An Okotokian is telling her story after testing positive for COVID-19.

Following a vacation abroad, Leah Beingessner returned home on Mar. 12, and experienced several severe symptoms. She immediately self-isolated.

She tested positive two days later.

The first symptom came on Mar. 4 in the form of severe body aches. Over the next few days, a chest cough followed, then a fever, and diarrhea. She felt a complete lack of energy.

Even though these symptoms occur with other illnesses, Beingessner says she felt different and it came in waves. 

"This is the oddest illness I've ever had. Every two days there was something new going on; my body was so confused. I've never felt this way in my entire life."

Since her return home, Beingessner has been in isolation with her family.

Rumours of a confirmed case in Okotoks have been circulating for weeks, with the Alberta government's website showing a confirmed case in the Okotoks-Priddis area.

Aside from the illness itself, and the inherent struggles brought about by life confined to a single building, she says the hardest parts of isolation is asking for help and watching the spread of rumours and panic on social media.

"It's my healthcare…it's my choice. I don't want people to take advantage of that…to spread the word when it's my case…my story. This is what happened…and this is what it's gonna be."

Following her diagnosis, Beingessner was overcome with guilt.

"Having to go and tell people I contacted [on vacation] that I'm positive was probably one of the worst things I've ever had to do. The guilt and shame... there are no words. That was probably one of the worst days of my life."

Her immediate self-isolation is something she says saved her from the immeasurable amount of guilt she'd have felt otherwise.

"I can't tell you how awful I would have felt if I were to not listen to them; how many people I would have to tell that I could have infected. That burden would be awful to carry. I'm so grateful I listened to what AHS told us to do. Having to only tell a select few people is better than telling the entire town: 'Hey, I didn't listen, I went to grocery stores and social gatherings.'"

The thought of people refusing to self-isolate despite exhibiting symptoms is something else Beingessner had weighing on her mind.

"Knowing that there are other cases out there that aren't listening to how important self-isolation is…is terrifying to me. It can be easily spread. We cannot leave this home until all my family members are cleared. I can't express how important self-isolation is."

Having been told she and her family would have to say in isolation until at least April 6th, she's making the most of her time with her family with dance parties, cooking and finding fun.

Beingessner says if people practice social distancing, self-isolate when necessary, and seek credible information, we can get through a few tough months.

"We can survive this. We can work through this as a community. Please don't induce panic. And stop buying toilet paper!"

Currently, there are five confirmed cases in the Cochrane-Springbank area, and 195 across the province.