My Coronavirus Story

Tara Thompson
Please excuse my long message but I am recovering from coronavirus and here’s my story.
I’m a flight attendant and was informed on March 13 that I had been exposed to COVID-19 around the first week of March. I started experiencing symptoms around March 9 but thought it was just a cold. Since we were notified on March 13, I went in to get tested for it on the next business day – March 16 – and by the 17th my symptoms were full blown. I’ve never been diving before but I can only imagine that the body aches and pain I was experiencing were somewhat similar to what “the bends” might feel like.
Everything hurt, even just sitting or lying down was painful. I also had a low-grade fever, terrible headaches but the absolute worst part was having a hard time breathing. For a good two to two-and-a-half weeks it felt as if someone had taken a belt and strapped it tightly around my chest. 
The LB Health Department was amazing. The agent assigned to my case called me every single day for two weeks straight checking on me, asking questions and learning more about the virus and my symptoms. After waiting seven days my test results finally came in, but they were negative. I was told by my doctor as well as the Health Department agent to proceed as if I had the virus and it was continuously stressed to me that I was under strict orders and guidelines to not leave my house whatsoever until the Health Department had cleared me first. 
During that first week of falling ill I almost ended up in the ER twice because it was EXTREMELY difficult and painful to get air into my lungs. The first time it was my doctor who I called, and the second time was LB Memorial. But both times I was told to stay away from the hospital unless I was basically gasping for air. Their theory was that I’d be exposing people (patients and staff) to the virus and since the only help they’d be able to offer me was to merely hook me up to a respirator there wasn’t anything they could do for me since I was clearly breathing on my own and forming sentences. 
I said that I live alone and need to plan for driving time to get to the hospital if something were to go wrong but they told me to stay away and call EMS if I found myself gasping for air. My thoughts were, well what if EMS doesn’t get here in time? Nonetheless, I completely understand and agree with their theory and where they were coming from but being in that situation twice and on my own was quite scary. 
With this virus I’d feel perfectly fine one day, thinking I’d gone through the worst of it only to find it all go downhill fast and literally within minutes finding my condition declining again. It went on that way for a good two to three weeks. It’s been almost a month now since that scary first week and I was ultimately released by the Health Department but have nonetheless stayed self-quarantined at home. 
The symptoms have all passed except for every now and then, for hours at a time, I find it difficult and painful still to get full breaths of air into my lungs. I can only hope that this virus doesn’t leave me with long-lasting lung issues. I have always taken really good care of myself. I’ve lived a healthy lifestyle and have never smoked but I’ve had life-long issues with asthma. 
Last note and here’s the kicker to this whole thing. I’d like to be at the forefront and help others who are suffering from this virus. In order to donate my plasma, I took a blood test to see if I carry the COVID-19 antibody and even though my initial test on March 16 came back negative, I actually carry the antibody for this virus. Meaning that I had the virus all along (which I knew anyway) but the test was wrong. 
Against my better judgement, I’ve been Googling and studying what they know so far about it. Basically, there isn’t much that’s concretely factual as of now but it does seem there’s a 30% or so chance that a test could come back reading as a “false negative” even though the person being tested for it actually has it and is carrying the virus. 
Thank you for reading my story. I’m wishing everyone strong healthy and happy days ahead. PLEASE, PLEASE be safe and healthy. I hope no one else has to find out what it’s like to gasp for air just to get some precious oxygen into their lungs. This virus is horrific, it’s scary and it’s slow to let go. Thank you for staying home! 


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