Millions of people around the world have been diagnosed with coronavirus. Just this past April, I became one of those millions. I am incredibly fortunate that my experience with coronavirus was mild with a short downtime.
And while I don’t want to minimize the devastation, I believe that it’s also important to share stories of people who have made it through.
I’m sharing my story to shed light on the fact that most people who get the virus will be okay. You don’t automatically need to go into panic mode when you’re diagnosed. And whether you get the virus or are educating others about it — there is so much to be grateful for.
When I got sick, my first thought was not that I had COVID-19. That was for worst-case scenarios — people on ventilators or people testing positive and then passing away within a few days.
“When you look at the numbers, these worst-case scenarios are common enough for anyone to be scared, but they’re not the norm. The norm is more what I experienced.”
— Kadesha Thomas Smith
It started on Wednesday, April 8. I woke up feeling weird — not sick or anything, just sluggish, like I hadn’t gotten enough sleep. I have two young kids and am the CEO of a company, so not getting enough sleep is usually the case. That feeling usually subsides once I get out of bed and have breakfast. But this time it didn’t.
Fast forward to evening when I was cooking dinner. I literally had to stop. I felt a headache coming. I never get headaches unless I’m sleep deprived or starving. Otherwise, something’s really wrong.
So, I went to lay down at about 6 or 7 p.m. My husband literally had to feed me dinner, because my head was pounding and my body was aching.
By 10 p.m., I had a full-fledged fever, complete with chills, sweating, and body aches like the day after a hard workout. I asked my husband to bring me another blanket and turn the heat up, which was pretty ridiculous. I already had on a hoodie and two comforters. I was freezing and sweating at the same time. My temperature reached 103 degrees.
Now, I’m not one to try to quell a fever too quickly. I know a fever is your body’s way of trying to fight something off, and I wanted to let my body do its job. But I started thinking, “What is my body trying to fight off?”
Could It Be COVID?
On Thursday, my fever, chills, and sweating were still going strong. I was knocked out in bed all day. That evening, I finally took 1000 milligrams of Tylenol. When I woke up around 3 a.m., my temperature was around 99 degrees. But I still didn’t feel great.
On Friday, I made an appointment to get tested for coronavirus at Rush University Medical Center. The experience was pretty seamless there, but not so at some of the other hospitals I called about getting a test. I went through my hospital’s drive-through testing center. Twenty minutes later, a nice guy in a full haz-mat uniform told me I tested positive. I don’t really remember what he said after that.
When I tested positive, my top concerns were:
- Did I pass it to my kids? To my husband?
- Who’s going to help my husband care for our children while I’m in isolation?
- Who’s going to help my husband homeschool them, so they don’t fall behind?
- Are these symptoms going to get worse, like I see on the news? (FYI: I live in Chicago, and I’m African American.)
The good news is that by then, I didn’t have a fever or chills anymore. I was exhausted, but the worst symptoms were already subsiding.
I was told to sequester myself for 7 days until after my symptoms disappeared, so I spent the next week in my room. Basically, my days consisted of staying in bed sleeping with my laptop (I had delusions that I could still work), and occasionally getting up to use the bathroom.
My kids were staying with my mom on a different floor, so I wasn’t that concerned about them getting it. When I was able to come out of isolation, I had a virtual visit with my doctor to make sure. I wore a mask and gloves around the house for another week.
Then, I was good to go. And that was that. Pretty uneventful.
Good Fortune And Gratitude
I was incredibly fortunate. My main signs were fever and chills, but those went away very quickly. I never had shortness of breath, other than the occasional feeling like I had just run up the stairs with some groceries. I also never had a cough.
Most of my symptoms were mild (except for that fever), and by the time I felt them, I was pretty much already on the mend. Plus, Rush was able to test me four hours after I called them. Many people still don’t have access to tests.
I’m thankful for so many things after this experience.
I’m thankful that I’m otherwise healthy. If I had diabetes or another chronic condition, it might have been much worse.
I’m thankful that I’m a Returned Peace Corp Volunteer. I’ve had 12 different parasites and Dengue fever. My immune system is always locked and loaded.
I’m thankful that my appetite stayed up, so I never had to force myself to eat. I definitely lost my sense of smell, but I’ve never had a strong sense of smell, anyway.
And of course, I’m also very grateful to God that my kids were not exposed to a point where they would get sick and have those symptoms.
Oh — I’m also really grateful that we have Amazon Prime and Netflix to keep people sane under isolation.
My Perspective After Coronavirus
While I had a mild case, I did have that short while of feeling horrible. And I started thinking about people who have worse symptoms or ones that linger for weeks. I also thought a lot about those who didn’t have the family support the way I did.
What if you’re a single parent who comes down with this? If you work at a retail store that’s open, and you’re depending on the already limited hours you have to get enough income to just barely make ends meet and you get sick, what do you do? This really does knock you out for the duration of your symptoms. What do you do if you’re sick for weeks and can’t even leave the house?
When you think about people in those situations, it makes you really look at what you have. I’ve always had a strong faith and been thankful for the blessings I have, and this just made me even more grateful.