I tested positive for COVID.

I was hesitant to share this with anyone. I was proud to have never caught COVID. I stayed in during lockdowns, I kept my distance, I wore a mask. I still wear a mask everywhere I go. This meant, to me, that if I was careful enough, I could avoid catching COVID. The obvious alternative to that is if I do catch COVID, it means I wasn't careful enough. To be clear, I'm not passing judgement on anyone else here. This is how things are nestled in my brain regarding myself personally.

On Monday night, 3 October 2022, I experienced a mild sore throat. Tuesday, things progressed quickly to include a dry cough, sinus pressure, headache. I told myself I should take a COVID test. When I mentioned my symptoms to my mum, she said she had awakened on Saturday morning to a mild sore throat, but it went away, so she didn't think to mention it. (We were already scheduled to visit on Saturday for my dad's birthday. I still would have gone for the visit, but I would have distanced more if I had known.) She said it was a mild cold, and felt bad for giving it to me. I accepted this information, against all of my COVID paranoia, knowledge and awareness. On Wednesday, I was still getting worse. I took a COVID home test, and it came back positive.

First positive COVID test

When I tested positive, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I hadn't taken that mild sore throat more seriously, that I hadn't immediately taken a COVID test, that I didn't immediately isolate, and that it ultimately took me two days before I tested. I have spent this pandemic paranoid about catching COVID, convinced every little sniffle was COVID, and if there was even the smallest possibility of exposure, I tested early, often, and to the point of overkill. Then, for whatever reason, this time, when I was told it was a cold, I let that cloud my judgement. In fact, I was genuinely surprised when the first homekit test came back positive. In my mind, it was simply a formality, and there was no possible way it would be anything but negative.

The hardest part to admit is that I was patient zero in our household. (My partner was with me when I caught it, but her symptom onset indicates she caught it from me.) I feel like I could have prevented my housemate and partner from getting sick if I had immediately begin isolating when I experienced the first symptom. Anecdotal evidence (and maybe empirical as well, I didn't look into it) indicates I am probably wrong about that, and that the entire household would have caught it regardless. This did not (and still mostly does not) make me feel any better about it.

I watched folks I follow on Twitter sharing their COVID experiences, and I now wondered how they brought themselves to do it. I remembered one in particular, so I reached out to him and asked. In his case, it was late 2021, and there was so much misinformation floating around, he felt the need to be informative. But, further, he said he refuses "to be embarrassed or bullied about anything, especially something like that" which he couldn't help. His family had taken every precaution, and still caught it. This conversation stuck with me. I was still struggling to admit the situation, but I slowly began letting trusted people in my life know that I had caught COVID. The support I received began to help me feel like maybe I could share. I tried to figure out how to start the conversation on Twitter, and couldn't. I thought of burying it somewhere on my blog, eventually decided burying wasn't necessary, and here we are.

Everyone and everything says getting enough rest (and hydration) and giving yourself the time you need is crucial to COVID recovery. I spent much of my situation dealing with some very complicated feelings that did not lend themselves to rest or giving myself the time I needed. It's not possible for any of us to handle these things perfectly. If and when this happens again, I'll apply what I learned from this experience, and hopefully make the next time better. I'll share openly from day one. Perhaps most importantly, I will give myself the grace of knowing the situation is acceptable, and let myself have the time and emotional energy I need to heal.