Experiencing COVID-19 and its lasting effects

Brooklyn Cady

My mom passed away from lung cancer a few weeks before COVID-19 forced us out of classes at Missouri Southern in spring of 2020. By the time the pandemic really started to affect our country, my emotions were already raw. I was terrified of getting sick, especially as the death rate rose across the nation.

My mask sits on my face almost as frequently as my glasses do and I surround myself with hand sanitizer and lotions to moisturize my constantly chapped hands from washing them so often.

From the beginning, I did whatever I could to comply with CDC guidelines and approved health regulations. I work in residential care with individuals who have developmental disabilities, so I took every precaution to decrease my chances of becoming sick.

I was sent to a work training for a few days and when I went back to work in my usual home, I was excited to jump back into caring for the individuals. After greeting them, I started preparing breakfast. As I was preparing breakfast, the shrill of a landline telephone reverberated throughout the room.

When I answered the phone, my boss told me the COVID-19 test results came back for one of the individuals, and it was positive. My first thoughts were to follow her instructions quickly by assisting the other individuals to their rooms to quarantine and putting on full PPE, or personal protective equipment. Because there are multiple staff working in the home, I didn’t have to work directly with the individual who was infected.

My next thoughts were of frustration because I was completely unaware the individual had even been tested for COVID-19 in the first place. I was afraid of getting sick, but I quickly calmed myself. I was following all possible precautions, so I should be fine, right?

Wrong. I started feeling sick a few days after working. My allergies are so bad I get sinus infections almost yearly, and my earliest symptoms felt like I was coming down with one. After a few days, I went to Urgent Care where I was hoping to get medication for a sinus infection.

Because I was around someone who tested positive for COVID-19, I was tested.

The next day I received a call from Urgent Care confirming I tested positive for COVID-19. The only times I coughed were to expel mucus. I was draining a lot of mucus, which was the primary reason I thought I had a sinus infection, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

I had a fever and body aches, but I never had a tightness in my chest, and I hadn’t lost or felt a change in my sense of taste or smell, except for pickles. Dill pickles tasted like bread and butter pickles for a few weeks, which was a horrible side effect in my opinion.

My husband also tested positive for COVID-19 following my diagnosis. He didn’t have any symptoms or noticeable lasting effects. Honestly, while having COVID-19 wasn’t enjoyable for me, I didn’t feel like my life was in danger and I was more annoyed with the lack of comfort.

I am a busy person, and I don’t often have the opportunity to watch television, and I remember starting New Girl on Netflix during isolation and feeling so uncomfortable to see Jess and her friends go out in public without masks. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like most of us have started to forget there was a life before COVID-19. Even my character on Animal Crossing wore a facemask.

It’s been two months since I had COVID-19, and some of my symptoms haven’t subsided yet. I still have trust issues with pickles, but more importantly I have difficulty falling asleep and having energy throughout the day.

COVID-19 insomnia, or coronasomnia, is frustrating. I wake up each morning with a hefty to-do list, and little to no energy. I fake it until I make it throughout the day as I try to keep up with tasks, then I’m exhausted by bedtime. I turn out the lights, use my lavender scented lotion, then spend the next couple hours counting sheep.

I’ve tried melatonin and other sleeping aids, I’ve created bedtime routines, I even wear a sleeping mask, but nothing seems to help. Interestingly, I’ve noticed I perform better with less sleep since I’ve recovered from COVID-19, but even then, my energy levels are normally low. I’m sure my lack of sleep contributes somewhat to my lack of energy.

I also struggle with remembering things since I’ve recovered from COVID-19. I’ve always had a good memory, but now it’s difficult to recall small tasks, what I ate for dinner last night, and important appointments. I keep a planner where I write everything down, but I’ve started to forget to take it with me when I leave.

I’m hoping these issues resolve over time, but I’m still grateful that my symptoms weren’t as bad for me as they have been for others.

While my experience wasn’t too terrible, I still continue to follow all guidelines put in place regarding COVID-19 because I don’t want to put anyone else in danger who might react much worse than I did, and because I don’t want to catch it again.

Even though guidelines and regulations have decreased in Joplin with vaccinations and the expiration of the mask mandate, the pandemic isn’t over. It’s important for everyone to continue doing their part to decrease the spread of COVID-19.