Those of you who who read here often and those of you who know me personally, know how ‘COVID-careful’ my husband and I have been.
Last summer, we felt like salmon swimming against the current but we held on strong. We were grateful that sleep away camp was in session as it provided some much needed normalcy for the kids and some respite for the parents.
This year, as spring arrived and mask mandates were lifted, the salmon-against-the-current feeling would be an understatement. It was more like we were the salmon swimming against the current-of-every-single-river-in-the-world-all-merged-into-one. Everyone, including us was ‘done’ with this virus, but everyone around us seemed to be letting their guard down as a result and we were still trying our best to ‘be safe’ despite great temptation and pressure to just ‘forget about it’
Our household itself had already been through multiple incidents of COVID. In March, my eldest brought it home from a party and my husband tested positive two days later. As a result I spent my birthday weekend delivering room service to the two of them who were isolating as well as to my other kids who preferred to hide out in their own rooms either because they did not want to get it or simply because they were gaming LOL. I tested negative for 9 days and even took a molecular test on day 6- also negative. We could not understand how this was possible given the fact that I had shared a bed with my husband during the period he would have been contagious prior to testing positive. My kids were convinced I was ‘super-immune’. Nice thought. I kept masking, distancing, washing my hands, etc.
At the beginning of May, we attended a wedding and wore masks, even while outdoors, bearing with the stares as we walked through the crowd. I personally consumed my food using the ‘mask-on-mask-off’ technique for every bite. I must have been quite entertaining to watch. I guess all the awkwardness paid off as I did not get COVID (and yes I tested to make sure I was not an asymptomatic carrier – I was taking no chances around my kids during exam period or our elders on Mother’s Day!)
In May, after the mask mandate was lifted, my youngest was feeling unwell and tested positive. I cared for her for 10 days but continued to be very careful around her (mask / handwashing / even a visor at times if I had to go into her room) and I managed to escape it. I actually tested 14 times in 15 days…all negative. My kids were now CERTAIN that I was super-immune.
I made a choice to stop masking outdoors. I continued to mask when entering stores and other establishments despite the awkward (and sometimes judgemental) looks.
As early June hit, I was feeling incredible pressure – especially from my teens- to just drop all COVID measures and to forego mentioning the word COVID. My husband and I felt that it was as though the entire world had declared that COVID was over and therefore we were expected to behave as though it was actually over and not in fact in existence and active circulation.
My higher-ed kids were done their exams, my high schooler had just recovered and was therefore currently deemed ‘immune’, as was my husband. I was getting tired of the eyeball-rolling when I asked the kids and their friends to Purell and don a mask as they would enter my car. ‘We had it already – we’re immune!’ “C’mon Mommy- you didn’t get it and you SLEPT with Daddy when he was contagious-you are FOR SURE super-immune’. It was doing a number on me. I mean it had been doing a number on me for about two years, but I was wearing down and to be completely honest – I was TIRED. Even though the protocols had become second nature, I was tired of all of it. Of course I wanted to go back to ‘normal’ but I also knew that I did NOT want to get COVID. I have two friends who are long haulers and I have been concerned about the long term effects of COVID since the Spring of 2020.
Just over 10 days ago, I finally caved. On Sunday afternoon, I drove my youngest daughter’s friends in my car ‘sans mask’ and on Monday, I drove some of my eldest daughter’s friends ‘sans mask’ as well. I knew better. As I have been telling my kids for the last two years: ‘The car is a tin can with no air circulation, therefore we wear masks’ (with anyone outside of our immediate family), but I was trying to ‘get over my PTSD’ and we were going up north to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was going to behave as ‘normally’ as possible for her on her ‘occasion’.
Note how I refer to the effect COVID has had on me as PTSD …but to be POST Traumatic Stress suggests that we are past the trauma. I mean, I guess we sort of are, but we are definitely not past COVID. It is still very much alive and in circulation. Also: If like me, you have noticed that every day more and more people in your circle either have it or are just over it, then you know it’s true.
The proof was really in the pudding when the call came on Tuesday evening from my daughter’s friend to let us know that she had tested positive. She had slept over both prior nights. Since I was literally on my way out of the house for a meeting when the call came through, I dropped my bag and tested myself immediately so as not to risk exposing any of my colleagues.
I tested positive.
My daughter asked me if I was upset with her and I told her that I was not. I knew that I was taking a risk when I decided to take off my mask. What I did ask of her was to please commit it to memory that all of the masking that I was insisting upon clearly must have been doing something. I asked her to remember that I wasn’t all that crazy for explaining that it could transmit outdoors given that a bunch of people at the OUTDOOR party that she and her friend had attended two days prior had also contracted COVID.
Just because our society is operating like COVID doesn’t exist does not make it true. COVID is clearly still making the rounds.
This post is not intended to fear-monger, it is simply intended to share my experience and remind everyone that if our collective will for COVID to be over and done with were enough to make it so, then COVID would have been over a long time ago. Unfortunately, we cannot make COVID go away by simply declaring/believing/behaving as though it is gone.
I will spare you the details of what the last almost 10 days with COVID have been like (or maybe I will share in a separate post). I will simply share that it has not been fun, and among other symptoms, it has involved a very high fever, headaches and body aches and a lot of fatigue and ‘false starts’ (thinking I had energy, trying to do something then having to lie down to rest).
I know this has been an extremely long post. At the end of the day, what I want to communicate to you is that I know we all want to live life as normal but COVID is definitely still out there and it is worth understanding that removing your mask does come with a risk, so if you are doing it, then please be smart about it and choose your exposures carefully. I wish I had insisted on masking in the car…it wasn’t a worthwhile exposure. Unless of course, you can afford to be down for the count for 5-10 days with no impact on your life. In our household it impacted my work, my husband’s work (as he had to step up and do many of the things I normally take care of), a milestone birthday, our celebration of Father’s Day and more. We are looking at it as ‘it is what it is’ , but we did discuss that had we been leaving on a trip, this would have ruined it.
I also want to mention that I am extraordinarily grateful that I had made the decision to keep wearing a mask in stores and establishments as well as constantly disinfecting my hands. Had I been going in and out of places sans mask on the days prior to testing positive, I would have felt an immense amount of guilt as to where I may have spread this virus. At least this way I knew that I did not spread it further to random people in stores etc.
So there it is. I am sorry it has taken this long to explain everything, you should know I have been writing a little bit on different days as I have not really had the stamina to sit at my computer for long stretches.
I almost forgot to mention – Yes, I am vaccinated- Three doses.
We all need ‘normal’ back but I just don’t think we are going to get there through denial.
Wishing you all a healthy, safe and fantastic summer,