How It All Started
I commute by subway to Manhattan five days a week. The subway isn’t glamorous, but it’s cheaper and faster than driving. It’s also very crowded. As the coronavirus started to consume the headlines, I was surprised to see that most commuters seemed unfazed. Sure, people kept their distance from those who were coughing, but it was otherwise business as usual. City officials weren’t taking the coronavirus seriously, so commuters weren’t either. Then, people started getting sick. About a month ago, my employer informed me that I was exposed to a colleague who tested positive for the coronavirus. I was worried that my colleague was just one of many who would become infected, so I started working remotely. About a week later, I developed my first symptoms. This is what it’s like to survive through the coronavirus.
How Bad Will It Get?
My throat was a bit scratchy, but I didn’t think much of it. Maybe I had a cold… It’s winter, after all. Once I started coughing, there wasn’t any doubt I had gotten the coronavirus. My wife is a family medicine resident at a New York City hospital. She heard my dry cough, which sounded eerily similar to her “Covid patients” coughs. I did my best to isolate myself in our small apartment. My wife gave me a mask and instructed me to wash my hands before touching anything we share. Unfortunately, a few days later, she got sick too. Given the fact she is a front line medical worker with numerous exposures, we weren’t surprised she got infect. Our lack of surprise didn’t make us any less worried, though.
Frankly, my cough didn’t bother me much relative to the headaches I had during the first few days I was sick. I couldn’t work, since I couldn’t concentrate. My energy levels were completely depleted. I was pretty much limited to napping, eating (though much less that I normally do), and going to the bathroom. With each day that passed, I felt worse and worse. After about five days of being sick, my chest started to feel tight. I had to slow my pace of speech to avoid losing my breath.
By themselves, these symptoms weren’t excruciating. The far more terrifying aspect of having the coronavirus is being uncertain about how much worse you’re going to get. Each morning, I felt sicker than I did the day before. My wife began checking my lungs with her stethoscope to see if I was developing viral pneumonia. I started to wonder whether I would ultimately survive through the coronavirus.
A little after a week of experiencing my first symptoms, I started to recover. The recovery was slow, but sustained. Over the course of the two weeks I was sick, I experienced the following symptoms, though not all at once:
2. Dry Cough
4. Body Aches
5. Chest Tightness
6. Shortness of Breath
Let me be clear: this was not the worst illness I ever had. While I was undeniably sick, I’d now describe my case of the coronavirus as moderate. My wife’s symptoms were even milder than mine. Neither of us ever developed a fever. Having said that, we got worse before we got better. We were tuned into the news, which ran stories about the most severe cases. I didn’t know if I’d end up like the young and healthy people who landed in the hospital after becoming infected.
The feeling of helplessness I experienced in the first week I had the coronavirus distinguish it from any virus I’ve had before. Aside from drinking fluids and taking Tylenol, I couldn’t do anything to help myself. I just had to let the virus run its course. The fear that accompanies the coronavirus is more viral than the virus itself. Fear infected my friends, colleagues, and loved ones. They all checked in on me on a near daily basis. Covid-19 will one day disappear, but the fear of another pandemic will survive through the coronavirus, just as I did. Honestly, I hope the fear stays. Fear may be the only motivation strong enough to prepare us for the next pandemic.
The World Was Completely Unprepared for the Coronavirus Pandemic
Across the world, there are now over a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Government leaders were so concerned about the short term economic disruption quarantine measures would inflict that they failed to implement necessary measures to stem the spread. Unfortunately, millions may lose their lives and the economic disruption will now be more pronounced and prolonged. The failure to prepare for this pandemic is one of the most costly mistakes in modern history. There may, however, be a silver lining. This pandemic is a painful lesson about the importance of preparing for black swan events. We are undoubtedly learning how critical early investment and preparation are to protecting our societies around the globe. Moreover, coordinated and collective action is required. I hope that this disaster is enough to bring the world closer together.
How to Survive Through the Coronavirus
Many heroes have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic. Front line healthcare workers like my wife are getting sick as they fight to keep us healthy. Other essential workers are putting themselves at risk in order to ensure everyone affected by the quarantine measures can receive necessary goods and services. The least we can do in exchange for their sacrifices is to observe the latest CDC guidelines. Let’s do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.
I hope we can learn to become empathetic towards those harmed in this fight against the coronavirus. For those who remain unharmed or who have recovered, we should be appreciative of our good fortune. Without empathy and appreciation, the coronavirus wins. The best way to survive through the coronavirus is to recognize what we all have in common: an invisible enemy. We’re all on the same side for a change. Let’s fight this together.
Do you have additional suggestions about how to survive through the coronavirus? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.