I am generally a pretty healthy person. I remember only a few times being really sick. During my honeymoon, I got bronchitis so bad that one night I didn’t feel like eating anything else but canned green beans. My husband took me to urgent care the next day to get antibiotics. In college, I had some type of virus – not mono – that sapped my energy for about a week. One year over Christmas break I caught a stomach bug that didn’t improve until about New Year’s Eve. But COVID is something else altogether.
Considering the fact that I am a public school teacher, it took me until August of 2022 to get COVID for the first time. My habits didn’t change when the new school year started, but at the end of the first week, I knew that I had caught something. At first, I thought it was just my allergies. I had run out of allergy medicine and didn’t have time to get more until two days had passed with no Zyrtec. I just figured that the sneezing was because the pollen count was so high in Colorado. Then, on Sunday, the sore throat started. But again, it felt like it was sinus related. Pain reliever seemed to help, so I didn’t think anything of it.
At the beginning of the second week of school, I knew that it was more than just allergies. I sneezed probably thirty times on Monday, and by the end of the evening, my nose was so stuffed up that I could hardly breathe through my nose. I slept on and off all night, feeling achy and cold. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, my temperature was just over 101. Obviously, when I tested for COVID, the pink line showed up about three minutes after I put my nose swab sample on the test.
Today, it has been four weeks since my first symptoms started to show up. However, my body is still healing from the aftereffects of the virus. I can’t complain too much – I never had shortness of breath, my fever lasted only a few days, and I didn’t have to go to the hospital for oxygen. But my experience with COVID has made me realize that it still is a big deal. I know that some people would argue with me –
“It’s just a cold.”
“It’s like the flu.”
“I wasn’t too sick. Just a headache for a few days.”
“I got over it pretty quickly.”
“Only people with other health problems get really sick.”
I really wish that people would stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when it is. Let me explain.
Stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when for the first time in my life, I thought I was never going to feel better. There were a few days that I thought that I was always going to feel exhausted, achy, nauseated. One day I would improve and then the next morning I would wake up wishing I would just die. And I’ve had most of my thyroid removed and basal cell carcinomas removed from my forehead (talk about a headache!)
Stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when my husband could hardly walk across the room without feeling like he was going to pass out. Thankfully, he went to urgent care and was prescribed an inhaler, but it was really scary for a few days. He was terrified that he would have to be put on oxygen and that he would eventually die from the virus.
Stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when my mom could hardly swallow for the first 48 hours of having the virus. I have seen my mom fight against a lot of what life has thrown at her, but I have never seen her so exhausted and defeated by anything.
Stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when a friend’s husband just came home from the hospital after eight months of recovery from the virus. He lost at least one hundred pounds during those eight months, and he was in great physical shape before the disease caused pneumonia and several other infections in his body. At one point, his blood-oxygen level was below 40%. He was given a 5% chance of survival.
Stop saying that COVID isn’t a big deal when it is on the list of history’s seven deadliest plagues along with the Spanish Flu of 1918, three bouts of the plague, and AIDS/HIV. Consider the fact that most of these diseases spread throughout the world before modern medical miracles like vaccines or penicillin even existed.
In recent months, I’ve had several people tell me that COVID isn’t a big deal. Some people are still denying that it even exists. I cannot logically wrap my mind around this, considering my own experience with the virus and how I’ve seen it affect my loved ones.
Today, I’m glad that I have finally stopped coughing after over three weeks. I’m glad that I’m able to breathe comfortably without having to smear Vicks all over my chest and feet (yes, Vicks on bare feet actually works for congestion). I’m glad that I never had the lingering headache that some complain of experiencing.
But the effects of the virus have not gone away completely. Over the course of the last four weeks, I pulled the intercostal muscles in my ribs which is excruciatingly painful, especially when I sneeze. Thankfully, the muscle pain is better today than it was this time last week, but it is a reminder that COVID is a big deal.
As you accept the fact that COVID is a reality that we must live with, be considerate of people’s experiences with the disease. If your round of COVID (or second or third round) wasn’t a big deal, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a big deal to someone else. We each respond to sickness differently, so your experience may not be the same as someone else’s experience. That is the crazy thing about the virus – each person responds differently and seems to have different symptoms, some that linger and some that are gone pretty quickly.
Be encouraged today to be sympathetic to those around you, especially as we are living in a world with a virus that has the capability of causing multiple complications for many different people. Be reasonable in the way that you talk about the virus, remembering that we all have dealt with it in our own ways. Be loving as you care for those who may be sick or those who may be fearful of getting sick. Be gracious to those who have a different opinion than your own regarding masks, vaccines, and all the other stuff involved with COVID. And finally, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way you obey the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 – NLT).