Well, after 2+ years of avoiding COVID-19, we finally all got it.
It started innocently enough. My husband had an intense work week pulling all-nighters. That Friday evening, he started to cough. I reflexively antigen tested him and it was negative. “Must be sleep deprivation,” he concluded. Pro tip #1: antigen tests are crap.
The next day, he began to have symptoms of a gout flare. One of his feet swelled up and he was fairly immobile. Still had a bit of cough and was more tired than usual, but a repeat antigen test was negative so we chalked it all up to gout. Gout and sleep deprivation.
Sunday night he experienced chills and I began to have a slight cough. I was still coughing the next day but otherwise felt totally fine and I myself was now antigen negative (and he was STILL negative as well). However, by the end of my morning clinic, I began to feel worse. Muscle achy, runny nose – just generally unwell. So I drove myself to occupational health for a PCR. I needed to know for sure before going back in the next day for a full day of clinic. (Of note, I still wear an N95 mask + surgical mask + eye protection in clinic and was wearing all of the above when I saw the few patients I did that morning.) I decided to pick the boys up from camp early just in case. But, it turns out that I left my lights on when I parked the car, so when I came back to it after my test I couldn’t turn it on!
I had to call my husband to pick me up and deal w/ the dead battery while I went to pick up the boys and relieve or nanny. Truthfully, I was most worried about our nanny. She is vaccinated and boosted but also pregnant, and I was most concerned about her and her baby. More on that later.
When I finally got everyone home, I felt terrible. I took ibuprofen right away and lay on the couch. My husband made me soup. We somehow made it to bedtime and that’s when I got the result: positive PCR. Crap. I contacted our clinic manager to cancel all of my clinics for the week. I told our nanny to stay home and monitor for symptoms. I reached out to the kids’ camps and told them they would be staying home due to COVID in the family. Interestingly, the policy is that kids with a home exposure can still go to camp (and I definitely knew of two moms who had COVID who were still sending their kids to one of the camps), but with two positive parents, I knew we wouldn’t be able to isolate. I had also decided that we weren’t even going to try. This was probably a gamble on my part, and maybe a risky one since we did have two unvaccinated kids at the time (under 5), but I didn’t want to start a game of domino COVID, whereby we’d have one kid at home at any given time, with no childcare since we wanted to protect our nanny, meaning an even longer work disruption than just two weeks.
The next 2 days were rough. My husband started feeling like crap. Not only did he definitely have COVID (he kept testing antigen negative until I finally had him confirm on PCR and that was positive), but he had a gout flare that was so bad (TWO feet affected) that he couldn’t even walk. I can laugh about it now, but it was a rough few days. Four kids 7 and under at home with only one parent who could physically participate in caring for them, and that parent (me) had fairly symptomatic COVID. My symptoms were fever (to 102.8), sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches/pains, fatigue. But, we somehow made it through those 2 harrowing days. The kids started to develop symptoms and/or become antigen positive in close succession. Everyone was positive by the end of the week. Our unvaccinated kids had the most symptoms: 2 days of fever. One of our vaccinated kids had a sore throat and one night of fever. One of them coughed twice and a had a slight sniffle, but since we were waiting for it, we tested him and it was positive.
The days were a bit of a slog. My husband took off most of the first week and even during the days when I felt like crap, I tried to get the kids outside for a bit. We could only frequent places that were outdoors, where we were guaranteed to not be close to other people. I’m sure for the kids it was quite the adventure – both parents at home, unstructured time, a loosening of rules, exploring new outdoor spaces. I’m sure one day I’ll look back at the time with rose-colored glasses. But right now I’m finding myself under a mound of work – actual job and life – with little time to catch up since I had to add so many clinics back to make up for 2 weeks of lost time.
Pro tip #2: once positive, the antigen tests take forever to become negative. I wish someone had told me this. The rules for work and camp are 5 days of isolation and you can test out after 5 days if your antigen test is negative. So like a crazy optimist, I antigen tested everyone after day 5. Well, no one was negative even close to day 5. Myself and at least one of the kids were still positive by our respective day 10s. I finally went back to work on day 11 (no further restrictions and I was obviously masked and finally positive). The kids returned to life the following week. But, wow, that was a crazy long time of disruption in our family.
And here’s the thing: the reason COVID is going around life wildfire is that no one is keeping themselves and their kids home for 2+ weeks. It was honestly really hard, and we are fortunate to have flexible jobs that allowed us the time off. But we also lost out on thousands of dollars of childcare those 2 weeks between kid camps and in-home care. That’s a lot of money. And if your employer isn’t going to give you paid time off, what option do you have? And remember, the kids were only symptomatic for 1-2 days. 2 weeks is a lot of lost time for 1-2 days of symptoms. So I imagine there will be some changes to the rules down the line – maybe now that the under 5 vaccines are approved?
Pro tip #3: if someone in your life gets COVID, don’t ask them what they need – just send them something you think they might need or want. Prior to us having COVID, I would ask my friends who were diagnosed with COVID what I could send – a meal? toys for their kids? other? Without fail, everyone said thanks and nothing. I did the same thing when we all got sick. But the sweetest surprises were from people who didn’t take no for an answer and just sent something – a lunch delivery, a homemade dinner, a sweet treat, toys/activities for the kids. The novelty of these thoughtful tokens was enough to turn an otherwise ordinary day into something special. And the feeling of being loved was overwhelming.
So now, I’m happy to be on the other side. I spent so long being so afraid of COVID, and now that’s it gone through our family I feel a sense of freedom/peace. Although I also recognize that this is fleeting because immunity post-infection does not last forever. I also feel incredibly grateful that our children were minimally symptomatic and have no long-term symptoms. Despite the adults having a bit more symptoms, we also fully recovered. And I will be forever grateful that our pregnant nanny did not get sick.