‘Do not shame people that catch COVID’: 26-year-old survivor shares her journey


MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Multiple studies show coronavirus numbers are on the rise for people in their 20s.

One 26-year-old from Mathews County, Virginia, says the road to recovering from COVID-19 was quite a journey.

“At the time I caught COVID, I was staying with my grandparents to take care of my grandmother who had just fallen and fractured a rib. I was there for about a month and was getting ready to go back to my normal life when I caught COVID,” said Taylor O’Bier.

O’Bier, a former WAVY employee, says she and her parents did everything they could to prevent her grandparents from catching coronavirus. They ran errands for her grandparents, got their groceries, and prepared their meals so they didn’t have to leave their house. Then, something happened O’Bier couldn’t prevent.

“I also found out about that time that a family member who had been around me had gotten COVID.”

O’Bier’s mind raced.

“My grandma has breathing trouble as it is. My granddaddy has blood cancer. So it’s just like the two worst people to have COVID and then the place that I wanted COVID to stay away from the most was the place that I got it and it was brought into. So not only was I kind of fighting it myself, but I was scared to death that my grandfather was going to have extreme complications with it.”

Shortly after coming in contact with the family member who tested positive for coronavirus, O’Bier says she got a headache that wouldn’t go away. Then, the fever and chills started.

A first coronavirus test in July came back negative.

“Which was so crazy to me because I knew that I had it. I knew that I had been in contact with somebody. I knew that I had all the symptoms, because a week in, that’s when the fever was really bad, and the fatigue, I mean I slept, oh my gosh, I slept probably 12 hours a day. Each day was kind of crazy, zero energy. Zero appetite.”

O’Bier decided she needed to take another coronavirus test. That one came back positive.

“After about a week I was like, I’m good. This is gone. It’s out of my system. I felt really good for a day, and then the next day I woke up and that’s when I felt it deep in my chest, and it’s a very different feeling than any other congestion that I’ve had. I expected it to feel the same, but you can tell that it’s much deeper which is much more frightening obviously. What scared me the most was my shortness of breath. I remember getting up one morning and washing the dishes and that took me out of breath.”

O’Bier says she has no pre-existing medical condition. She says her colds usually only last three days and she rarely, if ever, gets wiped out by illness.

“To be 26 and to have that much difficulty with it was just very crazy to me and it’s very frightening, too, because you don’t have any control over it.”

With treatment of Tylenol and an inhaler, O’Bier’s symptoms ended after roughly two weeks. During that time, her grandfather tested positive for coronavirus. After roughly two weeks, he also made a full recovery. O’Bier’s family followed all protocols for quarantine and her grandmother never contracted the illness.

O’Bier says she has mixed feelings about coronavirus positivity numbers growing in her age group.

“It’s frustrating because I do see people that really don’t care, but I do see people that do care and are just kind of having to choose between their mental health and their physical health and also their responsibility to society.”

O’Bier has advice for those who have not been diagnosed with the virus: “Do not to shame people that catch COVID.”

She continued: “I found through my experience that there’s this weird shame with it that not a lot of people talk about, shame within yourself that you have it, but also shame from your peers and society that you have it. People look at you almost like you caught it on purpose, that you caught it because of negligence or ignorance, and that wasn’t the case in my situation.”

O’Bier says she fears that shame will prevent people those who test positive from telling others they came into contact with that they have the virus. She asks for understanding and vigilance to help stop the spread.

When O’Bier goes out, she wears a mask, she carries anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, and she constantly washes her hands. She also tries to limit how much she goes to stores. She says she does have the antibodies, but she isn’t sure how long they last, so it’s important to her to remain vigilant.

“I kind of wish more people would take it seriously and be more cautious so we can kind of get over it together, because if we kind of had that mentality from the start, we might be in a different place now.”

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