Updated: Nov 21, 2020
By Gabriella Greenhill
Image via weheartit.com
Firstly, it’s okay. I never thought I’d feel guilty for getting an illness, especially with something as unpredictable as COVID-19. I burst into tears when receiving the news over the phone, not only because I’m immunosuppressed, but because I couldn’t fathom the number of people I possibly exposed to this virus.
I can’t even recall how or at what moment I could have gotten the virus. I currently live in NYC and have always been at high risk. I’m a liver transplant recipient and I adhere to COVID safety guidelines every day.
The one thing nobody talks about is how to process you have COVID. As of writing this, I’ve only had a couple of hours to process everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever believe the words that come out of my mouth. I say I have COVID, and while my mouth spits the truth, my mind can’t compute.
I woke up to the news. A nurse informed me that COVID-19 was detected from my test and that I was to isolate myself for a minimum of 10 days. I jolted out of my bed, practically ripping my bedsheets and screamed unprecedentedly, “Are you serious?” as if that question would change the results.
I don’t think anyone with COVID understands what they even have. How can anyone understand what’s going on? Regardless if you are COVID-free or not, the world is in turmoil. The election results most definitely provided relief, but we still have work to do to rid this country of racism, oppression, murder, unorthodox privilege, cruelty, and sickness.
I feel like I’m in reality but not really. I feel physically uncomfortable in my skin. When I breathe, I feel pressure build up in my chest. When I eat, my tongue starts tingling, almost like it’s going numb. When I move my arms, the muscles in my chest ache. When I sleep, my chest tightens. I’m sick and I know that, but, my spirit, my soul, is still healthy.
I’m no doctor, but with extensive research here are some ways to cope both mentally and physically. I hope whether you are COVID-free or not that you can take some of my advice and try to stay healthy.
Firstly, if you are in school, whether you are doing a hybrid situation or are dorming, please get tested regularly. I can only speak on behalf of NYC but you can walk into any emergency room and request a COVID test. If you go to an ER, understand that while the test itself is free, the follow-up or doctor visit/questioning may cost money depending on your insurance.
What tests are available?
There are two types of tests you can receive/do:
1. Diagnostic tests: shows whether you have an active coronavirus infection:
Regular test: This is the regular COVID test that is the most painful. People say it feels like wasabi or any type of spicy/hot food/topping that happens to be stuck in your nose. Your body will involuntarily react to the swab invasively proceeding up your nose. For me, tears flooded my vision and I uncontrollably started having this hybrid cough/hiccup situation. Depending on who and where you get this test from the swab may only get inserted through one nostril, but go into the test expecting the swab to go into both.
Alternative test: This is the alternative swab to the regular covid test. This test is less invasive, meaning it doesn’t go all the way up your nose but it will get inserted in both nostrils. I had no involuntary motions come from this test, it feels as if you inserted any sort of nose plug up your nostrils.
Rapid Test: You will still have a swab inserted up your nose(painful like the regular test), but your results will be finalized after 20-30mins.
Saliva test: In some cases, you can also have your sample of your saliva tested.
2. Antibody test: Shows if your immune system is capable of fighting the virus off in the future, meaning, you were infected with the virus in the recent past. This test does not represent full immunity from the virus.
Your finger is either pricked or you have your blood drawn
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 Symptoms can develop anywhere from day 2 to day 14 of infection. If you test positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health is requiring you to remember your activity and who you were with 2 days before receiving the test and the days in between obtaining your positive result. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Some emergency signs to seek medical attention for include:
Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Understand that the CDC is updating these lists as they are still learning more about this virus. If you are experiencing any other symptoms that you deem as severe or concerning, please do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
How can you manage COVID-19 physically?
Wear a mask!
Isolation is the key to monitoring your health efficiently and stopping the spread of this virus. It’s suggested that a minimum of 10 days in isolation is enough to be rid of the virus but 14 days is perfectly fine as well.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces properly! “High-touch” surfaces include: doorknobs, phones and any other electronic devices, remote controls, counters and tabletops, and lamps.
You can found out if a cleaning product you bought is EPA approved through this website: https://cfpub.epa.gov/giwiz/disinfectants/index.cfm
Monitor your symptoms (every morning try to hold your breath for at least 10 seconds to see if you can do it without any coughing, discomfort, stiffness or tightness), stay hydrated (drink lots of water!), cover your sneezes and coughs, clean your hands often, avoid sharing personal household items (cups, drinking glasses, dishes, utensils, towels, or bedding).
What should you eat and drink when you have COVID-19?
Food: Beta-carotene (sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables), Vitamin C (red peppers, oranges, strawberries, mangoes, and broccoli), Vitamin E (nuts, seeds, spinach, broccoli), zinc (pumpkin seeds, lentils, beans, sesame seeds).
Choose to eat chicken and fish instead of red meat. Stay clear from processed foods and canned vegetables. Limit your consumption of soft drinks, sodas, other drinks that are in sugar, fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates & syrups, flavored milk, and yogurt drinks. Limit your intake of salt and sugar.
If you are having difficulty sleeping try lying on your front/stomach. Images of various frontal positions can be found here.
How about managing the emotional toll of COVID-19?
Isolation, fatigue, grief and guilt all combine to make the mental side effects of COVID-19 hard to deal with. Looking after your emotional health is as important as your physical health.
Resources to manage COVID emotionally:
NY Project Hope:
Emotional support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314
National Suicide Hotline:
Number to call: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ is a direct link that will take you to their chat feature if you don’t wish to talk to a counsellor over the phone
Crisis Text Line:
text HOME to Number: 741741 (US & Canada), 85258 (UK), 50808 (Ireland)
If applicable, go onto your insurances website and contact the lists of therapist that best match what you are looking for
You can also search for therapists on zocdoc.com or psychologytoday.com
If you are in school, check to see if your school offers free counselling. You can also go about talking to a guidance counsellor or confiding in any teacher to seek information about counselling.
Eating healthy food
Get an adequate amount of sleep
Try and find time to participate in something that will bring you joy; talking to friends/family, listening to music, dancing, singing, cooking, watching a tv show, youtube video, or movie, playing video games, writing, reading, etc.
If applicable go outside. Please only adhere to this if you can be outside in an area alone where you can not infect anyone
Stay safe and wear a mask everyone! Remember, we won’t be in a pandemic forever. We will fight this together.
Written by writer Gabriella Greenhill