I was more sick than I had ever been in my life, COVID would have put me in the hospital without a vaccine

MADRAS PIONEER - Kiva Hanson Reporters NotebookWhen I first got the text from my boyfriend asking if I could pick up a COVID test on my way home from grocery pickup, my heart sank. One, I knew I wouldn't be able to find an at-home test at 7 p.m. on a Sunday, and two, I feared that after two years of the pandemic, COVID had slipped into our house.

He had been feeling bad all day and hadn't slept well the night before. After laying in bed all day with a cough, chills and nausea, telltale signs of omicron, I resigned myself to the high likelihood that we had COVID.

He teaches at Madras High School and drove up to the school to get a rapid test Monday morning. The test came back positive, and I headed to the urgent care to confirm I too had COVID.

Before my results came back the next day, I had already started feeling the symptoms. Body aches, chills, a runny nose, nausea, and a terrible cough had all started.

I'd never had a COVID scare before and had never been tested. At urgent care, the nurse said to me as she stuck a cotton swab up my nose, "You know, with this new omicron, it's just a matter of time before we all get it." Not necessarily a reassuring thought.

I would say we've remained very cautious the entire pandemic. Between my desire to not get sick, and immunocompromised people in my immediate circle, we have been very cautious. We both got our vaccines as soon as we could, and the boosters as soon as they were available. I firmly believe that without the immunity boost the vaccines and boosters provided, we would have had a significantly worse, likely hospitalizing reaction to the virus.

After our positive tests, we ordered groceries, with lots of soup and Gatorade to the house, and hunkered down for a week of quarantine. Our dog, a seven-month-old Shiba Inu named Mei, was ecstatic that both her parents were home all day.

I was optimistic that first day after the positive test. I felt like I had a bad cold or the flu and was managing with Dayquil. I ate lots of soup, took a few naps and watched TV for the first 24 hours.

I was naïve. Early Wednesday morning I woke up in tears. The pain I was experiencing was unbearable. My legs, which have joint pain semi-regularly already, hurt so bad it had waken me from my cold medicine-induced slumber.

I found myself crawling into the bathroom to take a hot bath, in any attempt to improve the pain even slightly.

While the hot bath helped, and I eventually got back to sleep, I spent the next three days in a congested, nauseous haze only slightly aided by homemade chicken soup and a regular regimen of Dayquil.

After the worst of the chills and body aches were over, the cough set in. It lasted days, and every now and then I still get a slight itch in my throat that demands a sip of water.

Now that we're both back to our daily routines, the threat of COVID is bigger than ever in our community. I've had multiple members of my family, who all live out of state, and I have not seen recently, test positive for COVID.

Looking back on my COVID experience, this virus was the sickest I have ever felt in my life. The effects still affect my daily life. I get tired so much faster from physical activity, I get winded when I would not have before. I have had surgeries, bronchitis and mono, and this was by far the worst. And it could have been worse. I'm lucky to be able to have received a vaccine and a booster, and that the worst of my symptoms only lasted two or three days.

We are all sick of this pandemic. I personally have not been able to see my mother since 2019. She didn't get to come to my college graduation (which had to be virtual anyway). She has missed seeing two new places we have lived, I did not get to visit her when she had a heart attack, and she hasn't met our new dog. There are countless holidays, birthdays, and celebration we have all missed because of this pandemic.

We all want to go back to not wearing mask, embracing our loved ones, traveling, keeping our children in schools, all the things we took for granted before COVID hit. Scientists, public health officials and doctors all continue to tell us the only way to end this pandemic, is to get vaccinated. If you're hesitant, talk to someone you trust. Call your primary care doctor, visit Jefferson County Public Health. They are rockstars for their public service and they're happy to talk to you about the vaccine.

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