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Guest Letter: Coping with COVID-19

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Lauren Salgado | The Daily Wildcat Lauren Salgado, student of the School of Journalism, takes selfie at doctor's office while waiting to be tested for COVID-19 in Tucson, Ariz. Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

With news outlets constantly reporting on the coronavirus and it being everything everyone’s been talking about, I was already taking this virus seriously.

For my spring break, I decided to spend it here at home in Tucson and catch up on schoolwork instead of going anywhere, especially since I felt like traveling anywhere at a time when this virus was happening wasn’t a good idea. 

The weekend before I started to feel sick, I spent my time downtown taking lots of photos and capturing anything interesting happening, as I usually do in my spare time. 

Since social distancing wasn’t recommended yet, everyone was still out and about. 

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My friend and I went on a hike to Agua Caliente Hill Trail on Saturday and that night I went to Gentle Ben’s for an event to take photos and dance. 

On Monday, March 16, I had already started to feel kind of weird with somewhat of a sore throat and I was more tired than usual. 

By Tuesday, I started to feel symptoms like a sore throat, headache, slight coughing and I was running a fever of 100.0. 

I was so scared that I had the coronavirus because of my fever, I immediately called my doctor to see if I could hopefully be seen. 

That same day, I was seen by my doctor and she told me that I had all the listed symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19, and I had asked to be tested for the flu. 

I had mentioned to my doctor that I was more worried for the fact that I have asthma, and that if I had coronavirus, how my lungs would get through this aggressive upper-respiratory and possibly fatal illness. 

The thought of even being told that I could have the virus was sort of unreal to me. 

It hadn’t hit Arizona in high numbers and to think I would be one of the few that could test positive in the state felt like just a scenario I could only make up in my head. 

Unfortunately, since my appointment with my doctor had been scheduled after 6 p.m. that day, the doctor could not test me for the flu because it was after clinic hours. 

My doctor sent me home telling me to closely watch my symptoms, push fluids and take over-the-counter medications to take care of how I felt. 

RELATED: What are the different tests for COVID-19 and how do they work?

By Wednesday, I woke up feeling even worse. My temperature had peaked to 102.4 and I was in a lot of pain with new symptoms of body aches and heavy fatigue. 

On this day, it seemed that I had felt the worst of my symptoms so far because of the rising fever, even after I had been taking Tylenol and drinking lots of water. 

I was getting worse by the hour and with my symptoms worsening, so was my anxiety of possibly being a carrier of the virus. 

By noon I decided to call my doctor again since my symptoms were worsening and was given an appointment for the late afternoon.

Prior to me getting out of my car and walking into the clinic, I was told by nurses that since my fever had reached so high, I was suspected to have COVID-19 and would have to call a number so that someone could come out and escort me into the clinic from the back of the building. 

As I wrote down the number from the nurse over the phone, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear as this kept getting more real for me. 

Before I was escorted into the clinic, I parked my car and called the number and had to wait just over 10 minutes until I saw a health assistant come out of the back door of the building. 

While in this time, waiting in my car which seemed like forever. I was coughing uncontrollably and my body was extremely hot, yet I felt so cold and to make matters worse it was heavily raining outside. 

Finally, a health assistant came out and took down my information and told me to wait in the car until she could come back out with a face mask for me.

I was handed a mask and headed into the clinic from an emergency exit door in the back of the building and followed the hallway leading to the clinic exam rooms. 

I felt like an outcasted, living infection walking in like that. My thoughts at this point are that I know it may be very real that I have the coronavirus, but I have some hope that it could be just the flu. 

The test for the flu came back negative and the only possible explanation was that I either had a bad cold or the coronavirus.

I was swabbed with a very long cotton swab that reached far enough to rub against what seemed like the lowest part of my brain through my nose. It was extremely uncomfortable. 

My doctor had told me it would take five to seven days to get my results back. I walked my way back out of the building from the same way I went in and ran back to my car to avoid the rain. 

The next day I had class to attend via Zoom and was nervous since I was unaware as to how I would be feeling and if it would show through my appearance, as I was unaware of turning the camera off on Zoom. 

Somehow, I managed to get through class without looking terribly sick, even though I had mentioned that I tested for the coronavirus since my professor had asked how I was doing. I felt I had to be transparent, being a journalist, especially since this was a big topic around the world.

The rest of the day I spent in bed as I waited anxiously for my test results. This was the first day I started to have trouble breathing. 

I ran fevers that didn’t reach over 100, so that was good at least, but I was so concerned for my breathing since my chest felt tight and I was very fatigued. 

Friday, I woke up feeling even worse and had all my symptoms at once, and all I could do was lay in bed. 

RELATED: How does COVID-19 manifest and what can you do if you begin to show symptoms?

Around noon I received a call from the clinic and a nurse told me I tested positive for COVID-19. 

The way the nurse broke the news to me was very fast, and I felt like she didn’t have compassion for me. 

“You tested positive for COVID-19,” said the nurse. 

My reply was in disbelief as I said, “Oh my goodness, really?”

“Yes, make sure you quarantine yourself right away.” 

After she told me to quarantine myself, I said thank you and she hung up. I couldn’t believe that I really had the coronavirus, it was like a movie playing out in real life. 

I felt at a loss of direction since the nurse didn’t tell me what my next steps were. I immediately called my dad who was at work and everyone else that I had just seen in the last two weeks since I may have exposed them to the virus. 

The days to follow I had more trouble breathing. I had finally stopped running a fever on Saturday, but the rest of my symptoms were still there. 

As I received lots of concern from friends and family, I felt like an enigma from society since Arizona cases of COVID-19 were still in low numbers. 

As I had told the people around me, a common question was, “How did you get it?” This quickly became irritating to hear and answer since I truly had no idea how I managed to get the virus. 

No one around me had been sick or showed any symptoms from the previous days that I had started to have symptoms, and I knew I wasn’t around anyone sick in the last two weeks either. 

My guess was just as good as anyone else’s. I could have picked it up from anyone, from anywhere, especially since people can be carriers without having any symptoms. 

Quarantining myself has been difficult. I’m living life one hand wash after the next. I have to watch anything I touch, and all my food has to be served to me, at a distance of course. 

My doctor has told me that 14 days after I have my last symptom is when I can consider myself no longer contagious but will still be practicing social distancing and quarantining. 

The worst part of having COVID-19 is the pain that is experienced. The constant fevers I had, body aches and fatigue, but the worst of it which I am still experiencing, is not being able to breathe. 

The asthma attacks that I’ve had while having this virus have been worse than my usual attacks. 

Since having the virus, I’ve had around two to three asthma attacks a day and when I use my nebulizer to help me breathe, my doctor told me I have to use it outside to take precaution since the medicine comes out of the breathing tube as vapor and could possibly spread the virus through the air. 

Not being able to breathe is problematic on its own, but it has been even more troubling to have to set up my breathing equipment outside in my backyard and inhale my medicine from an environment that has pollen and causes allergies that already upset my asthma.              

I had felt that mostly everyone will be exposed to the coronavirus at some point in time since it spreads so easily, but having it hit home, personally being affected by it, has taken an emotional, mental and physical toll on me. 

This virus is very painful, it’s real and it is aggressive. Even under the agony of staying inside, we all need to stay home as much as possible because that is the only way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/21)
993 29 2.9%
Total (8/2)
23,557 463 2.0%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 21, 2021