And Then COVID Found Me

The boys’ birthdays have led to our great return to society as infection rates drop in our area – my oldest requested a trip to Chuck E Cheese in August (a weekday and remarkably empty) and my second child asked to go to a similarly expensive but more physical climby-jumpy-sweaty kiddie palace for his big day. It fell on a weekend and was very crowded indeed, and it appears there was an uninvited guest…

Monday after the birthday our internet was down so I went for a walk outside rather than using my stationary bike. That night I felt a bit crumby and figured it was due to the face-full of allergies I’d been exposed to on my walk. The next day I felt all-over bad and tested myself for COVID, which came back negative. I didn’t want to make a stink if I didn’t have The Illness so I just went to bed early and lay in the fetal position most of Wednesday. Thursday, my guts were in an uproar.

Now, in my case, it’s very difficult to separate signs of serious intestinal illness from what might just be a surprisingly bad Thursday in the life of a Crohn’s Disease patient. This happens more often than you’d think. “Do I have food poisoning, or is my medication not working well this month?” “Is it stomach flu, or a sneak-attack flare?” I also felt particularly queasy, so I decided to test myself again just to be sure, and that “pink” line was a deep purple within one minute.

Two and a half years of worry and planning and panic and when I finally got COVID I sent my husband a picture of my positive test and a text that said, “what do I do?!” We have taken maybe a dozen of these tests since 2020 and never seen a positive result, and I suddenly couldn’t remember the protocol. In my defense, it’s changed several times since the beginning of the pandemic so I wasn’t sure what the latest guidance would be in my case. I’d had symptoms for three days, and there was some rule about five days now, if memory served, but oh yeah I’m immune compromised so do I need to get extra medication?

I called around (to my very patient father-in-law, M.D., and also my family doctor who was booked) and it was determined I should try to get antivirals to shorten the disease before the window for starting them closed. You need to start them pretty soon after you develop symptoms and I’d had mild to moderate illness for 3 days, so I headed to urgent care where the doctor was less enthusiastic about the antivirals. She assured me I wouldn’t end up in the hospital, current variants of COVID were not the clogged-lung, ventilator COVID of yore, and I agreed, since my few coughs were definitely post-nasal drip and not chest congestion. She also told me the side effects from the antivirals were more intestinal issues, so I put off taking the first dose until that evening as it seemed rather unappetizing.

My kids slipped notes under the door that were very on brand. Kid 1 impulsively came up with the idea and wrote it out in a hurry to make sure he was first.

By the evening I couldn’t keep down water, so swallowing pills of any kind, especially the kind that can cause nausea and bad taste in your mouth, were out. What followed was 48 hours of intense migraine, allllll the digestive problems, dizzyness, and sleeping in twenty-minute chunks around the clock. Sleep. Uncomfortable/barf/clutch head. Sleep. Repeat. By the time I could swallow my DayQuil, I’d missed the window for the antivirals. There was also a fair amount of mild hallucination, which was possibly from the constant but interrupted sleep, and the obsessive amount of hurricane coverage I’d been watching before I could no longer tolerate a screen. At one point my bedroom filled with water. At another time I thought I heard a tornado siren. I could fully visualize the pickax above my right eye that was causing immense pain, but when I reached for it there was nothing there. So cute.

After three days in the COVID Cave, I could watch a little TV and scroll Instagram. My head still feels tender, sensitive to light and sound, and it is Tuesday, a full eight days since the onset of symptoms. I’m at the point now where I feel unwell, but I’m not sure if its still COVID or the wake of COVID. Like when you go to the hospital for a few days and you feel bad, but do you feel bad for the reason you ended up in the hospital? Or because you’ve been in a hospital bed for days and haven’t been drinking an adequate amount of water? (Perhaps healthy people don’t understand this reference as they don’t regularly end up in the hospital?)

Kid 2 got the idea from big bro and added a bunch of flowery compliments and vocab. And Kid 3, known for her abundance of feelings, started a note and wasn’t happy with it so she cried and gave up.

I was assured that this variant of COVID lasts five days (ha), does not include the deep chest cough (true!), does not cause digestive problems (LOL), and does not cause the loss of smell and taste (wrong). On Monday night I realized I’d lost smell and taste, a week after I started getting sick. So basically, we don’t actually know a lot about COVID. I would be interested to know if people who generally have digestive problems are more likely to get digestive symptoms from COVID, though, because what are the odds I would get a symptom that has been somewhat ruled out of recent cases?

After I got my third vaccine, I felt awful. I went and got the third shot the day it was approved for immunodeficient people, forgetting that I had not been able to get the first vaccines immediately when they were released, so my second and third shots were probably a tad too close together. So when my husband started beating the drum about getting our fourth booster, I dragged my feet. I mean honestly, when is it a good time for Mom to have body aches and chills for 36 hours? We have birthdays and science projects and we moved houses! I hadn’t found an ideal time slot in my schedule, and then I got COVID. My husband did get his booster, and though he is also sick, he is less sick, but has had to care for all three kids while still working and also surprise! One of the kids has Strep! He doesn’t need to come out and say “I told you so,” it’s written all over the situation.

So folks, I regret to inform you that COVID is still real and still circulating and extremely unpleasant, and even if this version won’t have you gasping for breath on a ventilator, you do not want it. Get your boosters! Especially if your spouse got one, because you don’t want to see their “I told you so,” face. But also, I TOLD YOU SO to my kids, who insisted for two years it was safe to go to the climby-jumpy-sweaty kiddie place for their birthdays and no one would get COVID.

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