Friday 19 February 2021

I thought I had Covid-19

I wake up in the middle of the night from my nausea. I feel so sick that I think I may have to throw up, so I stagger into the bathroom and kneel down in front of the toilet. My entire body is shaking, and I can feel every inch of it. Normally we are not aware of our body; it's just there, unnoticed, doing its job quietly without disturbing us. But now I feel the coldness of my feet, the shaking of my legs, and a soreness in my upper body that clings to me like a wet blanket. It's awful. After a couple of minutes I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to throw up, so I heave myself off the floor, take a Gravol and a Tylenol, and stumble back to bed. My aching body makes sleep impossible, and as I try unsuccessfully to get comfortable, a terrible thought strikes me: I x-rayed a patient with Covid three days ago. Did I get Covid?

For the rest of the night I can't sleep. I replay in my mind what I wore (full PPE), what I touched (as little as possible), what I cleaned (EVERYTHING), and what I did when I took my PPE off. Did I touch the outside of my mask? I can't remember. Did I wash my hands after I took everything off? I think so - but I'm not sure. Panic is threatening to overwhelm me, so I remind myself that I already got the first dose of the vaccine. I google how soon you are protected after the first dose, and I read it's two weeks after the second dose - dammit, I've only had my first shot 10 days ago. Does that mean it's not working at all, or working a bit, or working 50%? What is it?? 

I toss and turn, agonizing and worrying. I'm supposed to work all week, but I can't possibly go. What if I have it and infect every single patient and co-worker? I would feel like Typhoid Mary. I have to call in sick, and I have to get tested. 

But that's not the worst of it. My biggest fear is that I have given it to Rich, who is immuno-compromised thanks to his Lyme disease

Rich looks strong like an ox. He is broad-shouldered, with muscled arms and legs, big hands, and the straight posture of a man 30 years younger. He looks and moves like he is in his 40s instead of his late 60s, and you would think that nothing can bring him down. 

But looks are deceiving. When he got the shingles vaccine a few months ago, he was in bed for a full two days because he was in so much pain. He sweat so much that we had to change the sheets twice, was alternately boiling hot and freezing cold, and felt miserable. 
Any time I see him like this I get flashbacks to when he got severely sick in 2017. It was one of the worst times of my life, and I'll do anything to avoid for him getting so sick again. 

And now I may have brought the virus home? After a year of being careful, of disinfecting and hand-washing and doing my best to keep my work (and all the germs and viruses that I encounter there) safely away from him?


I book the earliest appointment I can to get us tested, which is the next morning. Great, 24 hours to worry about having Covid, plus another 24 while awaiting the test results. 

The next 48 hours are a blur. I sleep a lot due to my exhaustion and feeling unwell. When I'm awake, I try to distract myself by watching endless episodes of Superstore, which is an easy show to watch and doesn't require much concentration. I have no appetite, which never happens - I usually have a very healthy appetite. 
The body aches are still there, which are now joined by chills. I repeatedly check if I have a fever because I feel like I do, but the thermometer never goes beyond 36.4 degrees Celsius. 

On day 2 I develop a headache, but that could be due to not having had any coffee - after I drink a cup it slowly fades away. What's weird is that my arm where I got vaccinated 2 weeks ago is sore again - not much, but enough that it's noticeable. I also have a slight productive cough. 

On day 3 I wake up at 6 am and check my phone every few minutes. I signed up to get the results send as a text message, and the nurse promised that I would get them the next day since I'm a healthcare worker. 

Almost exactly 24 hours after I got tested, the result is in: negative! I'm almost weak with relief. 
We have to wait another day for Rich's result, but once it comes in it's negative as well. 

I'm almost back to normal. Was it a cold? I don't think so; I didn't have the typical sneezing and sniffling. The flu? If that was the flu, then it was the mildest case I've ever heard of. 
Or could it have been a delayed reaction to the vaccine? The symptoms match, and the soreness in the injection site was a sign as well. It's weird that it didn't start until 2 weeks after the inoculation, but maybe others have had the same happen to them?

Whatever it was, I'm feeling better, and I am very happy that I got vaccinated. The little taste I got when I thought I may have Covid-19 was more than enough - if the vaccine protects me from the real thing then it was worth it. 



  1. I'm glad it was not Covid. And I am glad you are feeling better now. That must have been super scary.

    1. It was! Those 3 days were a blur, I'm glad they are over.


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