Supposedly, I’m a liberal person who is cloaked in the moral righteousness of taking Covid seriously.
Supposedly, I’m a very careful person who works remotely and always wears her mask in public spaces.
Supposedly, thanks to my vaccinations and boosters, I have some degree of protection, and if I were to get Covid again, it would be mild.
Ha, I tell you. Ha, and ha again.
With the Omicron variants, you carry the virus for three or four days before you show any symptoms. This means that I was possibly contagious on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, before my symptoms showed up on Thursday. So let’s review those days.
My four year-old grandson had been with me all weekend. I must have picked up the virus while running around with him and my daughter before she flew to New York on Sunday morning. I dropped her at the airport and kept the grandson. I’d keep him all the time if I could, just saying, but I had stuff going on, so I had to share him.
My oldest daughter and her fiancé watched him Sunday evening so I could go to a little talk that was part of a class I’m taking. I picked him up, and he stayed with me Sunday night. But I also needed to work, so early Monday morning, I dropped him off at my middle daughter’s home. I didn’t go inside, just said hello to everyone on the front porch, where they enjoy their morning coffee. He spent the night there on Monday night.
On Monday and Tuesday, I worked from home. Late Tuesday afternoon, I went to a class with eight students and an instructor. We meet outside, and we’re careful, but is anyone really careful enough in the age of Omicron? I love this class, but sitting outside over the course of the summer has meant I’m roasting out there for three hours in 102 degree weather. Has it been worth it? Absolutely. But has it been easy? God, no.
After my roasty class, sweaty and heat-exhausted, I picked up my grandson at my middle daughter’s house. I went inside and saw her, her wife, their two kids before we left.
On Wednesday, I worked from home while my grandson amused himself. I had a great “carrot” for him: If he would let me concentrate, we’d go see the new Minions movie. He kept himself busy.
A former coworker dropped by the house at noon and we had a nice chat at my dining room table/office.
Then at 5:30, I took my grandson to experience to his first movie at a movie theater. It was great. We shared some popcorn and a Pepsi slushy (his choice and I dislike soda but I had to admit it was tasty). He did a fine job of paying attention. There were only five other people in the auditorium besides us, so when he got a little antsy and began to clamber about on the seat backs, no one was bothered. (An aside, I have loved every Despicable Me/Minions movie. There is something hilarious every minute, and I don’t know who writes these or how much cocaine it takes to be this funny, but Bravo.)
Anyway. On Thursday, other than a mad dash to the store for juice boxes, we were once again at my house all day. My exiting tenant dropped by to leave a key and a forwarding address. In the early evening, my middle daughter came over with my younger grandson. My daughter and I talked, but mostly we just enjoyed watching the boys thunder through the house between the guest room and the TV room, echoing down the hallway, thrilled because you can run inside at Nonna’s house.
Just that. A dry little cough. And then I coughed again.
That’s all. Just a couple of dry coughs.
They went home and I put my happy grandson to bed in the guest room, where he’d been sleeping happily and alone for days. But Thursday night was special, because he knew when he woke up, his mom would be there.
Late that night, my ex-husband picked up my youngest daughter at the airport and drove her to my house, where she slipped in the door and went to sleep next to my grandson, just as she’d promised him on the phone.
On Friday morning, I woke up before everyone else feeling a little stuffy, coughing now and then, no big deal. But just to be on the safe side, I tested.
Negative. Excellent. I had a summer cold of some sort. I worked all day, and I’m working from home so my mild cold wouldn’t factor in, but how reassuring to know It wasn’t covid.
That same morning, my daughter’s boyfriend arrived from Eugene with my sweet bonus granddaughter. We had a hugs and hellos and nice chat, hello! The trip! Presents from NYC! My granddaughter went in and played with my old dollhouse for a while, which is her favorite thing to do at my house. And we heard all about my daughter’s exciting trip to NY, where she modeled for a Big Company’s marketing efforts.
Eventually, everyone got packed up and ready. I gave them drinks and snacks for the road, and then they left for that two-hour drive home which never takes anyone two hours, because it’s I5 South.
I worked like hell for the rest of the day. My husband came home after work and brought us teriyaki for dinner. I could taste everything, so I felt reassured.
Saturday morning plans involved my brother, his wife, coffee and donuts. But I woke up feeling really snuffly, so I decided to test again, “Just to be on the safe side.” I swabbed and swirled and squeezed and dripped the drops in the little reservoir and watched as the entire test strip lit up pink before the control and positive bars settled in, clear as beacons.
“Oh Honey,” I said to my husband. “I’ve got it. I’m positive.”
Coffee and donuts were cancelled.
Four days before I got sick, I might not have been contagious. It depends on who you ask. On that day, I was around:
Youngest daughter, grandson the first (inside, outside, upside down)
Nine or ten people at the informational talk (outside)
Oldest daughter and her fiancé (inside)
Three days before that first dry cough, I was around:
Middle daughter, Daughter-in-law, Grandson the second, Granddaughter (outside)
Two days before that first dry cough, I was around:
My entire Tuesday class (outside)
Middle daughter, Daughter-in-law, Grandson the second, Granddaughter (inside)
and of course my older grandson (inside and outside)
One day before that first dry cough, I was around:
My grandson (inside)
Former coworker (inside)
Five strangers in the movie auditorium (inside)
Former tenant (inside)
Middle daughter and younger grandson (inside)
Every single day:
That’s so many possible exposures, and I work from home. But I also ran in to the store to get juice boxes and a few other things, right? And I bought gas, and tickets and snacks at the theater. This is how it happens, and how it keeps happening.
I had to make quite a few calls and texts, but I felt fine enough to do that.
My husband tested negative, so we instituted some halfassed isolation measures that we assumed wouldn’t work, but we had to at least try. I wasn’t feeling that bad, really. Along about midday Saturday, I called my doctor’s office and let them know that I had Covid, and because I have some risk factors (weight, heart, age) I wanted to know if I should take Paxlovid.
They called back and said they’d made a remote appointment for me with their Paxlovid clinic on Sunday at 3:15. So all I had to do was survive until then. That seemed entirely possible on Saturday morning. But by Saturday afternoon, I was having some doubts.
Do you remember hearing that if you got vaccinated, you’d have a mild case? Remember that? I’m vaccinated and boosted, so I was going along under the assumption that my case would be mild.
I realized how sick I was while trying to participate in an online book group at 4 PM. I was coughing and sneezing, and my eyes watered. Painful, burning fatigue settled on my shoulders, making it hard to remain upright. So I signed off and went to bed, where I rolled around in a fever all that evening and night, blowing my nose and coughing. That cough, deep, painful and smothering, felt like the cough I remembered from February of 2020.
I woke up the next morning horrifically nauseated. I won’t go into it, just trust me, it was terrible. By Sunday afternoon I was a wreck.
Getting myself mentally organized for the telehealth appointment felt impossible. How did Zoom work, again? I really had to think about it, and I’ve been Zooming for how long?
Sitting in a chair also seemed impossible. I was supposed to sit there and hold my head up? How did people do that, anyway? I’d forgotten. But I managed, and met with the doctor, and he gave me the prescription.
My husband (still testing negative) masked up and went to the store, where he procured the Paxlovid, some anti-nausea pills, two magical Mucinex elixirs that helped last time, and a six-pack of soft Kleenex.
As soon as he got home, I took the anti-nausea pill and a dose of Paxlovid, and rolled up in a quilt on our bed, waiting for death or a miracle, whichever came first.
After an hour, my husband peeked in. “Are you feeling any better, sweetie?”
“They said it would take 24 hours,” I replied. “It’s been one.”
But the truth is, I did feel better. The horrible smothering cough improved rapidly. To have that lift felt like a miracle. And after another night of breaking fevers and weird obsessive thoughts where I mentally played my Wordcrossy game (quite brilliantly, I might add), I woke up on Monday morning feeling human again. Weak, dizzy, coughing and spewing snot, but human. So I’ll say it.
Paxlovid is a miracle.
And yes, the taste in your mouth is horrific. If you’ve heard someone complain and thought, how bad could it be? Trust me, it’s worse.
Okay, here are my best descriptions. If you haven’t had your gall bladder out, imagine some dried moldy grapefruit peels, and then light them on fire. In your mouth. Or, if you have had your gall bladder out, once in a while you get something called bile reflux, which is when your stomach fills with bile from your small intestine. It’s painful and horrible and yes, you throw up, and that’s what Paxlovid tastes like. And it’s absolutely worth every wretched moment of that sickening taste, because it helps so much.
Everyone tested again on Sunday. Everyone was negative. Including my husband.
My husband tested negative, so according to his employer’s guidelines, he could go to work masked. But Youngest daughter tested positive and became rapidly, horribly sick, shivering and bed-bound. She was able to get the Paxlovid that same day. It fixed her up enough that she could get out of bed and sit on the sofa, and believe me, that’s a tremendous accomplishment when you have a tough case. She improved steadily and tested negative on the fourth day and has tested negative since.
Grandson the first tested positive on Tuesday. Sick, coughing, feverish for two days, then right as rain. He tested negative on the fourth day. His father tested positive on Wednesday, and tested negative after three days, that young and healthy brute (I am so envious).
I’d managed to expose so many people. No one else in the family got it. My former tenant and former coworker never got it. No one in my class got it. My husband never got it. But still.
I was devastated when the Eugene branch went down. My family insisted that I get down from the cross because really, they were more worried about me. I’m older and the only mom they have and I have an errant ticker, and I was sick, sick, sick. But I made it through.
After a week, I went back to work (from home, of course). I tested negative on that Friday, and have done a test every day or two since to make sure I don’t have a rebound case, because there’s something going on with my sinuses on left side. It took six weeks for my sinuses to dry out last time, and I’m prepared for it to take that long again.
Well, the fatigue was just as awful, as was the cough: violent, overwhelming, like I was going to suffocate. The nasal congestion has been just as spectacular, and I had vertigo again, and the same general sense of unreality and disorientation.
But the first time around, I didn’t have fevers. I also didn’t have any nausea. So this time was actually worse, except for the fact that I didn’t lose my sense of taste and smell. I am extremely relieved about that.
So aside from the fever and the nausea, the main difference is, the first time around I had no warning, no idea how to prevent this, and no treatment for it. I was a hapless victim of a new illness that everyone kept insisting I couldn’t have because it wasn’t present in the US when my husband and I got it. Except, it was here, and there was nothing I could do about it. But that was last time.
This time, I was just a moron who didn’t mask up at some point. I’m not even sure when. I have become haphazard, but no more. I’ve been a diligent masker after the fact. For one thing, my daughter is getting married in a week. What if I’d gotten it this week? The thought gives me chills, and I’ve had enough of those lately.
So don’t be an idiot, and don’t get sick. Take it from me, who was both.