Go on, I’ll give you three guesses.
… really? Um… no.
Guys, it’s me. You’re terrible at this game.
Yeah, the better part of a week ago, I was getting a bit of a tickle in my throat. And I didn’t think much of it, because that’s not terribly infrequent for me in anything approaching, during, or toward the end of allergy seasons.
Then in a couple of days it became more of a soreness than a tickle.
Bah, thought I. I’ll just have a bit of raw honey to offset anything trying to settle in and that’ll be that. That’s worked before and it’ll work again.
But it didn’t. Not the first day and not the second.
Then my sinuses started getting backed up. At that point I figured I was in the clear as far as any Covid-19 was concerned, because Toronto Health has recently stricken that from items of concern for teachers to watch for in student symptoms.
I mean, it wasn’t like I had one of the big hallmarks of a Covid-19 infection, like a fever.
Then the fever hit.
Meaning, this was either the first flu that’s nailed me in the last few years–no surprise, with the latter half of that time keeping to ourselves and the public wearing masks in communal spaces, that now with mask rules among vaccinated people easing up, more common illnesses would start getting passed around again–or I had Covid-19.
So yesterday, after the fever crested through Friday night, I booked the required appointment to get tested at a facility that does swab tests specifically for people with symptoms. It was a quick process, and the results were going to be available in as little as 12 hours. But maybe up to 48 hours.
I was hoping for a faster turnaround, of course. Not just to know sooner, but because waiting longer also may have affected my daughter and wife.
The kiddo’s too young to be vaccinated, and the on-site nurse I spoke with verified online that the most current regulations state unvaccinated school kids in the house with someone waiting for test results can’t go to school. She’d be at home with me until the results were in, maybe getting more exposed to Covid-19 in the process.
The regulation wording for my wife, a teacher, was ambiguous enough that the nurse couldn’t clarify what it meant (well done, Toronto Health!), and said that my wife would probably know better. Which wasn’t the case, of course, but hey, that wasn’t on the nurse.
The different nurse who took the swab asked that I “try” to avoid going anywhere until the test results came in. Which I was in a lucky enough position to be able to do pretty easily.
And so the waiting began.
And that was where the gravity of the situation really started to sink in for me.
It’s one thing to briefly consider what you would do if one person in your household got Covid-19. It’s a whole other thing to realize that it may be your reality. And not even dwelling on the issue of potential critical organ failure or long-term blood pressure issues that have been reported from people who catch Covid-19, and is even in some of those who “recover” from it, there was also the real-world issues:
We’re in a one-floor, two bedroom apartment. Would I just hang in the one more separate bedroom and stay in a mask 24/7 to protect wife and daughter until the quarantine time passes? I don’t believe my wife would be allowed to work at her school, and my daughter definitely wouldn’t be able to go to class. Maybe unless they each had a negative test, but then, how sure would even that be? If you got a lung full of Covid-19 walking into a test, you’d show negative. Or a different scenario: You could test negative and then get infected walking out of the clinic, or while waiting for the result. Living in pretty close quarters with someone who’s verifiably infected, sharing the bathroom and kitchen, and breathing the same air, is no small matter.
Oh, and speaking of air, we’re below the main floor of this house, where a couple live, and there’s only one furnace and air conditioner cranking around the same air among all of us. We can often tell when and what they’re cooking, because the smell is carried down here (for better or worse). So my nasty viruses would absolutely be pulled up there, as well. So they’d need to be told and may need to go get a test, too.
I was at my chiropractor on Friday, post-sore-throat, mid-stuffed-sinuses, pre-fever. They’d need to be told, along with anyone who was around me in there at the time.
My daughter had a playdate with friends Friday evening. They were masked, as I was when I was around them, but masks aren’t perfect. The parents would need to be told. The whole family would need to be tested.
Had I gone anywhere else? Passed by people on the sidewalk? Anyone near me could’ve caught it.
I wasn’t letting myself get up in my head about it, but the potential ripple effects from just one infected person are crazy.
As it was, I started hitting up the test facility website about eight hours after the test, just in case the results were in really early, and within a couple of hours, I discovered I was negative for Covid-19.
So this bug that’s been kicking my ass since early last week was just a common flu.
It initially surprised me how strong its impact was on my system. But then it made some sense. Over the last year and a half of quarantining and being masked outdoors, germs aren’t getting around like they used to; like my body’s used to. But now, with masks cautiously off around others in certain circumstances, suddenly it’s like a germ smorgasbord, and my system isn’t used to having to fight that off all the time.
And I remembered I had a similar experience with cats.
I’d lived with cats my entire life, literally since before my earliest memories, until I moved out on my own. And I had always been allergic to them: I could pet them and snuggle and do all the fun cat stuff, but couldn’t get their hair into my eyes, or they’d swell up (my eyes, that is, not the cats, which would’ve been bizarre).
But what I noticed was after a couple of years of living on my own in a cat-free environment, whenever I’d be around cats again, my allergies were way worse than they ever were when I was living with them. I’d often get short of breath and my nose would stuff up and eyes would itch… it became a whole thing. I started taking antihistamines before visiting a place with cats, which I’d never had to do before.
I recall being at the house of a friend who had cats, and we were playing an RPG* of some flavour, and I noticed an itch on my forearm but we were in a battle, or something engrossing, so I ignored it. Until it got too bothersome to not examine. And I looked on the underside of my arm where the itch was, and there was a single cat hair with a halo of irritated pink skin around it.
So yeah, you may say I’d gotten somewhat more sensitive to cats.
All of which is to say: Take care of yourself. Prep your body in whatever way you normally would for a particularly nasty flu season, and then do more. Because with masks coming off and all of us increasingly back in each other’s exhaled germ soup, our bodies–softened and coddled over CovidTimes in a way they never have been before–are going to have a huge fight on their hands.
Stay safe, all.
*Role-Playing Game. Where my nerds at?!