UPDATE, April 7, 2022: A fitting (?) coda to this post: This morning, a week after my first symptoms, I tested again and still came back positive. Boo. This is not unusual and I'll test again tomorrow or the next day, but it's still a bummer.
For the last two years, I have considered myself an observer of the pandemic. I was affected, of course, right from the early days when toilet paper suddenly became scarce, to working remotely, to facing mask mandates, and restrictions on where I could even go.
But in all these things, I was just like most everyone else: Inconvenienced, maybe a little annoyed, but ultimately understanding why things were happening as they were.
But that changed this week when I felt a scratchy throat and a few days later, with the symptoms of what felt like a head cold settling in, I tested positive on a rapid response test for COVID-19.
There is always a chance that the result was wrong. In fact, just after the scratchiness began, I took my first test and it came back negative. I read today that about half of cases similar to mine (Omicron variant, fully vaccinated) can produce false negatives if tested too soon, because the virus takes a little more time to show up in these kinds of less-than-lab accurate tests. My partner had been sick and had tested positive, so I did entertain the idea briefly that the negative was a legit result, but I know now that’s pretty unlikely.
And so I have now had the virus and become an active participant, a statistic, if an uncounted one. How does it make me feel?
I’m not entirely sure yet. My immediate concerns were getting better and minimizing risk to others by resisting the urge to run into the street and randomly hug strangers (ie. self-isolate). Now, as the symptoms have largely cleared up (hooray for being fully vaccinated + booster) I ponder.
How likely is it that I’ll get sick again? What will it be like if I do? Will I experience “long covid”? Will I just be fine and dandy?
I suppose in a way I feel…unclean? Uncertain? I thought I would escape the pandemic without getting sick and now that it’s happened, I realize it was a bit of a faint hope once the variants started getting more and more infectious. In the last few months I’ve gone from knowing no one who had COVID-19 to knowing…more than a few. And that quiet little part whispering about my mortality—that’s there, too. I think of how it would have gone if I’d gotten sick before the vaccines had been developed. I’m not in my 20s anymore, even if I mostly act like I still am (I don’t know how to act “old”, but maybe I’m just fooling myself and I’m six months away from lapsing into “How do you do, fellow kids?”).
I may have further thoughts on this, but that’s all for now—other than hoping this whole stupid pandemic wraps up (for real, not just in some people’s minds) by the end of the year or something.
YAPP = Yet Another Pandemic Post