I get it….
You’re sick of hearing about it, sick of reading about it and certainly sick of living under government mandated personal restrictions. I used to tell my children…and my husband for that matter, “I have a lot of patience, but it’s not infinite. When it runs out, it’s gone.” I think maybe that’s where a lot of the world population is at right now. Regardless, I’m going to share my Covid-19 story with you anyway. This story centers on the illness I suffered this spring and the physical effects it had on me, and to be frank, I believe, still does have on me. I hope it also sheds a light on why I feel it’s important to wear a mask in public and follow distance and social bubble restrictions and recommendations.
Back in March, the 9th to be precise, I started having cold symptoms…you know, the usual…cough and body aches. The province had not shut down at that point but we were starting to see a few positive cases of Covid-19 and we were alert to how contagious it appeared to be. Health call centres were set up to screen those who were sick and determine who required a test and/or to self isolate.
March 10th, my employer required me to call the call centre to have my symptoms screened. I told them how I was feeling and they asked if I had traveled outside of the country or had been around anyone who had. I was also asked if I had attended any large functions where someone else whom had attended had tested positive. The answers to all these questions were no. It was determined that I probably had a regular cold and I should follow proper cough etiquette, wash my hands frequently and monitor my symptoms…I was not told to go home and self isolate. So, I stayed at work that day, showed up the next day and the one after that. I followed the recommendations, coughed into tissues, washed my hands before I touched anything one of my coworkers might use and payed attention to how I was feeling. For those first 4 days, I felt I did just have a regular cold.
Then Friday the 13th hit. I awoke to my alarm with a splitting headache. My arms were so heaving and sore, it was a concerted effort just to grab my phone to turn off the alarm. Then a coughing fit seized me sending shooting pains throughout my entire body, leaving me very short of breath and my lungs on fire. I called in sick.
I made sure to get plenty of rest over the weekend…like I had a choice, all I wanted to do was sleep. Monday came along and I did not feel one iota better. I started to worry about missing work. After that first Friday of calling in sick, I only had 3 more sick days available to me and I could not afford to not get paid. By Tuesday, I had been severely ill for 5 days and I was still seeing no improvement. I started freaking out. I’d been emailing my employer of my condition and voiced my concern about missing work. I was once again required to contact the call centre.
In the course of those 5 days, I guess a lot of people in the province had started to become ill. It was practically impossible to get through to the call centre. They were being flooded with calls. But I’m nothing if I’m not persistent and after many hours and redials to try to get through, I finally did. I answered all the questions as I did before. I still hadn’t traveled outside the country nor been near anyone who had (as far as I knew, anyway) and had not attended any large gatherings. I told them of the worsening in my symptoms which now included shortness of breath, worsening cough and chills in addition to my previous symptoms of cough, body aches and headache. I was told I did not meet the testing criteria, but I needed to self isolate for 14 days. Again, I was assured it was probably a seasonal flu and to call 911 if I felt like I was going to faint or had to take breaths in between each word I spoke. I could only speak quietly and had to pause to take breaths after each sentence but I was not struggling to say single words, so fair enough, it could be worse, and I suffered alone at home.
My brother offered to make a grocery run for me. I tried to order online for pick-up to make it easier for him, but spots were not available for days and I was out of food. That was when I discovered that the world had gone crazy while I had been home sick for the last 5 or 6 days. He went to Walmart for me to get me a few things to hold me over until he could pick up my order 4 days later. I sent him a list via text and while he shopped and texted for substitutions on my list, he also sent me photos of bare shelves. 4 days later, I received a call from the store stating they could not fill my order because they did not have the stock. I don’t have cable, so I had been filling my days with Netflix and Crave, I had no clue what was going on outside my apartment and that in a week, the whole world had gone to shit. Thank all the good left in this world for my brother. He was my lifeline and made sure I didn’t starve.
By this time, I was convinced that I probably had Covid-19. My symptoms matched and common sense told me that my chances of being this ill with something else, when this virus was making its way around the entire world, were pretty slim. Especially as I had not been that vulnerable to flu viruses in the past. Sure, I would fall ill for a couple of days, but nothing as severe as what I was going through now.
I did not care that I had not been tested. By now, I was reading updates on the news and knew of the shortage of tests. I did not feel the need to be another statistic and was staying home alone anyway, so I knew I was not infecting anyone else. That was my main concern.
My symptoms abruptly disappeared on March 31st. Though many at the office where I worked were working remotely, I am the receptionist. My job requires that I be there. I contacted work again and let them know I had kicked it. I wanted to stay home one more day to make sure that my symptoms were truly gone, then I’d be available for work. What I didn’t know was that the province was now requiring that anyone who had been home sick, now had to be symptom free for 10 days before returning to work. So, once again I was required to call the call centre for advice, which was confirmed…again after hours of redialing and being on hold.
I have to tell you, once my symptoms were gone, I felt better than I had for years. I could take deep breaths and I had a ton more energy (sound like a particular world leader who was recently infected and required hospitalization?). I started working out again after years of not really needing too. The lack of oxygen over the two weeks of being ill had done a number on the muscle tone that I had previous to being sick. It felt good to get those muscles working again and to see my body getting back to normal. I ached, but in a good way, y’know?
I was working with dumbbells and kettlebells and all was great for about six weeks or so. That’s when the joint pain started and my muscles started to ache in not a good way. I chalked it up to my age…I’m 55…not ancient but not all that young anymore. I assumed my working out had been too much for my body, and even though I was taking supplements to help repair muscle damage caused by my workouts, I figured maybe I should try something less strenuous on my frame, like yoga.
After a couple of weeks of only doing beginner yoga and my joints and muscles were still screaming at me, and although I was getting frustrated, I figured it might be best to take a break from working out completely. Let my body repair itself, then get back into it slowly. Well, its been about 4 months and my joints and muscles are still screaming at me. I am not in constant pain but suffer flair ups and fatigue every single day. I’ve had more headaches in the last 8 months than I’ve had for 30 years previously.
Did I have Covid-19? Am I suffering after effects of it? I don’t know for sure. If I did have it, am I now immune? Probably, as science is strongly suggesting some degree of immunity seems to be present in those who had tested positive and recovered. I wear a mask when I’m in public and I still follow the hand washing and distance guidelines. My circle during this cold and flu season includes the people I work with in my office and that’s about it. I don’t do these things because I’m afraid of getting Covid-19. I really do think I am immune. I do it because too much is still unknown about this disease and I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I continue to go through.
I don’t profess to know it all but as long as Covid-19 is still prevalent everywhere, and I don’t know for sure that I’m immune and can’t transmit it, I am going to do what I can to protect anyone I come in contact with. I trust the science to tell me what that is. I hope you do as well. Try to take my word for it, you do not want to get this, regardless of whether its likely to kill you or not or your inner circle includes grandma and gramps. I ask that you also share my story, whether it involves sharing a link to it through your social media, or talking to those closest to you…especially the conspiracy theorists and those who think we should all get it to gain herd immunity. True enough, I survived, but so many have not. It’s only together and cooperatively that we will slow this thing down until a vaccine is widely available and we can safely and effectively move into herd immunity.
Until next time, keep yourselves in love,
End note: I was very lucky. I was paid for the entire time I was away from work. Because I’m the type that prefers to give more than I get, I’ve made it a priority to work through my lunch hours to make up the time. In doing so, I taken some of the pressure off my colleagues who would have to cover me and those who did cover me while I was ill. I’ve also made sure my employers got back the time they paid me. I’d also like to note that I work for a law office and because we are considered an essential service, my employment is quite secure. I know not everyone has that luxury. My heart goes out to all of you. Let’s all make sure we all hold our governments to task, to make sure they have our backs during this unprecedented modern time and that they are present with their supports to help us build back the economy required of a strong, healthy country when this virus has, for the most part, finally fucked off.