Wisdom from Coronavirus Survivors

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Matthias Lai, Staff Writer

Brianna Carlini, Artist


The world is on high alert, as the Coronavirus Pandemic makes its rapid and deadly progression through the world. For most of us, the biggest effect it has had is no school, we can’t see our friends and maybe we had to cancel plans for spring break. We are still not seeing the more drastic impact of the pandemic, compared to cities where people aren’t even allowed to leave their houses and hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. But millions of people faced the virus before we were even thinking of it. Some say they’re the lucky ones for facing it so early. Others say they weren’t so lucky, because the full effects were unknown. Either way, we have a lot to learn from the front lines of the battle against the Coronavirus.

Joshua Rock lives in Detroit, MI; a month ago he knew he got the virus from a dinner he attended where another guest had just come back from Ireland with a cough. When he went to get tested, he was denied a test because his symptoms all pointed to Coronavirus, but he was too healthy to need any sort of treatment. He began his 14-day self-isolation, and by now he has recovered.

Clement Chow’s case was not so mild. Contracted around the same time, his symptoms began slowly–a low-grade fever–and only escalated as time passed. Once he started coughing up blood and realized his blood oxygen was dangerously low, he rushed to the hospital, where he was put on oxygen and separated from his family. For the next 5 days, he would stay in the ICU alone, tended to by nurses in suits and masks, unable to see his family. Upon discharge, he had to do 10 more days of self-isolation and began recovery, but even now he hasn’t fully healed.

Ariel Montero is an NPHS student who moved to Spain for what was supposed to be a half-year stay. But that could be extended, and right now he’s not allowed to leave his house. Over a month ago, the city he’s living in, Sanlúcar De Barrameda, imposed strict traveling bans to help stop the spread of the virus. For now, Montero and his family are cooped up in a 4-room apartment, passing their food through bleach for extra insurance and finding innovative ways to spend their time and contact friends. But they are all safe, and that is what these measures are in place to insure. These three people, who have all had personal experiences with COVID-19, all much earlier than us, share one piece of advice: The Coronavirus should be taken very seriously.

“After I’m better I will continue to practice strict physical distancing. We don’t know enough about immunity to act like we are fully immune after recovery.”

Clement Chow

For Chow, even though he is relieved to have gotten over the worst of it so early (he was the first COVID-19 patient in his hospital’s ICU), he still sees the importance of the guidelines put in place. “After I’m better I will continue to practice strict physical distancing. We don’t know enough about immunity to act like we are fully immune after recovery,” Chow said. He was sick. He was alone. And he was scared. It’s an experience he never wants to have to go through again, and he hopes no one else has to either. He urges, “COVID-19 is crushing, both physically and emotionally. Please stay at home and practice physical distancing. Keeping more people healthy mitigates undue risk to our healthcare providers who have families of their own.”

For Rock, the low came just before his mom called him. He was in pain, exhausted, and had a raging fever. As she prayed over him, his fever broke, an event he can only describe as a miracle, and from then on he experienced some aches (“like I had just done 12 seconds with Mohammad Ali”), but his path to recovery was clear. Now his focus is on helping others. He cautions everyone to wear a mask, even if you aren’t at risk, because “you’re not out to protect yourself. You’re out to protect everyone around you.” At one point, he was anxious that he might die because the virus hit much harder than he had expected, and he is healthy, fit and relatively young, so his concerns are for the people most at risk, like the elderly and unfit, who will take it much worse than he did. Montero shares that sentiment. A healthy teenager, the risk for him is low. But he isn’t thinking about himself right now. “For me being locked inside isn’t even the worst of it. It’s knowing that there are people who don’t care and because of the people are going to keep dying by the thousands.” We are in a scary world right now, and it is imperative that we do our part to stop the spread. Because as Clement Chow puts it: “I know I am one of the lucky ones – I survived. Others have not been so lucky.”