The Phoenix

A glimpse of life behind the COVID curtain

- By Terry Alburger

It was inevitable. I am currently on the other side of the COVID curtain. The inside. It is from this new vantage point that I decided to share my experience­s. Perhaps something here might help you should the need arise.

Aside from being sequestere­d from humanity, life went on after my positive test. There is the initial self-pity, of course. But then it occurred to me — perhaps I gained more than I lost. I could get some rest, some quiet time and the ability to work at home. No phones ringing or people stopping in my office. For a week or so, I would be in a COVID fortress. How bad could it be?

The first two days were manageable. Not fun, but manageable. It was like a ramped-up allergy attack. I managed to get some gardening done.

“Nice. I’ll stay home, get my yardwork done, get caught up with household stuff and even work from home. Wow, a week of time on my hands! Going to be great, right?”

Day three changed my mind.

First piece of advice: do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Day three felt like a concentrat­ed allergy attack on steroids. Intermitte­nt fever soon decided to make its appearance into the COVID mix. It created a cohesive COVID choreograp­hy. And remember that energy that I had on day one? Yeah, it hit the highway. The gardens and housework, they would have to wait. COVID, the energy thief, had struck in earnest.

COVID is a lot like a roller coaster. The symptoms come in peaks and valleys. I was chugging along, doing fine, thinking “this isn’t so bad,” when suddenly I faced a quick decline. Coughing, bouts of fever, sore throat, all usually hitting at night. It felt endless, this downhill spiral. But by morning, after intermitte­nt sleep, flu meds and a hot shower, smooth sailing returned. Briefly.

The next few days continued, a smooth ride, immediatel­y preceding the next torrent of symptoms. After a week, shortness of breath became the rule the day. It was pronounced, even cut my phone conversati­ons short. Deep breaths. Expand those lungs. If you have access to a pulsox (pulse oximeter), use it.

Though I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath, my O2 remained good. And yet, frivolous things like walking to the bathroom or sitting up for too long or talking had all become major feats. I presumed it to be just another part of COVID’s cavalcade of symptoms. It’s like a giant “Price is Right:”

OK, you can now trade your fever symptom for ….what’s behind door number one …drumroll please!

Shortness of breath! Lucky you!

Be prepared. The best defense is to fight back. Rest when you have to, but do as much as you possibly can when you find energy. I created a COVID toolkit and kept it close at hand at all times: tissues, Lysol wipes, Pulsox, cough medicine, cough drops, thermomete­r, masks, water bottle, phone, charger. I was indeed ready for any COVID apocalypse! You never know what you might need!

Try to keep moving. At one point, I meandered outside for a short walk in the backyard. How is it that the simplest of tasks can eat up so much energy? But you know what they say about “Sunshine on my shoulders…” it certainly did make me happy. Exhilarati­ng but exhausting.

As the day count hit double digits, I was confused. I truly expected to be better and back to work in a week. On day 10, I got up early to test myself, fully expecting to return to work. My clothes were laid out, my work computer was packed neatly in my briefcase, I was ready to go. Fifteen minutes later, I neatly unpacked my work computer and files, grabbed my coffee and returned to my home office attire (sweats) and workspace (couch). Sigh. It was positive.

Three days later, I’m still here, not knowing what the next few days will hold. As far as prisons go, this one wasn’t so bad. I know I must be nearing the end of this COVID journey. I’m still on the inside of the COVID curtain, but I hope that soon I’ll be able to throw that curtain wide open and dash out.

There are many lessons learned from my continuing COVID experience. First and foremost, never let your guard down. I was lured into a false sense of security. I won’t be fooled again. My mask will once again be part of my daily wardrobe.

Also, never underestim­ate the power of a hug from a loved one. Something that was always a part of my daily life was suddenly removed. Hugs are powerful things — don’t take them for granted. I can’t wait to replenish my supply.

People are very kind. I have received so much help and love from all around me. Pride takes a back seat with you have COVID. Accept all offers of help. You’ll need it.

I am reminded what social creatures we humans truly are. On an average workday, I must interact with 30 or 40 people, easily. To suddenly become a solo act is difficult to say the least. There is much to be said for the camaraderi­e of good co-workers and friends.

I have to wonder how much worse this would be without vaccinatio­ns and a booster. I’m very grateful to be fully vaxxed.

I truly hope you don’t need any of the above informatio­n, but if the need arises, I hope these random musings might be useful. Stay safe!

 ?? PIXABAY ??

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