Springtime of 2022 was approaching. It had been two years since the pandemic first began, and COVID-19 became a normal word in our vocabulary. I’d grown accustomed to hearing about people getting COVID, how they would be a bit sick, and then back to normal for a few days. I had not been infected and did not think much about the virus as much as before.
Before Ramadan, I went to my hometown to visit family and spend time with my grandparents. I saw different groups of friends and tried out the new food spots that had opened since I moved away. The morning after I returned to my home, I woke up feeling extremely weak and congested. It felt like terrible allergies, and it affected my entire body so I took an allergy pill and went back to sleep. I woke up again feeling even worse with a high temperature and barely able to get out of bed. I called out sick from work and took the next available PCR test I could find.
I spent the rest of the day in bed, thinking it was just exhaustion from a busy trip and maybe I had caught a bug in the air. Hours later, I got an email saying I tested positive. Suddenly, I realized the shortness of breath was due to a virus that had been killing people around the globe. It began to get worse, and I sat there anxiety-filled trying to calm myself down. I texted everybody I’d seen that week to let them know what happened. After they all tested themselves, I found out my sister and my best friend tested positive.
“I should have been more careful,” I told myself, filled with guilt. I stopped being as vigilant as I was at the beginning of the pandemic. I would only really wear my mask to the grocery store but not anywhere else.
I thought being a 24-year-old, fairly-healthy person would give me the tolerance to not have a rough time, even if I did catch it. I could not be more wrong. I had trouble getting up to even change my clothes. I woke up in the mornings with the worst sore throat I could ever imagine, hardly able to swallow without it hurting. Not only were the symptoms absolutely terrible, but the isolation was arguably worse.
After day three of being quarantined in my room away from all my friends and family, I had no idea how to spend my days. When I woke up in the morning, I would wonder what there was to look forward to. It was the month of Ramadan, a time for community-centered events. And here I was, not partaking in anything, just stuck in my room. Alhumdulilah, I was fortunate to build my connection with God through solitude but seeing all of the mosques open after years made it incredibly sad to still be quarantined at home.
I was grateful that my symptoms were apparent so that I did not pass the virus to even more people, especially an elder or immunocompromised individual at the mosque if I were to attend Ramadan programs. I isolated myself for 10 days instead of the mandatory five, to ensure that I would not expose anybody to the virus. Sitting in my room in constant contemplation, I vowed to wear a mask more often, get tested weekly, and continue getting boosted when the next available vaccine came out. I promised myself to do this so that neither I nor more people in my circles have to go through the physical and emotional struggles of being infected.
I learned it the difficult way: It doesn’t matter how old you are or how healthy you think you are, two years later, COVID is still very much active. As a community, I hope we can continue to be safe and take proper precautions. Don’t let your guard down, continue to stay masked, get tested, and keep updated on the booster vaccines.