Symptoms of COVID-19 May Include Canceled Plans, Hurt Feelings
It took 26 months, but I finally got COVID-19. In that time, I’ve felt many strong emotions about the pandemic and its effects. Every part of life has been touched by this disease and the wildly varied responses to it, both across the globe and within our interpersonal spaces.
Before the latest tsunami of COVID-19 infections crashed into Hawaii — the one that swept my husband, Jonny, and me into the sea of case data — I was actually feeling pretty good about the state of things. Finally.
My mom, Holly, has received five doses of the vaccine, as recommended by her lung transplant team, and was able to get Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) at the end of March. The monoclonal antibody therapy is good for six months of pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in immunocompromised individuals. It’s also reassuring that Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and other treatments have proven effective in reducing the severity of symptoms.
Despite my relief, I know that people in the chronic illness and disability community are still moving cautiously through the world. But as an ally to this community, I’m optimistic about our future.
Author Robin Sharma said, “Good health is a crown on the head of a well person that only a sick person can see.” I’m well aware of my crown. Because of my proximity to chronic disease, I know that it’s a privilege to be healthy, hopeful, and somewhat carefree amid an ongoing pandemic.
From my throne of optimism, with my crown of health, I felt some of the wounds of the last two years start to mend. My smoldering feelings of deep hurt and anger caused by others’ choices were finally starting to scar over.
And then my husband woke up sick — 15 hours before we were supposed to board a plane to Scotland.
My bag sat half-packed on the floor as I tore into a package of at-home COVID-19 test kits. I’d already checked in to our flight. My friends from the mainland were arriving that evening to housesit. An Airbnb across the globe was ready for guests. The tickets to see Queen and Adam Lambert that we bought almost two years ago threatened to burst into flames.
Within a minute, two dark lines burned from the window of Jonny’s test.
“Maybe it will go away if we wait the whole 15 minutes. It could be a false positive,” I thought, as he sneezed with gusto in the bathroom.
A lot of four-letter words came to mind. They were not “nice,” “cool,” or “good.”
I drove to the airport, releasing those words through thick, toddler-tantrum tears to my best friend on the phone. When I arrived, I lowered all the windows, donned my N95 mask, and got out of the car to inform my friends that they were about to enter a biohazard zone. Would they prefer to go to a hotel?
I stayed up all night changing our carefully planned reservations for flights and lodging, informing friends I’d seen over the weekend that they’d been exposed and screaming into the void about karmic injustice. We scheduled PCR tests for the next morning. When we should have been flying over the Pacific into the rising sun, we were instead staring into the masked visage of a nurse with an uncomfortably long swab.
By the end of the day, my throat was burning and our PCR tests told a truth I would’ve loved to ignore. We both had COVID-19. The doctor advised us that we could go out in public with masks after five days if our symptoms improved, 10 days if not. With any luck, we could make it to Glasgow in time for the concert 12 days later.
And thankfully, praise Pfizer, that was the case.
We spent a whole week locked in our bedroom sleeping, playing Boggle, and shotgunning Emergen-C. But I’m grateful that we endured mild cases of the disease we’ve been dreading for over two years. I know how many millions of people were not so fortunate. But gratitude doesn’t erase the anger I felt at having yet another major life event derailed by COVID-19.
The tender wounds of rage and hurt were all opened anew. Lying in bed for seven days, I played the what-if game a lot and wondered if variants capable of evading protection offered by the vaccine would exist if 80% or more of the population had gotten vaccinated last year. I cursed all of the government’s missteps and the misinformation that turned a pandemic into a political battleground.
Some days will feel like that for a long time, I think. But other days? Maybe I’ll find myself watching the sunset in the Scottish Highlands with my love and everything will be OK.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.