Note to self: Karma is real and karma will come after you when you share 46 memes about the coronavirus on social media.

When the news about the coronavirus first came out, I was like many others on social media and thought to myself, “I’ll be fine.” I knew it was a big deal, but I thought the odds of the virus affecting me, a healthy 19-year-old, were very slim. Yet here we are.

I went to New York City over spring break to present at a national college journalism conference. The university didn’t force us to go. My adviser said several times that if we didn’t feel comfortable going on the trip, we didn’t have to go.

But I was adamant and literally said, “come and get us Coronavirus, just kidding please don’t.” Hindsight is 2020, I suppose.

While we were in NYC, we all were on a major cleaning high. We’d wipe down all of our electronics in our hotel room, we used hand sanitizer anytime we touched anything, we kept personal water bottles with us so we didn’t risk anything. We were aware of our surroundings and tried our hardest to ensure we would be safe and okay.

Luckily for the rest of the people I traveled with, they all seem to be doing okay right now. I’m happy that they didn’t have symptoms or problems, because I can easily say that having the coronavirus was a painful experience.

The day after we got back, I had my first cough kick in. It lasted several days and I at one point had some pretty bad sinus issues, which led me to believe that I had just a common cold or potentially the flu. It faded away and I went a couple days with a steady cough and feeling a little warm.

I thought it was the house that was warm and not me. By Sunday, March 22, I started to notice shortness of breath and my cough was still there. I felt extremely lightheaded that evening and was scared I was going to pass out, so I checked my temperature.

That’s when the screen read 101.8 and we knew something was wrong.

The next day I had lots of chest pain while I tried breathing. I was sore all over, we couldn’t get my fever down, I was coughing every few minutes. It was awful. My mom finally said that was enough and we went and got tested.

Walking up to the massive tent and seeing doctors in hazmat suits kicked my fear into high gear. Having two Q-Tips shoved up your nose at the same time is a good way to get someone to pay attention to what’s happening. They took the test and they did an x-ray of my chest.

We went home and waited to see what the results would bring as we began our lockdown. On Tuesday, the hospital called to inform me that the x-ray showed I had pneumonia in my right lung. They immediately gave me some antibiotics.

The few days I had to wait for my test results were a rollercoaster of emotions. I would feel sore when I woke up, in pain if I moved too fast and couldn't hold food in my system. The list goes on. I would sit on the couch in the living room and just cry to my mom about how I didn’t feel well and how I wanted it to be over.

My mom had spent the whole week keeping me on an intense medicine regimen where I would take Tylenol every six hours. She would wash my sheets and clothes every two days, I had a new water bottle to use every day, we took my temperature about every two hours. The biggest struggle was keeping food and fluids in.

Because my stomach was so weak, I would fight my mom on everything. She made me drink Gatorade despite my hate for the drink. I ate oranges bigger than my fist so I could have some vitamin C. Needless to say, it helped me recover faster and we’re both ready for this to be over soon.

We finally got over a hump on Thursday where the pain started to fade a little and I had my first reading without a fever. Friday was similar as we took it easy waiting to see what would happen.

My mom woke me up on Saturday morning and said, “I just got off the phone with the doctors. The results came back positive.” To which I responded, “Oh that’s great. People are gonna hate me.”

Immediately after we got the call with the results, the Clinton County Health Services Department reached out to us. They had to document the case and we had to answer lots of questions. They had to contact everyone I had been in contact with, but they let me notify them first. I was so scared people were gonna hate me for potentially exposing them. I was scared the community was going to hate me for bringing this virus to our small town in Missouri.

The support I received was the exact opposite. My friends started making jokes about the situation to help calm me down, the community told us they would be praying for us, we had tons of people offer to help in any way that they could. People have been checking in almost every day to see how I am. It was different than what I expected but it helped me out tremendously.

My family has been the best support system through all of this.

I’ve been very open about the experience I’ve had with anyone who asks. I know lots of people are freaking out about if they have it or not, but I’m staying calm and trying to help them with the knowledge that I have. Lots of people have reached out with questions and my family has been honest with what has happened.

This virus is clearly making its way around. I am a living example that it can infect anyone. I recommend to everyone that they follow the CDC guidelines as much as possible to try to limit the spread. One thing that people don’t realize is that the numbers are not 100% accurate. If you’re living in a house with someone who tested positive, they won’t test you if you show symptoms, they just assume you have it.

There are so many more people that have the virus than what the numbers show.

There’s so much more to the statistics too. There’s pain, there’s fear, there’s panic, there’s worry. There’s several stories of what’s happening to everyone as they all experience something different.

So, stay aware, stay clean and stay at home. And the next time a global pandemic breaks out, I’ll be the first to share informative pieces about it, but I’ll still have my memes. I just may have to cut down the amount I post.

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