This week covid finally got me.
Thank God and science for vaccines and Paxlovid.
It’s the end of Tuesday tonight, and on Saturday I worked a night shift from midnight until 10 a.m. Sunday morning. During the shift, I began to feel a bit faint. I had vertigo, that sensation of motion that is so disconcerting, but I attributed it to having been on the boat all day with my family prior to coming to work. By 10, when I was preparing to leave the hospital, I felt presyncopal. I had to sit down, because I truly felt like I might pass out. I chalked it up to exhaustion and went home.
I don’t really remember much from there on – getting home, maybe grabbing something to eat in the kitchen, falling into bed and asleep within minutes. Usually after a night shift I come home, make breakfast, maybe shower, watch an hour of TV to decompress, read the news and eventually fall asleep later than I had planned. Not this time. I woke up multiple times during the day, and though my AC was blasting I felt hot hot hot. I had a rip roaring headache (but I always get this after a shift, and my period is due), but suddenly I also had significant nasal congestion. After waking up a billion times I decided I couldn’t really sleep, and when I got out of bed at 5 pm to go to the washroom I realized I had chills. I took my temp and without much surprise saw 38C come up on the thermometer. Huddling back under my covers I texted “FUCK, I have fever” to my colleague at work, to my husband and to my mom. I took the rapid covid test kit and swabbed myself. Within seconds the telltale two lines appeared.
I felt the world close in on me. I could see my life flash before my eyes – really. I watched scenes – of proned patients, ventilators, staff in full PPE – parade through my mind as I ticked off my risk factors: severe asthma, obesity, on a biologic medication that could suppress my immune response. Add to that my two previous pulmonary embolisms and the fact that covid causes clots. Taking a deep breath I swallowed two Tylenol and texted my colleague in charge of this at work, who promptly got on the phone with my colleagues in ID. Within 2 hours my mother had picked up my prescription for Paxlovid and left it outside my door along with fresh fruit, and I downed the first three pills minutes later.
After getting a handle on myself I tested my 7 year old son (actually, he tested himself – what a brave kid) and he rapidly came up positive. Luckily, my husband and daughter tested negative. I pulled my son into our bedroom and shut the door.
My boy and I have been isolating in my bedroom since then, using the upstairs washroom, and his bedroom when he wants to play. We walk through the downstairs in N95s to get to the backyard, where we can eat and relax in fresh air. The healthy pair have taken up residence in the living room, sleeping in blankets and sleeping bags on our couch. They watch TV and movies in the evenings and bring us sickies our meals. Not so bad – things could be much worse than this. We are blessed to have a home on multiple floors with a big back deck and yard. Isolating from family in a small apartment must be extremely difficult.
Paxlovid is a game changer, along with the four doses of vaccine I received over the last year and a half. Whereas early in the pandemic I might have ended up ventilated in the ICU, or worse, dead, I can happily say that I think I will be just fine. Aside from the disgusting metallic taste in my mouth (a constant since starting the medication), I am feeling a heck of a lot better. On day 1 and 2 I felt like I had been hit by a truck and could barely move around. My body ached, my energy was at zero, my head hurt like hell and I had soaking night sweats. By the end of day 2 I was already feeling better. Today, I felt myself except for the lack of energy. I did however feel spry enough to plant in our garden, but for the rest of the day I sat in a comfy chair on the deck and read “Station Eleven”. Creepy book – written in 2014, it’s an imagined existence after a pandemic wipes out global society. It’s a fantastic read, and though I had bought it just before covid, I couldn’t bring myself to read it until I finally caught the virus.
So here I am, on the other side of imagining my own demise, surviving and thriving enough to write this piece. It’s devastating however, to realize that all it took was one week – ONE WEEK – of enjoying normal life again, in order to finally catch the beast. I was off work on staycation, and we sent one child to day camp and the other to riding camp. We went to swim team practices, a packed swim meet, tennis lessons and horseback riding lessons. We went to indoor swim lessons, and didn’t wear masks on the pool deck. We participated in a back-to-life normal Canada Day celebration with inflatables, face painting, singing, cotton candy and pony rides. We lay on the grass in the field by the pool with a thousand other happy people, watching the fireworks in the sky above; we screamed with joy along with everyone else. We lifted our voices in peace and gratitude for surviving, for finding this moment in time when life once again felt like it used to.
And this is where it got us.
Thank God and science for vaccines and Paxlovid.
Otherwise, I don’t know where we would be.
But here we are, and we are fine. It was worth it. For our family to live a quasi-normal life, I would take multiple episodes of feeling like a train ran me over, as long as I come out of it feeling OK and healthy. I will take as many boosters as the healthcare system offers me, if it means we can live our lives and hug our friends with love and joy in our hearts.
Don’t get me wrong – we all still need to be cautious. Wear masks indoors. Stay home if you have any symptoms. But get vaccinated, boosted, and do it proudly. This will save you – this will save us all.