Risha Malhotra sees your 2020 and raises you her much, much worse 2020!
The 21-year-old thought this year was going to be full of fun and adventure after spending 2019 triumphing over an out-of-the-blue cancer diagnosis. But it turned out the college student would spend the year enduring not one, but two cases of coronavirus — which is extremely rare, according to reports.
In October, The New York Times found that fewer than five of the 38 million confirmed cases of the virus were confirmed by scientists to be reinfections. Well, Risha was one of those unlucky people: she dealt with reinfection eight months after being first diagnosed with COVID-19.
The University of Wisconsin—Madison senior told People she first got the virus in London, where she’d been studying abroad before being sent home the second week of March. Immediately upon landing on her flight home to Long Island, New York on March 13, Risha began experiencing chest pains that got worse throughout the night.
Because she had a blood clot in her leg once before, Risha checked into Syosset Hospital for a CT scan of her lungs. The scan revealed an infection that looked similar to those seen in COVID patients — and 13 days later, she found out she had officially tested positive for the virus.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through a scary or new medical run. In July 2019, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and that was very shocking. But as scary as it sounds, it was really easy to manage. I just had to get an immediate surgery to get my thyroid removed.”
Risha was cancer-free after radiation therapy, and she left for London planning to have some adventure. Unfortunately, life had other plans. She explained:
“And then when I come home and the first thing I do is end up in a hospital, it was like, ‘Oh my god, is it starting again?’… It was unsettling to hear that I had it, and no one else I knew had it yet.”
Risha felt better by the summer, and tested for antibodies on August 12 before returning to school later that month. When local cases spiked in September, she and her friends stayed at home as much as possible. But when cases once again started to surge in November in and around campus, Risha invited a friend over to her apartment for dinner — only to discover the next day that the friend’s roommate tested positive.
Two days later, she had a harsh cold; and although she originally brushed it off as a sinus infection, Risha tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 13. She recalled:
“I sprinted to my bedroom, locked my door, and called my mom, like, ‘How is this happening again?’ Then my doctor called me and was like, ‘How did you test positive twice? This is crazy.’”
Wow. You know it’s bad medical luck when even your doctor is baffled!
Risha’s symptoms were milder the second time, but she developed more intense fatigue and a brutal, constant headache on top of her sinus issues, and also lost her sense of smell and taste. She explained:
“I feel like there are so many factors to this virus that people don’t know about, but me getting it twice and being symptomatic both times is just so shocking. I think the scariest thing to take away from this is that we don’t know if this is going to have any long-term effects on any of our bodies… I think that that’s what makes me want to be the most cautious and as socially distant and aware as I can be during this time because, until we have a vaccine, until we have an answer, everything is a guessing game.”
Naturally, Risha wants everyone to take the pandemic seriously. She added:
“It’s great that some people recover or are asymptomatic. But just because you’re fine doesn’t mean someone else is going to be. You don’t know who you’re impacting.”
Wishing her all the health and happiness in 2021.
[Image via Facebook]
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