By Victoria Bishop Smith, Class of 2021
I woke up on October 13. It was like any regular day, or so I thought.
I hadn’t been experiencing any symptoms, but unfortunately, my significant other, whom I spent the majority of my time with, was — and so, we went to get tested.
The doctor came out the door with multiple covid test results in hand and called out our names. I told him I could take both of our results since we came together.
“I could tell you’re together because you both tested positive,” said the doctor.
And from that day forward, my life changed.
Quarantine had begun, and it felt like a century had gone past when it had only been a couple days in isolation, and day two of testing positive had been the worst of them all.
Fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of appetite — the symptoms began to pile on.
Although they only lasted for a couple of days, those two days were torturous. I cried a lot, not only from the pain I was in, but from the sadness I felt from being isolated.
I was sick and all alone.
Day after day, all I was consuming was soup and tea. I quickly got sick of the flavor and since recovering, I haven’t touched a cup of tea.
My mom and nana were there for me virtually through it all, calling me multiple times a day to check on my symptoms and make sure I was taking my medicine and vitamins.
Two weeks went by, and I went to get retested only to find out I was still positive.
“After all of that, life still can’t go back to normal,” I thought.
But eventually, after three weeks I finally tested negative and a sense of normalcy came back, but it did not last very long.
On November 2, my mom, Rozlyn Carter, 42, received a call from her job. Since she is a nurse and works with COVID-19 patients, she took tests frequently, but this time her worst fears came true.
She tested positive.
“[When I first tested positive], I was in shock — I thought that maybe the test was wrong,” said Carter.
But once the symptoms began to show, they wouldn’t go away.
Carter experienced a fever for eight days straight that did not subside even while taking fever reducing medication.
“I was scared. I was very very scared,” said Carter.
Soon after the fever began, Carter’s appetite was gone too, and she could barely make it to the bathroom without having shortness of breath.
And on the day before Thanksgiving, she left for the hospital in an ambulance.
She was admitted to the hospital for 7 days, and her role as a nurse switched to the role of a patient.
“As a nurse, you’re always helping. You’re not being helped,” said Carter. “Being a patient, it was a whole different world.”
When she first arrived at the hospital, she said it was a strange feeling being on the other side. At first, she didn’t know what to do.
Even though she knew she could barely move, she wanted to help in any way she could.
But there came a point when she realized that it wasn’t her job to take care of herself.
“I remember I couldn’t breathe. I vomited. I pooped myself, but I was so sick, I couldn’t do anything, and I just looked devastated,” said Carter. “I’m laying in the bed like ‘God help me,’ and [the nurse] looked me in the eyes and she said, ‘You’re going to live. You’re not going to die’ — and as a patient and as a healthcare professional, it was my turning point.”
Days went by and Carter remained on an oxygen machine. Slowly, she began to get better, but coming home would not be a smooth transition.
Two days before leaving the hospital, my two little sisters, 9 and 11, tested positive, and everyone was scared all over again.
With my mom still in the hospital, we didn’t know what to do.
“I was in the hospital bed and I just wanted to leave even though I couldn’t breathe,” said Carter. “I feared for my kids. I feared that they would have the same experience I had or something was going to go wrong because I wasn’t there.”
The girls remained symptom free and within a few days after my sisters tested positive, my mom was on her way home.
But with her lungs badly affected by Covid, she could not come home without an oxygen machine, and continues to use it daily.
“They don’t tell you about the after effects of Covid. It’s a whole new world, but I’m thankful that I am able to breathe. I’m thankful that I’m able to go to the bathroom and able to have oxygen when needed,” said Carter.
Over the past year, Covid has affected peoples’ lives unprecedentedly — and my family was no different.
With rising cases in New Jersey, many people have dealt with similar circumstances.
Currently, the number of positive Covid cases in New Jersey is 410,160 with 17,896 deaths and 208,900 recoveries.
It’s unpredictable, and once you have it, one can only hope to recover and hope their loved ones recover as well.
“I’ve always held my family close. They’re my life. Love [your family] everyday — talk to them, experience life with them,” said Carter.