Healthcare, Life

Omicron and Me

photo of coronavirusWell, it finally happened.  Two years on, inexorably and inevitably, I caught the ‘rona.  It’s hardly surprising, really, since I have been going about my business, carefully, but pretty much normally from the start, as have most of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my own little corner of the world.  I had both the original Pfizer shots, late last Spring.  I’m not “boosted,” as I don’t subscribe to the idea that showing up every few months for another shot will do anything other than–over the course of time–make me even more susceptible to new variants increasingly clever enough to evade them.

And anyway, I heard Dr. Fauci say that–sooner or later–everyone would get Omicron.  So there.

I’m 67 years old.  I’m in pretty good health, although I could stand to lose just a few pounds.  I don’t have any of the commonly cited co-morbidities, and other than a diagnosis of early sarcoid in my lungs and lymph nodes over thirty years ago (which is monitored and buys me an annual chest CT scan to look at problem areas), I’m the picture of what the Victorians used to call “rude health.”

So I’ve banked on the fact that if Coronavirus ever caught up with me, I’d survive it.  And, by gum, I think I have!  So far, anyway.

I do want to issue a heads-up, though.  Even the “mild” Omicron variant is not a day at the park for those of us of a certain age.  It’s pretty vicious.  And although we can argue about the safety and benefits of the initial rounds of shots (something I’m just not going to do here), I’m glad I had them.  If you come down with a case, take it seriously.  Follow your doctor’s advice.  And take care of yourself.

As I bear down on the end of my second week in purdah, I thought I’d offer an update, so that those of you who care know I’m still alive and kicking, and so that those of you who’ve written me off don’t get too comfortable in your certainty.  None of what I write (now that I actually have an interest in writing something again) should be considered definitive medical advice.  I’m just telling you what I did to get through it, and what has worked for me.

The Beginning:

I caught it from a guest in my home.  No blame attaches to him.  He didn’t know, and neither did I, but once two of his sons (one, a PA state cop, the other in nursing school) were tested and found positive, the die was cast.  The first sign for me was excruciating joint pain, which–absent any other symptoms–lasted about a day, and was then accompanied by chills, then a fever, for another two days.

(Side note:  I’m famous, at my doctor’s office, for being the woman who never spikes a fever.  Never.  Ever.  My temperature is 97.5 at all times, and hasn’t varied for decades, no matter what else is going on.  Same with blood pressure, which is about 100/65, no matter what.  So one day into this, when my temperature was 101, and my blood pressure was 130/80, I knew something was up.  Thankfully, my pulse oximeter showed good oxygenation.  TBC, between the veterinary/livestock needs, and Mr. She’s last illness, I’m pretty well-acquainted with how to monitor vital-signs, and what I should consider a problem and when I should start to worry.)

I retired to bed, feeling utterly miserable.  Thought, for about 36 hours, that I might be destined for the morgue.  Notified friends and family.  Dismissed pleas that I go and be tested: What the hell for?  Sit in a room for hours with dozens of people probably sicker than me, or in a parade of cars at a drive-through testing location breathing in petrol fumes, to find out–what, exactly?  That I had what I knew I had?  No, thank you.

Slept.  Didn’t eat.  Remembered to stay well hydrated.  Waited it out.  Called my doctor’s office at some point just to put them on notice.  They said I seemed to be doing the right things, and to keep up the good work.

About 72 hours in, the fever and the aches abated.  Still didn’t have much appetite.  I’d been taking a Nyquil knock-off with “fever-reducer, cough-suppressant, and antihistamine,” which probably made me feel even more out of it that I would otherwise.  Switched to a straight cough-suppressant, since that was now the most annoying symptom, and which had resulted in chest pain from the racking cough.  Used copious amounts of saline nasal spray, something I’m prone to do anyway to mitigate a tendency to sinusitis.

At this point, my brain started to reassert itself, and I found myself thinking about comforting unguents and palliative medicines from my childhood.  (Tea and coffee were, at this point, sheer anathema.) Onion soup.  Ginger and lemon which (fortunately)  can usually be found in  my refrigerator.  Made a syrup from 1 cup of sugar, one cup of water, and one cup of thinly sliced fresh ginger root.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Let steep for an hour.  Strain.  2 tablespoons accompanied by 1/2 freshly-squeezed lemon, in 8oz of hot water.  Did more to clear out my bronchial passages and quiet my cough than just about anything else.  Still drinking 3-4 cups of that a day.  Listened to friends with (sometimes) helpful advice.  (Sometimes) even took it.

The Middle:

This started about four days in, by which time my cough had become bearable, my temperature and blood pressure were normal, and other than an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion and strain, I felt pretty OK.  (Sheep and chickens don’t care about overwhelming feelings of exhaustion and strain, and still have to be fed and watered.  I suspect such factors contribute to overwhelming feelings of exhaustion and strain for me, just as other sorts of unignorable factors do the same for others.  Do what you must.  And not much else.)

And so, for the last week, I’ve done almost nothing (except what’s absolutely necessary for the aforementioned sheep and chickens).  Every day, I’m a little better, I have less of a cough, and I have (very) slightly more energy.  Why, yesterday, I even wired two new electrical circuits! (Something which, a week ago, I wouldn’t have had the physical, let alone the mental, capacity to accomplish.) Little by little, I’m coming back.  And today, for the first time in almost two weeks, I feel like writing.   I’ve read that full recovery can take from three to six weeks, if you’re of a certain age and you get a pretty good dose of this.  I believe it.

And I’d like to issue a special shoutout to friends and family who’ve sent me stuff, regularly checked in on me (sometimes, too regularly), and who’ve dropped off meals and supplies on the other side of my driveway gates (which function like the medieval plague stones of old).  Thank you, all!  You’ve kept me going when I wasn’t sure I could.  And so here I still am.

The End:

No, it hasn’t come yet.  And I’m not expecting it to.  Sorry.

To close, I look again to my childhood, and to one of my mother’s favorite songs from hers (also, apparently, beloved of George Orwell):

Don’t count me out.  Just yet, anyway.

To fellow sufferers everywhere:  Take care of yourselves.  Let others take care of you.  And do everything you need to, to get well.  Prayers.

2 thoughts on “Omicron and Me”

  1. It’s been doing the rounds here too. For all of last week I was down 4 people (out of 19 total) just with covid, while another (my mother) has been out since early December recovering from a knee replacement, and another (my father) caring for her – neither of them is going to set foot in here until this wave has passed by. One of the employees who covid had the dreaded “long covid”, having gotten sick right before Christmas.

    This week 2 of the covid-invalids have returned (including the one who had the long form), but 2 others have been felled. It’s running through my kids’ school, and I’m pretty sure at least one of them may have it, having had it during the original wave and now showing the same symptoms.

    And it’s run through my church as well, with our priest being out for the last 2 weeks with a rough case it.

    I’m with you when it comes to the boosters – those who have been the most hard hit, young or old, seem to be largely those who got the booster. I don’t know why this is, but it does seem that the booster may have made things worse for some people. At this point I’m not getting it. But then again, I’ve been directly exposed to covid so many many times now, and not gotten it despite lack of precautions, that either I’ve been one of the asymptomatic ones, or I’m quite lucky, or I’m one of the blessed few who just isn’t particularly vulnerable to it.

    Prayers for a speedy recovery.

    1. Thanks very much. I hope you and the family stay relatively healthy, although it sounds as if you’re the eye of the storm which is swirling all about you. I don’t remember feeling so utterly exhausted for so long, and I’m not sure if it’s just age or if I had a bad dose of it. (Probably a combination of both). The cough persists, as well as an inability to concentrate, and a general disinclination to do absolutely anything other than sit or lie down, and try to stay warm. This crazy weather isn’t helping either. But all in all–the sheep are well, the chickens are well, the remodeling project has started up again after about a ten-day hiatus, and there is much to be grateful for in this new year. Take care of yourselves, and thanks for the kind thoughts.

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