Coronavirus survivor reveals her story: “We need to put aside this individualist culture and protect the greater good of our community.” 

Editor-in-chief

COVID-19 has impacted each and every single one of people’s lives drastically, and has created a “new normal” for the next months going forward. Although the virus is frightening in theory, with its unprecedented symptoms, it means so much more when it becomes personal. LCHS graduate and JMU senior Victoria Brown was within the first ten cases in Loudoun County to test positive. 

“As a young person it’s easy to have this perspective of ‘nothing bad will happen,’” said Brown. “I cannot relate the feeling of Corona to anything. I was someone who thought this was ‘just a cold’ for young, healthy people, but it was without a doubt the most pain I have ever experienced.”

Brown’s initial symptoms began after her return from a cruise to the Bahamas, despite the fact she was certain to have followed the ship’s various safety precautions like pre- and post- health screenings. The cruise line also had increased food safety and included hand sanitizing stations everywhere. 

Just days after arriving home, Brown began experiencing intense symptoms. “I had extreme tightness of chest, constantly feeling out of breath, a deep, dry cough that made me feel like someone stuck a match in them, a stuffy nose, the worst headache I had ever experienced, eye pain and horrible body aches,” Brown said.

After roughly four weeks of complete isolation and reliance on two prescribed inhalers to reduce chest tightness and her cough, Brown began her road to recovery, although lung pain still lingered. She has now been working to get her lungs up to full capacity again and easing into normal activities, although Brown still has been unable to take full breaths.

“Please follow the recommended guidelines by the true doctors and experts and please take this seriously,” mother Connie Brown shared. “Myself and Victoria’s father were potentially exposed, but neither one of us experienced any symptoms. Parents, protect your babies as best as you can. Although we were fortunate nothing bad happened, it is unimaginable the feelings of what could follow.” 

The US has now surpassed over one million cases with the death toll exceeding nearly sixty-thousand, at the time of this writing, yet states like South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee are days away from reopening, which has sparked a political debate on whether it is necessary to reopen so soon. Hospitals across the country are low in every needed supply according to an NBC News report, which is based on interviews with administrators from 324 hospitals and hospital networks of varying sizes. Germs are being heavily spread in grocery stores due to the cloud of aerosol particles carrying Corona, which can remain in the air for several minutes after someone infected coughs or sneezes; as stated by Ville Vuorinen, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Aalto University in an interview with ‘Live Science.’ Experts have continuously warned that the spike in cases America will witness if the country does undergo reopening too quickly, will be devastating.

“I think it’s a slap in the face to all health care workers who are working tirelessly to save lives and prevent the spreading of the virus,” said Brown. “Even though the ‘average person’ may not be most at risk to die, we have got to put aside this individualist culture and protect the greater good of our community. Testing is imperative and reopening should not be an option until we have adequate equipment.”

This experience has substantially altered Brown on her perspective both from being sick and being a member of the community. She also emphasised the great importance in mental health during this dark time along with staying fit. Keeping your brain acclimated to its routine is key while we are in isolation from the world, although it is vital to remember one exposure is all it takes to put yourself or someone you love at risk.

“I had my senior year abruptly ended too, which has made me realize how quickly things you love can be ripped away without warning,” said Brown. “That applies to loved ones as well. It has also made me appreciate my friends, family, and community to a greater degree than before, as I do not think I would have survived three weeks of complete isolation without everyone’s love and support.”

“Overall, I have grown a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for the life I have and the people in it,” said Brown.