On March 13th, I remember telling my mom that my chest hurt. It was painful to breathe, but I went to bed that night thinking I would feel fine by morning. But as the days went by and my chest continued to hurt and my throat became sore and dry, I drank hot tea every day as a remedy.
Because I thought my allergies were acting up, I went to the store to buy Allegra. At the end of the week, chills and night sweats were added to the chest pain and sore throat. On Friday, I had to leave work early because I started to feel short of breath. I remember sitting up in my recliner, trying to catch my breath.
I slept all weekend, suffering with the same symptoms.
On March 22nd, my heart rate shot up and I started having heart palpitations. I’m not usually the type of person who runs to the doctor, but when my resting heartrate was 120 bpm, I called my primary care physician.
The nurses thought it would be safe for me to come into the office because I didn’t have a fever or a cough, and I hadn’t been out of the country.
My mom had to drive me because I simply didn’t have enough strength. I thought I had walking pneumonia because I’ve had that before.
The doctor came in the room with no PPE, no mask . . . At this time, everyone thought COVID-19 was a cough and fever. Everyone was so critical of those particular symptoms, but when I explained my shortness of breath, chest pain, slight chills, sore throat, and extreme fatigue, the doctor’s demeanor changed. He seemed a bit panicked. I was too tired to react.
The doctor then made a phone call to someone and he hung up the phone. As soon as he hung up the phone, he started pacing and I could tell he was trying to act calm to make sure I didn’t freak out. He explained to me that he called the lab and they suspected COVID-19.
The doctor left the room for a few minutes and I texted my mom who was in the waiting room. She told me they had already put her in an exam room because they needed to isolate her since she had contact with me.
I was sitting on the exam table and started to have a panic attack. I tried to breathe and calm myself. The doctor returned in full PPE and had collected himself. He got back on the phone with the CDC lab and they walked him through how to order a COVID-19 test. The doctor then relayed the info to me, told me to isolate at home and call the ER ahead of time if I got worse and needed to go.
At this point, I was already nine days into my symptoms.
The next day, I called the testing site first thing in the morning to get an appointment. I spent 4 hours on hold, fell asleep, woke up, and was still on hold. I hung up and called back, but after still not getting through by 2pm, I gave up and decided to call the next morning. March 24th was my twenty-seventh birthday, and I didn’t expect to celebrate it by spending all day on the phone trying to get a COVID-19 test. When I did get through, I heard a recording saying that all appointments were taken and that I needed to call back again the next morning.
On March 25th, someone answered the phone and I got an appointment for that day. My test site was 25 miles way, just down the street from my alma mater, Marymount University.
When I drove up to the testing site, I didn’t get out of my car. The techs, in complete PPE, spoke to me through a megaphone so I could keep my windows up. The only time my window was down was for the actual test.
For eight long days, I did everything I could to give my body a fighting chance to get better. I was irritated, annoyed, and so alone. I spent weeks in bed with minimal contact with my family. There were nights where I was awake sitting up in my bed crying for no reason. Maybe I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was a roller coaster of symptoms and emotions.
On Saturday, April 4th, I got my results around 5:30 PM, eight days after I got my test administered. My results were negative! My doctor told me he discussed my case with the other doctors in the practice as well as the CDC. They diagnosed me with “COVID-19 False Negative”, which means I am part of the population of false negative tests who actually did contract the virus. I was also told my case was “mild.”
That worries me for everyone else.
My physical symptoms lasted 19 days. However, I am still mentally trying to wrap my head around what I went through as well as what thousands of other people are going through as well. I have never been so mentally exhausted in my life.
The isolation was awful. I cannot sugarcoat anything. If I felt that way, there are many other people out there in the same position. I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home in my own bed.
Some people don’t have symptoms and test positive. Others were like me and have to be diagnosed by the CDC and a doctor rather than a physical test.
I am now in the process of trying to get access an antibody kit so I can prove my COVID-19 case through epidemiology. I want to donate my antibodies so I can help someone who doesn’t have the fight in them that I had.
I have been asymptomatic for 16 days, and I am still being very careful because there is still so much unknown about this virus. I have been at home since the evening of March 12th and am desperate to go back to work as well as get back to the golf course.
However, I have come to the realization that our new normal may last a while and there is nothing I can do about it other than stay home and hope that my ordeal can convince people to get the idea that they are invincible out of their heads.
I am 27 years old and hope I never have to go through what I did in March and early April 2020. I will never take my health for granted. I am grateful to still have my job and a golf course to return to continuing my passion for teaching golf.
We as a country need to support those around us. We may not be in the same boat, but we are certainly in the same ocean fighting the same current. All I want to do in life is help people whether it is on the golf course or by donating my antibodies, offering a listening ear, or by sharing joy after the storm.
Looking back on her journey to recovery, Kara claps for her family, doctors, her dog, Cheyenne, for staying at her side, her coworkers, the LPGA, and Taylor Swift’s music which helped her relax, and find peace in such an intense situation. We can get through this by supporting those around us who are doing what they can to be a help to us all.
Let us know who you clap for in the comments below.