By Namgay Zam
27-year-old Kunzang Wangmo who was the first Bhutanese to post about being COVID-19 positive talks to me about her experience. She is currently in the US. We are both happy to share that she is now fully recovered! These are her thoughts:
Q: How long has it been since you tested positive? Did you do the test at a hospital? Were you showing symptoms?
A: I was tested on March 25th and received the result on the 31st, but I had started showing symptoms about a week before. At first the symptoms I had were normal – cough, nausea, fever, just like general flu symptoms. After getting chest pain and shortness of breath, I decided to go get tested. I did the test at a private clinic. I didn’t go to any hospitals because I felt like you’ll be more likely to spread it to others or you’ll get it from there. There’s no in-between if you have these symptoms and you haven’t gotten tested.
Q. What was your first reaction when you tested positive?
A. I was absolutely terrified. I felt like all of the energy from my body had been drained. My first thought was of my sister and two other friends who I had direct contact while I was having minor symptoms when I thought it was flu. The worst part was thinking “How am I going to tell people I know that I tested positive.” I think from that moment on I started to have anxiety attacks.
Q. How are you feeling now?
A. I feel lot better and healthier now, thank you. It took three weeks to fully recover.
Q. How are you coping day to day? How are you taking care of yourself?
A. I start my day with 20 mins of prayer and end my day with 10 mins of yoga. I have completely stopped watching the news and looking at all those apps where we get news from our screen. I think this is the perfect time for us to reflect on ourselves. I am also giving my body full rest every night. 8 or 9 hours sleep is so much better than anything else. Second, I eat healthy food like fruits and greens a lot and third, I’m doing breathing exercises, which has actually helped me a lot. I know a lot of people are taking daily supplements but I’m not taking any except for vitamin-c, but it’s good if you are taking supplements.
Q. How do you remain positive?
A. For me, talking with my family back home and getting mental support is the most amazing thing in the world. I’m not taking anything too personally and am accepting the situation as it is. I’m also limiting negative media and entertainment for sure. Since I like drawing a lot, I have been drawing lately. Mainly I’m mentally re-framing the situation like instead of thinking “why do bad things keep happening to me?” I try to instead think “how can I take control?” We should consider our roles in our own circumstance.
Q. What’s your message to Bhutanese in the US? And your message to Bhutanese here?
A. I know the situation we are facing right now is breaking us down and I know we are all scared, but we can fight back just by not discouraging each other. Keep the negative news out of your mind and think positively. Let’s keep track of how many people made it instead of keeping track of people who couldn’t. At this point we are serving our country simply by keeping distance from each other and washing our hands, so let’s do it. How far you keep your distance from your loved ones is how much you love them.