One month ago today was the first day Paul had symptoms of Covid. Jordan’s came three days later. Here’s our journey.
We followed it very closely since it began in Wuhan. As it spread, we knew it would reach France (France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – in particular for Chinese tourists). It soon arrived on European and French soil. Separately we both realized we would get sick at some point, in part because of how big of a hub Paris is. It also doesn’t help that Paris is as dense a city as it is. It is a city of 12 million, and just in our district, we have 55,000 people – in one square mile. It is nearly impossible to avoid interaction with people once you leave your home. France does have some delivery services, though not like you do in the States (France’s are not always reliable or even available), so it is absolutely necessary to leave your home from time to time. In fact just this week (the week of April 13), Amazon France was forced to shut down all non-essential delivery, to keep their factory and delivery workers safe. The postal service has also cut down all deliveries – mail and packages – to three times a week due to the virus and the safety of their workers. Though these two examples are a cause of the virus, it shows that in general, and especially at critical times like these, France will sacrifice certain relied-upon services to protect the lives of their people.
Once the virus landed in France, we were careful and avoided unnecessary interactions with people when and where we could. We took the lock-down seriously. We didn’t go out, unless it was to get necessary groceries or go to the pharmacy. No restaurants, no seeing friends (even from a distance), no going for walks, just because the weather is nice or we’re feeling ‘cooped-up.’ Literally nothing. We took to sitting in the sun in our living room a couple days a week, during the 1 hour of direct sunlight we get in our apartment. We took up lunges, because, well, a 500 square-foot apartment doesn’t allow for much more than that.
So with all our precautions, how did we get Covid? Because I can say with all certainty, we were rule-followingly cautious.
We thought we would eventually get the virus. There would be necessary trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. Well, it very well could have unknowingly come from one of those trips. But we suspect it came from one single man, walking alone on a street, who decided to cough in Paul’s face with no regard or concern for the pandemic.
On March 12 Paul had a work meeting just across the river. By March 12th, people in Paris were already on high-alert. Hundreds were already sick, but we didn’t have any official restrictions in place yet. While walking home behind Notre Dame, Paul found himself alone on the street, save one person. He was walking toward him. This street is normally littered with dozens of pedestrians, and even more cars. The two were nearing each other, as normal, no signs of sickness in either. Just as they approached each other, mere feet away, the man lets out a hacking cough, right in Paul’s face. And of course he made no attempt to cover his mouth. We know now, upon writing this, how easy it is for an aerosolised virus like Covid to spread – even in open air outside.
Paul quickly held his breath, spat over the bridge, and washed his face immediately upon returning home, with the small hope that whatever potential virus particles that were sprayed onto him could hopefully be washed off or avoided.
No such luck.
We fast-forward 9 days, and Paul wakes up in the middle of the night from his own coughing. Directly into Jordan’s face. Jordan’s cough starts just three days later.
Our symptoms started with a terrible, uncontrollable dry cough and intense tightness in our chests, with difficulty breathing as our airways felt restricted. Our breathing never got so bad that we felt we needed hospital attention, though neither of us had ever experienced something like this before. The cough for Paul lasted just about two weeks, and Jordan’s is still persisting (though tapering off daily). Paul developed pneumonia, and his breathing and lung capacity is noticeably worse than before getting sick. It is something that we hope and pray will get better, but are unsure how much damage was done to his lungs, and how much they can recover. Jordan is suspected of having pneumonia, but if she does/did, it wasn’t as bad or as obvious as Paul’s. Her breathing still feels restricted at times.
As of today, we feel like we’re past the point of anything taking a turn for the worse. We thankfully did not need hospitalisation. Soon after we started experiencing symptoms, we reached out to a friend and nurse who works in the south-east region of France. Upon consulting with her, she confirmed the suspicion of pneumonia in Paul, and continued to monitor us virtually. She affirmed what was told to us by the government – unless you’re in dire need of medical attention, stay home. So we did. We are incredibly thankful for this nurse and her generosity and care in looking after us.
If we could end with one request, it would be this: please, please, take this seriously. Though we had moderate cases of covid, we have friends who have had loved ones die from this already. The stay-at-home orders are not impeding on your freedom. Let’s try, as a society, to think of others. These restrictions are there to ensure you have freedom (and life) when this is all over. They are there to protect our medical care workers, so they don’t get overrun with patients with the virus. They’re there to help to keep them healthy, so when more get sick, they can help. So they can help you. So as inconvenient as this is, and it is (we get it – France is more locked-down than the US), let’s just keep each other safe, so we don’t have to say goodbye to loved ones just yet.