With gratitude, I write this.
About 15 days ago, I was positive for COVID-19, as was my daughter. We figured we got it from a day we spent together, since three days after that, we both had fever and flu-like symptoms. Throughout those two weeks, I had a low-grade fever, chest congestion and fatigue. I texted rather than spoke on the phone as I felt breathless after conversations. I had looked at my little doggie and knew I would not be able to take her out, even feed her which required a lot of movement in the kitchen, too many movements for my depleted strength. My youngest daughter came on Day 2 of COVID-19 to take her for the duration, allowing me to sleep in as long as I wanted, stay seated throughout the day, and thankfully, not have to do that late night walk outside.
What followed was a very unusual stretch of days that included not a whole lot. I woke up in the same clothes I had on the day before. I showered infrequently because I didn’t even think about it, and when I did, I thought maybe later, maybe tomorrow. Because I get a month’s worth of food delivered (thank you Nutrisystem), I had easy to prepare foods, frozen veggies, and because I am the only one here in my Long Beach apartment, a container of milk lasts a long time. The one thing I missed was my daily latte, and by day 5 or 6, I needed a fix. A few clicks on the app, I had a delivery of Dunkin’ one day, and Starbucks another. Sure, it cost me another $6 to $7 extra, but I felt it was a worthy cause, and I was helping the local economy, and tipping an essential worker if ever there was one. One night, needing to treat myself to ice cream, knowing that only chocolate chip cookie dough would ease my irritated throat, I placed a delivery order from the local supermarket. I waved at “Michelle” from my window as she placed the package at my door. Bless all their hearts.
What kept me company, besides MSNBC, a coloring book, and an easy jigsaw puzzle, was the occasional check-in call by a NYS Contract Tracers. Yes, they’re out there and they’re calling. Not every day, but enough so that I felt connected, not forgotten; it was comforting. They didn’t ask where I’d been or who I’d been in contact with, but rather how I felt, was I still feverish, having trouble breathing. One conversation was with CT Bill who was calling from the town next door. We talked about our kids, growing up in Brooklyn, and how we were similar in age. I had been free of any severe COVID-19 symptoms for a few days by this time, but still feeling congested, and for that reason, was not offering to return to work. “Get a chest x-ray,” he suggested. Then, he’d make a note to have another CT call me back in a few days for the result, and if all clear, I’d get a letter of clearance from the NYS Health Department. That sounded like a plan.
On the 16th day after the positive COVID-19 test, I awoke breathing freer than I had in a long time. The baby elephant that had been sitting on my chest had moved on. My energy returned, and I was ready to have my doggie return. While I do not want to give specifics on my medicinal routine, I will say that I leaned towards some old-fashioned remedies: chicken soup, lots of fluids, rest, immunity support supplements, saline spray, an easy-breathing inhaler (with tea tree and eucalyptus), and an OTC med for breaking up congestion. If I felt like I had to sit, I sat. I slept with the window open (sleeping in a heated room always makes my congestion worse), and I’d poke my head outside the back door now and then to get some fresh air and let the sun shine its glorious Vitamin D on me. Mostly, I leaned in to the COVID-19. I stayed away from news stories about the “long haulers,” those who have had long term effects from their COVID-19 experience. I kept my thoughts positive, believing that this would pass, and I’d be my old self in no time. And, as promised, the letter of clearance came from my CT buddies.
I shake my head. Why does this illness effect its victims so differently? Why was my case mild, while others need days or weeks in a hospital, and placed on a ventilator? From what I hear on the news, there’s still a lot to learn about COVID-19. What I do know is that we’ve come a long way in a year. Multiple vaccines, a slowed death rate, more people recovering. Imagine where we will be this time NEXT year. I’m not only grateful, but I’m hopeful.
P.S. My daughter bounced back quicker than I did, but she had different symptoms, and is also thirty years younger.
Top photo: Bigstock
Other Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff