When Rebecca Roozendaal lost her voice in August, she didn’t give it too much of a second thought at first.
After all, the Brandonite loses her voice once or twice a year.
When her eldest of two sons said he had a sore throat, she decided to play it safe and go in for a COVID-19 test, and they both ended up testing positive.
Several months after recovering, Roozendaal said she is still uncertain as to how they contracted the virus. She also doesn’t understand why her husband and six-year-old son didn’t test positive.
"COVID doesn’t wave a red flag warning you it’s there," she said, adding the vast majority of those to get it weren’t at some "wild party" or "crazy" family gathering.
"We are talking a microscopic presence."
Her husband was stuck at home after receiving a surgery that required a six-week healing time frame. Their two kids joined him at home, since everything was closed.
"I was the only one going out, and it was only to work, the grocery store, the gas bar and a pet store," she said.
"Every time I went, I wore a mask; I had hand sanitizer in the truck, I sometimes wore gloves."
She said she has always taken the pandemic seriously, never fell for the commonly shared misinformation that it was "just the flu," and even experienced mild panic attacks while shopping at the grocery store.
During the family’s quarantine, they passed the time watching TV and playing video games.
Roozendaal said that in addition to losing her voice, she experienced diarrhea, tiredness and an hour-long period in which she felt short of breath.
"Each symptom lasted for about three days and then went away, with the exception of loss of taste and smell, and being tired," Roozendaal said, adding the loss of taste and smell lasted for months, while tiredness lasted for weeks.
Although her family made it through to the other side relatively unscathed and are among the majority of those who have contracted the virus to have done so, Roozendaal said their story is not one she has heard very often.
While she clarified she by no means wants to dismiss the realities of those more adversely impacted by COVID-19, her family’s story and others like it are also part of the equation.
"I have experienced enough surprise by other people when I mention that I have had it and am fine that I thought it might be a good idea to start a page where everyone can show their experiences," she said.
Last week, this thought materialized into a Facebook page called "Covid Survivors."
"I think there is so much importance, especially now, in community," she said
"I would like it if the ‘Covid Survivors’ page was not just an exchange of stories — not just support — but also a place people felt free to share their information, share their concerns, voice their opinions and possibly meet others of the same mind who are interested in solutions and working together."
One area she wants to explore is the idea of stigmatization.
It’s not only those who were careless or didn’t follow the rules who got COVID-19, she said.
"My family absolutely followed them, and we got COVID anyway."
When her eldest son entered a new school in September, she told him to not tell people he had previously tested positive for COVID-19 out of concern for how they might respond, even though public health had long since cleared him to return to class.
"By December, he had met enough people and felt confident enough that when it came up in class, he mentioned that he had had it," she said.
"A few kids moved their chairs away from him, partially joking, but then they were asking him all sorts of questions, and were only reassured by the fact that he had had it several months earlier."
The stigmatization appears to be more about fear of contracting the virus than of people having anything against those who have had it, Roozendaal said.
Another part of understanding the pandemic is the economic and mental health-related hardships government regulations and shutdowns have created, she added — another area she hopes to hash out with others online.
"I think it’s important to support each other emotionally, to support our medical community, to support our small businesses," she said.
"I’d like to see it, overall, as a recovery space."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB