Hooray! I moved back into my bedroom this morning. My period of isolation is over! Ten days is a long time – at least in some contexts. After three years of avoiding it, Covid caught up with me.
I went to Boston to give my daughter a hand as she was dealing with a sick husband and child. We thought, based on the diagnosis at the hospital, that her daughter had croup, and that Ben was just under the weather. I figured I would mask while I was there, hoping to avoid getting whatever bug they had. What’s that saying? Something like, ‘woman plans, god laughs.’
I arrived at their apartment, said hello, and picked up a prescription that needed to be filled for the baby, and their insurance card. I went to a pharmacy and then got sandwiches for lunch. When I returned, I helped fold laundry. I removed my mask to eat lunch but sat distant from Leah. We opened a window to increase the airflow. Leah was relieved to have me there. So far so good.
About two hours into my visit, Leah’s phone rang. It was the Somerville Health Department telling her that someone in the household had tested positive for Covid. The baby had been to the hospital the night before. As part of the examination of the baby, they swabbed her for Covid. Given that she was diagnosed with croup, Leah and Ben hadn’t given it a thought. The news came as a shock.
Leah and Ben did a home test and, lo and behold, they were both positive. They called the pediatrician to share the information and find out if it changed anything in terms of the care of the baby. Turned out, it didn’t, which was a relief in some ways. We discussed what I should do.
I decided I would stay at a hotel for that night – I certainly wasn’t going to stay at the apartment. I told them I would bring them dinner and other supplies that evening. I left. Ben, who was feeling pretty miserable at this point (totally exhausted), was going to call his doctor to see if they recommended treatment.
I double masked everywhere I went. I decided I would go home the next morning. If I got sick, I didn’t want to be in a hotel in Boston and I didn’t want to feel too poorly to drive the three hours home. I stayed at the hotel that night after picking up Paxlovid for Ben and dinner for them. I felt fine.
I brought them breakfast in the morning. I was double-masked. Said my good-byes. I felt terrible leaving them, everyone sick. At this point, Leah was having symptoms, too. Great – a cranky baby and two parents who felt like shit. Plus the anxiety of not really knowing how serious Covid would be for the baby. But, what choice did I have?
I still felt fine as I drove home. I tested when I got home – negative. Maybe I would escape. I tested the next morning – still negative. But, now I’m starting to feel poorly. Headache, sore throat, tired.
Covid is a strange virus. It behaves differently in everybody. Plus, you can test negative and still have it. You can test positive and have no symptoms. You can continue to test positive long past the infectious stage. It so hard to know what to do. You hear horror stories about people having long-haul covid.
I went for a PCR test that morning (Saturday) and got a positive result within 24 hours. During the height of the pandemic, it could take 3 days or longer to get a result (which made the test almost useless) – so at least that is better. By the time I got the result, it was clear I was sick. My body hurt all over. I felt exhausted. I started coughing. I called my doctor. They recommended Paxlovid. I have several risk factors for serious illness, so though I am always a bit anxious about taking a new medication because it isn’t uncommon for me to have strange reactions to things (rash, anyone?), I decided it was worth it.
Meanwhile, it is now Sunday, the day I am supposed to read for the Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize. I didn’t want to miss it. I had a strategy. Though I was coughing, it wasn’t that bad (yet). I decided I would take cough medicine in advance. I had throat lozenges at the ready. I took Tylenol, too. I napped for an hour beforehand. The adrenaline kicked in. I was next to the last to read – of 15 people! I did not win. Nothing to be ashamed of – the other essays were good. I was still disappointed. I have to admit, I kind of crashed afterward. I was exhausted. It didn’t help that I was facing 7 more days of isolation.
I moved into Daniel’s old bedroom for the duration. I used what had been the kids’ bathroom. We are lucky to have so much room. Gary is serious about this isolation and masking stuff. He has masked at work from the beginning of pandemic and continues to do so now (he just recently stopped using goggles). We ate separately. We would watch t.v. in the same room, but distant and masked and, as long as it wasn’t too cold, we had a window open. It appears that he has not gotten it. When he had it last Fall, he still blames Las Vegas (we will likely never go back there!), I didn’t get it from him after we followed much the same isolation protocol.
I’m glad I took the Paxlovid. I did have a very unpleasant taste in my mouth for the five days I took it, and my digestive system did not enjoy it, but I recovered pretty quickly. The fever, severe headache and body aches were gone within 24 hours. The fatigue lasted a bit longer and the cough lingered. As of today, ten days into this, the cough is almost entirely gone. That is always the last symptom to go when I have a respiratory illness.
Though I was clearly recovering, I woke up each morning feeling sad. Another day isolated. I felt okay, but not so good that I had the energy to be productive. In theory, there are always things to do in the house – junk drawers to sort, stuff to organize. I didn’t feel up to it. Instead, I binge watched Top Chef. Thank god for that!
Fortunately, the baby, Leah and Ben have recovered well, too. I could hear them cheering all the way from Somerville when the baby could go back to daycare. Ten days cooped up in a relatively small apartment with an 11-month old who is healthy enough to be active, but fussier than usual, with no reinforcements, and little sleep, is an ordeal. They rose to the occasion, as they always do.
One piece of good news: we should all be immune for the next few months! Gary and I have a trip planned at the end of May. I should be able to travel without worrying about Covid. Leah and her family should be able to go out and about the rest of this Spring and early Summer without thinking about Covid, too. And we appear to have weathered the illness without lasting effect. It is always a matter of perspective – and finding the stuff for which to be grateful. It doesn’t come naturally to me to do that, but eventually I figure it out.
One thought on “It Got Me….Finally”
This goes under the “no good deed goes unpunished” category. But it also is an illustration of how contagious this virus is and how similar it can look to lots of other bugs like the flu and, in the baby’s case, croup. Add to that the difficulties with diagnosis and it can really be a challenge. And, even now, if you have an illness that could be COVID, it is so often just that.
The other side of the coin is that more of us have some degree of immunity via vaccines and prior infection and there are now treatments.
Even so, we are always truly grateful for recoveries.