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INTERVIEW: One mom’s experience with COVID-19

As a mom of 4, I find myself obsessed with all things related to COVID-19. For months now, I have been panic watching the news as the spread of  coronavirus continues.  I worry about my family and wonder what I would do if one of my children contracted the virus. I’m doing my best social distancing, disinfecting our space, wearing face masks and monitoring my kids for any signs of illness. But what happens if I become sick? 

When a parent becomes sick, the family may face its own set of challenges. This is why I reached out to a fellow mom friend, Monica, who is recovering from COVID-19 and agreed to share her experience with Culturas. 

Monica wears a mask.

I met Monica years ago in the blogger/influencer space and immediately liked her. She was funny and knowledgeable. Her blog and social media posts showed well-researched reviews and calls-to-action on community issues.  While getting to know her, I quickly realized she said what she meant and meant what she said. She was a breath of fresh air in the industry. You knew that if she liked a product or a movie, it was the truth. She didn’t sugarcoat anything, and her audience knew she wouldn’t compromise her integrity just for likes and follows. When I chatted with her one Saturday morning about her experience with COVID-19, she talked about her experience with the same intensity, knowledge and honesty she would give to a product review.

Culturas: First off, Monica, how you are feeling today? 

Monica: I have learned to go day by day and today is so far so good. I’ll take it.

Culturas: Do you know how you contracted COVID-19?

Monica: Folks may know me as a writer on my blog, but I also work in healthcare serving in a managerial position.  I am around sick people, but also around people who may be infected, but may not be exhibiting symptoms. This is what’s worrisome about the virus: folks can still spread the virus to others without knowing they have it.

Culturas: Since the start of the epidemic, each new day seems to bring new symptoms being discovered. Although there are a variety of symptoms (some common, some rare) of COVID-19, can you share the symptoms you had?

Monica: Sure, people who contract coronavirus have a variety of symptoms and some none at all. When my symptoms started, they didn’t appear too worrisome. In the beginning I started to feel run down, had some muscle aches and a headache that just wouldn’t go away. 

I felt extreme fatigue and my symptoms continued to worsen. I had flu-like symptoms, had no appetite and an unrelenting fever. I even lost my sense of taste and smell. 

The next day I was tested for the virus with a nose swab, and days later the test results came back positive. I had COVID-19.

Culturas: Quarantine is keeping a person who has been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. When you were confirmed with COVID-19, what was quarantine like for you? 

Monica: I didn’t wait for the confirmation to start self-quarantine. I needed to avoid being close to my husband and our son. I started immediately by staying in my bedroom, having my own plate, utensils, towels, etc. I knew to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet. However, the virus completely wiped me out and I slept through most days. 

Culturas: As moms, when we are sick, we may still get up and keep the house together. As a mom, what did you learn about being sick with COVID-19 that may be different?

Monica: COVID-19 is different. It was unlike any illness I had before. I share my personal story to educate others that this is not the common cold or flu. This virus is serious. It can spread readily from person to person. We are still learning about it, but if someone in your family gets the coronavirus, you’re supposed to quarantine that person and avoid direct contact with them as much as possible, which is exactly what I did. In the days that followed, my husband did the day-to-day support with our son and home.

Culturas: Most moms have a hard time asking for or accepting help. We need to let friends and family support us. We are so good at helping others but not the best at letting others help us. Without putting anyone else at risk, perhaps friends and family can be supportive by going to the grocery store and leaving food to fill your fridge. Or, if possible, giving them tasks that you don’t have the energy to deal with.

More importantly, try and cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to let things go and be honest and say that you need help with day-to-day tasks. 

That’s it, I have no question, just on my soapbox!

Culturas: As we await more COVID-19 treatments and an eventual vaccine, can you share some of the treatment options you received that were currently available to you?

Monica: There isn’t a vaccine or well-studied medications specific to COVID-19, so like most patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, medical professionals are treating symptoms. Quarantining yourself, practicing disinfecting techniques and using supportive medications like fever medications, resting, and drinking fluids are the basics. 

Culturas: Now that we are months into COVID-19, we are learning about life after COVID-19 and some lingering symptoms. How has life been following your illness?

Monica: Well, we know the vast majority of folks make a complete recovery and don’t need any extra care or support. For some folks like me, life is not so normal anymore. I have post COVID-19 brain fog. I also have memory loss, which is really bothersome since I was the kind of person who remembered everything. Now, I’m forgetting simple things like where my keys are, locker combinations and passwords.

Months later I’m still not 100%.  I have been doing a lot of research and reading about the virus. Some of the research shows that traces of the virus could persist in the body even after complete recovery and this appears to be the case for me. Besides memory loss, I am still experiencing symptoms, such as fatigue. I want to be a part of what researchers study, so I signed up with a prominent university to be part of their research. If studying me can help somebody else, that’s important to me. 

Culturas: Anything else we may have missed? Any final words?

Monica wears a mask.

Monica: (laughs) I always have plenty to say, but I guess my final words would be to reiterate that we’ve never seen this specific virus before. There’s no immunity in the population yet like we have with other illnesses, so we need to continue to listen to the experts. Sure, most people who contract COVID-19 may not get as ill as I did or for as long as I did, but some actually need to be hospitalized and many, sadly, have passed away. There’s just so much we still need to learn about the virus but until then, we need to be practicing physical distancing, wear masks and do good hand washing. These are currently some of our best bets at decreasing the spread.

This virus is real. It sucks and people around the world are dying from it. Please stay home if you can, but if you have to leave, cover up with a mask. Our doctors and healthcare professionals still don’t have enough PPE, so I recommend cloth masks. You can keep the culture alive wearing them, too.

We all NEED to do our part to prevent the growing spread. If we all do our part, then we can eventually help this come to an end and hopefully resume our lives.

Culturas: Life is fragile, and this virus can take lives. We are thankful to you, Monica, for sharing your experience.

About the author:

Sonia Smith-Kang is an AfroLatina and proud military brat born in Puerto Rico, then stationed on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. She is an expert and advocate in the multicultural space where she brings her rich heritage into everything she does. A community activist, Sonia serves as President of Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC), a non-profit organization that supports multiracial families, transracial adoptees and allies. She is the founder and designer of Mixed Up Clothing, an ethnic-inspired children’s fashion brand that celebrates global diversity and inclusion. Sonia is co-founder of Culturas and Mixed Heritage Day, both providing a diverse and inclusive space for community building. 

Additionally, Sonia holds a BS in Nursing from the University of San Francisco 

She is a wife and busy mom of 4 based in Los Angeles.

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