Earlier this week, Josephine sat in front of her computer in her kitchen. She had just composed a very personal social media message. She paused for a second. Should I share this, she wondered? She looked at her hands. She hit send.
Josephine revealed to her network that she had tested positive.
Josephine is not her real name. But her ordeal is. She is in her 40s. She has no underlying health issues. She is a self-described cleanliness addict. And she is three weeks into COVID-19.
“People need to know,” she said. “I am not old. I am healthy. I don’t live in a care centre. And I have it. People have to take this very seriously.”
What it feels like
Josephine is getting better now, and will self-isolate until the symptoms disappear and she is cleared.
Three weeks ago she became a number in what would be a growing tally of COVID-19 cases in Alberta.
“Initially, it was the exhaustion,” she said. “I just wanted to sleep all day. Then I got my energy back and I thought, I’m on the mend. But then the aching and a burning feeling in my throat and nose. I felt so weak all the time.”
She went to emergency, got a referral for a test and then got the world-shaking news. She was one of the first in the Edmonton zone to be confirmed with the virus.
“Then it becomes a mental challenge, too,” she said. “It was unreal.”
Josephine quickly pointed out she has a strong network of family and friends and colleagues, some of whom helped with expert medical advice, to gather strength from.
“In a way, I am very lucky,” she said. “But what about the single mom with kids who gets infected and doesn’t have the resources I have? What does she do? What does she do with her kids? Who will take them if she doesn’t have support?”
Advice from the front line
Josephine isn’t sure how she got the virus. It might have been travel. Or from touching a hard surface. Or some other way the virus spreads its mayhem.
Her advice for everyone is as simple as it is heartfelt.
“Practise physical distancing,” she said. “And wash your hands.”
Don’t touch everything in the grocery store, she said. Grab what you need, wash it when you get home and then wash your hands thoroughly, she said.
“Scrub the tops of your hands, too,” she said. “Don’t forget the tops of your hands. People forget the tops of their hands.”
Here are some more tips from Alberta Health Services about hand washing.