Just when you think you’re going to be one of the lucky ones who avoids COVID, you can’t get out of bed – Chicago Tribune
It took 958 days, two vaccines and two boosters for Grumpy and me to come down with COVID-19. After the second booster I was pretty much hoping we’d escape entirely, but now I realize it was no longer a matter of if but when.
While I know this is no laughing matter because so many people have died from the virus, our daughter didn’t seem too concerned when we told her. Her exact words were, “I bet you’ve been waiting for this so you can write something funny about it.” (So caring, that girl. Can’t imagine who she gets it from.)
It all started as we returned from a cruise last week. As we got into the house, Grumpy admitted he was feeling a little off and decided to use one of the COVID test kits we have at home. He’s literally used hundreds of them because he has to test for work twice a week so it was unbelievable to finally see not one but two red lines, especially as we’d tested negative the day before we left.
“Looks like I’ve finally got it,” he said.
“Amazing,” I said, retreating to the back of the room. “I feel fine but I’d better check too.”
I scurried out of his way as if the house was on fire. My test was negative, so we slept in separate rooms while I dreamed about what kinds of foods I could push under his door.
At 5 am I woke with a scratchy throat. I knew immediately what it meant. Another test showed the finest possible second line. I opened Grumpy’s bedroom door and woke him up with the good news that we didn’t have to isolate after all.
The first morning was pretty good. I felt a little tired but was able to unpack. No problem if I couldn’t go out. Plenty to do after a fun vacation and luckily I work from home. No worries at all.
By the next morning I felt like one of those inflatable air dancers outside Mattress Firm. As I tried to walk the dozen steps from the bed to the bathroom, my arms were light as air while my legs were both foamy yet loaded with lead.
Thinking a good hot shower was just the tonic to get going, I ended up having to roll around on the bed clothes to get dry because I couldn’t stand up any longer.
That was when I began my nap regimen. One before breakfast, one before lunch, another after what would have been lunch had I been able to eat it, one before dinner and an early evening nap before bedtime.
Although I’m calling them naps, they were actually the kind of sleep that could only be broken by a kiss from a prince. They brought strange nightmares like Grumpy and I being on a cruise ship that was more like a sleeper train.
“We can’t go on another cruise already!” I shouted to myself in my dream. “I haven’t finished the laundry from the last one yet!”
There are so many symptoms for COVID; it’s not a one size fits all. While Grumpy’s worst symptom was battling a hacking cough, mine was having to listen to him battling a hacking cough. And while I lost my appetite (perfect after-cruise diet, I may say), his idea of a light healing meal was a giant bowl of steaming hot spaghetti Bolognese.
After two days in bed, he was ready to work from home until his quarantine was up, but then he was back to sleeping for a good portion of the day. It was after that he noticed his sense of taste and smell had changed, although that could have been attributed to the fact that he hadn’t showered in three days.
“Let’s check it out,” he said. “I’ve made myself a cup of coffee and a cup of hot water and I want to see if I can tell the difference. I’ll close my eyes and you hand me a cup.”
Since I was lying in a mini-coma in front of the TV at the time, I wasn’t too eager to help.
“Uh. You want me to hand you a cup of boiling hot liquid while you keep your eyes shut? Do you want to add third-degree burns to your list of woes?”
“Alright, I’ll just sip them,” he snapped. The wine tasting went as planned. “I was right, they’re almost the same.”
I tried to use his lack of taste to my advantage when pulling out unappetizing leftovers to eat from the bottom of the freezer.
“This chicken’s not really dry, it’s you,” I assured him.
By day five I was longing for a return to those brief hours of isolation. Grumpy had developed a nasty case of stupidity, although to be fair that could have been due my latest symptom — impatience with a side of irritability. Everything he said drove me nuts. We threw symptoms at each other as though it were an Olympic event.
“I’ll see your sneeze and raise you a flickering eyelid,” that sort of thing.
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I knew we’d reached a new low when I developed a floater in my right eye and made an appointment to have my eye doctor check it out when I could leave the house again.
“Why don’t you just schedule a video visit?” Grumpy said, looking at my eye. “I can’t see anything.”
“Of course, you can’t, it’s inside my eyeball!” I yelled. “What do you think she’s going to do? Shine a light in my eye on the screen?”
As I write this, we’re still in the depths of dealing with all this. I’m still a firm believer in vaccinations and have to hope our most recent one made our symptoms less severe than they might have been. Of course, “mild” doesn’t mean “none.”
Guess we’ll never know, but at least I can finally say I was a participant — and not just an observer — in the great pandemic of 2019 … for however long it lasts.
Hilary Decent is a freelance journalist who moved to Naperville from England in 2007.