The secret is out: I had COVID-19. Yes, I tested positive, and no, I did not endure a near-death experience.
Before the rise and breakthrough of the COVID-19 virus, getting sick was just another day or two at home. Now, getting sick is a nightmare, and people consider it to be the worst thing that could possibly happen. Obviously, COVID-19 is a serious illness that has affected many teens and adults across the world, however, if teens are fully vaccinated, their side effects will most likely not be as severe. What teenagers do not know is that for me, it really was not that bad.
According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, “many children with COVID-19 have minimal to no symptoms. Their symptoms often resemble a cold with congestion, cough, low-grade fever and fatigue.”
Again, if you have followed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and are vaccinated, you should not have to fear an illness that resembles “a cold” or a “low-grade fever.”
Picture this: I was in Utah with 10 people and one of them tested positive. Immediately, I knew I had to take action. Quickly running across my kitchen, I grabbed the last rapid test we had. Since I have taken a COVID-19 test 50 times before, I robotically followed the directions without having to look at the package: I ripped open the swab package, began swirling it in my nose and inserted the swab back into the card. I anxiously waited for my results while my eyes were glued to the blank white strip. Two red lines emerged; I had COVID-19.
Well, that was one way to start the new year off.
With what felt like one million Advil tablets and cups of tea, my symptoms were the following: a sore throat, an aching migraine and for one day, zero energy. I kept waiting for the moment that I would faint or go into anaphylactic shock, but guess what, that never happened. As a healthy and active 16-year-old, COVID-19 did not hit me hard. Many people my age are athletes who train daily or are a part of theater productions, forcing them to either sing or walk around a stage or court constantly.
Because of this, teenagers are now worried that if they happen to test positive, their peers will start looking at them in a bad way. The stigma surrounding COVID-19 needs to change from disgust to just another sickness where you are simply home from school, resting for 10 days.
The last thing teens need to be worried about is that their friends at school will find out they have COVID-19. With the constant pressure of schoolwork and extracurriculars constantly weighing on teens, such pressures do not need to be amplified and heightened when someone tests positive. Though it is an alarming illness, it was not even as dreadful as the common cold. That being said, with the number of people constantly testing positive for COVID-19 in your community, there is no need to look down on someone with the virus.
The next day, actually, I woke up feeling fine. I went on a 4-mile run, played paddle tennis and even went skiiing. Everything was back to normal.
As the news got out and I started telling my friends, extended family and those around me, I was bombarded with texts like “Are you dying?”, “Are you ever going to go out again?” and “What are your symptoms?” I found myself ashamed and annoyed by the fear surrounding a sickness. I want to make it clear that there are cases even within my age demographic that result in symptoms and repercussions much worse than mine. But, it is important to understand that this virus can pass like any other cold.
Everyone assumes the worst. Teens believe the stereotype that if you contract COVID-19 you should be embarrassed and ashamed. When someone at school tests positive and everyone is notified, people start speculating. If teens are vaccinated, follow the CDC guidelines and do everything that health officials say, teens will, most likely, get through it. People need to understand that for some people, COVID-19 just resembles a really bad flu.
Now, this does not take away from the individuals who have had serious long-term health effects from this virus. Many people have lost their lives, or know people who have lost their lives. COVID-19 for many people, mainly adults, has resulted in serious illnesses and deaths. However, for many teens my age, it is not as life-threatening.
To all of my fellow teens, trust me, you may be worrying about something that could just be a cold. We need to destigmatize getting COVID-19 and make sure people are not getting shamed for being sick. The negative connotations that typically come with testing positive for COVID-19 need to be erased because remember, it is normal.