Health

Some Notes from Isolation

Stay at home. Quarantine in your home. Flying viruses. Coronavirus pandemic and social distance. Self-isolation to stop the outbreak of the virus. Vector illustration

I have had so many stops and starts with this blog post. And I know I am committing to a few hours, if not the rest of the day, to write this update for all of you. But when my last post was about my husband testing positive for Covid, I figured I probably owed all of you an update.

Rob tested positive on Saturday. That night, I slept in Iliana’s room on the floor, to keep Rob isolated. Iliana and I were scheduled to get tested the next day, so we could see how much we needed to isolate. I was optimistic that I would test positive but be asymptomatic, getting myself enough immunity to carry me until it was my turn to get a vaccine.

That was a lofty goal, and not a realistic one for my immune system to achieve.

I woke up in the middle of the night with muscle aches and ringing ears. My temperature spiked, then dropped down to below normal. My stomach hurt. My test was going to be a formality.

I texted my boss in the morning, so we could prepare for the inevitable. Luckily, I had not been following my normal schedule the last two days I was there, so I was not in close contact with very many people. As soon as I tested positive, the people I was in close contact with would be told they needed to quarantine. If Iliana tested positive, more people would have to stay home.

Before noon on Sunday, we knew that I was positive and Iliana was negative. When she started showing symptoms on Tuesday, the school nurse told us that there was no need to test her, unless we wanted to. Since she was in close contact with us, she would have a quarantine until spring break. A positive test would not change that.

Luckily, we will all be set free in time for our weekend trip at the beginning of spring break!

So right now, Rob is back at work, with some accommodations. Iliana has had extremely mild symptoms (most kids do) and is very annoyed that she is not allowed back at school. I am feeling better physically, but still have a lot of brain fog and some sensory issues as I wait for the quarantine clock to run up! I have been preparing for my re-entry into the outside world, which is both exciting and stressful.

Since my life has been completely dominated by the Rona this week, I thought I would share some facts that I have learned from my experience:

I still tried to work from home!

1. Something Stuff Happens In Spite of Your Best Efforts

No matter the situation, when something bad happens to someone, it is human nature to look for a way to place the blame, so that we can believe the situation will not happen to us. Yes, I work in a school. We were meticulous about wearing masks. I wore an N95 at work, circulating between 5 of them that got worn once a week.

We aren’t sure exactly how we got sick, but we do know I didn’t catch it at work (because nobody else there has tested positive). Rob may have caught it from a customer who wasn’t wearing their mask correctly or someone who didn’t socially distance. I may have caught it from waiting in the sardine-packed line to get into Walmart during the freeze.

Sometimes stuff just happens.

2. Our Symptoms Were Mainly Neurological

When I found out I had Covid, my first thought was that I would soon be gasping for air and struggling to breathe. That never happened. My sinuses got a little more stuffy that usual and I have an occasional tickle cough. In the evenings, I go for walks (while avoiding other people), and two days ago I tried running a short distance. I did so easily, without getting winded. I could run a 5k today, and it would be much easier than writing this article.

The bulk of my symptoms were neurological. I was very fatigued, with constant ringing in my ears. I lost my sense of smell, but not my sense of taste (although of course my sense of taste is significantly reduced). I had muscle aches and very pronounced muscle tightness. I also had headaches and felt light headed. My body temperature bounced all over the place at first, and I have remained very sensitive to heat and cold. I am very distractible (although it is slowly improving) and have a difficult time with short term memory and expressing myself verbally or in writing. Mental tasks cause a lot of fatigue, and physical activity helps to clear my mind.

My emotions have been all over the place at well. When I first tested positive, I felt almost euphoric. This led me to overexert myself, and while I slept all of the next day, I became extremely anxious. I was convinced that I was going to start having trouble breathing. My moods have become much more stable, thankfully.

The Rona couldn’t keep me away from my yoga!

3. Re-Entry is a Terrifying Prospect

My quarantine ends on Tuesday, and I will definitely be ready to return to work, as long as I have accommodations for my residual brain fog. I have corresponded with my boss repeatedly, because I am very nervous about returning to a job that involves constant decision-making. Although I have no doubt that my brain will return to its old self, during these last few days before spring break, I am going to need some help. This is a huge shift from what I am used to.

Returning to social activities is scarier than returning to work. I have read stories of people being ghosted and treated as if they were still contagious. Fortunately, my friends are not like that. They have been checking up on me everyday and have assured me that they can’t wait to see me and give me a hug!

4. The Rona Ends

I currently feel like a leper in the Bible, but this is not a permanent situation. The CDC is confident that I am safe to be around children in a public school after day 10, if I have had no fever for at least 24 hours. And while they aren’t sure how long immunity lasts, it is very safe to say that right after day 10, my immune system will be well-armed with enough antibodies to keep the Rona away for awhile.

I am telling you this in case you have a friend who have had Covid. That friend has been on an emotional roller coaster and at some point along the way–no matter how mild their symptoms were–they considered their own mortality. And they did this all while in isolation. After they have met the criteria to leave isolation, they are safe from infecting you or anyone else. The science is very sound on that.

So do me a favor. If you have a friend who has recovered from Covid, go see them, and maybe even consider giving them a hug. They need it.

The evening walks are my sanity!
About Us, Health

R is for “Rona”

Spring break is a dangerous time.

In 2017, I went on medical leave starting the week before spring break. (Here is a picture of my first day of freedom!)

My first day on leave, March 1, 2018.

In 2018, I was in a long-term subbing assignment in Deer Park. On the last day of spring break, a factory caught on fire, which led to spring break being extended by a week.

Last year, of course, we went on lockdown after spring break and did not return to school in-person until fall.

So this year, of course, there was an exciting build-up to spring break. Let’s recap, shall we?

Two weeks ago, most of the class I work in, had to quarantine.

And then we had a week off of school, for what everyone here refers to as “Snow-vid.”

After things returned to “normal,” Rob started feeling like he had a cold. I figured he wore himself ragged during the snowstorm and needed some time to rest and recover. He had a low grade fever that went away, and it seemed to be a run of the mill sinus cold. By the end of the week, it was definitely improving. I wore my N95 at work and was very careful about avoiding close contact at yoga, but it seemed like things were going to be fine.

Friday afternoon, Rob sent me a text, saying that he had lost his sense of smell.

So I learned a lot of things. I learned that Covid tests are free, even if you don’t have insurance. I learned that the rapid test was offered nearby. And according to Rob, putting the swab an inch up your nose is more difficult than it seems.

Three hours later, I learned that quarantine for close contact starts the first day of close contact, which for us was the day Rob’s symptoms started. So I will basically be off of work (except for a few things I offered to do remotely) until March 8, and Iliana will be distance learning. She is taking it in stride and already looking at her grades and getting set up!

So no yoga class for yet another week! I don’t have a good track record with doing well in isolation, and of course I freaked out initially. After a texting conversation with my wonderful, wonderful yoga teacher (who reminded me that I can do the videos 24/7 if I want to!), I had a much more positive mindset. I could even see how I had been so exhausted that having some time to rest will be beneficial.

Tonight, we have Rob isolated in the bedroom, and I will be sleeping on Iliana’s floor. But this has seemed ridiculous, because there is a good chance that Iliana and I also have the virus but are asymptomatic. So we are getting tested tomorrow.

Ili has started a new puzzle!

The upshot is that if I test positive, I will likely have immunity until I am eligible for a vaccine. So my days of not being able to hug might soon be over! In the meantime, my focus will be on self-care. If my body is busy kicking the arse of a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, I want to do all I can to help my immune system continue its victory streak!