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When I Had COVID I Not Only Felt Sick, I Felt Shame

Updated: May 2

by Dr. Jen Caudle

At the beginning of the pandemic, I didn't leave the house for a month. I was terrified. I had food and supplies delivered to my house, I spent my days glued to the news, I was reporting on COVID 24/7 and I was seeing my patients through telemedicine. I saw no one and I got exercise by walking the halls of my condo building. Extreme? Yes. But I was scared. I was afraid of getting covid.

As time went on I continued to preach the importance of social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccinations. When I was able to get vaccinated (I have both Moderna vaccines and the first booster, but at the time of this article wasn't eligible for the 2nd booster yet), I did so with gusto and excitement.

Two years went by and then it finally happened to me. I got covid. I'm no more special than the millions of people around the world who have had it, but for some reason getting covid hit me pretty hard- physically and mentally.

In March 2022, I came down with a sore throat, fatigue, and nasal congestion and thought, "Uh oh, this must be a cold/flu/bronchitis...." I didn't even consider covid as the culprit. I took 2 home covid tests just to make sure and as I had suspected, they were both negative.

Something, however, told me to do a 3rd covid test just to make sure. I was planning on doing a Facebook LIVE 24 hours after my 2nd neg covid test anyway to talk about my symptoms and demonstrate how to do a home covid test so this ended up being the perfect opportunity to take my 3rd test.

I had no qualms about doing my 3rd test LIVE on Facebook because I just knew it wouldn't be positive. I mean, how could it be? (*Insert sarcasm*)

Little did I know what was about to happen. It never occurred to me that the test could turn up positive but that's just what happened. The whole astonishing moment was caught on camera:

After spewing expletives, feeling shocked, and sitting through an uncomfortable silence (while LIVE on Facebook) I started settling into my diagnosis. The next few weeks were pretty tough, and even though I was double-vaxxed and boosted I still had moderate symptoms. (To hear about my symptoms and my crazy food cravings during my illness watch this video, this video, and this video.)

One of the hardest parts about being sick was not just feeling physically ill (which I did for a long time), but feeling a sense of shame. I was embarrassed about my covid diagnosis. I felt resentment and was "angry" at covid. It's not that I didn't think I could get covid- I knew that I could. I just hadn't considered that I actually would get covid. I had done my best to follow covid prevention methods and I preached them every day on the news, to my patients, and on social media. Perhaps I felt that all of this would have somehow shielded me from getting it- and it did for 2 years. But that changed.

We talk about the physical toll that covid takes on our bodies, but I wish there was more talk about the emotional toll- the sadness, frustration, anger, fear, resentment and so much else. I've come to realize that some actually feel relieved by getting covid. I, on the other hand, felt shame, anger, and resentment I felt. Luckily as my physical symptoms improved (which took almost a month), my emotions improved as well. Since my covid illness, I've talked to many others who've admitted to feeling the same. Have you felt this way? Let me know.

No matter what, just know that you're not alone, regardless of what you feel. Also, know that we'll all get through this together.

Love, Dr. Jen

Dr. Jen Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician, Associate Professor at Rowan University, on-air health expert, and video creator. Sign up to receive Dr. Jen's Daily Health Tips to get daily emails (Mon-Fri) with health information you can use to live a healthier life. Follow her on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

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