I mentioned to my husband, back in the first week of March, that I'd had a weird minor sore throat for a few days

By Sue R

I mentioned to my husband, back in the first week of March, that I'd had a weird minor sore throat for a few days – he said, that's weird, my throat's been bothering me too.

We played out in the snow for hours, and that night I stayed late working outside – I got way too cold, and barely slept. When I woke up, I realized, oh my God, I am struggling to breathe. My chest hurt with every breath.

I was like, no, it can't be. No way. Our community had no reported cases, and we're real isolated (rural Alaska).

Still, I was like, okay, this is happening, we've got to do the right thing. So I called my husband home from work that morning. He didn't go back for over eight weeks.

It was so strange – like zero to sixty in ten. I had a sore throat, and then suddenly I had full-blown viral pneumonia, just overnight.

The next few days, my breathing got worse, and more painful – deep, sharp pain, deep in my lungs with every breath. I was tired and spent a lot of that time in bed. My husband was sick but said he wasn't as bad as me (could've been a lie to get me to rest).

We initially were afraid to report it, because we were afraid that if we tested positive, they'd take our kids. But our kids were obviously sick too (my baby's chest was crackly under my hands), so we started making calls to the state health authority. Got laughed at, told there was no way. Great. I kept calling – I felt like it was our duty to alert the community, but no one wanted to listen, or no one who did listen had the ability to do anything about it. We hadn't had a fever, hadn't traveled – so we couldn't get a test.

The breathing got more painful, more difficult. Thankfully I'd panicked and bought a little pulse oxygen finger thing a month before, so we were able to track how bad our breathing really was, for the whole family – luckily, although our numbers dropped, we felt comfortable staying out of the ER.

I sat up and finished a project on my computer, in case I didn't make it. I found out I was pregnant, not planned. That was scary. I felt great sometimes, and then gasping for breath hours later. And regardless, pain with every breath.

When I felt better, I'd cook, and get so frustrated that all my cooking was tasteless. So bizarre – I could still register salty and sweet, and I could feel the outside of my lips burning as I poured on more and more chili powder... but nothing else. My nose was perfectly clear, too. I even wrote an Amazon review for some new hot sauce, saying, “wow, so mild and strange and sweet!” Ha. That while part was truly bizarre, like nothing in my experience.

Eventually, after a week or two, it turned into bronchitis, and then just into a cough, and then eight weeks later I was better, and then I miscarried our baby. Who can say why?

The whole time I was sick, I'd noticed I'd developed this strange, flip-flopping, bubbling sensation in the center of my chest – it would happen for a few seconds at a time, and I'd feel really odd all over. I assumed it was a pregnancy symptom, but it's been three months since the miscarriage and the intermittent bubbling in my heart is still there. I'm guessing it's Afib or something – something isn't quite right with my heart.

I keep thinking I'm having an allergic reaction – I have a number of food allergies – I keep struggling to breathe after I eat. It took me a while to put it together that I can't breathe because my full stomach is compressing my now-compromised lungs. Sometimes I have trouble catching my breath at ordinary times but mostly I notice it after I eat. That's new, too.

One last thing I want to share for these numbskulls who think this is nothing – my youngest child, now a toddler, wheezes and gasps when he plays and laughs and rough-houses with his brother. I keep grabbing him, telling him to rest, until he can catch his breath – is this what his lungs will be like forever? It's been five months... He wasn't even that sick. The kids never stopped playing.

People are so used to infections being “harmless” because we've developed vaccines or cures for all the really harmful ones. Mumps makes you lose your hearing, but nobody cares anymore about that. Strep throat used to give people heart disease before we had antibiotics. That's what killed Beth in “Little Women!” People forget. People are so frustrating. In my little town, people get on Facebook and rail against the city's protective measures, saying it's going to cripple our town... I wish they could listen to my son play.

Thanks for letting me share. I hope this project helps!