The other morning I sneezed. Then I sneezed again. And a third time. I went to work and experienced no further issues. Perhaps the air was dry in the house and I made a mental note to fill the humidifier. I forgot.
Next day, sneezing again when I first woke up. Filled the humidifier. Went to work. Sneezed several times at work and my nose was running. I didn’t feel horrible, but alarm bells were ringing. I started to self check…was I feverish? No. Was my throat sore? No. I drank more water. The afternoon passed uneventfully. An old friend had come into the studio and we visited through our masks. On the drive home I thought, I really feel unwell. I made supper and relaxed and it passed. Perhaps I was tired.
The next morning I awoke with painful sinuses and runny nose and sneezing. I felt awful. There was no denying anything, I was sick. I quickly got online and was lucky to book a Covid test for that afternoon. I notified my boss and co-worker that I wasn’t feeling well, assuring them that I really didn’t feel like I had Covid but was going to test out of an abundance of caution. It was Friday and I knew I would know before Monday and another work week began.
As the clock ticked, I became more and more anxious. The ramifications were sinking in. That old friend that I chatted with the day before is coping with cancer and a stem cell treatment. She has the immune system of a newborn. My boss was eagerly awaiting a flight to Ontario to visit family, and my co-worker counting the days until she visited her mother who recently underwent an operation for cancer and had begun chemotherapy. The idea that I could be positive didn’t bother me personally, as Christmas for us is very low-key and I wasn’t feeling deathly ill. I’d suffered through much worse colds and flu. But the idea that I could be positive and affect so many other lives and ruin Christmas for so many was devasting to think about. It wasn’t about friends not being able to share a turkey dinner, it was possible that someone could die.
I wracked my brain…where had I gone, who had I been near. Luckily, I don’t hang out with many people, only my husband and coworkers. Did I remember to sanitize? Was my mask on correctly? I felt I had done all the right things and yet, here I was, sitting by the phone. Waiting. Waiting.
That night I was nauseated and felt generally unwell. I was sure this was not going to have a good outcome. The kind of outcome where positivity was not something to strive for. Being sick would merely be an inconvenience for me. I am healthy and vaccinated. There was already no guarantee I was going to see my granddaughter over Christmas and should the worse come to into play, presents would keep and we could all gather after the all-clear. However, I was very aware of the direct effect this would have on those close to me. The effect on those close to them. The effect was exponential in scope. The more lethargic I felt, the more worried I became.
Then the text message I was waiting for. “Urgent from AHS”. Urgent can’t be good and I fumbled with my phone putting in my password to unlock whatever I might need to face. LOTS of writing but the word negative shining like a beacon. I swear I heard angels sing as I shrieked the good news to my husband, who quickly grabbed his phone to discover the same good news.
I quickly alerted those close to me. And then I slept the day away. I had no energy for anything.
The next morning I feel like my old self leaving me to wonder how sick was I from a flu and how much was created by stress.
I learned a lot these past few days. I learned that complacency has no room in a world with Covid. Masks, sanitizing, social distance is key. To do otherwise is to flirt with disaster. I quickly learned that I would not have been able to live with the ignominy of being directly responsible for some else getting seriously ill, or ruining someone’s Christmas plans.
At the same time I marvelled at the cavalier attitudes of cold and flu season in years past. It is almost impossible to conceive that we once went about our days catching this bug and that, and continuing to go about our days sneezing and coughing and feverish so as to not upset the status quo that was our daily work. How would they manage without us? I worked in a school. I went to work sick. I went to the grocery store sick. I visited people sick. “Hello? I have a bit of a cold, is it still okay to come over? Yes.? I’ll be there just as soon as I pick up some more tissues”. Politely I would sneeze into the crook of my arm and carry on.
I can’t even imagine going to back to the “old ways”. It really was quite Neanderthal when I stop to think about it. Covid has made us stop and think. It’s not just Covid with the potential to kill or make someone very ill. At any given time we may find ourselves standing next to an immunocompromised person without knowing it. What is a minor sniffle for us becomes pneumonia for them.
I was cautious before my test and I am further resolved to be cautious now. I am grateful it was just a scare. Relief courses through my veins, not some spiky headed monster. I am not oblivious to the fact that despite my every precaution, it only takes a small chink in the armour to set a course in motion that we cannot undo. And really, doesn’t that just speak volumes?