My last “COVID-19 and Me” post was back in late October 2021, shortly after I got my Moderna booster shot. Perhaps that’ll be the first booster of many; I have no idea. They’ve been telling us since the beginning of the pandemic that it’s really just a matter of time before we all get COVID. All the effort to wear masks and do social distancing and stuff was to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed long enough for vaccines to come out.
And then the vaccines came out and a funny thing happened. Not nearly as many people in the US were willing to voluntarily get vaccinated as they anticipated. And the vaccines weren’t as close to 100% effective as people had hoped.
And then another funny thing happened. The omicron variant became dominant, and the vaccines were much less effective in preventing omicron infection than in preventing infection from the earlier strains.
Regardless, we got to December 2021 – nearly two years into the pandemic – before I ever even needed to take a COVID test. But then we had a company “offsite” meeting that I wanted to attend in person, and they were requiring all employees to be vaccinated and to have a passing COVID test from the past few days. So I took a rapid test about 30 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin, since someone thought to bring a few test kits to the office my company was borrowing.
Thankfully, a coworker was there who has taken a dozen of these rapid tests and helped others take several dozen others. So he walked me through the procedure, since it was my first time. Unsurprisingly, I tested negative.
Then a few weeks went by. We had Christmas and New Year’s and I got a week off work between the two holidays, which was really nice. I continued to live my pandemic lifestyle of doing lots of walking, staying away from crowds, and always wearing a mask in public indoor spaces. In fact, based on advice related to the omicron variant, I started wearing double masks – one surgical type and one cloth one over the top of that.
Then, on January 13, while I was working away in my home office, I started feeling weird, like the way I do when I’m getting a cold. My throat was a little swollen and sore, and I felt tired. Things got worse throughout the afternoon, and I took off work early.
It was such an unusual feeling. It felt just like dozens of other colds I’ve gotten in my life, but it was also a shock because I had almost forgotten what colds were like. Given all the precautions from the pandemic era, I haven’t had a cold since 2019.
So I hit up google to learn how to tell the difference between a cold and COVID. And my initial symptoms could be either, given that everyone says that the omicron variant feels a lot like a cold, especially if you’ve been vaccinated.
The next step was to get tested. I had a couple rapid tests under the bathroom sink, but was able to get an appointment for a PCR test at one of the state testing sites first thing Friday morning, and those are a lot more reliable, from what I’d read. The results should be back in three days, they said.
The long MLK Day weekend went on and my symptoms got worse on Friday and Saturday, but then let up some on Sunday and Monday. By Monday night, the test results still hadn’t been reported. I had canceled everything over the weekend and for the next week that would require being around people.
Monday was MLK Day, and so I had that off work anyhow. The test results still hadn’t come back by Tuesday, but I went back to work (remote, as usual) for a few hours. Wednesday I felt a bit better. I still had normal cold symptoms, but was it a cold?
Finally, in the middle of the night Wednesday night, the test results were delivered by email and text message. That’s five and a half days after the test. And the results were…
Yup, to the surprise of nobody, it is now official that I have COVID-19.