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Collected Item: “Mystery Virus”

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Mystery Virus

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In late March of 2020, I came down with a terrible migraine. Now, I get migraines a lot, at least once a week, but they usually go away with some naproxen or a nap conveniently timed around when it would be a more responsible decision for me to be doing my homework instead of sleeping. This migraine lasted for a full week. Standing up made my vision go blurry, and any light or noise would cause intense throbbing behind my eyes. It felt like my brain was swelling up and knocking on my skull walls begging to be released from my head. I spent most of my time splayed out on the living room floor covered in blankets with ice packs propped up around my head and neck to try to soothe the pain. I scheduled a tele-health visit with my doctor and she told me since migraines aren’t uncommon for me that I should just wait it out and drink lots of fluids, so I waited, but then I caught some mysterious virus which seemed to have a personal vendetta against my tonsils.
My tonsils got so huge. They swelled up so much that even drinking became difficult, and very quickly a thick film of white gunk started to grow all over the back of my throat. I had a fever, chills, and a sore throat. Usually at that point I would go into the doctor’s office and get a strep swab, but this was during the second week of full lockdown in the US and doctors were not seeing patients in person. After multiple attempts to send my doctor precariously-angled photos of the back of my throat, they decided that if after a few more days of drinking fluids I still felt sick, I needed to go to the ER simply because it was the only place that was open in town and they could give me some tests.
Going to the ER during the first wave of COVID-19 was absolutely terrifying. The first thing I saw when I pulled into the parking lot was the abundance of signs listing the symptoms of COVID-19. There were multiple entrances, one for people who had no symptoms, and a literal shipping container full of testing materials and staff in extensive PPE for those who did. I was just there for a strep test and someone to make sure I didn’t have mono or meningitis, so I went through the normal entrance. After triage, two nurses fully dressed in hazmat suits came up to me. They told me that since I had had a fever within the past few days, I had to be brought to the COVID-19 wing of the hospital. They took me outside to a golf cart where another hazmat suit-wearing driver drove me down to the basement level of the hospital that had not been part of the hospital in years but reopened for the sake of coronavirus.
It honestly seemed like the doctors and nurses were bored and had nothing else to do because over the next few hours I had about ten random medical staff come poke and prod at me in my room. They took blood samples, shone lights into my eyes, and stuck probably the longest swab I have ever seen up my nose to tickle my brain for any COVID-19 particles. Hospitals are scary places to me and being surrounded by nurses and doctors decked out in layers of wearable plastic made me feel even more uneasy. I knew they were being safe, but it was difficult to stay calm when I couldn’t see the faces of the people I while being treated by. Eventually, they decided I had an intractable migraine along with something else and gave me shots of sumatriptan which made me drowsy. All of the tests came back negative and I was told to go home and, once more, drink lots of fluids.
After another week on the couch and endless cups of tea, my mysteriously giant tonsils finally calmed down and my migraine decided it was bored of torturing me. I am extremely grateful that I did not have COVID-19, but it was an incredibly strange experience to have to receive relatively serious healthcare unrelated to COVID-19 during the pandemic. Even more than that though, I am so grateful for the healthcare workers that put their lives at risk for people in need every single day.

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#hospital, #uneasy, #migraine, #healthcare

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