Coronavirus and a case of shingles left me more alone than any time in my life
Updated 1:29 PM ET, Tue April 28, 2020
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Editor's note: We are publishing personal essays from CNN's global staff as they live and cover the story of Covid-19. Sarah Jorgensen is a producer in CNN's New York Bureau.
New York (CNN)The back pain started a few days after I began working from home.
It wasn't too surprising -- I had just returned from a long-planned vacation to South Africa. I'd spent about 20 hours on planes, getting back just under the wire and was set for my solo quarantine in my Brooklyn apartment. But something about it felt weird.
Then a rash seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Nothing helped the pain or the rash -- not yoga, not ibuprofen, not hydrocortisone cream, not standing while I worked, not lying down.
And I was alone.
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I started to document the rash on my back as I would a news story -- taking photos daily, tracking its growth and the different symptoms. I FaceTimed my parents and sister who were together in my childhood home in Connecticut to ask their opinion. My parents sounded concerned. My sister, studying for the MCAT so she can become a doctor herself, demanded regular updates.
I was too scared to go to the emergency room or urgent care. This was when coronavirus deaths in New York City were rising. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and protective gear was limited. I feared even a short visit could expose me to the virus.
So, I went the telemedicine route. Two different doctors a few days apart, looking at my rash on a tiny screen, prescribed me anti-inflammatories, steroids and even silver cream for burns. Each trip to the pharmacy -- there were five over the course of a week, far more than I was comfortable wit