pandemic diaries: the souvenir nobody wanted

After two years of being pretty darn careful, even for heightened Bay Area standards, COVID caught us. The pandemic diaries have officially been renewed for a third season! Welp. I'm fairly certain my son, and maybe I, brought it back from D.C. (I hinted at a follow-up post in my recap here; not the encore we wanted). And we were being pretty careful there, too—everyone was vaccinated, masks were required everywhere except when outside, if not particularly crowded, when eating and drinking, and in hotel rooms. But there was a fair amount of unavoidable indoor dining and nobody has successfully figured out how to eat and drink and keep a mask on at the same time (maybe these goofy things which, in hindsight, don't seem so silly now). 

When we returned home on Sunday evening, middle of the night east coast time, I was exhausted and had some irritation in my sinus passages and upper back portion of my throat. I chalked it up to the trip, the dry circulated air on the plane, etc. I woke up the next day to more cold-like symptoms (definite sore throat, runny nose) and news that at least one traveler had tested positive for COVID upon returning home. Crap. Elias and I did rapid home tests that morning (it was spring break and I am still 100% WFH so we were already effectively on a sort of ongoing lockdown). Negative. But because I was symptomatic I scheduled PCR tests for both of us just in case. Also negative. Could I have picked up a cold on a trip with folks who picked up COVID? Technically, it's possible. There are certainly other viruses circulating. I managed to work through Wednesday, taking just a half sick day on Monday to catch up from the trip (I cleaned two bathrooms and the litterbox and did a little vacuuming...this is what I do even when I'm not feeling well) and go to the drive-thru PCR test appointment. 

Wednesday evening Elias seemed more tired than usual and right around bedtime looked flushed and was very warm. We took his temperature and sure enough, he had a fever of 102. He did another rapid test. Hella positive. I took another rapid test. Still negative. We locked it down through the weekend, canceling numerous plans (I'd taken Thursday and Friday off already but I'm still trying to sort out if I can swap those for sick days instead!). Daphne and I both tested negative on Friday; by then I was feeling mostly better, aside from a lingering cough I'm still trying to fully kick. Neal started to feel a slight sore throat on Friday night but waited until Saturday to test since testing too early can result in a false negative. Hella positive. Like, seriously, the line was so thick and dark it put the control line to shame. 

Our house is really too small to effectively isolate anyone, and we don't have any friends with, say, spare condos in the area, but we jacked up the air purifier, wore N95 masks as much as possible, and, while it was summer-like for a few days late last week, opened the windows and turned on the fans. So far, Daphne continues to have no symptoms and test negative. Elias had the faintest of positive tests yesterday so he's still home from school today. We only have 2 home tests left so I'm tempted to just keep him home through the weekend; he can return to school on Monday either way. And I'd say he's about 95% recovered as far as symptoms go.

That's that. For now. A total of 6 negative tests later, I guess I'll never know if what I had was COVID, which is annoying when you think about a possible 4th booster in the nearish future. Do I get it or wait until any possible natural immunity wanes? But if I didn't have it, am I more susceptible during that period? I did find one article that might explain my experience, but who knows. As far as catching COVID after 2+ years of avoiding it, it's tempting to feel like a failure, but I'm grateful we got it after the vaccines and the boosters. I'm also grateful we didn't catch it in the fall or even winter because I think I would have felt a lot more shame, guilt, even fear, and anxiety, and that's a real drag on top of everything else. It's too soon to say our cases won't develop into long COVID but I will say we've all had worse bugs. So at least there's that. But this thing sadly ain't over, folks.

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