TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For John Dodd, things have not been the same since early June.
Dodd, from Winfield and in his junior year at The University of Alabama, where he double majors in political science and public relations, has been finding himself getting out of breath randomly.
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Recently, he went on a hike and found himself needing to take a lot of breaks, which he normally never had to do.
The root of his problem can be traced back to June when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 while he was living and working in Tuscaloosa. He says he was spending time with some friends, and once the night was over, he went to bed. The next morning. Dodd said he woke up feeling kind of odd.
He did not think it was a hangover and said he was not used to feeling the way he was. He thought going to the gym at his apartment and sweating out what was in his system would do the trick, but when he was at the gym, he started noticing that he had a high temperature.
After calling his parents and them telling him he needed to quarantine and get tested, his condition got worse that night. He says his throat started out real itchy, eventually leading to it burning with a fever of 101 degrees. He says from there, he lost his sense of taste and smell.
He then got tested at DCH and learned he tested positive for COVID-19 a few days later, but was not sure where he caught the virus. As the days went on, he said it was getting harder to breathe, with it feeling like he had a stack of bricks on his chest. He said there were times where it was tough for him to keep food down.
Dodd says the worst part of the whole experience was the isolation. For him, the moment it all hit was when his parents dropped off one of many care packages on his back porch. He went to go get it and was talking to his parents from a distance as they were in the car. Not being able to give his parents a hug hurt him more than anything.
"Being alone that long with no human contact at all was just a little too much," Dodd said. "It was just crazy. I felt like I was just all by myself, pretty much, but I got through it."
Dodd says he was scared to talk about what he had been going through with the virus, fearing that people would not believe him and dismiss his sense of panic. He was soon able to find solace and comfort in talking with his family who reassured him that he was going to be OK.
"It kind of woke me up and made me realize I'm not indestructible," Dodd said. "Beforehand, I feel like I was living like nothing could kill me because I'm just a 20-year-old dude living in my prime going about it in college," Dodd said. "It really woke me up, and it really showed me that I need to be more precautious about things I do to my body and need to take better care of myself and watch out for myself. It was definitely a wake up call."
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Now in the second day of classes, Dodd is hoping other students can continue to follow safety guidelines such as wearing masks, socially distancing and more.
"It is not going to get better, unless we do better about it," Dodd said. "I don't want anyone to go through what I went through."