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A Better Place



A week prior to getting a fever, I’d developed a sore throat and a runny nose. That was the seventh of March. Up until then, really, I didn’t really care about the virus. Trump told us it was never going to hit the United States. He said there were only three cases here. Why would I be one?

I work at a car dealership and a couple days after our receptionist came back from her honeymoon, she got a horrible cough. She stopped going to work. The next day, I woke up and felt like trash. I felt like I’d inhaled glue. My throat was sticky. I was coughing. Lots of migraines. Horrible migraines. There was dizziness and confusion. Sometimes I would feel fine, and then the coughing would come back. There were a couple of times I’d just be sitting on the floor hitting my inhaler.

When I cook, I don’t smell anything. So one night, I wanted to cook a chicken I’d defrosted before I got sick. My wife came downstairs, and said, “What’s that smell? The chicken has gone bad.” I couldn’t smell it. I put my nose right into it and realized I had no sense of taste or smell. I still don’t.

I called my doctor, and they asked, “Do you know three people who have it?” No. Then they said, “OK, just try to get better at home”. Through the news tags on Facebook, I saw that there were now hundreds of cases. After I found out that I couldn’t be tested, I wondered, “Who else can’t be tested? I’m really sick and I’m still not being tested.”

My work requires a positive test for me to be paid while I’m quarantined, but they don’t seem to understand that I literally will not and cannot be tested. I've had multiple episodes where I’ve been stuck laying on the floor, struggling to breathe, head pounding, and sweating like I just ran a marathon, but I can’t afford a $30,000 hospital bill to go get an oxygen mask and still not be sure whether I’ll have to spend even more on a COVID-19 bill.

Everything just kind of hit me all at once— the chills, mild fever, sore throat, and a terrible headache— and then I improved dramatically within the span of five days. Now I’m just extremely tired, especially because of my history with pneumonia, and I have to try to force myself to sleep. I’m relatively fine; lucky, even. I ended up never getting tested, but I was lucky that the virus didn’t stay in my system for long. Others aren’t as lucky. It’s shameful how we as a country are currently handling COVID-19, but I doubt there’s anything to do now but pray that the people on the other side are in a better place.

—"H."



Written by: Cam Nguyen

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