What an interesting two years it’s been (I said, with tongue firmly implanted in cheek). In October 2020, I caught COVID-19. It went through my household with EVERYBODY getting it and having different levels of symptoms. Some scarily severe, some not even noticeable. My personal experience was pretty mild. But that was what, four variants ago?
In February and March of 2021, I got two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. No more sickness in the house for quite a while! In early October 2021 I got a booster shot. Really not a big deal to me; once you make it to nearly 60 years old, you find your primary care doctor will try to give you SOME kind of shot every time you show up. In the past two years, I’ve had flu shots, a tetanus booster, shingles vaccine and a pneumonia shot. Throwing a couple of COVID-19 shots in my arm didn’t faze me.
Interestingly enough, I’ve never gotten the flu. Everybody in the house can catch it, but I never show any symptoms. My dad was the same way. Right up until he passed away at 83, he had never in his life had the flu. Amazing.
New Year, New COVID-19 Surge
Enter 2022, and things got very busy around here. My son is coaching basketball and teaching, and I wanted to support him. I went to two high school basketball games in the same week. I stayed away from people and masked up just to be safe, but the venues were pretty crowded with grown-ups and kids of different ages. It was WAY exciting! My other forays into the world that week were grocery shopping and a meeting at church. Busy week!
Sunday night I started getting sinus symptoms: stuffiness and post-nasal drip. The weather had changed drastically that day (is it summer, fall, or winter today?) and that tends to trigger my sinus allergies. So, I thought nothing of it. I woke up Monday morning feeling really fine, right up until 10 in the morning. That’s when a wave of “That ain’t right!” swept over my body. A little stomach upset, and my sinus symptoms returned with a headache.
Me being me, I had just read the typical omicron symptoms list. That triggered me to test myself, using the Binax rapid tests. I’d bought several boxes a month or two ago, just to keep around. This time, the test was STRONGLY positive! Bright pink lines in the “positive” column.
Yep, COVID-19 Round Two was detected on a Monday morning, with my symptoms starting on Sunday night. I checked the CDC website for what to do next. The answer? COVID-19 jail for me (that’s isolation) for the next five days, followed by strict mask wearing and distancing for another five days, assuming I had no fever and my symptoms had gotten better.
Thankfully, my lovely wife, in designing our home 20 years ago, thoughtfully created a dedicated office space, isolated from bedrooms and the kitchen and with its own bathroom, just for me. “That’s where I’m going to live for the next five days,” I decided. “Away from everyone.”
This round of COVID-19, my symptoms were blessedly mild, again. Thanks to getting my vaccine and my booster, I only had three or four days of a stuffy head and post-nasal drip with an off/on headache. By the fifth day, I felt really fine. My voice was scratchy, leading people to ask “Who is this?” on the phone. But I’m good, really blessed, and a huge fan of over-the-counter cold and sinus medicine, which cut right through the symptoms.
I also had very little appetite for a few days, but of course, that’s come ROARING back. I ate almost a whole pizza on the fourth night without a blink.
Why am I telling you all this? Do you really care about my personal issues?
Honestly, it’s because I want those of you who DON’T have any experience with COVID-19, who’ve never had a friend or relative hospitalized, sick or dying from the disease, to know it’s a real thing.
Slow The Spread
As I write this, there are over 2,300 of our friends and neighbors in the hospital with COVID-19, and over 140 of them can’t breathe on their own. And 10 or more every day are losing their lives to it.
I’ve been blessed to have mild experiences. But that’s not luck; it’s because I’ve followed ALL the medical recommendations on how to avoid or minimize COVID-19’s effects. What would have happened to me if I had remained unvaccinated? Or never masked? Or distanced? Would I have been so fortunate?
I mean, I’m overweight, on meds for cholesterol and blood pressure. How many of you are in my same shoes? Do you really want to roll those dice?
And I didn’t just write off my symptoms as, “Oh, it’s just a head cold or allergies,” which I could have EASILY done. I had visits scheduled with my 83-year-old mother that week. What if I had visited her? Would COVID-19 have been so kind to her? She’s boosted and careful, but she’s still 83 years old.
I came home immediately and tested. I know at-home tests are hard to find right now, but since health insurers like Blue Cross are now paying for at-home tests (more about that here), it’s a good idea to keep a few handy if you can buy them. Once I got the positive test result, I shut off all human contact and isolated myself. Not for me, you understand, but because I care about the people around me and wanted to put them first. I know many of you have that exact same impulse and it’s a good one, one you should nurture and embrace.
It starts with honesty: being honest with yourself about how you are feeling. If you have more than one or two of these symptoms, you need to get tested or test yourself if you can:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Congestion and runny nose
- Sore throat
- Night Sweats (that’s a new one, but unique to omicron)
If you get a positive test and you’ve been vaccinated/boosted, you should follow the CDC’s guidance on isolating and taking other precautions. You can handle that. You are protecting those around you.
The Straight Talk is, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones by taking some simple steps during this omicron COVID-19 wave. Get vaccinated (ages 5 and up) and boosted (ages 12 and up) if you have not already. Mask up in public places. Test if you get cold or flu-like symptoms. Isolate if you test positive. See? Simple.
Take care of yourself and each other. If I can do it, Lord knows anyone can.