Courtesy of Natalie Bonilla
As Los Angeles begins to open up beaches, hiking trails, and small businesses, more and more cases of COVID-19 are being confirmed every day. Venice senior Natalie Bonilla is among the 3% of young people under 17 that have fallen ill with coronavirus.
Toward the end of April, Bonilla had been feeling under the weather, but was feeling better, until what she thought were normal cold/flu symptoms became concerning.
“We called my nurse and they saw my symptoms were really related to the COVID-19,” Bonilla said. “So they decided that I should get tested and then about two weeks ago on Wednesday, April 29, I got my results back and they were positive.”
Her beginning symptoms were severe stomach pains, headaches and coughs. But as COVID-19 ran its course through the body new symptoms appeared and old ones persisted.
“The worst week was the second week,” she said. “I felt great and then all of a sudden I went downhill. I got fevers again and was throwing up most of the time and I had a really bad cough every day. I got to one point where I couldn’t breathe well because of my cough, but from there I got a little bit better.
Although she doesn’t exactly know where she contracted the virus she points out that her mother works at Whole Foods and her uncle, who lives with her, works as a janitor at a hospital. Her mom never showed signs of COVID-19 and even got tested, but her results were negative.
“There’s really no way for me to know because there’s so many ways I could have gotten it, and I don’t go out at all so it was just kind of weird that I got it.”
Bonilla is a cancer survivor and all the chemotherapy treatments she received left her very susceptible to getting sick.
“We were talking to my nurse, and she said that because I was a cancer survivor, I was more likely to get the virus, because of going through chemotherapy it affects your respiratory immune system, and this virus attacks the respiratory system. So she said, it’s sad to say but it was kind of obvious you would have gotten it and you’re more likely to.” “It was kind of scary knowing that it could get worse for me, but luckily it didn’t.”
“I’m a slow recoverer,” she said. “I’ve been sick for like almost a month now and I still don’t feel too great, but I’ll get up and do stuff and then all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Okay, I gotta go take a nap.’
It wasn’t unusual for her to get sick with the flu, cold, and pneumonia.
“It’s a reoccurring thing that I get sick all the time.” she said.“We’ve talked to doctors about it and they just say that it might be a part of having a weak immune system. So this whole thing is like taking longer than it should.
Bonilla had shared a room with her younger sister and once she got the results, her sister was “kicked out” and Bonilla was left self-isolating in her room for around two weeks. Her food was brought to her door and even now that she is much better she still wears a mask around her house.
“I would feel really bad if I gave it to my mom or any of my siblings because I don’t want them to go through what I was going through or am going through.”
Right now she doesn’t know for sure if she still has COVID-19 or is in the clear, but she said her and her family are taking things slow.
“They haven’t told us anything but I think they’re going to call us in a couple of days to tell us if I need to get retested to see if I still have it or if I just go on living my life like I don’t have it anymore.”
Even though she is feeling much better, she explains the worst part about this time was that she couldn’t distract herself with activities that normally bring her joy.
“I’m not able to do the things that I really like to do for a long period of time. When I got sick, I wasn’t able to do simple things like color or read a book. Even watching TV sometimes was a little too much. That kind of stuff calms my mind and makes me feel better so it was weird just laying in my bed and sleeping all the time.”
She said that she is two weeks behind in school and that she has absolutely no energy to do any form of school work. Her teachers were understanding.
“I would try to do my work but then all of a sudden I just like my head was hurting and then I would just get drained” she said. “This week is the first week that I actually started doing work because I feel more capable and my head doesn’t hurt as much, but I still have to take it like really slow”
This set back has not stopped her from looking forward to her first semester of college. Bonilla will be attending the University of California Irvine in the fall and double majoring in Criminology Law and Society and International relations. Although the UC’s haven’t confirmed if the 2020 fall semester will be on campus, Bonilla hopes to be studying on campus in the fall.