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At last, it came to visit us…

January 29, 2022, 3:18 PM

Over Christmas, Elyse and I were in the bag, so to speak.  We both came down with some pretty nasty colds.  I had congestion that I could feel all the way down into my lungs, a headache, a fever, a general sense of fatigue, and not much else.  Elyse had similar, as well as a loss of taste and smell, which I did not have.  I ended up missing four days of work for it, which, along with my regular days off, had me out of play for the entire six days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

What we had remained a mystery.  We suspected that it was probably COVID-19, or as we’ve taken to calling it, “The Ronies,” but we were unable to book an appointment for either a PCR or rapid test, nor were we able to purchase one online, because at the time, the recommendation was for everyone to get tested for any or no reason, and people were eating it right up.  We also respected ourselves more than to wait in a line for hours just to rule in or rule out a diagnosis when we already felt as bad as we did.  In other words, going out and getting tested wasn’t going to help us get better any faster, and would probably have the opposite effect, making us feel worse than we already did and causing a lot of unnecessary stress.  I didn’t need that, especially when you consider that I had spent much of at least two of those days that I was out sick asleep in my bed.  We ultimately decided that with a test for an active infection out of the question because of availability issues, we would get an antibody test via blood draw later on to rule COVID in or out after the fact.

In the meantime, with no test to rule the Ronies in or out, we both decided to just treat it like we would any other cold, and drink lots of water, get lots of rest, and do what we could to get through it.  Let’s just say that generic DayQuil and generic NyQuil were our best friends, along with Advil® brand Advil (because I like that candy coating on the name brand stuff).  I also once again got to experience the joy that is “fever dreams“, which are even weirder than the usual dreams.  The best feeling in the world, meanwhile, was when my fever finally broke.  Post-fever perspiration feels awesome, not because of the sweating itself, but because it means that the worst is over, and I would be feeling better again very soon.

About two weeks later, long after we felt better again and I had returned to work, we went to LabCorp and got a semi-quantitative total antibody test to determine whether what we had was the Ronies.  Unsurprisingly, it came back positive for both of us, which confirmed our suspicions.  A negative result was anything lower than 0.8, and Elyse and I both had a result greater than 2,500.  In other words, that bad cold that we had was definitely the Ronies.  That positive test has some implications with my work as far as how my absence is accounted for in their system, but on a personal level, it’s more a peace of mind thing, i.e. this is what we had, and now it’s over.

This also means that we both had breakthrough infections, as we had both been fully vaccinated against COVID, and she had gotten a booster shot in November.

Contracting and recovering from COVID has certainly changed my perspective on the pandemic, and about how testing, vaccination, masking, social distancing, and mandates regarding all of those things should be handled.  First of all, the disease itself was no cakewalk by any means, but it wasn’t the worst that I’ve ever felt, either.  It was more severe than a regular cold (I’ve never missed four days of work for a cold before), but it also wasn’t so bad that I needed to see a doctor for it.  We just treated the symptoms with over-the-counter medications to make the whole experience a little more bearable while the illness ran its course, and we got through it.

As far as vaccinations go, I feel as though I can’t advocate for it the way that I used to.  I used to push heavily for everyone to get vaccinated against the Ronies, but I don’t feel like I can do that with a straight face anymore.  If you want it, it’s there, and no one is going to stop you from getting it, and if you don’t want it, fine, don’t.  As it is, the people who have been marketing it towards the public have done a horrible job promoting it.  “Get the vaccine, but you still can get it and spread it around, and you still have to wear a mask!” is not exactly reassuring.  And then after the CDC said in May of 2021 that fully vaccinated people didn’t have to wear a mask anymore, they reneged on that in August and recommended masks for all, regardless of vaccination status, and some areas reimplemented mask mandates for all.  Says a lot about how effective they really believe the vaccines to be if masks are still considered necessary regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated or not.  Tells me that they really think that the vaccines are junk.  Referring to the Johnson & Johnson one specifically, I don’t know why anyone would ever want to get that one anymore, because if you get that one, you then have to turn around and get a booster from Pfizer or Moderna two months later.  In other words, the promise of one-and-done, which was the only reason to go the Johnson & Johnson route in the first place, turned out to be inaccurate, since it has to be followed up with a “real” COVID vaccine two months later.  So in that case, why bother with it in the first place? If you have to get two rounds regardless, you might as well just get one of the mRNA vaccines right out of the gate, because they’re clearly superior to the Johnson & Johnson one if you need to get an mRNA vaccine so soon afterward.  Me, I’m going to probably get the booster shot eventually, even though it’s now a moot point, but my motivation for doing so has very little to do with the Ronies, and more about unlocking some workplace incentives for vaccination.

I also feel like this vilification of people who have not been vaccinated against COVID is completely out of place.  If someone else doesn’t get vaccinated, it doesn’t really affect me, and your reasoning for getting it vs. not getting it is your own business, and no one else’s.  As it is, fat bloody lot of good those vaccines did Elyse and me.  Even with the vaccines, we still both got it with enough severity to put us out of commission for the better part of a week.  She had it worse than me, and she was boosted, while I was not.  I don’t regret getting vaccinated, but I certainly question how effective it was, since we still got it, and it knocked us down for a good while.

As far as testing goes, I take an even dimmer view of testing now than I did before.  When Elyse and I were sick, we couldn’t get testing done anywhere, because the demand was so high that all of the supply was already spoken for.  As of December 26, my first day out sick, the earliest that we could have gotten a test was January 6.  Similarly, I couldn’t order a home-use one because they were all on backorder, and wouldn’t come for weeks.  I immediately recognized that by the time we could get our hands on a test, it would have been a moot point, so I discontinued that effort.  I would have recovered and returned to work by the time I was able to get a test, so the hell with it.  It really drove home the idea that fear from a lot of people was the motivating force behind a lot of unnecessary testing, that’s just diverting resources away from people who actually need it.  Around the time that we got sick, it was being recommended that people get tested, solely as a precaution, before going to see relatives for the holidays.  Every one of those tests on people who had no reason to think that they had it was taking a test away from someone who was showing symptoms and needed to get a test to help diagnose an actual illness.  Similarly, all of these employer testing mandates, targeting people who have not been vaccinated by requiring testing on a weekly basis in an almost punitive manner, are similarly taking tests away from people who actually need them.  In other words, don’t go out looking for something unless you genuinely expect that you will find it.  This thing is not the plague by any means, nor is it a death sentence in the vast majority of cases.  Stop wasting resources with unnecessary testing.  I was dumbfounded to hear some people on a union-related Facebook group that I am in advocate for testing everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, on a weekly basis (presently, my employer only requires this of unvaccinated employees). I suspect that this was coming from unvaccinated employees who wanted everyone to suffer the same consequences as they were for their choices, so even before I got the Ronies, I dismissed this one out of hand.  Now that I’ve been through it, and with my inability to get testing for it when I actually needed it, I have taken the argument that no one should be tested on a regular basis, as routine testing is completely unnecessary and just eats up all of the supply.

I also have absolutely zero sympathy for hospitals and any capacity issues that they might have, and am not willing to change how I live my life because of business decisions that hospital companies made with an eye toward profitability.  Just wanted to put that out there.

Regarding masks, social distancing, lockdowns, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions, I think that this increase in cases has demonstrated one thing: this thing is going to spread and do its own thing no matter what we do.  It’s managed to cover the whole globe in a very short period, and all that this micromanagement of the populace is succeeding at doing is pissing people off.  If this latest variant has demonstrated anything, it’s that it’s coming for everyone whether they are vaccinated or not, and there’s no hiding from it.  Everyone is going to get it, it’s just a matter of time until it gets around to you, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.  In other words, this is a problem that you can’t solve, so no sense worrying about it, because it is not within your capacity to solve, and any efforts to that end are an exercise in futility.  It will get to you when it gets to you, and you just have to deal with it when it arrives.  And until then, live life normally, and put that mask in a drawer and leave it there.  Elected officials need to facilitate this and stop mandating and un-mandating masks at every turn based on metrics, because it’s not going to make a lick of difference (as I understand it, COVID metrics between MoCo, which requires masks, and Northern Virginia, which hasn’t had a mandate since May, are practically identical).  In the end, the only way out of this thing is through it, and it has to burn its way through the population – no two ways about it.  Forget your masks, social distancing, capacity limits, and all of it, because none of it means a thing.

That’s also why I haven’t given much thought to where we picked it up from.  The only thing that I can think of is that since we both came down with it at exactly the same time, I imagine that we came across it somewhere when we were together, rather than my bringing it home from work or her getting it from somewhere, or some other such thing where one passes it to the other, because whenever one of us brings something home and then gives it to the other, the resulting illness is typically staggered.  Beyond that, I don’t know where we got it from, and it doesn’t really matter as far as my life is concerned.  More important is that we got it, and we recovered from it.  I have my ideas on sourcing based on where I’d been over the few weeks prior to getting sick, but what good is trying to pinpoint it really going to do?  The thing is everywhere, and it’s coming from all over the place, so one guess is just as good as any other, and you’ll never really know for sure.

So that’s that, I suppose.  We got it, we dealt with it, we recovered from it, and we moved on from it.

Categories: COVID-19, Personal health