Overcoming COVID -19 sickness and guilt
Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.
IT was Aimee Harrison’s worst nightmare, reading the word ‘positive’ in a text message from the health department. She had become Ararat’s latest COVID-19 case.
The Ararat resident still doesn’t know how she caught the virus three weeks ago, with no links to any exposure sites, but her infection was enough to close her workplace, Ararat Early Learning Centre, and force staff and families into 14 days isolation.
“I felt sick for days after I got the message, just to think that it affected all my work family,” she said.
Ms Harrison was released from home quarantine on Sunday, marking the end of an emotional two weeks that thankfully resulted in no further cases linked to the centre.
She first woke on Sunday, October 3, with mild cold symptoms that she said could have even been considered as hay fever - slowly fading during her two weeks at home.
“I got tested on the Sunday about 11am and then isolated until I got my results, which didn't come through until about three o'clock on the Tuesday. It was a long couple of days waiting,” she said.
The outcome was nauseating, sending Ms Harrison into panic mode while she retraced her steps to contact tracers and began to understand what the implications were.
She said it was all made more difficult by the sudden community attention and public scrutiny that at times, lacked compassion and empathy.
“I had to stop myself from looking on Facebook for a little while because it was quite upsetting to see the comments that people were making,” she said.
“At the end of the day, the cases are people - we're not cases, we're real people.”
Ms Harrison said she was apprehensive to return to work this week after so much small-town gossip about her infection.
“I'll always be that person that shut down the Early Learning Centre for two weeks which has probably been something that I've struggled with,” she said.
However, the amount of support, love and care that Ms Harrison received by phone and deliveries has been overwhelming reminder of the community’s kindness.
“The [Ararat Early Learning Centre] staff, and Kerri [Turner] in particular, have been a fantastic support and checking in on me daily. I can't wait to get back and see them and the kids, I have missed them,” she said.
She also thanked staff at East Grampians Health Service who checked in twice daily to see how she was travelling.
Ms Harrison urges everyone who has any signs and symptoms to get tested, and to remember that behind every COVID-19 case number is an unwell person who is coming to terms with the diagnosis themselves.