InMarch, I tested positive for Covid-19, well before there was a curve that needed flattening. The grueling road to recovery has tested every fiber of my being, and it’s far from over. This is life as a long-hauler.
It’s a weird thing having Covid-19. It’s full of contradictions. You’re part of this morbid zeitgeist but, at the same time, stigmatized. There are peaks and valleys of varying degrees: The lingering primal fear of thinking you might not wake up the next morning followed by the unfettered relief and joy when you start to turn a corner. You assume you’re getting better, but really your body is in the eye of a viral storm. Tons of people send you love, but you can’t touch your loved ones. For some, Covid-19 is a blessedly short experience. For others, those of us the world has dubbed “long-haulers,” the journey doesn’t end when you finally test negative.
My story started with a road trip.
On March 15, I drove from New York to Washington, D.C. with my husband, Mike, and our demonic cat, Salem. Initial plans for a vacation had been scrapped as the world started to shut down, so my mom’s house sounded like a good place to be. I wasn’t alone in this instinct. Hordes of fellow millennial runaways were fleeing to their childhood homes as Earth began its proverbial descent down the rabbit hole. What makes me somewhat more unique is that on March 20, I would be counted among the first wave of people diagnosed with the coronavirus in the United States. Almost four months later, the repercussions of the virus continue to plague me.
For some, Covid-19 is a blessedly short experience. For others, those of us the world has dubbed “long-haulers,” our journey doesn’t end when you finally test negative.
Driving south from New York, I distinctly remember thinking how little I’d eaten the last few days. My appetite had simply vanished. I chalked this up to stress — I’m a teacher of young, rambunctious humans, and it had been an improvised dash to the spring break finish line as schools shuttered and Zoomland began. Loss of appetite is now recognized as a hallmark, early symptom of Covid-19, but four months ago — which by 2020 standards, is roughly two years — the flow of information was less an orderly stream of facts and more of a dam bursting with uncertainty, confusion, and fear.
That was Sunday. By Monday, I clocked 14 hours of sleep. On Tuesday, I woke up with a high fever, and from there, it was downhill. The next 10 days were a blur, and despite three trips to the emergency room, I was never kept overnight because, “You’re 31 and otherwise healthy, so you won’t die from this.” Aahhh, what we know now, my friends.