This whole damn year has been one long wait. Will I be quarantined? Will I receive a call from a loved one with bad news? Will quarantine ever end? How long until a vaccine? I’ll just wait to travel until this whole thing blows over. When will restrictions be introduced due to the second wave? Is it the second wave already? How long can I go out for a drink? Will I catch this thing?
I feel like we’ve been holding our breaths behind our masks so much that our souls have twisted into a forced shape of a question mark. And for what, really?
Allow me to elaborate…
You wash your hands, you purell, you wear the mask, you keep your distance, you avoid crowds. You watch yourself for symptoms so much that one sneeze will send you into a hissy fit. You wonder how it might feel to contract the plague of 2020.
And when you get the yearly fall edition of the common cold, you call your doctor and try to hide the panic in your voice as you list your symptoms. No fever? No shortness of breath? Don’t worry, rest, do what you would do with a cold and call if you experience the official symptoms.
You take your temperature every now and then to be sure you don’t have a fever. You don’t. You cancel any and all plans so you can rest and don’t infect anyone with god-knows-what going on inside of you. You go to bed at 10 pm like an old lady. Soup is involved.
You get better because you’re young and fit – contrary to all recent evidence – and start to remake your plans, because you have places to be, people to see and a routine to get back to. Part of said routine might be a nutritious breakfast. As you put your meal together and appreciate the fall sunshine peeking through the curtains, you go to take a sniff of the cinnamon you use because that is one of the best fall/winter scents there is.
You leap back in horror as one of the most fragrant spices in the world fails to tickle your senses. Could it be? While your oatmeal gently burns on the stove you start sniffing anything you can get your hands on. Spices, coffee, shampoo, ashtray, yourself. Nothing.
Once you collect yourself, you gulp down the burnt remnants of a theoretically delicious breakfast, noting in the process that taste has now eluded you too, and then call your doctor. You’re just exhausted with this nonsense, so hysterical fits of laughter colour your conversation.
‘Good morning, Doctor! I have lost my sense of taste and smell, and I believe we both know what that means.’ You are asked a bunch of questions. You will receive a call from the Ambulance services within the next 24 hours to confirm at what time they can come to your home to test you. Stay put.
You pace up and down. You talk to friends in the hopes that one of them would be able to say something constructive. They can’t but the support is nice. You want coffee and snacks but there really is no point. You cancel all plans. Again. You stress about all the things you have to put off. You’re scared, alone, in need of a hug, which you will not be getting for at least 10 days.
You get a call, asking if you could drive down to this and this hospital to be tested. No, you cannot. Please wait to be contacted again.
Your empathy is through the roof. You understand that the world is in chaos and healthcare workers are super-overwhelmed. You know there is not much else to do but wait.
You do your grocery shopping online with 1 day delivery. You thank your preferred deity for the 21st century. Friends offer to help in any way they can. You feel loved, which is a good way to feel while you wait.
When a new day comes, you’re hopeful and note sadly that no smells are getting through to you still. You go about your day as usual, and then, finally, the call. Tomorrow, between 8 am and noon. 2-3 hours prior, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t brush your teeth. You almost feel excited!
The next day, even though it’s a Saturday, you do your best to get up at 5, which turns into 6ish. You inhale a rice cake, drink some water and brush your teeth while you still can. Since you’re up, you start your day.
You clean, you cook – which is torture – , you iron and it’s past noon. You start getting testy because of the hunger but know that the paramedics are super duper busy. You start binging on Mr Iglesias, you almost verbally murder a few people because this is not the time to be assholes. 4 pm passes. Holding your tears back, you decide that you have to drink because you’re parched, and while at it, you eat. The World is right again.
45 minutes later, you get THE call. You confess your deadly sin but nobody cares because if you ate an hour before they take the sample, that’s perfectly fine.
In 10 minutes, they’re waiting for you downstairs. You put on a jacket, your shoes and a mask and go.
The gentleman is dressed in proper protective clothing and is really nice. Things that look like extra long q-tips are shoved down your throat and up your nose and wiggled about. (The latter brought to mind the process of mummification.) All done, call your doc for the results.
You spend the rest of your weekend like you would any other stay-at-home weekend: cleaning the apartment, doing your chores, catching up on your reading. A friend brings you some things that the grocery store failed to deliver, and throws in some home-made soup and cookies, because human kindness knows no bounds. I mean it. It’s a shit world sometimes, but do not ever underestimate how kind people can be!
You start your Monday like any other, do your job and keep looking at the clock to see if your doctor’s in yet. Minutes refuse to even creep by.
When you finally get hold of the doc, he informs you that your PCR test was positive, you have Covid. You’re not exactly surprised. Complete your 10 days in quarantine and if during the last 3 days you are without any symptoms, you are free to re-enter society.
You call your mom and listen to her sighs and pity. You get annoyed. You call your dad whose voice gives away his worry, which is very much unlike him. You are moved.
You go about your quarantine life, try to fill your days with useful things, and do your best to rest.
People keep asking you if you know how you got it. That is the worst part of it all! It’s like they want you to pin it on someone! Like it matters.
You don’t wonder why you’re so irritable, this thing sucks. But you have to wait the wait.
Your hypochondria kicks in and every cough, every mild headache, every moment you feel tired makes you wonder if things are taking a turn for the worse. You worry, because this shit is serious and yes, you are allowed to be scared.
You get a care package from the company you work for. You are overwhelmed with gratitude.
You realize that bureaucracy has been absent from your life for a while. Every doctor, info line and official tells you something different about how you should handle this matter. You don’t know who to believe. You take down the trash in secret, in the dead of night, and watch your post box to see if you received a pointless decree from the government.
You watch yourself and your symptoms.
Finally, the last day of your quarantine arrives and you call your doctor to report that you are asymptomatic. He happily deems you cured and even writes a semi-official document about it. Re-taking the test is not something he would advise, seeing as it might yield a false positive results in the next few weeks.
You conclude your Covid-experience.
Emotions: on a roller-coaster on acid.
Reliable sources of information: zero.
Priorities: health… anything else can wait. And you can wait too.