Last Updated on July 11, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Well, your girl certainly didn’t plan to have an impromptu four week hiatus (practically). And not just from this blog, though that certainly took a hit, as my monthly wrap-up details; from pretty much all life endeavors, commitments and interests. But, because I’m me and feel like I need to write about it, here’s a blog post all about catching COVID for the first time, 2.5ish years after the pandemic began. It’s filled with my experience, what I wish I knew and current anxieties, which is…not a few.
Strap in, loves. I have a feeling this will be a long one.
**Trigger warnings for anxiety, depression, spiraling, panic attacks and brief mention of suicidal ideation below**
Though it’s not for certain, I’m pretty positive (excuse the pun) I ended up catching COVID from a friend’s wedding. For context: I’m vaxxed and boosted, I wear a mask any time I leave the house, I regularly wash and sanitize my hands. And, for the past few years, I’ve limited where I go and who I see. I’ve been very careful, which began the refrain I heard repeatedly whenever I told someone I caught COVID.
Oh, but you’ve been so very careful, how awful!
Yeah, well, slip up once (I didn’t wear a mask at my friend’s wedding because of peer pressure I made up inside my head that it would be “ruining their wedding” if I wore a mask) and it doesn’t matter. Worse, you can only be so careful when everyone else around you doesn’t give a shit; when your country moves on and declares the pandemic over when it’s very much not, allowing new variants to battle old vaccines, less resources and more options for spread, without mask mandates.
We’ll get to my anger and bitterness in a moment.
In terms of symptoms, it broke down like this:
- Started off with 102 degree fever, body aches, chills and exhaustion that lasted for a week
- Fever finally broke and then came congestion, headaches, cough and exhaustion, alongside heightened anxiety, severe depression, panic attacks and insomnia
- Remained positive for 10 days, but, on the 11th day, developed hives (a newer symptom, apparently)
- Currently, still battling a pretty intense cough, sleep issues and exhaustion when moving too much
So, everyone who likes to claim it’s “just the flu” can fuck right off. I know it varies for each person, but I have never been so sick in my entire life. And I would never wish this on anyone (except members of SCOTUS). So, please do us all a favor and wear your damn mask.
What I Wish I Knew
Despite doing my best to avoid it, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what generally to expect if I ever did get COVID. Yet, there were a few things I wasn’t prepared for that I want to talk about below, in case you’re ever in this boat and deal with something similar.
This might be super personalized, but my depression spiraled really badly. I wasn’t able to take my depression medication to take the medications for my coughing, so that’s definitely part of it. Being in isolation for two+ weeks certainly played another. But I think it also tied into feeling a lot of guilt and shame, beating myself up for not wearing a mask once; convincing myself that I had “earned” or “deserved” this COVID case for slipping up. I also had a lot of feelings that it would never get better. The overturning of Roe v Wade during this time didn’t help.
It’s been a long time since I spiraled that hard. I wasn’t suicidal, but…it was really close, friends, to getting to that point where I might have considered it. Which has never happened before.
Anxiety was almost worse than depression. Apparently, my doctor confirmed that this can become heightened during COVID, which I wasn’t aware. But mine became heightened to the point of developing insomnia that I’m still trying to overcome. And I wish I would have known that was a common symptom, because I might not have panicked as much about it all while it was happening; might not have felt like it was my fault I was feeling that way so much; perhaps not have broken down bawling in the doctor’s office over it.
Lack of Weight Regarding Care
This one makes me feel a bit foolish, for I should have realized it would be this way, given I live in America. But, when I first tested positive, I called my doctor’s office to get an official test and they said it wasn’t necessary, which surprised me. I asked them about needing to track cases to make informed decisions about current positivity rates and they dodged the question and just told me to isolate.
In the end, I never got seen after catching COVID until I developed the hives. I still have no idea what official strain I got. But, the entire time I worked with my healthcare provider, it felt very much like they didn’t want to deal with me if it was related to COVID. Not a coincidence, given our current political climate regarding the pandemic, but still hard to deal with, emotionally, while in pain.
That, on top of new medical bills (while I’m still trying to pay off all the ones I have), the difficultly of applying for FMLA to protect myself after missing work for a month and the politics of using up my sick time has me very tired of the American healthcare system. There is no care in it at all. Only profit for those in power and debt for those who need it.
I didn’t list all of the above for sympathy. I’d heard lots of talk about the traditional flu-like symptoms, but not as much about these possibilities. Yet they were just as real and hard to manage as all the physical.
My Current Anxieties
Currently, I am doing okay. Haven’t tested positive for the past two weeks, but have stayed at home and continued a slow recovery, though I returned to work partly this week and then most likely fully next week. I have a lot of anxiety about developing long COVID. There is also anxiety about catching it again and what that could do internally to my body, especially now that I’ve had it once.
I also feel a bit of hopelessness. Like, I know more people who have it now than ever before. People like myself who managed to avoid it so far aren’t so lucky anymore. And we have less protections than ever before. And it terrifies me.
But it also makes me angry, like I mentioned above. So many lives could have been saved, so many variants never existed, if we had just taken it seriously at the start; trusted science and embraced enough empathy to care for one another more than profits or political party. I hate that all of my carefulness meant nothing (in the sense that I got sick and still caught it; it still means a lot that I avoided spreading it for this long and I don’t regret the precautions I took or will continue to take).
Oh and then there is the stress of being behind on everything. From work to writing to blogging to editing to everything in-between. So that’s fun. 🙃
Where Do We Go From Here?
I don’t honestly know. Obviously, I will still be masking. Especially in those moments where my brain tries to tell me that others will judge me if I do and not give into that peer pressure to please other people that led to my entire summer being upheaved. (Not to mention missing my best friend since childhood’s wedding in early July, my sister’s birthday and using up all of my sick time and a chunk of my vacation at a work). I hope another booster or updated vaccine will be available soon. I’m desperate for mask mandates to be reinstated, especially before the semester starts up again.
Sorry for such a maudlin post today, friends. I just needed to get all of this off my chest. I hope to be back with my regularly scheduled content soon. The day job is going to get interesting in the next few weeks. (We’re reorganizing our entire office, basically, and I have no idea where I’ll end up). So, I’m not sure what that will do for my blogging schedule. Thanks for your understanding and patience! 🖤