What it's like to get coronavirus in New York City, from diagnosis to treatment and recovery

  • As a reporter covering the novel coronavirus, Aria Bendix prepared for the possibility she might get sick.
  • But she says she could have never prepared for how brutal the experience would be.
  • After a week of body aches and chills, she began to have trouble breathing. By day seven, she had trouble finishing a sentence without gasping for air.
  • Here, she recalls her experience battling the coronavirus in New York City.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.

Two days after New York City ordered the closing of bars, restaurants, and schools due to the coronavirus outbreak, my body started to ache.

When chills set in within 24 hours, I knew something was wrong. It felt as if I had run a marathon, then been hit by a car. I decided to self-isolate inside my apartment.

Almost a week later, I started to feel pain in my rib cage. There was a pressure, too - as if someone were squeezing my lungs like an accordion. My breathing felt heavy.Advertisement

I scheduled a virtual appointment with a doctor, who told me to go to urgent care if my symptoms worsened. By that afternoon, I was having trouble finishing a sentence without gasping for air. A trip from the bedroom to the bathroom in my small New York City apartment left me so winded that I had to sit down.

At urgent care, I was given a face mask and escorted to a waiting room. There, the doctor confirmed what I had suspected: I almost certainly had COVID-19. But the clinic wasn't administering tests.

Instead, the doctor prescribed an inhaler. Then he gave me a choice: I could be taken to the emergency room in an ambulance, or go home and try to ride the symptoms out. I went home to lie down.
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By the evening, I couldn't take the searing sensation in my ribs or the race to catch my breath any longer. I asked a friend to drive me to the ER. Both of us wore face masks.

I sat in the waiting room, alone, for about an hour. From there, I was taken to a pressure-controlled room about the size of a closet. When the doctor arrived, she told me there was nothing she could do to treat my symptoms. In fact, she added, I was an example of why young people with mild cases needed to stay home.She suggested fluids and lidocaine patches to relieve the pain along my rib cage.Advertisement

I asked what it would take for my case to no longer be considered mild - or even to warrant a test. The doctor said I would have to struggle to breathe while seated.

She told me to come back if my condition deteriorated. I could barely imagine what that would feel like.

After about another week of sleepless nights and labored breathing, I started to feel as if I could inhale normally. That was about the same time I developed a sore throat. For roughly 24 hours, I struggled to swallow food or liquid.Advertisement

By day 14 of my symptoms - the day I was supposed to no longer be contagious - the aches returned. Now it takes a few laps around the apartment to make me winded, but my body still feels as if it has been run over by a truck.

Having written about the coronavirus for three months, I know my case is far from an anomaly in New York City. But as far as the data is concerned, it doesn't exist.

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you'd like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips@businessinsider.com and tell us your story.

And get the latest coronavirus analysis and research from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting businesses.

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