I had COVID-19 and it was mentally challenging

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July 29 was the 10th day I had been feeling sick with COVID-19, and by that time, I had all the symptoms you’ve read or heard about.

I had a fever. I could feel myself losing my breath if I did something as simple as make my bed. I had a cough, and I could barely walk around my tiny apartment or walk outside to go throw out the trash.

But it wasn’t until July 29 that I really realized that I was sick with COVID-19.

I was watching the Colorado Rockies play against the Oakland Athletics, and I saw the cardboard cutout fans placed in the stands of the ballpark and the players and coaches in masks. I heard the artificial crowd noise at the game, and it may sound goofy, but watching the Rockies that day is when I started to mentally feel like I had the virus.

Watching the “new normal” Rockies game with all of its changes and precautions to protect people from the virus drove home the fact that I was sick with a deadly virus that has been the cause of at least 167,000 deaths in America. It made it more real than my July 25 positive ­COVID-19 test, it made me fearful, and it made my anxiety about my illness worse.

MORE: How COVID-19 is affecting Jeffco student athletes

There is a big difference between having COVID-19 and reading or hearing about it. I had spent every week since the pandemic started writing about the virus, and even interviewed people who were sick with it — but I still didn’t realize how mentally challenging it would be to have COVID-19.

You start to wonder if your symptoms will ever go away. I worried most about all of the people I had come into contact with before I tested positive. I thought about my coworkers and tried to remember everything I could’ve touched in my office to warn them. I thought about my 65-year-old father who is high risk and whom I had seen only a few days before I had symptoms.

It’s hard having thoughts rush through your mind about the idea that you could have infected someone with a deadly virus that we don’t have a cure for. If I had gotten my father or any of my family or friends sick, and something bad happened to them, I don’t know how I could have lived with myself.

I don’t want you to have those thoughts. I don’t want you to have to worry about getting your friends or family sick.

Most importantly, I don’t want you to get COVID-19.

It is scary when you’re lying in bed with the virus, and you can feel yourself having trouble breathing. It’s scary when you can barely walk because you’re so sick, and it’s scary not knowing what kind of impact COVID-19 will have on your long-term health.

It took me 16 days to fully feel like I had recovered from the virus. I can’t move around as fast I used to, and I feel out of shape after being sick for so long, but I’m thankful I can carry on with my life and that I didn’t get anybody sick that I know of.

I had thought I was doing everything right to prevent myself from getting sick. I religiously sanitized my hands whenever I had a chance. I wore a mask everywhere I went, I stopped visiting and going out with friends —but I still got it.

I think that shows how easily anyone can get it and is why it’s important to take all the precautions you can, because even when you do take those precautions, you can still easily get the virus.

Joseph Rios is a reporter for Colorado Community Media, covering Jefferson County and Englewood.

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