COVID Journal: An Experience

Thursday, January 13

I wake up and it feels like allergy season: a little extra mucous going on. More nose-blowings than I’m used to, even after a dry, mild winter. Flies are waking up outside. I see them in the chicken coop when I refill the waterer and feed the birds. I chalk it all up to a weird winter and take an allergy pill. It seems to help.

I worry that I have COVID. We’ve been to the stock show two days ago, the trampoline place four days ago. Apparently Denver numbers are exploding. My partner went to the Broncos/Chiefs game on Saturday, where he was around more people than he has been in years. The numbers are going up, so the possiblity snags in the back of my mind.

My sister comes over to hang out and she has the extra snotty thing too. We all discuss, me, her and my partner, George, how it feels like allergies. My worry abates.

Friday, January 14

Definitely wake up with more congestion. Hmm. The worry is back. It seems like laryngitis, so I Google all that real quick. It’s like something’s caught in my throat. I breathe super slowly, the inhalations dragging over my vocal cords. I’m having these random coughs when the phlegm gets stuck. Gross, but productive. Even though none of this feels bad enough to be COVID, I take an at-home COVID test. It’s negative.

It’s so beautiful outside and starting to snow. We take a family walk around Crown Hill in the wintry weather. I bring a water in case I start coughing, but I don’t. I feel great.

Back home, I take a shower to clear my head and it helps. George starts a fire and we cuddle up with TV and takeout. Even the dry air doesn’t bother me. I sleep easily and well.

Saturday, January 15

I wake up with a lot less energy than usual, definitely sick. I bring my tea downstairs and begin watching television, something I rarely do. My lower back aches and I feel cold. I can’t concentrate very well, so I watch MARVEL’s Titans, where the plot doesn’t overextend my brain. Everyone asks me for breakfast at the usual time, and I make eggs. It’s been a couple of hours relaxing, and I feel better. So I start other kitchen projects: feeding water kefir and sourdough. I sweep and feed the chickens. When I get tired, I play video games.

Other than this pervasive laziness, I feel okay. My head is kinda stuffy, but it’s like a cold in my voicebox only. I can’t speak loudly at all, but nothing hurts anymore. I get a bad headache in the afternoon and the oils don’t help. I take Advil and watch TV some more with all of my friends, two cats and a dog, who do not help but also do not mention fetching them snacks, which I deeply appreciate.

I make a big batch of soup for dinner. Later my throat starts to hurt. A lot. At first it feels like I swallowed something wrong, sideways? But I drink a lot of beverages, and nothing is there. Hmm. The worry grows again. My sister-in-law said her only pervasive COVID symptom was a terrible sore throat, like strep only it wasn’t.

I can’t speak outside of a whisper, so Wilder and I listen to an audiobook at night. My headache is back anyway. More Advil for me. It takes a while to find a comfortable position because my body aches from laying around all day. Once I drift off, I sleep okay.

Sunday, January 16

I wake up in the middle of the night to the worst sore throat I can remember. Worse than strep, yes. I don’t drink any water because I don’t want to swallow. George asks me what’s wrong and I just shake my head. I don’t want to talk or cough.

Morning comes and it’s definitely still there. I take the second COVID test in our home batch and wait 15 minutes for a positive result. Fuck. I’ve been sleeping with our kids – both of them – for the past two nights. Rosetta likes to face me too, so I’ve been breathing directly into her face. George keeps kissing me. What is the point of these tests if they can’t help you avoid spreading this virus to the people you love? I feel angry and resigned.

I order groceries for contactless pickup at Target – don’t wanna break the King Sooper’s picket lines when I hope they win – and hope everything’s in stock. It isn’t. I put away groceries and worry about my kids catching COVID from me. I know they’ll need to get it at some point, and why not now? It’s perfect, schedule-wise, as we have some down time. But I feel like a jerk too for not protecting them and I worry they’ll get it badly. If I watch TV, I can’t really think about it too much. My throat kills, so I don’t eat much anyway.

George makes dinner while I work. I have to finish my magazine proof, so I sit at the table and try to focus on graphic design. It feels like I’m operating at half speed. I’ve been trying to finish this for three days, but there’s a mental block. I’m not sure I even really finished everything when I send off my proof, so I just tell my client that I have COVID in case she finds glaring errors.

Around dinnertime, my head totally fills, my throat swells and I have a headache. Is it that your head gets tired and mucous membrane relaxes? There’s got to be some reason why it happens consistently at night, right? It’s miserable.

George reads to and sleeps with Rosetta on weekends, so I take a half dose of Nyquil and sleep like the dead in my own bed all night. Mouth open, not swallowing.

Monday, January 17

I feel very sexy when I wake up, lips all dry and cracked. The first time swallowing feels horrendous, but then it’s over. I make tea, but I let it cool too long because I don’t want to swallow it. For breakfast, I eat two popsicles. That’s better. I’m not really hungry anyway. I watch three hours of television.

I skip lunch and make different tea. It’s better. By 2 o’clock, it’s sunny outside and I want to go for a walk. It’s been three days. I put on pants and try to go alone, so I can walk super slowly and not have to swallow. George comes anyway, and he walks too fast. I make him slow down midway through. He doesn’t know what to talk about now that I’m totally quiet, so it’s a weird, silent walk. But I am in sunshine!

We only did our little half-mile loop, but I’m quite tired when we get back. George does the lunch thing and I play video games on the couch, ignoring everyone. I can’t talk anyway.

Midafternoon, I am so bored. George is working, so I go upstairs to whisper-shout at the kids for not checking on me or caring how I’m feeling. I’ve been making them breakfast every day, sometimes snacks and other meals too, even though I’m ill. Why can’t they even see if I’m alive? Feels like abandonment and I’m very emotional about it. I probably live with a household of jerks.

I order pizza for dinner because I don’t want to cook. Only I order the pizza for tomorrow. I feel dumb telling everyone in my whisper. George has to call and switch it around, apologizing, and we eat late. I enjoy the giant salad I ordered, but we also have ice cream later and it’s like I’m tasting it from far away. I try smelling the bowl, and it’s there, just faint. Probably all the mouth breathing effecting my taste buds.

Rosetta tells me, after dinner, that her head is stuffy. She feels warm. By the time we lay down for bed, I can tell. We listen to podcast stories in bed because I still can’t really talk, and finally drift off after an hour.

Tuesday, January 18

I don’t sleep well, mostly because Rosetta kept rolling all over me. I stayed in her bed after she fell asleep. If I lay with her when she’s ill, she tries super hard to sleep. I appreciate that about her and try to support her if I can. Last night was tough tho because I kept coughing, which woke her up more, and because it was hard to find a comfortable position where I didn’t need to swallow. Stuff is leaking down from my head now, but my throat is still a burning lump, and my mouth and lips are so dry from all the mouth breathing.

I really have learned how not to swallow much. It’s probably easier because nothing’s draining anyway. My head is full. If I did a headstand right now, I might explode. I eat soft things for breakfast and ask my sister to deliver us more soft things that I didn’t think to order earlier. If the kids are getting sick, we’ll need more of that stuff. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it.

My sister bulk buys, upgrading the Gatorade and applesauce. We now have blue jello, which I made into jigglers for tomorrow. Even if Rosetta’s really sick, she’ll still like cutting them into shapes.

My sister Allison stops by with a lunch of teriyaki noodles. They slide down real easy, and the veggies taste amazing after George’s veggie-free cooking of pasta.

I have more energy today than before, so I clean up some of the kitchen mess. Wilder helps. I don’t take out the trash or start laundry, but I look at it meaningfully. I know it’s there, waiting. Rosetta comes out for a bit and she’s funny, so I laugh. Then I have a five-minute coughing fit where I nearly pee myself. When it clears, I drink some water and realize that I can swallow normally. What?!? I drink so much more water, all of my Nalgene full, and then report my good news to George.

After sitting on the couch for two hours, we reheat pizza for dinner and sit around, chatting. The kids build Legos and I am drawing. George djs. I dance for a bit because I’m thrilled to feel like it.

At bedtime, I slather Vicks vaporub on my throat to keep the tickle from making me cough, and lay down to sleep without any meds. I have no idea when Rosetta turns off the story.

Wednesday, January 19

I wake up and feel amazing. I drank so much water that I had to wake up to pee twice, but even so I have slept well. It’s snowy outside and beautiful.

I talk to George, still cuddled under the blankets, to tell him how good I feel. We wonder if the kids have antibodies, since nobody seems to be getting what I had. We’re confused about virus science.

After all that whispering, I still have to clear my head and throat from being horizontal all night. Ugh. Coughing and nose-blowing mornings aren’t my favorite, but none of it is painful today. I can smell my tea super clearly when I’m done. Huzzah!

Thursday, January 20

Went for a regular-speed walk today, coughed a lot, and ran into a ton of people. I put my head down and let George do the talking while I walked around them all.

I’m coughing more now than during the whole course of this illness. It’s productive, but more like “catching” and I hate the spasms. That said, I can talk normally now. I only sound mildly stuffy and my throat barely feels scratchy.

Walgreens gave me a COVID test at my 3:30pm appointment. Still waiting to see….

I coughed so much at bedtime that I couldn’t sleep til late. I took the humidifier out of the bedroom, but it’s definitely going back tomorrow.

Friday, January 21

Ugh, woke up at 7, but I wish I hadn’t yet. Up coughing for at least an hour last night, and that’s after I finally got to sleep. I ended up taking cough medicine. Didn’t work.

This morning it didn’t take as long to cough-clear my throat, probably because I hardly slept and it didn’t have a chance to build properly.

My daughter seems completely fine. No more congestion, anything. My son didn’t even sneeze more than usual.

Still no word on my COVID test, so definitely staying at home…. More.

I went for a long walk just as snow started to fall, which lead to my slipping several times but no falling. Whew. Also zero coughing – I think because of the snow/humidity? Amazing though. It felt great to be cold, warm and moving.

By afternoon, the headache crept back, despite my liquid intake back to its usual high levels. I normally drink 3 nalgenes/day, about 100oz, plus decaf teas 2x. I definitely sound congested, like the beginning of a cold. I keep blowing my nose and dry-coughing. Nobody will want me around even if the test comes back negative. If I laugh, I end up coughing twice as long.

I forgot to put the humidifier back until bedtime, which was super late because we kept watching Wipeout together. I only coughed twice and went to sleep. Huh.

Saturday, January 22

Woke up this morning to a pink-tinged, frost-coated picture outside the front windows and barely had to blow my nose. Everything is subsiding, even the rawness in my throat that’s left over. I still sound like someone whose head cold is draining.

And yet, when I opened my test results from Walgreens, it’s positive. Glaring. I am surprised, actually. Even all the way back on Thursday, I felt so much better than I had before, so much more energy too. Now this feels like a setback, somehow.

I will need to get a home test and see if I actually have enough COVID to share. I’ve read that the PCR detects even trace amounts of the virus, which are too small to be contagious, but the home tests require more of a buildup to run positive. So you’re probably not contagious anymore if a home test doesn’t show a positive result. I guess that’s what I’ll need now, because Walgreens testing is backed up. Not sure how this test will arrive at my house without my leaving… ugh.

It’s disappointing, not to be able to run to the grocery store or library today after all this time at my house. I guess I only like to stay here when it’s my choice.

Walked two miles with zero coughing or nose-blowing, so I felt like a real person. Even though I avoided people, I wouldn’t have been glared at by passersby.

George went to Walmart to buy us more home tests. He wants to watch the Chiefs game with his friend tomorrow and his wife, my Nurse Practitioner sister Al, says no because he’s in contact with me. So we thought the home tests would help? He can take one before he goes over and get a more current negative.

Sunday, January 23

Woke up with very little “clearing out” to do, a refreshing change. I could even do my full amount of morning pushups: five. Don’t be jealous.

I’m feeling really cut off from people now. Calling isn’t the same. One of my friends is going to walk with me today, but I’ll probably wear a mask on the crowded trail.

We also need groceries again, though, and I want to GO and get them, not order online and send George to fetch them. But I probably will anyway. Trying to be a decent citizen here, even though it’s definitely inconvenient.

I ordered the groceries, don’t worry. But I did walk the Clear Creek Trail with my friend. We went 6 miles, so I assume I’m back in good health. Right? Just very, very tired now.

End of COVID journal.

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