After two weeks of coronavirus self-isolation, Yerevan resident Karineh Avetisyan returned home on June 16.
20-year-old Karineh was infected with coronavirus and never sought hospital treatment.
She had gone to Vanadzor with her cousin Gayaneh for a short vacation. She assumes she caught the virus from relatives there.
Her cousin had symptoms – cough, weakness, fever. They went to the Vanadzor polyclinic, where Gayaneh was tested. Karineh wasn’t because she had no symptoms.
Gayaneh was taken to Vanadzor Infectious Diseases Hospital, and Karineh returned to Yerevan. Because she was in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus, she decided to self-isolate in order not to infect family members. She stayed at her aunt’s home, where no one lives.
On May 29, after returning from Vanadzor, Karineh started having Covid-19 symptoms. She had a temperature of 37.5, followed by a loss of taste and smell. She started coughing. Scared that she might have pneumonia, she called the paramedics and her local Yerevan polyclinic.
Karineh was tested for the coronavirus on June 1 and two days later the diagnosis was positive. Doctors prescribed antipyretics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Karineh describes her self-isolation conditions.
“It was harder at night. I felt unbearably lonely and helpless because, usually, at night my temperature went up more and more, and I felt quite uncomfortable. I had to stay awake if something suddenly happened to me,” Karineh says,
Every day Karineh’s mother brought her food, leaving it at the door.
“I talked to my mother via video call. It’s was quite emotional, seeing my room, the pictures hanging on the wall. It all made me cry. I realized how much this disease makes you appreciate and long for your former life, your home and room, and having morning coffee with your sister,” says Karineh.
She always tried to follow safety rules when the epidemic just started to spread, always wearing a protective mask and gloves. None of this spared her from being infected.
Karineh felt weak for several days, wanting to sleep constantly. Then, she couldn’t sleep comfortably due to shortness of breath. She feared to suffocate.
“Taking my temperature became a part of my daily routine, I woke up and immediately took my temperature. The solitude became more unbearable. I kept ticking off the days on the calendar. The passing days, hours, and minutes seemed unending. I kept counting the days to the end of my fourteen days of isolation.”
Relatives tried their best to cheer her up. Karineh’s friend Anahit, who lives in Kajaran, learned that she was infected and came to Yerevan to offer moral support. She bought Karineh her favorite food, leaving it at the door. Karineh’s gets emotional recalling her friend’s help.
The next day after getting tested, Karineh was scheduled to take an online English language test. She got in touch with the teacher and told him she was not feeling well that she had contracted the virus and couldn’t take the test.
The lecturer immediately called Karineh, advising her to drink tea, eat foods rich in vitamins, not to panic and to concentrate her efforts on fighting the virus. Karineh was surprised and by her teacher’s concern for her health.
Karineh’s spirits were somewhat lifted when she heard that her cousin Gayaneh had been discharged from the hospital. She had been successfully treated for the disease.
June 16, when she returned home, was one of the happiest days of Karineh’s life.
But she remained uneasy a bit. She knew that those coming out of self-isolation weren’t tested. Thus, she couldn’t say for sure if she was a carrier or not. How should she behave at home, surrounded by her family? She didn’t know whether to hug them or not.
To be safe, after returning home Karineh immediately disinfected all surfaces she touched. She doesn’t sit right next to other family members and still periodically takes her temperature.
Karineh says it will take months for people like her, those who have recovered from the virus, to get back to normal life.
“Once being infected, with all the cells in your body, you realize there’s nothing more valuable than your health,” she says.