I have always believed in the legitimacy of the COVID-19 outbreak. I haven't questioned its severity or doubted its lethality in certain populations. But up until a week ago, the coronavirus was still something of a myth. Something I heard plenty about but never really directly experienced. What a difference a week can make.

Last week I tested positive for COVID-19. Something that I had only seen on the news was suddenly my new reality. I unknowingly contracted it from a co-worker and began showing symptoms last week. At first, I thought it was just an allergy flare-up. Just a light cough and some nasal congestion. But last Thursday I spiked a fever and that's when the alarm bells went off. Two co-workers then tested positive on Friday and I knew it was my turn to get tested. For those wondering, yes, the test sucks. It was a painful, eye-watering experience I don't want to soon revisit. My official results came back on Monday of this week. Positive. Welcome to the world of quarantine.

My bout with the virus itself mainly dealt with chest and head congestion, a bad fever for about three days, and the loss of taste and smell. I also still suffer from some stomach issues and I have no energy or appetite. Things have improved and I feel fortunate that I didn't get any sicker than I did. I've been fever-free for several days now and am basically just suffering from a bad cold. That and the no taste or smell thing. What a strange virus. I literally had new symptoms show up on a daily basis. It was a strange and surreal feeling to sit and watch the news each night, officially a coronavirus statistic.

Having this virus has made me aware of a few things with an extreme degree of certainty. This virus is not a hoax. It is real. It is not being exaggerated. Just talk with someone who has had it. Stop complaining about wearing masks. They help stop the spread of the virus, plain and simple. Another fact that I've come to grips with is that I admit that I let my guard down. I let the message of prevention wear me down. I got complacent. I began going out to places that perhaps I shouldn't have. It's something that a large percentage of us are guilty of. We can't let that happen. If we want to go back to living like there was not coronavirus, then we have to live differently now. Contracting this virus has made that abundantly clear. Because I have not only endangered my own life, I have endangered the health of my family. I cannot allow that. And that is on me. By the way, Holly and the kids are healthy and keeping their distance.

This is the first time in over a week that I've felt healthy enough to sit down and write something. I hope you read and hear my story and heed my warnings so it doesn't become your story. This virus is nothing to mess with. Arm yourself with the information available. Use it to keep you and your loved ones safe. Wear your mask. I'll see you all on the other side of this.