My 85-year-old father thinks COVID precautions are excessive. Sometimes I agree, but I’m not anxious to get sick or inadvertently pass sickness to anyone else.
So I accept his needling like a pin cushion, absorbing the barbs like I was made for it.
Dad in the Cracker Barrel gift shop: “Why do you wear that mask in here?”
Me: “You know how I haven’t gotten COVID like so many other people?”
Me: [Slowly nodding]
I was feeling less self-satisfied one week later when I started to get the sniffles. I guess these masks have limited effectiveness when it comes to colds, I thought to myself.
I soldiered on, then informed my employer I wouldn’t make the holiday dinner due to my cold. Like a fire station receiving a 911 call, they went into full response mode – alarms blaring, bay doors thrown up, multiple engines careening into the street. Don’t even think of coming into the office until you’ve been PCR tested, they said.
Sure enough – I was positive. Ugh.
A few things I’ve learned:
Not All COVID Testing Centers Are the Same
We had an antigen test kit at home that Nora bought from CVS previously, but these are less reliable than PCR, so my employer wouldn’t accept it.
So I googled Baltimore PCR testing and found FREE Rapid & PCR Testing Towson on Loch Raven at Joppa Road, next to Ukazoo Books (which is closing this month after 14 years). I walked in and inquired about PCR tests. “It will take up to 14 days to receive results,” she said. “I’ll either be better or dead by then,” I replied, slowly backing out the door.
Then I went to Quality First Urgent Care in Clarksville. It’s a hike, but if you’re swabbed by noon, you get PCR results the same day. And it’s free with insurance (or $300 without).
Attributing Where Infection Comes From Is Impossible
First thing everyone wants to know: Who did you get it from? Me: [Shrug]
I could have contracted it from a tradeshow I worked at the DC Convention Center, which had a vax and mask requirement. I could have got it from a trip to OH that my mom and I took to see Grey play nine percussion instruments in one remarkable concert (above). Or I could have picked it up at my local Safeway – the only item not reflected on my receipt.
Masks and Vaccines Work
If masks and vaccines work, how is it that I got COVID despite wearing a mask all the time and getting both shots? If you’re shaking your head right now, you’ll love hearing how we have a neighbor who got dangerously sick from her COVID shot.
But…these are single data points. They are like anecdotes. They are interesting, but not that informative. Instead, what do impartial medical studies say?
Overwhelmingly, they show that people who get vaccinated (and boosted) and wear a mask are much much (that’s two muches!) less likely to get sick, die, and pass the virus to other people.
Is it possible that these new vaccine formulations will have some adverse health effects years down the road? Anything is possible, but I’ll take my chances.
Lockdown Isn’t All Bad if You Have Support
After I got my positive result, Nora said, “You’ll be hearing from the state or CDC soon.” What does she think, we live in Canada or something?
I didn’t hear a peep from anyone, but google found guidance: Quarantine for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, assuming there are some. After that, you can still test positive for up to three months, but the chance of passing it to someone else is very very (that’s two verys!) slim at that point.
Today is my last day of being holed up in my bedroom and bathroom. (Nora also gave me a hall pass to the den for watching football). She has been AMAZING, delivering every meal (in her mask, natch) and hot beverage I’ve wanted, including this beautiful sight every morning before the sun comes up:
And delish dinners:
Every evening after dinner, she’ll sit outside my room and yell crossword clues through the door until we finish the puzzle. It’s sort of frustrating, but it’s a gesture so oozing with love that I am powerless to stop it.
And, I’ve caught up on lots of reading. A few notables:
- A redemptive story in The New Yorker, about a middle-aged Baltimore man who has had to live with the burden of lying as a 14-year-old, sending three innocent men to prison
- A redemptive story of a strange Middle Eastern carpenter from a couple thousand years ago who gave his life to save anyone who believes what he says. I’m at the walking on water part in John 6.
- I’m just starting “Once Upon a Flarey Tale” written by a distant cousin. I’m not far enough along to review it yet, but stay tuned.
Overall, it’s been like staying in a hotel with room service – fun at first, but by the end I’m beginning to understand how Julian Assange must have felt after being confined for seven years in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy: “Free,” but not really, not fully.
Still, I’ll miss my bedroom retreat and all the time I’ve had to read and think and pray and notice subtle things, like this shadow on the wall:
Tomorrow, I’ll be back to my normal life and the cool shadows will be gone.