Saturday, January 16, 2021
I felt the first symptom last Wednesday night. I was feeling fine all day, a little scratchy throat from what I thought was the paper mask. By 8 p.m., my temperature was 100.1, and I was unusually tired and achy. I lay on the couch, blanket around me, hoodie fully covering my head. I decided to wait it out and see how the night went, and decide what to do in the morning.
My real estate office in Long Island has been Covid-responsible. Plexiglass was installed to separate work stations, limits were placed on the number of agents who can be on premises, heavy duty cleanings throughout the week, and wipes and disinfectant sprays about the office for daily use. Before anyone enters, they must record their temperature, and answer the Covid-symptoms questionnaire. We wear masks in the office and keep our distance. What else can an office do?
The next morning, Thursday, although the night was restful, I did not feel any better. Temperature was 99, and the aches and pains remained. I had to bite the bullet and call my boss to alert her that I had Covid symptoms and was going to get tested. That one phone call set in motion a series of more phone calls and a halt to office business until my results came in.
CityMD has a great system in place here in Long Beach, NY. After a visit to the urgent clinic at around 11 a.m., I was placed on the waitlist, and sent home to await a text to let me know I had 30 minutes to return for a rapid test. I had 66 people ahead of me; it was a long day. At 6 p.m., I was getting swabbed in both nostrils, a “brain tickling” is what one friend calls it. By the time the physician had the swab’s contents in the dish, he said, “Yea, you’re positive.” The same scenario was playing out in Brooklyn as my daughter was getting her test results. She and I were together the previous Sunday. By that Thursday, she was having her own rapid test, and just as I got my results, she texted me her positive result. We commiserated, shared symptoms, and the shock over having felt as fit as a fiddle just three days before. I invited her to quarantine with me so she wouldn’t infect her roommates, but she opted to stay put and not leave her room. My two daughters and I have shared trips and adventures over the years, and to share Covid with one of them is especially poignant. She’s lost her sense of smell, does not have chest congestion. I can taste fine and have bouts of congested coughing. So interesting, this Covid.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect Covid, and don’t take it lightly, but I also don’t consider it a death threat of any kind. I put together my Covid care kit: Tylenol for muscle pain and fever (Motrin is not recommended); Nyquil, Zinc lozenges, Emergency Vitamin C, Elderberry tablets to dissolve in water; thermometer and oxygen meter. That last item was suggested since if oxygen levels stay level (97 to 99) you’re good, if they drop in the 80’s, it’s advised to call 911. With my supplies around me, I feel ready for the next ten days.
One unusual symptom, intense pain in the mid-back region, has been surprising. A quick online search informed me that Ellen DeGeneres complained about the back pain during her bout with it in December. She said it was like “a broken rib.” Mine is painful, but two Tylenols and a concerted effort to focus my attention on the pile of New York Times on my table, a list of Netflix streams to watch, and an easy 300 piece puzzle of the United States has taken my mind off it. I’ve acknowledged the Covid, accepted that I have it, relieved in a way as I’d been running from it for almost a year (haven’t we all!), and can now settle in and let my body heal itself, and build up some immunity to it already!
While I sit in my apartment in Long Beach, I can’t complain. I am so fortunate to have friends and family nearby if I need milk or bread or Kit Kats, and sick time protection at my job that allows me to quarantine for ten days without losing pay. I am extremely conscious that not everyone can say the same, and to that I bow my head. Experiencing this gives me ideas for how I can help after I recover: maybe collect and sanitize jigsaw puzzles to leave on doorsteps of others housebound with Covid, or deliver Nyquil, Tylenol, and Kit Kats to those who have no one to bring it to them. I’ll have to think about that.
For now, I’ll go back to reading, and doing my jigsaw puzzle. After watching my fill of news over the past week, I look at the puzzle before me: a broken up United States of America. Piece by piece, I’ll do my part to restore this amazing Country; that’s enough for one day.
(Part 1 of a two-part story. MJ will be back at Day 10. Feel free to write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story. Believe me, she has the time to read emails!)
All pics by MJ Hanley-Goff