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My Covid Experience
Jeff Toth—Marketing & Communications Specialist, IBAO
On Sunday evenings I have a regular online get together with friends. We gather to watch mini-series while live chatting, either talking over the show or poking at it depending on how good or bad it is—Good Lord Bird has been the highlight so far. It usually wraps up at about 11:00, so it’s often the last thing I do during my weekends. During episode three of the Cate Blanchette-led Mrs. America I noticed the first signs of a sore throat. I’m constantly getting a sore throat and like a dog who can sense an earthquake hours ahead of time, I knew something was coming. I drank tea with honey and lemon and texted my boss to let her know I might not be in the next day.
When I woke up, my sore throat had developed into a runny nose and a bit of a cough. I tried to answer a few emails but decided to take the day off to rest up. I went back to bed and closed my eyes for a minute when a worrying thought occurred to me. I grabbed my phone and googled Covid symptoms.
My symptoms didn’t match up very cleanly with what was described, but I thought it’d be best to get tested anyway. My girlfriend drove me to Michael Garron Hospital that afternoon. Looking around at the others at the testing facility, I felt like I was overreacting. These people were sick. There’s no way I had what they did. And now I was potentially exposing myself to the virus for real. While getting pre-screened they took my temperature and a few other vitals. I asked the medical professional what she thought, based on what she’d seen so far and she responded reassuringly, “in my opinion, you don’t have it.” I got the nasal swab test—a far more unpleasant experience than I’d expected—and went home.
I felt a bit better the next day, but I knew I had to rest more. Around noon I dozed off ten minutes into rewatching a Mission: Impossible movie. When I checked my phone I was shocked to learn I’d slept for about four hours. It felt like no time at all and yet I’d missed the entire afternoon. By the end of the day I still hadn’t gotten my results, but I’d been told there was a backlog and I should expect a delay.
On Wednesday I woke up feeling pretty good—I figured I could even go back to work. Before logging in, I checked once more for my results. They’d arrived! And they were positive! Whew.
Wait. Positive is bad. I was positive?! Were they positive?
Shortly after I received a call from Toronto Public Health walking me through the procedures I had to follow and doing some contact tracing. They warned me that many people take a turn for the worse on day four or day five of being symptomatic. So even though I was feeling a lot better, I should continue to rest. IBAO Management instructed me to take the remainder of the week off.
I could’ve dismissed my symptoms as normal and unknowingly put others at risk.
Now that we knew I was positive, my girlfriend and I had to quarantine from one another. Because of the layout of our 1.5-bedroom apartment, the easiest way to do this was for me to set up an air mattress in the living room and stay sequestered there. Had I felt sicker at this point, this would’ve been pretty miserable, but since I had already largely recovered, this felt reminiscent of the times as a kid when I’d build a fort and camp out in the living room during holidays. I basically lived like the childhood version of myself—I rewatched all the Mission: Impossibles (skip the first two, the rest are awesome), read a huge stack of comic books and ate a whole box of popsicles. By Mrs. America episode four I was 100% recovered. On Monday I returned to work to pick up where I’d left off, ironically, with this very issue of the magazine.
In speaking with my doctor over the phone she explained that this wasn’t an uncommon experience and it’s precisely what makes Covid so dangerous. In younger, healthy people it often doesn’t present as much more than a cold, but for somebody older or more at risk, it can be fatal. Of course, I already knew this intellectually, but having gone through it really made me appreciate how easily I could’ve dismissed my symptoms as normal and unknowingly put others at risk. As a result of my contact tracing, my massage therapist had to go into quarantine, but fortunately didn’t contract it. And somehow, neither did my girlfriend.
Ultimately, we weren’t able to determine where I got it. My girlfriend and I are very careful to observe the rules and we both work remotely. I never received a notification from my Covid Alert app. I must’ve contracted it randomly while in a public space. I think of all the times I was at the store and I saw some yahoo wearing their mask below their nose. Turns out, the dirty looks I gave all those people provided me no additional protection.
By the day my quarantine ended, I had a severe case of cabin fever, so I immediately went for a run. I’m happy to report that I don’t seem to have any lingering effects. I’m almost a little relieved to have already gone through getting Covid, since this will provide me some degree of protection until I can get vaccinated.
What it has left me with is a healthier respect for the virus. Being careful isn’t a guarantee. If this happened to me, it could’ve just as easily happened to my parents or someone else more vulnerable than myself. Thankfully, I haven’t lost anyone, though I know people who have.
This has been an unnerving and exhausting experience for everyone, but we will get through this. The end is in sight. Though that doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. We can’t allow our fatigue to be the guide for our behaviour. We have to rely on our compassion to fuel the actions we all need to take to protect those around us. After all, not everyone is as lucky as I am.
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