E.M., 54, a PR specialist in Hong Kong

What a roller coaster ride through this pandemic – both emotionally and physically!!! March 6 – my husband and I flew to US to meet our daughters for Spring Break. This was a last minute decision because if they were to come back to Hong Kong they would have to undergo the mandatory 14-days quarantine before returning to their junior boarding school after Spring Break. So we decided to take them to Orlando and Atlanta for those 2.5 weeks holiday. Being a big kid, my husband insisted on visiting every roller coaster ride at Epcot, Universal Studio, And Disney World. We abandoned our mask in the hotel since nobody in the US wore masks. I already felt very nervous especially we had to wait in congested line for the rides and I was sure those seat belts and seats were never disinfected. I said to myself “how I wish all these theme parks are locked down so we don’t have to risk our lives”.

I can vividly remember a couple waiting in line for eh Harry Potter ride inside the steeple with spiral staircase was coughing like a dog. I kept giving disinfectant hand gel to my kids and asked them to cover their nose and eyes. I was sure it was here that my husband and I caught the covid virus.

On March 10 during our third theme park visit, I woke up with a pounding headache. I had chills after having breakfast. Worse was we found out online that our elder daughter got waitlisted to one of the two high schools she applied to. My husband and I were so worried about her emotions but insisted that we distract her with the theme park visit. Since she wouldn’t find out the result from her school of first choice until 5 pm that same day, she was so depressed being waitlisted. She even kept saying “I felt like such a loser” the entire day. Meanwhile my entire body was aching and I had no appetite for lunch. I bought a pack of Tylenol and took two pills. More rides after lunch and I started feeling nauseous. No mask still. Only hand gel in my pocket. I kept worrying not so much about my health but whether my daughter will get into that high school. At 4:59 pm we went online while lining up for the ET ride…. and what a relief when we saw the word “Congratulations“! We celebrated that evening but I totally lost my appetite.

The next day my husband and I played golf in the morning and I experienced shortness of breath for the first time in my life. Being a long distance runner, I have never had that strange feeling of having to gasp for air. Then I started coughing in the afternoon. I laid in bed the entire evening and kept taking Tylenol every four hours while reading stories of covid19 victims online.

My husband started coughing and having chills the next day while I felt better. I ended up taking my girls to Epcot Centre myself while I should have rested in the hotel. The biggest mistake was going on the NASA ride. The quick anti gravity ascent got me dizzy and nauseous. Although I didn’t have to use the puke bag, I couldn’t even walk straight afterwards. At dinner I felt the chills again and didn’t eat anything.

We went to Atlanta on March 15. Both my husband and I started coughing but luckily we didn’t have fever. All of us wore masks at the airport and were being looked down upon as aliens. What was supposedly a golf vacation with four rounds turned into a stay home trip where my husband and I laid on bed all day watching CNBC and occasionally the contrasting Fox News while the kids entertained themselves with social media. Every meal was eaten in our villa. I had never felt so weak. Tylenol and Vitamin C every four hours and lots of water.

I always have better immune system than my husband especially during travelling. I regained my energy on March 22. We managed to scramble for a flight back to Hong Kong via San Francisco instead of having to go back to New York on March 24 where covid19 cases were on the rise. I managed to recover just in time before the long haul flight but my husband was in pain. He wore his mask the entire way and tries not to cough during those 15 hours. We managed to pass immigration back home and couldn’t wait to get home.

The mandatory 14 days home quarantine was a blessing. While I was fully recovered having lost 3 kg over the previous week, my husband was bed ridden for a week luckily on our own bed. He refused to be tested even with a fever on day 2 and 3. He had lost 4 kg since mid March with total loss of appetite and abstinence from alcohol (we are wine lovers). Tylenol, Vit C and water were his cure. The biggest blessing was our kids were fine.

I told everyone we had mild Covid symptoms but looking back it was the most painful ailment I have ever experienced. Moral of the story is – Do not underestimate the severity of this pandemic. Protect yourself and your loved ones. Practise social distancing. Take Vitamin C and do exercise daily to boost your immunity. Don’t wait till you are on the sick bed to realise how important family and friends are to you. Stay appreciative and connected at all times.

[submitted on 4/30/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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