It’s July 2022, and after almost exactly 28 months of pandemic I got Covid.
And it sucked. I’m fine (so far). But it sucked. Deniers like to say “it’s only the flu!” Yeah? Maybe? The worst flu I’ve ever been through, to be honest. Considering this “flu” had my Mom really sick and almost killed my Dad last summer, I take your statements with a LARGE grain of salt.
How’d my covid-life start? In March of 2020 my department was called into a conference room and we were told “Take all you tech home tomorrow and prepare to work from home indefinitely.” My manager has been there a little longer than me, not much, but they said “I’ve been through a lot of things here, but this feels different.” Our company is not known for responding quickly or rashly, so such a sweeping response was astounding. Within 5 days, my entire office, around 2,000 people locally, were working from home. We scrambled to get my college-kid home from 3 states away. Scrambled to set up school-from-home for 3 kids and work-from-home for two adults. All in the same house. You might have followed along as I blogged about the opening days of working from home. I hated it. I still don’t like it very much.
Two Years Later
After trudging though two years of social distancing, vaccinations, boosters, missing holidays, birthdays and graduations, dance and music performances, … I mean I could go down the list of everything we missed and I’m sure my list will look like your list. We all missed a lot of shit. But 2022 comes along and things seem to be mellowing out (despite Covid almost killing my parents the summer before). Schools are reopening, and while there’s a lot of kids and teachers getting sick, the death toll seems to be decreasing. Unfortunately I live in an area where people don’t think Covid was ever really “a thing.” That it was made up. That it only killed the weak and sick. That it was just the flu. I’m mostly not wearing my mask indoors anymore. Not in stores unless they’re really over crowded, only at a few school events that were indoors and crowded. And I don’t care. I don’t trust you people to have your shots, I don’t want to get it unnecessarily. So I put mine on.
So now I’ve got kids going to and from college in other states, a kid going to dance competitions, a wife working with special needs students who don’t control their body fluids very well. Neither of us has gotten it. One kid had an asymptomatic positive-test a few months earlier at school- quarantined for a week and a 3-day weekend and she was fine. She never felt sick at all. Ok, cool, maybe we’re going to get through this. My wife goes off to a summer camp thing for a week. She comes home, we go get dinner at our favorite brewery Friday night. Saturday we go to a local soccer game and I yell and sing my throat raw, pretty normal for me at a game. Sunday- I wake up not feeling great but I figured it was from the Saturday activities (yard work, soccer game, drinking) and I’m just a little wore out and hungover.
Monday I feel like hot garbage and every symptom I have is consistent with Covid. Luckily we’re still working from home so I take a home test and wait for the 15-minute result. It didn’t even take 5 minutes for that second red line to appear.
I suppose Sunday was my real Day 1. Sunday I felt tired, a scratchy throat, a dry unproductive cough. Nothing really terrible. From someone who mouth breaths at night and with it being so hot and dry this summer, although I didn’t feel great I also didn’t have any kind of fever. I figured I was just wore out from Saturday and I took it easy all day.
Monday I woke up feeling worse, but not terrible. I took the home test pretty early in the day, mostly I thought as a precaution, just to rule out it NOT being Covid. Yeah, that did not go to plan. So most of that day I spent sequestered in the home office, masked at home. I worked almost a full day, only cut out 30 mins early. Coordinated with the Covid-response-team at work. I had every intention of working the following day. My symptoms were not really worse, felt mostly the same as Sunday. I laid down “for a bit” at 4pm and woke up at 7pm. I was wrecked. No energy, mild fever, slight body aches. I did some stuff in the bedroom for a couple hours and crashed out a 9 and barely slept all night.
I would soon learn Tuesday was going to be the worst day. I woke after not sleeping well, and briefly logged into the work network to set all my out-of-office notifications and clear my calendar. I sequestered myself in my bedroom thanks to an amazing wife who didn’t complain at all about the situation, bringing me food, drinks, medicine, cough drops, gatorade, even take-out wonton soup. My body ached. Badly. It was like the vaccine body ache but worse. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to sit. It hurt to recline in a chair. No position was comfortable. I was now running a low grade fever, in the 100-102 range which meant I just sweat the whole time. Our bedroom is upstairs and our house doesn’t have A/C and in this July heat, it wasn’t just hot outside, it was hot indoors, and my body was hot. It sucked. At one point I went for a walk outside, just down the street and back, to get some fresh air and just be outside. I also remember reading early on that staying mobile helped your lungs stay clear from mucus buildup. I had a hacking productive cough now, and it racked my entire body. I start on Tylenol and massive vitamin supplements. Lots of water. I go through 2 full phone charges and a Kindle charge in between naps. I don’t have much appetite. I feel like microwaved garbage.
Wednesday I skip work again and feel like crap all day. Low-grade fever persists with a headache. Body ache is mostly gone but what isn’t gone? The cough. Debilitating, body wracking cough all day. Doubled over in bed, coughing until my vision fades coughing. Almost no appetite. I eat a protein bar for breakfast, and warm up some take-out wonton soup for lunch. I hack off and on most of the day and night, barely sleeping between coughing and sweating in bed. I found that lying on my back doesn’t make me cough as much. Lying on my side makes it really bad. I can’t sleep on my back so I dozed in and out all night, maybe got four hours of sleep.
Thursday I wake up feeling kind of normal. I have a froggy throat, the kind where you have to keep clearing your throat, get some mucus out of there, and then you’re OK for a while. Still not much of an appetite. Coffee does not sound appealing yet. I feel well enough to work from home (as usual) and I’m fairly productive. Isolated in the home office with the window on and fan going. I still have brief coughing fits but luckily I don’t have many meetings. I have some narration to record but my voice is thrashed and scratchy so I set that aside and work on other things. Work a full day, Gatorade for lunch. Skip dinner- I think I had a handful of almonds and a glass of Gatorade. I force myself to not nap, and crash out early.
Friday I’m about 80% there. I try some coffee with tastes good, but gives me bad phlegm. I don’t know if that’s the non-dairy creamer, or just coffee, but I barely finish one cup. The cough is intermittent now, bur right before my first meeting I have a fit that last several seconds of hard coughing- so hard I was sweating and my abdomen hurt. Mostly it only appears after I talk on my few meetings. I feel and sound well enough to record that narration I needed and start working on an explainer-video I’m creating. My appetite is somewhat returned. I eat three meals, albeit small ones, for the first time in a week- Protein bar, frozen pad thai, breaded cod (with homemade tarter sauce). No booze. That doesn’t seem like a good idea. Play some video games through most of the evening and crash out around 10.
Today is Saturday. Today I am officially released from isolation based on the CDC, but I should continue to wear a mask indoors around others in public and at home. After 10 days I can apparently stop wearing a mask. I have to test again today for work, but the CDC says I don’t need to if I haven’t had a fever for a day. It’s still early, but I feel mostly normal. I can definitely tell I’ve been sick- my body is not 100%; I woke up with a lot of phlegm, blech, and much coughing to clear it out. I had coffee and had the same result as yesterday. I’m still going to take it easy over the weekend to avoid a relapse.
This sucked. There’s only a few times I’ve been this sick in my life. The real problem is the uncertainty. With ‘normal’ flu, you feel like shit for a few days and you know you’re going to be back to normal (for the vast majority of people). With this shit- Who knows what’s going to happen? Are you asymptomatic like my kid? Are you going to get the mild version like a lot of people? Or do you get pneumonia like my dad? It’s complete biological roulette and you don’t know what’s going to happen until you’re already living it.
Second- there is little if any information about when to see a doctor. My health insurer, the CDC, the Great State of California (and yes I love my state, fuck off), everyone tells you what to do- isolate, mask, treat symptoms. I couldn’t find anything that said “call a doctor when X happens.” I set a timeline for myself based on what happened to my pops- I knew anecdotally the first 2-3 days would be the worst, so I figured if I didn’t stabilize by Wednesday that was my red line. If I felt the same or worse on Wednesday I was going to start calling people. Lucky for me I was on the mend by Wednesday.
I’ll be paying attention more now where I sit, who I’m near, and particularly any lingering signs of body weirdness. I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell at any time (a buddy recently did), and I don’t have any ‘brain fog’ or anything like that yet. Big props to my awesome wife for bringing me food and fumigating my rooms with Lysol each day.
Lesson learned- don’t sit next to strangers at the brewery.