Ignorance is bliss: A COVID tale

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COVID-19 drastically impacts the lives of Nia Nelson and her loved ones.

“Kayden had to get tested for Corona at work today,” Ana told me.

“Gross, make sure he stays out of the house,” I said. “Please, at least until we know if he’s positive or not.”

“Yeah, of course that’s no problem,” she replied.

A little later, I heard an obnoxiously loud truck outside the house, and I knew that Kayden pulled up. I immediately hopped out of my bed and slipped on my slides before going outside. I opened the front door and stood on the porch, I already knew an argument was brewing.

“I hope you know you’re not coming in this house until we get your results!” I told Kayden.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I know, even though I don’t have it.”

This surprised me because I was prepared to argue with him about this matter, but he gave in easily.

Usually, we argue like siblings no matter how big or small the issue is. He was really letting Corona get to him.

“Well, we’ll let the people tell us you don’t have ‘Rona first,” I said. “Then we’ll go from there.”

Over the next few days, the fact that Kayden had to get tested was in the back of my mind. I continued doing my normal activities of going to work and doing my homework for my summer classes. In the midst of my routine, I forgot that he could possibly even have this virus that shut down the entire world.

 

Then Saturday rolled around.

Quarantine drove me insane with everything being closed. My best friend, Vanessa, was also going crazy being stuck inside. So, on Saturday her cousin called her up and invited us to the lake house which we had been dying to go to. He told us to be there in an hour and we were ready in under 30 minutes, and for us, that’s a miracle.

While we were getting ready, Ana texted me and asked where we were going. I told her and she asked to come along, I was excited to get her out of the house and away from her boyfriend. Ana and Kayden were in a complicated relationship, you never know if they’re on or off. When she was getting ready, I noticed Kayden was in our bathroom. Now, hindsight is 2020, and if I would’ve thought about it, I would’ve asked why he was there and what his results were for Corona.

On the way to the lake house, we talked about who was going to be the DD since we all wanted to drink when we got there. Finally, Vanessa settled on being the DD since it was her car, and I was the DD last time. The road to Hot Springs is curvy and narrow, with plenty of trees on both sides of the road to make you nervous when driving back in the dark.

We get to the lake house and immediately notice the atmosphere. The energy is contagious, everyone is already having fun taking shots, and jumping off the dock. This is what Vanessa and I have been waiting to do for the past month or longer, so we were ecstatic to see everyone having a good time.

We began taking shots and made mixed drinks. We were finally getting to be “outside” to have the fun Corona has robbed from us this summer. My other friend, Taylor, finally texted me back and told me she wanted to join. We all decided to wait on her before we got on the boat. When she finally arrives, she joins the party and even takes some drinks out of my Bacardi bottle. We’re all having a great time, probably the most fun I’ve had since being 21 for sure. By this time, I disregarded all things Corona related, which I wish I would’ve taken a little bit more seriously.

By the end of that night, I was drunk and ready to be home in my bed. Of course, that would’ve been too easy for that to be where the story ends. We left Hot Springs and arrived safely back in Arkadelphia, where two more of my friends decided to come pick me up so I could hang out with them. One of them goes to school in Starkville, Mississippi so I never get to see her and couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Not even five minutes into being at her house, I got a phone call from my neighbor Emily. It was Ana, sobbing into the phone.

“Nia, can you please come home, Kayden and I got into a big fight,” she cried. “He broke my phone and then Chloe attacked me when I went to her house.”

“What?” I asked. “How did all this happen? She attacked you?” I fired off questions because none of this made sense to me, especially since when I left the house all was well.

“Yes, can you please come back?” she asked me.

“Sure, I’m on my way.” I told her.

So, I told my friends what happened, and they took me back to my house. When I got there Ana was still in Emily’s house and Chloe was nowhere to be found. I was expecting there to be a full out brawl and the sound of screaming when I pulled up. I was very intoxicated and was now having to search the yard for Ana’s broken phone. She was still crying, which was a lot for me to handle while I was inebriated.

We finally found it, and I called Chloe to get her side of the story since Ana was still drunk and not much help. Chloe came back over and explained how Ana got belligerent first and pushed her back from the porch to stop her from coming closer. At this point, it was 1 in the morning, I was over this whole day, and I told everyone to go to their respective houses because I was going to bed. Ana went into the house and after that all was calm for the night.

Sunday rolled around bright and early and Ana was definitely hungover, to the point that she thought she had alcohol poisoning. I don’t get hangovers, so I was up and ready to go. I decided to go see my sister and niece for a few hours then head back home. Ana was still not feeling well, and when I got home, she stopped me on the way to my room.

“Kayden just told me he tested positive for Corona.”

“WHAT?” I yelled. “Are you serious?” I was stunned by the news.

“Yes, here is the text he sent me.” She showed me the text and I started to stress.

“Are you sure he isn’t saying this to get to you?” I asked, “He did literally destroy your phone yesterday.”
“He might be, I’m not really sure.” She told me, uneasily.

“Okay, well I’m about to call him because I’ve literally been around so many people since he has been in the house.” I told her, “Matter of fact, I told you he doesn’t need to be here until after we know his results.”

“I know and I’m sorry, he said he felt fine, so we just assumed he didn’t have it.”

Her excuses only infuriated me because I had just been at my sister’s house with my niece who was only 2. I also had to think about the fact I went to a lake house with people I don’t know, and I went to my other best friend’s house with her family. The panic began to take over as I thought about all the people I could’ve possibly exposed. I felt irresponsible for not paying more attention to the fact he was in the house and we still didn’t know his results.

Anger doesn’t begin to cover how I felt towards them for their stupidity when it came to this virus. My inner thoughts were screaming. No one knows exactly how it works, or how people can be affected by it. This will also take me out of work for two weeks which I can’t afford. Now, I’m in a full-blown panic and call Vanessa.

“Ana just told me Kayden tested positive for Corona.” I told her.

“No, he didn’t!” She said in shock, “He was just in the house yesterday!”

“Exactly! That’s what I said, and then we all went to the lake house.” I hinted at the fact that we possibly exposed people.

“Oh no, my cousin is going to be so upset if he has to call everyone because they were exposed to ‘Rona by us.” She stressed.

“I need to call him, because he could be lying to Ana to get back at her,” I said.

“Yeah, you should call before we start panicking for real,” she told me.

We hung up and I called Kayden immediately to get to the bottom of this. I hated being drug into the middle of their drama, but this was something that now involved me and other people’s lives.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Do you have ‘Rona, yes or no?” I got straight to the point.

“I mean technically, I didn’t get the letter back yet but—”

“Then WHY WOULD YOU TELL ANA YOU HAVE CORONA?” I screamed at him.

“Because—”

“I don’t care about your petty drama, this isn’t anything to play about!” I cut him off again, because this sent me to a new level of anger.

“Well, I –”

“Bye.” I hung up in his face after cutting him off a third time.

I told Ana that I thought he was just trying to get back at her for their fight and that he might not actually have it. She was pretty relieved but still felt terrible, so she decided to just lay down for the rest of the day.

The next day, Ana came into my room to tell me Kayden actually did test positive for Corona. Once again, I was in full panic mode. I immediately retraced my steps and tried to rethink where I had been and who all I had been around so I could call them to tell them I was exposed. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but then Corona came into my life and I realized how serious this was. The first thing I did was make an appointment to get tested, there was always the chance I might not have the virus. The clinic told me they can get me in at 1:30 the same day.

I was nervous on my way to get tested. My hands were sweating while I was driving to Baptist Health Clinic. I got there and had to call them to come to my car since I could possibly have COVID-19. They came out in full protective gear complete with a yellow gown, face mask, and goggles. The test wasn’t the worst pain I have ever experienced but it was uncomfortable to the point of pain. My nose felt like it had been busted open. I thought something was going to fly up there for about 10 minutes then it was normal again.

As I waited for my results, I called any and everyone I had been around to tell them I got tested. I told them what happened and of course apologized because if I would’ve stayed home like how we’re being told to, then they wouldn’t have even been exposed by me. Everybody was understanding and told me to keep them updated when I got my results back.

I felt like those two days were the longest two days of my life waiting on that test result. I finally got the call and they told me I’m positive. I felt myself spiral down into a slight depression as soon as their words hit my ear. Any hope that I somehow got lucky and avoided catching the virus disappeared. I had now possibly exposed other people, or even people I didn’t know, by going to Walmart. The guilt was heavy on my mind.

When I received my positive COVID-19 test, I was prescribed my very own nurse who checked on me and was there for any questions I may have had. My COVID nurse called me that Wednesday, on May 6th, to talk to me about how to isolate and when I would be free from isolation. She asked me if I had any symptoms, which I did not, and she told me to take my temperature twice a day. Then I was set up with an alert reminder that texted me every day to see if I was still doing okay, she explained to me if I don’t text back someone will come to check on me to make sure I haven’t croaked.

“So, I will be stuck in the house for fourteen days?” I asked my COVID nurse.

“No, actually it’s ten days when you’re positive,” she told me, “You stop shedding the live virus ten days from when you first had symptoms or tested positive.”

“I can’t even walk my dog around the block with a mask?” I asked.

“No, you are in complete isolation for ten days and shouldn’t leave for any reason,” she informed me.

I almost went insane those next ten days. I didn’t have that drained feeling most people get when they’re sick. I felt fine besides an agonizing headache I got after having to tell everyone I came back positive for Corona. I assumed my headache was from the stress of the situation, but I had never experienced a headache like this before. It was like my brain was trying to escape from my skull. The only way I could make it stop was to sleep, so that messed up my entire sleep schedule.

I felt so off. I didn’t know how to describe it then or even now, it was just a feeling of knowing something wasn’t right with yourself. These were the only indications that I had COVID.

“Nia, you are free!” my COVID nurse informed me. “I’m sending the paperwork over to you now.”

“Thank God.” I told her, “I think I almost went insane in this room for ten days.”

“I definitely understand that, everyone feels that way after isolation.”

“So, I’m free to go to Walmart or Wendy’s just because I can?” I asked her.

“Yes,” She laughed, “You can go wherever you want, I would just advise you to wear a mask.”

“Am I able to get Corona again?”

“No, so far no one has gotten COVID-19 twice, so if you get it again, you’ll probably be getting people knocking on your door.” She told me, laughing.

“Well, I’m going to just avoid getting it again and call it a day.” I laughed with her.

“Please do, make sure you take care to wear a mask and be careful,” she told me, “Your immune system just took a huge hit so you’re more susceptible to all viruses.”

I never thought I was going to get to leave that house. When I first got released, I just drove around with my dog, Nala. I was so happy to be free. I didn’t care where I went, I was able to get my own food instead of someone having to drop it off at my doorstep. I was craving some human interaction after 12 days of seeing no one. Most people were nervous to be around me, so I immediately called Vanessa to hang out since I didn’t get to see her either during her isolation.

We were honestly still in shock that out of all the people we knew, COVID took us down first. Luckily, the only symptoms I had were the headache for about 4 days and I ended up losing my sense of smell for a while. I didn’t notice when I lost it since I wasn’t leaving my house, I thought I was just becoming nose blind to things.

My experience with COVID wasn’t terrible, symptoms wise, but mentally it was very draining. Not being able to go anywhere for ten to twelve days took a toll on me. Luckily, my other friends didn’t get it besides Vanessa and Ana who had the most contact with me and Kayden. Even Taylor, who drank out of the same bottle as me, tested negative. I didn’t really understand how that was possible, but this virus is honestly an enigma.

I definitely learned my lesson to be safe and not go around any large groups. The new normal was an adjustment for everyone, and I learned the hard way. Of course, even then, I had to quarantine two more times from being exposed to Corona. I could tell from then on, 2020 was going to be the longest year of my life.