14 Jun A Couple of Weeks Ago When I Was Full of Covid
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 20.6.22
On a recent Sunday, I got a kind text from a friend I’d seen at a big event three days earlier saying she’d tested positive for Covid. Her text went nicely with my sore throat but that morning’s test came back negative.
I managed, however, to collect more symptoms during the day including a very upset tummy. Monday’s test was positive.
It was weird to finally see the extra line I’d prayed not to see so many times. I test regularly – it’s required by many of the people I work for, plus I like to check that my hay fever symptoms really are hay fever before I stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk. But it was almost a relief to see those two lines this time, confirming what I’d been sure of anyway while spending the night in an achy sweat.
I messaged the people I’d had contact with, initially feeling guilty I might have passed it on, but then recalled I felt zero animosity to the person who thought she might have given it to me. We’re all doing our best – most of us, anyway. Wear a mask, wash your hands.
I spent the rest of the morning filling out my Covid record and the forms for bluetooth tracing, and cancelling the week’s work – two shows, several meetings, and a visit from my daughter and grandkids. I notice we’ve created a Covid Positive etiquette, a bit like saying “Bless you!” when you sneeze: “I hope it’s mild!” I’ve been wishing people this for months, and it sounds sweet when you hear it from the other side.
Then I got out the fancy soap I’d been saving – Florentine Rose & Peony – had a shower, washed my hair and opened the rose scented body oil I’d been given as a gift. I didn’t know what seven days isolation would be like but I’d start it smelling good.
This is Day 2 and I cannot do Wordle. Not only can I not think of the word, I can’t find the joy in thinking of words. I put it away unfinished and get it out much later, and even with A_O__ and a T floating around, it takes a long time to find ATOLL.
All I can do is sleep and eat ice blocks. Not simultaneously. That would make a mess of the sheets. I’m pleased I haven’t lost my sense of smell or taste yet. Or appetite. If there is an illness that would make me waste away like a romantic heroine, this isn’t it.
Sometimes it feels like my head is trapped in a vice. Always it is an overwhelming malaise that stops me functioning – reading, thinking clearly, standing upright… I mean, if you didn’t usually do very much or think a great deal, I can see you could find this mild.
What comforts is the certainty of the mandated isolation period. Knowing I mustn’t leave the house till Sunday means I don’t have to guess if I will be well enough to work this Thursday night, or worry that I am unnecessarily letting someone down by being insufficiently robust. There is no pressure to harden up, push through, or soldier on. My phone notifies me of the number of deaths from this virus each day. No one can say, “Covid? Don’t you reckon you could pull yourself together and come in for that meeting?” I have permission to take gentle care of myself. We should always do this.