My COVID Chronicles: Contracting COVID

The whole concept of contracting COVID was one that scared me. I am overall a pretty healthy person. I have no preexisting conditions. But as my friend and doctor likes to remind me, my body doesn’t like to respond normally to anything and I just get freaky weird things that happen to me. So I didn’t know what would happen if I contracted it.

I still left the house. Though both of my offices were shut down, I still went in twice a week. Someone had to get the mail and check messages. I can only do so much from home. At least I was still being paid a regular paycheck.

I still went grocery shopping. Granted, I only go to the smaller stores and at hours when it seems like they are empty. If I see too many cars, I won’t go in. I had managed to buy a whole month’s worth of groceries before the initial shutdown and my first grocery trips gave me panic attacks in the stores.

I always wore a mask out in public. I washed and sanitized my hands. I even had a little sanitizer bottle on my keychain for easy access. Upon arriving at work, I would wipe down my area because I knew others had been in the office. I cleaned up on my way out the door.

And I still visited my local places. Yes, I am one of those people who still popped into the pubs. Nights at the pub, there were usually fewer than 10 of us in there and I always sat in my own area, close enough to be able to converse, but definitely socially distanced to at least six feet, if not more. Or we would sit outside. Mostly we sat outside. And then at the bar and grill, I would always count the number of cars in the parking lot, only went in if my friend was working, and even then still pretty much sat by myself. And you could honestly count on one hand the number of times I had been inside to sit and eat since the whole thing started.

So on Friday the 13th in November, I had a feeling we were approaching another partial shutdown. I decided to take my blankets and larger bedding to the laundromat to wash in the big machines. That way, I could sit in the bar and grill and eat a late lunch or early dinner and stay out of the laundromat where people were gladly running around with no masks on. In fact, when I walked in, the one little kid even got in my face about it, taunting me for wearing my mask.

I sat in a booth by myself. Each booth already had a wooden wall on either side of it, providing a sort of cubbyhole. The high-top tables were several feet away. I sat in the booth behind a buddy of mine who was sitting at a high-top. That way we were in our own spaces, but could still chat for a while as my bedding was washed. The place never exceeded 25 people, a recommendation for many places as a maximum number. I did pause for a little while on my way out to chat with some people at other tables, but not for very long.

A week later, I was at home doing work. I started to feel somewhat sniffly. I thought perhaps I was getting sinusitis. It was common for me at this time of year. A friend wanted me to come over, and I declined. I was still trying to get some work done. Plus that slightly runny nose was bothering me.

By Saturday, I felt like total crap. I remember the horrible Michigan game went into triple overtime. I was so tired, I just wanted it to end. But as I will bleed maize and blue until I die, I had to stay up for the whole thing. I was greeted with horrible aches in my body. I started reflecting on all of the bread I had eaten during the week. Excess yeast will make my joints hurt. Sometimes hormones can throw me off-kilter, even though I was on meds for that. No fever, though my temp was elevated. But that can happen with a number of issues. Something in the back of my mind was saying, “Is this COVID?”

Sunday I decided to order Chinese. I love that you can do a contactless pickup outside. Egg drop soup is like magic when you feel like crap. I didn’t want to shower, so I just spritzed on some lavender essential oil and went to pick it up. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t smell the lavender oil. Oh shit.

I got home and ate my food. I was still able to pretty much taste it, though egg drop soup doesn’t have a strong flavor. I forget what else I had, but I didn’t notice a lack of taste there, per se. Besides, if I did have sinusitis, that would affect taste.

When I went into the bathroom, though, I smelled my hands after I washed them. Nothing. I grabbed the laundry detergent bottle and stuck my nose inside. Nothing. I grabbed the Lysol bottle. Nothing. It was terrifying. Again, still no fever and no cough. The aches had gone away when I slept, which is normal. And you can lose the ability to smell when you have sinusitis, though I had never before experienced it to that extent. I did start looking at Urgent Care appointments, but nothing was available. I figured I would hold off and see how things were going the next day.

Out of an abundance of caution, I stayed home from work the next morning. I still couldn’t smell, though, still had no fever. I hadn’t heard of any exposures and I go almost nowhere. And then I got the message. “Did you see the article?”

Apparently one of the regulars at the bar and grill had come in, symptomatic, for six straight days, three hours each day. The sheer amount of time they were there prompted the health department to publish articles in the newspaper. And of course, one of the days listed was Friday the 13th. My heart sank into my gut. I texted both of my bosses that I was out for the week because I had been exposed and needed to go get a test.

I got to sit in my car for over an hour, waiting for my turn at the Urgent Care. I mentioned the exposure and managed to joke around with both the nurse and the doctor during my test and examination. I was told it could maybe even be the flu, though I’d had a flu shot. I looked and sounded good in spite of the possibility. But we would have to wait and see what the test said.

I went home in a somber mood. I had a feeling I knew what the test would say. I was also sad because it would have been my mom’s 80th birthday, so I was really missing her. And I was just frustrated.

Two days later came the phone call. Positive. I went through such a mess of emotions. I was scared and I was very, very angry. I thought I was being safe and following regulations that had been set out. I was doing my part and also trying to support my friends and my neighborhood. I also heard through the grapevine who the person was and was befuddled. I never hang out with this person and never even spoke to this person that day. I don’t even necessarily remember this person being there that day, but could easily believe it because they come in a lot. So now what?

More on that and my “mild” case next week.

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