Ah, COVID. I managed to avoid it for 1255 days. Seemed like the streak that wouldn’t end. Until it did. Sigh.
We did our trip to New England and everything felt “normal”. Quieter in tourist zones, but normal. I had most of a week afterwards to recover and hang out in Ottawa, and then I started back to work on the Monday two weeks ago. I was a bit tired, but well, that’s not unusual.
On Tuesday, I was super tired AND my digestive system was doing wonky things. It felt like I had a bit of stomach flu, and I ended up being off work for three days (Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday). I worked on the Friday, but I still wasn’t 100%. Even on the Monday before, I had found it difficult to concentrate…people were briefing me about files, and for some of them, it was like they were talking about things I had never heard of before, they just weren’t tracking. On Monday, I wrote it off as “first day back”. On Friday, I thought, “Still that way, okay, maybe just because I’m still tired.”
On Saturday, I got up and had a hot shower. I was a bit stuffy-headed, so I let it run for a while. Felt okay, maybe a bit achy, but mostly okay. By late afternoon, I was NOT okay. I was feeling crappy, with aches and the start of a fever, and shivering like crazy at certain points. I was practically passed out on the living room couch, skipped dinner, and sent myself to bed early. I had figured that I would do a COVID test, something we hadn’t needed to do in over a year, if I wasn’t feeling great when I woke up.
Yeah, Sunday was NOT a good morning. The COVID test was not even a hint of doubt. As soon as the liquid hit the T line, it was rock solid, CLEARLY a positive result. Huh. I have to admit, I’ve always wondered if I was doing the test well enough, was I getting deep enough into my nostrils (I have a horrible gag reflex, so anything in nose or throat sets me off), etc. I guess my inadequacies were irrelevant, the test worked just fine.
So off I went to isolate in the basement. Jacob has had it before, but not Andrea, and we wanted to keep it that way. Andrea made me some lunch and I attempted to nap. It felt like I was gargling glass, with a super sore throat and ears. Ricola was helping, as was the Tylenol, but mostly just helping me “cope”, not making me functional. My concentration and focus were shot. I ordered groceries online for delivery and crashed. Andrea made some dinner, of which I think I had about 4 bites of some pork, I was not hungry for real food yet.
The plan was that I would be in the basement for the daytime and meals. Jacob has his own room at night, obviously, and Andrea would be in the guest room, so no issues. We could have her use Jacob’s bathroom, and I’d use the ensuite, leaving me able to sleep in my bed. Which is important because if I don’t use my sleep machine, my throat is toast as is my sleep. Except you’re not supposed to use a sleep machine while sick with cold, flu or COVID — you’re basically pumping your aspirant out even farther than normal, so putting others at risk. Andrea was okay with that, I would close the bedroom door, run the fan/ventilator outside in the bathroom, do the best we could.
I apparently slept TOO much on Sunday — that night, I slept hardly at all. I was wired. In the morning, all of the worries about Andrea resolved to be irrelevant as she was already sick, testing positive first thing…she made it 1256 days, beating me by one. For the rest of the week, many of her symptoms followed mine by a day or two. I booked off work for Monday and Tuesday, that was a no-brainer, and not surprisingly, wasn’t there Wednesday either.
I also realized that one of my meds for my diabetes was low, and so had to have that filled, charged and delivered. What many figured out many months ago seemed like, “Wait, are there still options for delivery if you have COVID?”. We gave Jacob an option, as I thought we should probably get him out of the house. He didn’t want to go. So far, a week later, he still feels fine. Fingers crossed.
On Wednesday, Andrea was looking into anti-virals. Not everyone needs them or is approved to take them. If you have really serious other illnesses like cancer (Andrea qualifies) or chronic illnesses like diabetes (hello! I’m here!), and you’re older (me again!), you can qualify to take these antivirals. They are designed as five days of two different drugs, morning and night, to make sure the disease doesn’t multiply. Based on the way they hit my body, they seem like super Sudafed antihistamines. They dry out every aspect of my throat, nasal passages, maybe my belly button from the inside, etc. And leave me feeling like I have a headcold after eating chalk dust for a month. The taste that is left from the AVs is terrible, and exactly like antihistamines. Or my Robaxacet stuff. The pharmacy delivered and they’re in blister packs. Six pills a day for five days, with one of my diabetes drugs eliminated while I’m on it.
I decided that I probably could have returned to work on Thursday, if infection symptoms were the only element, but I am super weak still, with poor concentration and focus. My boss said “rest up, come back when ready”, so I’ve been entertaining myself a bit by going through photos from our New England trip, and writing up a blog from journal entries already written. It’s not the most taxing of jobs, it requires some concentration and ability to sort through things, but it is taking me three times as long as it would normally AND when I’m done a batch, it’s siesta time. I’m wiped.
While my tastebuds aren’t torched, I am a bit bored by the food we have in the house. I now meet all the criteria to let me out of the house again…symptoms have been improving for over 24 hours (actually almost 48-72), no fever, etc. Same for Andrea. Soooo, I dropped my car off for service today. Woohoo, what an outing. Still wore my mask of course. But, I think almost all of my symptoms are gone. I have to finish the AVs, and the AVs themselves have their own symptoms. Mostly the headcold and ears plugged, plus super dry throat. But a lot less hurts than previously.
But it was the dreams, man, the dreams
My brain has been like a squirrel on speed. Do you remember Hammy from Over the Hedge when he takes an energy drink? Yeah, well that’s my brain.
I think it was Monday night, I was trying to go to sleep, and my brain would not stop buzzing. I had been watching Star Trek earlier in the day, and of course, there was a scene with a hologram version of a head tied to medical issues. I had fallen asleep, but not completely, and I knew I was both asleep and dreaming, and my brain kept creating this holohead to show me where I was sick. Full colour, very vibrant. The silvery hologram was bright enough to make me feel like it was even hurting my eyes.
And since I knew I was asleep and dreaming aka lucid dreaming, I told myself to knock off the hologram and go the f*** to sleep. Nope. I couldn’t get rid of the hologram. I had to focus on it to do anything, and the best I could do was push it away mentally. Like a Jedi force push. It bumped away and then came right back. I tried multiple times but I could NOT get it to go away. So I got pissed off.
I marched it all the way to my bedroom door, in my mind, pushing it repeatedly like a bouncer at a bar, and shoved it out the bedroom door. Then I mentally closed the door so it couldn’t get back in, even though it was trying to push against it. It had no hands, it couldn’t open the door, so I went back to my bed (all in my dream), laid back down and said, “Ah, peace at last” and fell asleep. In my dream.
The next time I had to calm my mind enough to sleep, I was stuck in some sort of Minecraft / Lego world. My brain was controlling the landscape…if I breathed out, it would create a small valley while my thoughts were trying to decide what to build — trees, mountains, etc. Again, I couldn’t turn it off, but I knew I could control it. So I decided I was going to make the most boring landscape ever. Boring dirt brown, as far as the eye could see. No ripples, no valleys, no mountains, no trees, just an endless see of nothing but brown after brown after brown “brick”. All in the blink of an eye. I set my mind to creating the endless sea of brown, and thought (within my dream), “Ah, that should be peaceful”. And promptly fell asleep. In my dream. Again, because I was already asleep in real life.
I was telling my boss about the dreams, and she asked me if John Malkovich showed up. And ALL of this dreaming was BEFORE the anti-virals. This was just COVID, Ricola and Tylenol, plus my normal pills.
It would be great to have some of that sh** for the future just for vibrant dreams. It seems back to normal now.
So, where does that leave me?
I am comfortable saying it was the worst “flu” that I’ve ever had. I’ve certainly had bad stuff last longer with more sniffling and phlegm, but the quality was more intense than the quantity. Of course, the big downside for me for the AVs or simple antihistamines is that they really dry out my throat. When I wake up in the morning, it feels like I have a small “catch” there. And at some point, I’ll start coughing. If I can’t lubricate it somehow or get a bit of something to clear, I’ll eventually cough until I throw up. It’s happened a couple of times this week, but nothing unusual. Heck, I can have that any day I wake up with a dry throat. Sigh. And I could drink a ton of water, Gatorade, Coke, whatever, makes no difference. That one little spot decides if it is going to itch or not. Or post-nasal drip will kick in for the same spot and annoy the f*** out of me.
The symptoms are almost gone, and my fear has dissipated. I confess, yes, that I was a bit scared. When COVID first arrived, and before there were vaccines, I would have been petrified. I have a lot of trouble with “clearing” respiratory stuff, often lingering coughs long after colds or flus. And you’ll recall that for those who were hospitalized, one of the main “treatments” was a ventilator. I don’t know that I could ever do a ventilator. I have an enormous phobia of anything in my throat, and feel like I would have had to be in an induced coma to even be able to tolerate it. As a comparison, mentally thinking back then about the options, death or ventilator, there wasn’t an automatic answer to that question for me. Now, of course, I’m 4x vax, etc., people mostly getting it now are not needing to be hospitalized, but there’s still that niggling phobia. I was nowhere near that world. In fact, after Tuesday, I’d say my breathing was mostly fine. I felt at times like my chest was tight, but I don’t know how you reconcile a tight chest with open airways. Doesn’t seem like they should go together.
I’ll finish my AVs, and I have another week’s vacation scheduled, so my recovery should be complete before I have to concentrate for work. I feel bad for my teammates who have had to cover while I was off on vacation, then sick leave, and now vacation leave again. But, well, that’s life I suppose.
It looks like I’ll survive COVID, and I’m avoiding any extra sleeping during the day right now, if I can. But it seems like I’m over the worst, just a couple more days of the antihistamines and then my head should clear. Andrea is following along behind by a day or two, so she’s on the mend as well. Her symptoms weren’t identical…whereas my legs were weak, hers were sore, for example. But I’ll let her tell her story on her own time.
I may not be able to quote MacArthur in the Philippines yet, but I “am returning”. I’m hoping to go for a walk around the block later today. Baby steps.
Nevertheless, if you’re thinking of taking a trip to COVID-town, here’s my review — 0 stars, would not recommend.