Welp, I am officially a number. On December 28th, I developed a sore throat and began feeling really, really tired. That same day, it was confirmed by our HR department that “an employee” had tested positive for COVID. Though they claimed they didn’t consider anyone at our facility to have been exposed, I immediately went online to schedule a test.
The next morning when I woke up, my sore throat felt worse, I was still EXHAUSTED, I had a headache, and the sniffles. I called off work and went to a drive-through testing site that afternoon — luckily it was just a mouth swab and not the dreaded brain tickler.
My symptoms intensified over the next few days and I developed a cough. Still, during those first three days I truly didn’t believe I had anything other than a cold. I was most definitely sick (AND I MOST DEFINITELY STAYED HOME) but I’d been sicker — like when I had mono in 2005, like when I had the flu last March, and when I had 3 sinus infections within 2 months in 2012 and had yellow junk leaking out of my eyes.
On New Year’s Day, 2021, the day when the shitstorm that was 2020 was supposed to over and done with, I woke up feeling the best I had all week. And then I got the email that my rest results were in. After a few clicks it was confirmed in bright red letters — I was POSITIVE for COVID-19.
I immediately notified my husband, parents, and sister, the only people I’d been with other than my coworkers. Then I began to panic. What if I relapsed and got worse? What if I had lingering effects? What if my family was sick? What would happen to my job?
A few hours later my husband began to exhibit symptoms and I became even more stressed out. A few days after later, HE tested positive for COVID and my guilt swelled. J was born premature and his lungs and sinuses never fully developed. He’s had pneumonia a few times as well as bronchitis. I was scared.
It’s been about two weeks for me, and I am sloooooowly starting to feel normal. My nose is still stuffy, my cough is still lingering, and I get tired really easily. Oh and I have almost NO sense of smell. For someone whose mom used to call them “dog nose” this is a really interesting new way to navigate things.
J’s symptoms are about 5 days behind mine, and while his cough seemed worse than mine and he had stomach issues, I’m hoping he’ll be on the upswing shortly. I’m not much for organized religion, but any good vibes or prayers would be appreciated.
So now my house is a disaster of epic proportion, the dogs are going nuts, and since we can’t leave these 4 walls it’s almost impossible to turn off CNN as we watch the US tumble into an even more disturbing and embarrassing example of a democracy gone wrong. And don’t even get me started on how indescribably LIVID I am about the way my workplace has (mis)handled this whole debacle.
As I wait for my second round of test results, I’m trying so hard to keep things in perspective. I’m trying to focus on my health and my husband getting better. I’m trying to be thankful that my family didn’t get it and that J & I are generally young and healthy and should be able to beat this. I should be thankful that both of us should still have jobs after this. I should be thankful we still have a home and food on the table.
But all I can think about is what I’ve lost thanks to COVID — 80 hours of PTO. The possibility of personal days and vacations, even if they were stay-cations. Trust and faith in the system. Dreams of having a girl’s weekend with my best friends to celebrate 25 years of friendship. Traveling to Holland to see our friends that moved there in 2019. Seeing the Grand Canyon with my husband. Buying a new house in a better neighborhood.
I understand that right now so many people are focused on survival mode, and thinking about these types of luxuries might seem selfish and immature. But in the past when I’ve been struggling to get through tough times, I always try to focus on something good to look forward to. Unfortunately, right now no one knows if or when those good times will ever come around again.
I talked to my therapist yesterday and she reiterated the importance of focusing on little things, especially in the dismal winter that has consumed western Pennsylvania. We probably won’t see the sun here very often over the next few months, which only magnifies mental health issues — global pandemic, financial crises, and unstable government aside.
Sadly I feel like I have to put aside big dreams of traveling and moving right now. I have to dust off my happy light, restock my essential oils, and try to be satisfied with mundane things like chocolate cake, a (shortened) hockey season, warm towels out of the dryer, and my dogs’ adorable head tilts.
I’m trying to hard to think about better days. Sometimes that makes things easier. Sometimes it makes things harder.
Until next time, please take care. And for the love of all that is holy — WEAR A MASK.