Updated: Jul 13
AFTER BEING TOUCHED BY COVID-19.....
Katrina Olivas, 31-year-old, single mom of 4, Teacher's Assistant (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
My story began on Sunday, April 12, 2020, with what seemed like a normal cold and backache. By Monday morning, I felt horrible with body aches and congestion. This continued throughout the week. At the beginning of the next week, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was certain I had come down with the flu. I contacted my primary care doctor for an appointment, but they had already gone to virtual appointments. I met with her virtually on April 20, 2020. At that time my symptoms were congestion, body aches, runny nose, fatigue, cough, and headache. My doctor believed I was just suffering from a severe sinus infection. After being on antibiotics for two days, my symptoms did not improve. They got worse. I begin to experience the worst headache of my life. My family urged me to go get a COVID test because they believed I had it. I was in denial about the thought of having COVID. I just thought I had a really bad cold.
I went to a drive-thru COVID testing site and was told I would get the results in 48 hours. I waited for my results, feeling horrible and not being able to do much beyond laying in bed. Physically I was unable to care for my children, do normal everyday tasks. I spent a lot of time in bed with a horrible headache. On April 24, 2020, I got a phone call from the El Paso County Health Department confirming that I tested positive for COVID. At that moment, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. POSITIVE FOR COVID!!!
I had 500 things running through my mind. Had I infected my kids? How did I get it? Would my kids be okay? Getting a positive diagnosis turned my life upside down. Day after day it was the same. I still felt tired. I still had headaches, body aches, and congestion. I started feeling like my mental health was starting to be affected. I questioned myself constantly. The biggest question to myself was "am I keeping my kids safe?" I didn’t want them to become sick and I often wondered if I did become worse, what would happen to my children? Where would they go?
A few weeks passed and I was not feeling any better. The headaches were debilitating and I wasn’t getting any sleep. I developed a fear of sleeping. I felt like if I fell asleep I wouldn't wake up the next morning. I was afraid that this horrible virus was going to take my life. I couldn't let my children find me that way.
I felt guilty that my 10-year-old had to help with her siblings more than she should have ever had to, at age 10. I wasn’t able to play, watch tv, or help my children finish the school year online.
Finally on May 2nd, 2020, my headaches went away and I thought that it was FINALLY the end of my COVID experience. I thought I was COVID free! I finally felt like I had a normal weekend. By Monday my headache had returned and I now had shortness of breath and wheezing. I was hardly able to talk without coughing. My children were concerned by my coughing. They said that I was turning red every time I coughed. I knew I had to go to the hospital. I arranged for my sister to come to stay with my children and I drove myself to the ER. While I drove to the ER, I prayed I wouldn't be admitted to the hospital, I needed to go back to my children.
At the hospital, I was taken to the COVID unit in the ER, which meant that no one was allowed to be in with me. That night they ran a lot of different tests. They told me that I had developed COVID Pneumonia. I wasn't admitted because my oxygen levels were normal. I was told to follow up with my primary doctor the next day and I was discharged, thankfully, and returned home to my children.
The next day, my primary doctor said that I should be over COVID, that it only lasted 14 days. She also stated that pneumonia had nothing to do with COVID. I still had headaches and now the body aches had come back. My doctor put me on antibiotics to treat pneumonia. A few days passed with no improvement. I asked the hospital, as well as my primary doctor for another COVID test. I believed I either still had it, or that it came back. I was told repeatedly that I could not have another test- that they could not just waste one to see if I was negative. I felt myself mentally declining. I felt like my doctor was not taking my concerns seriously. Something was definitely wrong with me because I was still very sick. I still wasn't able to properly care for my children.
Weeks went by, and everything was a blur. I could barely remember who I had talked to. I was calling people by the wrong names. I was now having nightmares. I could only fall asleep for a couple of hours at a time. What was wrong with me? I remember having a dream about my grandmother who passed away almost 25 years ago. I woke up with my face covered in tears and I felt as if she was standing in the room next to me. It was as if she had been by my side this whole time. That scared the living hell out of me. I felt like she was trying to tell me something or preparing me for what was coming. It was extremely disturbing and scary!
FINALLY, after calling my doctor with my issues and asking every other day, I was finally tested again for COVID on May 18th. ON May 20th, I got my 2nd positive COVID diagnosis. My heart sank even though I already knew that COVID had not left my body. Depression and anxiety started to set in. I didn't want to do anything or go anywhere. I was afraid to be around large groups of people.
My birthday was May 23th and I didn't want to celebrate. How could I? I spent the morning crying in bed wondering why me? Later that day my family and friends surprised me with a drive-by birthday parade. That lifted my spirits so much. I hadn’t been able to see anyone for weeks. I will forever be grateful for that moment and for my family; the only people who seemed to believe me through all of this, and who "virtually "stood by my side.
At the writing of my story, September 19th, I'm currently on week 18 of being a COVID-19 Long-Hauler, and dealing with ongoing symptoms. This virus not only took a toll on my body, but it has also affected me my mental health. I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. There were days I believed all my symptoms were in my head. That was before I found the Facebook Group Long Haulers. I was able to see that others were dealing with exactly what I had been dealing with for months, and the after-effects were common, and I had people who understood what I was dealing with, to talk to.
There are days I cry for no reason and battle with my mind as to why I can’t just go back to being my normal self. I battle with thoughts of feeling like I have failed my children by not being the mom they had before the virus. Some people who I thought or called my friends became distant in my darkest time of needing a shoulder to cry on, but complete strangers touched my heart with words of encouragement and prayers.
I often wonder when I will feel better. I no longer want to go into a store or be around people because I have a fear of being affected again or my children catching it. Throughout this whole time, I’m so thankful that my children never contracted COVID. That fear is something I battle constantly.
To those who think COVID is just a joke or a hoax. That "it’s made up and fake". It’s not. I have been dealing with it mentally and physically for the past few months. I would give anything to go back to being normal.
Don't take normalcy for granted, as you NEVER know when something like COVID-19 can come along and change everything in a blink of an eye..... I don't wish this upon anyone!!
My children are my rock and my life- Alicia, 10, Amaya, 8, Ayanna, 6 and Wayne, 5. My everything ...
"Loving life", as we knew it, Pre-COVID-19"
My mom and dad, Pete & Mary Olivas- they have been there for me, from the start of this COVID- ride. I love you both so much!
So grateful for my awesome neighbors, Pedro &
Monique, they checked on me daily. Thank you!!