60 days of living with a COVID-19 infection, will life ever return to normal?

Monica Gomez, 45, OSHA Safety Coordinator/ Medical Assistant intern (Arlington, Texas)

I am surprised to be sharing a COVID-19 story at all, I was not a believer that the Coronavirus existed, but with that said, i remember my first day of symptoms like it was yesterday, rather than over 60 days ago. (The way I look in the photo above is the way that i feel most days and how i have felt over the past 2 months. Due to my lingering symptoms, i have not been able to work since June 5th, 2020.) The Coronavirus hit me fast and unexpectedly, almost as though it had a goal to turn me into a believer, and quickly. My symptoms started when i came home from work on Friday June 4th, like most people do on a Friday, I had been eagerly awaiting the weekend. That Friday, June 4th, would not be the beginning to a fun or relaxing weekend. I started to feel bad and had a slight dry cough; I chalked it up to the Texas summers, and the allergies that many Texans feel with our scorching summer heat. By Saturday evening, my cough became more aggressive, and my temperature was low grade, around 99.8. (It has never gone any higher.) I began to get an unbearable headache and I could no longer taste my food and lost the ability to smell anything. I had never felt this bad in my life and felt that i needed to go to the ER. On June 5th, I went to Arlington Memorial hospital, where the ER Doctors said that they suspected that i had contracted the virus, and they began an IV, hooking me up to fluids and antibiotics. I was also given the Coronavirus test. (If you have not had to have this test, let me warn you, that it feels like someone is putting a hot poker up into the furthest area of your nasal cavity, touching what feels like an area where your nasal cavity opens into your brain and then the poker is twisted about 6-7x, SLOWLY, to be sure that a proper sample is taken, to determine whether you have the virus.) After hours of testing and being told that my test came back positive; but that my vitals looked good, they did not see a reason for me to be admitted, and they discharged me into the humid, hot early morning hours, to recover from home. Once home, my aching, exhausted body hit the bed, and i drifted off into a two day slumber. I will not lie, i have had multiple days of doing nothing but sleeping, as the fatigue is horrible. To add to the body exhaustion and total lack of energy, i had cough, nausea, diarrhea, horrible, painful body aches, muscle spasms, chest pain, numbness in my legs, finger, hands and at times, what seemed like what i can only describe as numbness in my brain. In the very first days of the illness, i experienced odd symptoms, including eye drainage, ear pain, pounding sounds in my ears, twitching in my eyes, my hair began to fall out, and I began to have sleep issues. Often times, i felt like an alien in my own body. At the beginning most of my symptoms were bearable, but i would not pick out one that i would say was worse over the other, as they have all been horrible and nothing that i wish on anyone else. To keep my family safe, I quarantined in my room from June 5th until June 21st. I came out in order to go get another Coronavirus swab, in hopes that i would be negative so that i could return to work. Although i was still not 100%, I was hopeful that the lingering symptoms that i was still feeling were the tail end of this illness. On June 28th, i received the news that i was not negative, in fact i was still positive. I continued to quarantine away from my husband Frank, and my 4 daughter's, Claudia, Kimberly, Kaitlin, and Kaylee. Inside quarantining with me, were my faithful companions, dog's Riley & Oreo. If i came out of my room, i would be sure that i was wearing a mask and gloves, and that no-one came near me. I sanitized and sprayed disinfectant in areas that i had to be in. To help my immune system battle, i began to take Vitamin D-3, iron, fish oil, Vitamin C, B-12 and a woman's multi-vitamin that contained zinc. I took them faithfully every day. I also was placed on a medication for anxiety, as being ill, the stress of being unable to work and not being able to spend time with my family, began to take a toll on me emotionally and mentally. It's so hard to explain to your employer, friends and even family members that you are still having issues a month to two months later, only to hear them say almost as though they don't believe you, "why is this lasting so long for you, when others only have it for 14 days and they are better". I was working two jobs, and had attended training to become a medical assistant, I am somewhat of a workaholic and was already beating myself up for having to lay in bed day after day. The comments from others, even if meant to be innocent, didn't help any. I can only say that COVID-19 can be different for everyone and affect each person in a different way. For me, it feels like an eternity with this virus, and i just want it all to go away and my life to return to normal. I have missed important life moments, including celebrating two of my daughters getting their first jobs, i have lost my internship opportunity as a medical assistant, which will set me back in my dream of becoming an MA. I have used all of my sick time at work and am now going on a month of no income. When asked if i know how i contracted the Coronavirus, I cannot answer this, as like most, i thought i was doing what i was supposed to do, to keep from contracting this virus. My routine was always the same- wearing a mask when i would leave the house, going to work at both of my jobs, going to the grocery store to get the household groceries, drive thru windows for dinner; nothing different at all. I wore a mask, washed my hands as suggested and used hand sanitizer. I never in my life thought that i would be someone who would be sharing a "True life account of what it was like to battle the Coronavirus". This sort of thing happens to "other people", i never thought "other people" would ever be ME. After being in quarantine and still not feeling well for another month, on July 21st, I began having odd pains in my chest, with shortness of breath. I feared i was having a heart attack, as i just didn't feel right and had never felt this way before. My family called 911 and i was rushed to the ER, placed on oxygen and fluids. After receiving an EKG and cardiac testing, and being told that it didn't seem that i was in any immediate danger, i was again discharged to go home with instructions to see a Cardiologist. Another thing i hadn't known that i learned that night, was that Covid-19 can cause heart issues. At the writing of this story, August 7th, I am on a heart monitor, as my heart rhythm is currently being monitored for an arrhythmia, possibly caused by the Coronavirus. I am now going on slightly over 60 days of having daily after effects that are bad enough to keep me home and most days in bed. I am ready for an end to all of this sickness and would like very much to return to my normal life- life before Covid-19. I hate that i had to experience this virus firsthand to become a believer. My advice to those reading my story; take the virus serious, as you have no way of knowing whether you or your loved ones will contract this virus and have your life changed like mine. I am in no way suggesting that anyone stop living, as i more than anyone, want to get back to living; i am only suggesting that perhaps wearing masks, practicing social distancing (i wish now that i had done more of that) and washing your hands frequently, could help stop the spread of this virus. A special thank you to you, Carolyn Andrews, for stepping up and letting our voices be heard and highlighting those like me, who have had the unfortunate "luck" of being picked by COVID-19.

(Me, Pre-Covid-19)

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