I had big plans for this week. I could hear sweet freedom calling my name. My antibodies would surely allow me at least a week or two free from the worry of COVID.

We were going to the thrift store of course. The boy and I had already planned out all of the things we would look for. A cement mixer truck. A crane. A big tractor with a bucket. We were going to Limrock where we would fish in the ponds and hunt for wolves and cougars in the woods (We’ve been watching a lot of Mountain Men.)

Maybe we’d drive down to the Birmingham Zoo. Shoot, we might just keep driving south and hit the beach. Okay. We weren’t going to the beach, but when you have been cooped up for weeks anything seems possible when you smell freedom coming.

By last Friday, which was 15 days after I first had symptoms, I still had a cough and I really wanted to be sure I couldn’t give the virus to anyone else before I really hit the town. So I got another swab.

I cooked my dinner early on Monday and cleaned up all the dishes so we would be ready to roll on Tuesday morning. Then I called the doctor’s office just to make sure my test was negative, but it was still positive, and my heart sank. What does this mean I asked? Can I still give it to people? Should I not be around anyone? Should I get retested? But there were no definitive answers, so I’m left to use my own best judgement. I’ll err on the side of caution. The outside world will have to wait.

I’ve thought to myself a million times how strange it is that I ended up getting COVID when it seems to be really declining around here and I had been especially careful the two weeks before I got it. I think my husband brought it home from work. Maybe God just wanted me to know what all the fuss was about.

From my own experience though, I can sure see how this thing spiraled out of control with no real measures put in place to stop it and everything basically being left up to the individual. I tested negative with rapid tests twice. Once, when I was swabbed at the same time as I was swabbed for the PCR test, which came back positive. This leads me to believe that many people probably only have the rapid test and take that for the gospel and head right on out into the world, because really I was not so sick that I couldn’t have functioned in the work place or at the grocery store. I had one day of terrible body aches and one day-long head ache that kept me on the couch and other than that I just had fatigue in the beginning. There was nothing physically to keep me at home, other than the fact that I really don’t want to get anyone else sick and I want this thing to be over with.

Obviously I could drone on and on and about how this entire thing should be handled differently, but I’ll spare you.

I have a lingering cough that only seems to be getting worse. It’s not the cough that is so bad. It’s the headache that immediately follows it. Sometimes I have to stop and grab on to the nearest thing just to make it through the throbbing pain, which only lasts a few seconds but is brutal.

I hate this. I don’t know how long this cough will last. I don’t know how long I will test positive.

And yet, I am a lucky one. I am not among the more than 500,000 Americans who lost their lives to this virus. I’m still here to hug my babies and mop the kitchen floor. So, I’ll try to fight the feeling of helplessness and embrace the fact that someday life will go on.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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