COVID CHRONICLES | One in Eight Million illustration

By CONNIE KINSEY | WVVILLE Minister of Paragraphs | oct16.2020 |

I didn’t reach for the Advil bottle upon waking this morning. I’ve had a headache of varying intensity for 10 days. I named it Frank. Frank is such an ever-present aspect of my daily life that I felt it only proper to give him a name. Frank is the chief complaint of my experience with a COVID-19 infection. That and fatigue. I’m sleeping nearly 14 hours a day.

Yes, I’m one of the almost 8 million folks diagnosed with COVID-19, since this nightmare began. Frank manifested and then I went on to develop a dry cough, body aches, tiredness, and slight congestion. No fever.

Two days before Frank, my 80-year-old mother complained that her allergies were kicking up and suddenly coffee tasted awful.



The more she talked about how bad coffee and food tasted, the more worried I became, even though she had no fever and didn’t seem all that sick. I talked her into getting tested for COVID. Out of an abundance of caution, I had them swab me as well.

I came back positive. Mom was negative.

A physician instructed us to behave as if my mother was positive as well. I’m sure she was. Losing the sense of taste and/or smell is a hallmark of the virus.

(An aside: Frank just re-appeared. I did so enjoy my time without him.)

Mom and I—thus far and knocking on wood—are having a very mild case of COVID-19. When I talked to the person manning the Cabell-Huntington Health Department hotline they told me that this was the case with most of the folks they’ve been hearing from that had recently tested positive—either no symptoms or just mild ones.

No matter how sure you are that it’s not COVID, please get tested if you have any symptoms. Any of them. With flu season arriving, things are going to get really tricky. The CDC lists the following as symptoms. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to fourteen days after exposure:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

My mother and I are part of the upswell of cases in West Virginia in the past week or so. I really hate being trendy, but here I am ‘COVID positive.’ I am very thankful to have a mild case.

Yet the suffering and death this virus has caused is historical in scope. I don’t want anything I say to make it sound as if I am making light of this disease. I am not. I am taking it—and have been—very seriously.

Somewhere, my mother and I were subjected to someone with the virus who made a choice not to wear a mask.

My mother and I were both good about wearing masks. Other than my paramour and my mother, I haven’t been within six feet of anyone without my mask for more than a minute or two since mid-March. (An aside: We really need new terms for ‘girlfriend‘ and ‘boyfriend‘ for us old folk.)

However, that’s not too surprising. Wearing a mask protects other people, not the mask wearer.

Somewhere, my mother and I were subjected to someone with the virus who made a choice not to wear a mask. Perhaps they didn’t know they were infected. Perhaps they didn’t care. I can only view their behavior as selfish. Their decision to not wear a mask could cost me or someone I love to lose their life.

So, Frank is back.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

So, what’s it really like to have COVID? Kind of scary.

Friends and strangers alike tell me that symptoms can come and go—sometimes for months. I’m told I must quarantine for 14 days or until symptoms subside, whichever is longer. Buried in there is the caveat that one must be fever-free, without pain relievers, for three days before venturing forth.

So, what’s it really like to have COVID? Kind of scary. Upon diagnosis, I started letting people know. Their reactions ran the gamut from “Yeah?” to “Oh my God!”

I live alone so that both complicated things and simplified them. I haven’t had to restrict myself to just one room of the house; nor have I had to worry about disinfecting from the ground up.

On the flip side, my larder was bare, and my prescription drugs needed refilling. My grocer and my pharmacy were more than accommodating.

The most surprising thing has been the doctors.

I have a doctor I’ve seen regularly—at the very least twice a year—since 1998. She has been the bee’s knees and takes great care of me. Normally, that is. I haven’t been able to get through to her. Her physician assistant called in response to my message about having been diagnosed. I have since called back and left a message for my doctor to call me or to set up a tele-health appointment.


My mother’s doctor, who is the antithesis of the bee’s knees, just can’t be bothered. I’m blessed to have a friend who is a physician. Between her, the health department and the CDC’s website, I’m getting good advice.

The biggest challenge is the fear.

I have packed a hospital bag in case I develop breathing problems or chest pains and must call 911. That raised the issue of what does one pack for a potential ICU stay? I decided on pajamas, Kindle, charging cords, and my spare laptop. (An aside: Yes, I have a spare laptop. I am wired up the whazoo.)

The biggest challenge is the fear. I am not normally a fearful person. I have been terrified for my mother—she is 80 and she has COPD. A diagnosis of COVID is life-threatening in her demographic. I work hard at not thinking about that.

We’re doing all we can.

I have also been afraid for me—I am not ready to die. Life is good and sweet and I’m having a ball. Nope. Not yet.

Besides, the house is a mess and I would hate for my son to have to deal with all this stuff in the present shape of my abode.

The biggest blessing has been the outpouring of love and concern from family and friends. As word continues to spread, my email and text messages increase with well wishes and offers to help. It is good to be loved. It is good to love.

Wear your mask and get tested (as needed), as if your life depends on it.



UNMASKED! |A Pandemic Photo Project | june18.2020 | Yes, of course you should still be wearing a mask in public. A second wave of infections? We’re not even through the first. Here are some masked inspirations—followed by their unmasked selves.

Bringing Covid-19 Testing Home to a Huntington WV Community| may23.2020 | As America passes the shocking number of 100,000 people dead from Covid-19, free testing has been rolled out across West Virginia. Part of the aim last week was to get the measure of the impact of the virus on African-American communities in the state.

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