By Kenny Lo
Living in the suburbs of the bustling New York metropolitan area, I remember a world so full of energy, so full of life. There were people in the streets, events happening, gatherings of all kinds and establishments open at different times of the day. Rush hour traffic on all the major highways, tunnels and bridges around New York City was a normal occurrence.
It was a busy world – chaotic even.
And despite all the real and digital connections we have established for ourselves, we were even more so apart.
On March 4, I started to feel this scratchiness in my throat and felt a little nauseous. All I knew was whatever I was feeling during the day rapidly developed into a fever that evening. What I didn’t know was that it would be the last time I got to experience the things I love to do in the outside world before I went to sleep that night.
For the next seven days, my body went through hell. In the first two days of illness, I was getting the chills. Two consecutive nights after, my fever rose to 104 degrees. I would cover every portion of my body with ice packs and ziplock bags with ice in order to immediately lower my body temperature.
On top of that, I had body aches, momentary shortness of breath, nausea, and lack of appetite. Not only was I unable to smell or taste the food, but I was also smelling this one odor that lingered for a week. It was the smell of grass and dirt, almost manure-like.
I went to the doctor the following day and got myself tested for the flu. To my surprise, the results came back negative, yet the doctor still provided me with Tamiflu, an antiviral drug specifically for the treatment of influenza. I wanted to get tested for COVID-19, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the proper test kits at the time. When my visit concluded, I went home to continue quarantining myself.
After a constant but accurate dose of Tylenol, Tamiflu and vitamin C, along with a barrage of water and Gatorade, I became fever-free on the eighth day. The foul and unsavory smell emanating from within was slowly going away, clearing the path for my appetite to make its triumphant return.
This idea of not knowing what I had toyed with my emotions for days. Nevertheless, based on the symptoms I went through, and what’s been going on in our community and the world, plus the fact that my mother had tested positive for the disease and we happen to be in the same household, it is safe to assume that I had the coronavirus. As for my mother, no need to worry, she is fine and has been back to work for more than a week now.
World Realities of COVID-19
This pandemic has affected millions of people across the planet, killed thousands and it’s spreading like wildfire. Fortunately, hundreds of thousands have also recovered from their afflictions, including my mother and I. We’re both immensely grateful.
Recovering from this illness, I was in no hurry to venture out into the world, of course, strictly as a precautionary reason. By that time, the world I knew was starting to change.
I woke up to a world of limitations, where the essentials are measured with the nonessentials. Tourist destinations that are usually swarming with people are now deserted. Stores and other establishments have closed their doors, and those that remain open have become a scary place to visit. And when businesses get shut down, jobs get lost and even more families are affected. The world I knew was slowly becoming a desolate one.
Today is April 10, and it marks the fifth week that I have been in quarantine. That’s more than most people since my illness gave me a head start on the masses. Half of the time I can’t remember what day of the week it is, which makes it difficult finding separation between weekdays and weekends. Yet, every single day I continue to hang in there and do my part not to spread the disease.
So please, do take this seriously and stay home.
Social distancing, working from home, classes held through a Zoom conference and the habitual hand-washing have all become the new norm in our society.
Signs of affection and social gestures like kissing, hugging or a handshake are now considered taboo. Instead, keeping our distance from one another is the new measure of love, and love is measured by a minimum of six feet. Even though we have these uncertainties and fear of the outside world preventing us from leaving our homes and seeing other people in person, we still have this love on the inside that allows us to care and find other means to still reach out to people.
People who I have lost touch with for quite some time, I’ve spoken with recently. Now more than ever, we are closer to each other, even at greater distances.
Just remember: You are not alone during this pandemic. We’re all going through this together. And when the world reopens, keep washing those hands obsessively.