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“I started to experience some improvements… I knew I was out of the woods.”

A path through an empty forest
By Ella Balasa

Richmond, VA
United States


When I was diagnosed with COVID, I knew it was coming. My mother, with whom I live, had been diagnosed just a day prior after experiencing symptoms for about a week. I finally convinced her to get tested, not because I was that afraid, but I knew it would be important for us to know to make sure we avoided contact with others.

I could have been very scared though. I have cystic fibrosis — a rare, genetic lung disease. My initial COVID tests came back negative, but this was before I started showing symptoms. The following day, I spiked a 102 fever and had a severe headache. Since I didn’t have the cough as an initial symptom like my mom, I wasn’t sure it was COVID. I have been used to spiking fevers throughout my life whenever I have a lung infection flair-up that is associated with cystic fibrosis. That is what I thought it was again this time. I wasn’t optimistic that a lung infection was necessarily a better ailment to have than COVID, but at least I was familiar with those.

I ended up having fevers for an entire week. I started to develop nasal congestion after a few days and my blood oxygen saturations were dropping. This means my lungs were not processing enough oxygen from inhaling to allow my heart to pump properly. I had to use supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula to get enough oxygen delivered to my body. I debated going into the hospital for care to get intravenous antibiotics as I normally would for a lung infection because I knew it was caused by an accumulation of mucus in my lungs dripping down from my sinuses.

I held off and after a few more days I started to experience some improvements in my breathing capacity. I knew I was out of the woods. In the meantime, my mother had recovered as well and she was back to being her chipper self.

My COVID experience wasn't nearly as bad as some of my previous lung infection flair-ups have been. For this, I am very thankful.

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