COVID-19 True Story: “I’m one of the lucky ones”

Clare Vanderbeek is a COVID-19 survivor

After returning to Maryland from an international trip, I started having symptoms of what I thought might be a cold or the flu. I thought I would quickly recover from it.

But on March 29, I started to exhibit more symptoms, including a fever, chest pressure, cough, a prolonged headache, labored breathing and loss of appetite. I scheduled a Zoom call with my primary care physician on April 6, had a test on April 7, and found out I was positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 9.

After my diagnosis, I was told to head to Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) for a CT scan of my lungs. My husband and I were scared to death, especially not knowing much about COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic. It’s hard to believe that I’m still the only one in my core group of friends and family members who has been diagnosed and has recovered from this virus.

Looking back, I’m glad I’m here to tell my story. The care that I received at AAMC was great. The staff treated me with great respect. I really felt that my care team, along with my primary care physician, cared about my wellbeing and wanted to see me recover.

On May 22, I was asked if I wanted to donate my plasma to aid in the fight against this deadly virus. I quickly said yes. I was asked about 15 to 20 antibody screening questions and on May 28, it was determined that I was able to donate.

Many close to me ask why I would want to donate. My question to them is, why not? To me, I had to donate. I’m one of the lucky ones to beat this out of hundreds of thousands of people. I have to pay it forward and help someone else. There was no way that I wasn’t going to donate. The donation process was fast and easier than I expected. Now, as an “official” plasma donor, I have to wait 55 days to donate again, and I already have my date scheduled.

It’s been three months since my diagnosis. I’m pretty much back to normal. My stamina has returned, though it took a while to get back to my pre-COVID self. My daily routines took a little longer to complete, as I would often get a little winded doing simple things like walking up stairs.

As a COVID survivor, I want to remind people of a few things as we begin to re-open. We must continue wearing masks. We must continue practicing social distancing. We must make sure that we are correctly washing and sanitizing our hands.

We need to get into these habits and be rigorous in following safety guidelines from the state and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Clare Vanderbeek, a mid-60s resident of Edgewater, Maryland, is a COVID-19 survivor.