I now realize I’ve been using “COVID brain” or “pandemic brain” wrong. For the past year or so, I’ve been using to to talk about the changes in the way my brain has been working throughout this pandemic and the quarantine (on and off here in Egypt) period. But it’s not thing compared to the fog/funk I’m going through now that I’ve been through the actual illness. I didn’t want to blog publicly through the period because I did not wanna spew negative vibes when no one really needs more negativity in their lives…
And so I’ll start this post off with gratitude. And roll backwards. It may not make sense this way, but I want to do it this way. I am grateful that my case of COVID was in the mild to moderate range. I’m grateful my symptoms did not last too long, so I did not have to stop hugging my daughter more than the 10 days they say it takes to become “no longer infective”. I am grateful I was able to take my daughter to school and spend some time in the sunshine yesterday (and today). I’m grateful the sun stayed out up until we got home so we could enjoy it (then it poured rain really hard! but we were safely home by then). I’m grateful that my mother-in-law is back home from ICU.
Which brings me to the “virtue” dimensions of this all. It was so important for me that people know that I got COVID the “noble” way, not the “careless” way. It’s not that I was careless about masks or distancing or going to crowded places. Quite the opposite. But I got COVID while caring for my mother-in-law. My husband asked me to help out because she was unwell, and I wore a mask the whole time even though he refused to test her for COVID. I couldn’t avoid touching her sometimes, but I kept my distance unless I really needed to be near her. Of course, she was coughing and feverish and not wearing a mask, so I guess I was not protected enough by my KN95 mask. So I was optimistic, pushing for her to get tested, but really careful around my own daughter and mother, just in case I got infected. When my mother-in-law was admitted to ICU for COVID, I got tested and knew I was positive within a few hours. I had been optimistic that maybe I had been lucky… but no. I was lucky, however, that when I tested my mom and daughter, they were negative. I did not want to live through knowing I had passed it onto my mom. So very fortunate there.
Quarantining from the world in your own home is one thing, but self-isolating within your own home from your own child is another. I guess hugs and kisses are an important part of most families, but maybe it’s more in mine? It was torture and my kid and I kept inventing ways to be close to each other relatively safely… opening windows and wearing masks and putting plastic sheets between us then hugging, or hugging from behind (with the assumption that if my head is up there, hers is lower down and far from mine and I’m facing the other way, that offers about 1 meter of distance. Or something!
I felt a whole load of anger when I was diagnosed because I felt this had been totally avoidable if my mother-in-law had gotten tested earlier. Or if I had just been cold-hearted and said I would not risk myself this way. I’m not sure if I would have been able to follow through with it. It’s not like I did not know this might happen… so I don’t know…
There was a moment where I wondered if I should talk to my students about it – and whether I should model self-care by taking time off, but then self-care for me meant that when I could work for an hour or two a day, I would feel better, and I enjoyed being around people, even if my energy was low. So it was good telling them. And by now so many people have had it, that people gave good home remedy advice and were empathetic and caring. So that was good.
Everyone at work was really understanding and especially my boss… we had had a few cases in my department and several in my family and friends circle. A few of the people I had spoken to recently, just before I was diagnosed, had given me vibes of low energy, emotional vibes, not just physical ones. I think for me, the physical symptoms were not horrible, but the emotional rollercoaster of it was really bad. I had a couple of days of extreme stress and negative thoughts, partly fears of how this particular illness can seem mild and turn fatal, but also about my life in general. I had so so so much support from family and friends. People calling to check up on me, people sending food and drink and all kinds of advice (welcome and unwelcome but all well intentioned), and coming from a family of medical folks and marrying into a family of medical folks, lots of it was proper medical advice from non-specialists 🙂 Don’t get me started :)) It’s exhausting.
I am grateful that this experience did not scare my daughter. For some odd reason, she saw the mildness of my symptoms and felt like COVID was no longer a scary thing, all the while, she was basically ignoring the fact that her grandmother was in ICU and having one of the worst experiences of COVID… whatever helped her cope, I guess? We continued our gratitude oral journaling each night, and every day, including the day I tested positive, she had several things to be grateful for. She was grateful that she learned to make scrambled eggs for herself, that I played a mobile game called PKXD with her, that some of her friends played online with her, some days she was grateful for a tasty meal. The day she did the PCR, she was grateful that it was not as uncomfortable/painful as she’d been expecting. She was grateful for the creative ways we learned to show love without proper hugs.
I’m over my anger now, mostly, still holding on to that “virtue”/nobility thing… even as I recognize the ridiculousness of it. Holding on to lots of gratitude for the support I received and for just having a relatively mild/moderate case overall. And that I did not have any huge like keynotes or anything that I could not cancel or such. I had a few classes, some with a co-teacher, and a few workshops, where people could back me up… My kid was mostly on vacation and just started school as I was getting better… there were supposed to be exams soon, but they got canceled (yay, more to be grateful for!) and definitely grateful my mother-in-law is back home from ICU.
I remember the day my doctor told me I could hug my daughter without PCR within 10 days of having symptoms, this was like day 6 or 7, and suddenly I could see light at the end of the tunnel, and I felt better immediately. The psychological impact of anticipating hugs kept me going the 3 remaining days up until I could properly hug her. That was amazing.
So I kinda feel like I wanna put in some images to express my journey through COVID