to walking to a different room each day to find someone to talk to if I was sad or needed company. I’m also the type of person who won’t ask for help. I don’t want to burden people with my problems. That mindset ended up being harmful for my well-being, I voluntarily decided to go through this experience alone.
What Saved Me
God had placed some amazing friends and family members in my life, and it was their daily calls, random care packages and prayers that helped me get through it. These kind gestures helped me to be open up about how I was feeling. I felt like I could breathe again when I found out that my family members were feeling better. I was glad that nothing bad had happened to them.
The University Health Center was also an amazing resource to have during this tough time. They would call me everyday and ask how I was feeling. They did an amazing job of helping me go from staying inside for two weeks to slowly returning back to my everyday life.
The Lasting Effects
Having gone through being sick, I’m not too fond of the idea of catching the virus again, or anyone else I know going through the same. I have gotten into the habit of taking hand sanitizer with me everywhere I go. My reusable masks go straight into the washer after I use them instead of using the same one for a whole week. I’ve become a bit more conscious about who I spend time with. I now take social distancing while I’m out shopping a lot more seriously. Overall, I am more mindful of protecting myself or anyone I may come into contact with.
This has become a lot easier since everything I do — working for the student media outlet, my internship, being a student, being an RA — is all through Zoom. None of my work requires me to go outside, except the occasional visit to Classic Coffee in Glendora to do some homework and get out of my apartment for a bit.
My advice is to avoid getting into the “I’m young, there’s no way I can catch it and if I do, I can fight it off” mindset. Be careful, catching COVID-19 doesn’t just affect you; it affects your loved ones, the people you share a home with, your friends and anyone else you may come in contact with. The fatality rate of COVID-19 may be low, but you still have a chance of losing the best gift God gave you and your loved ones, life.