COVID in the HOUSE
Sunday, January 3rd was a particularly eventful day for us. Yes, it was the Patriot’s last game of the season, which impacted us in more ways than one. It was also the day I got dose #1 of the Moderna SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, which was lucky for us, except we didn’t realize how lucky until later.
See, Hubby called that last game of the season as he usually calls home games: From the radio broadcast booth overlooking the field. His broadcast partner and the production crew were in the booth as well, for the whole game, of course. They all communicate with each other on and off the air, sometimes by signal and sometimes by shouting. For four-plus hours.
The large sliding windows were open, as they always are, to allow the best unobstructed view of the performance. This year those windows were also open to allow plenty of air circulation. Plexiglass barriers had been added to the setup as well, though they were kind of small. And of course the guys all try to maintain six feet of distance, within that little space…
But, Hubby doesn’t wear a mask on-air, because it would muffle his voice, and he’s a pro’s pro when it comes to his voice on-air. He will not be muffled. I guess it was pure luck that he hadn’t been exposed to this tricky virus during previous gametimes, or maybe he had and that famous Foxboro breeze or the plexiglass cookie sheets had miraculously prevented transmission all Fall.
At any rate, Hubby got a phone call from one of his broadcast team members on January 5th. Poor guy was pretty sick, it had hit him hard the day before. Which meant he had been super-infectious the day before that. Which was the day they spent four hours together in a little booth.
Of course we had a little panic dance, then we pored over photos of the setup trying to imagine how the cold stadium wind or the plexiglass cookie sheets maybe would have prevented transmission. Hubby went into quarantine IN our house, I made a million phone calls, and we waited.
Days went by. Hubby stayed home, mostly in his office, even eating his meals in there. He slept in our daughter’s room. He tried so hard to both help take care of the kids and yet not interact with them. In those early days, I stepped in and sliced the fruit, spread the peanut butter and jelly, poured the milk. You can imagine that with two school-aged kids and working from home, this gets old real fast.
Around day #6 post-exposure, Hubby asked, “Maybe we don’t need to be so careful anymore. Don’t most people have symptoms by now, if they’re going to?”
This, of course, is the domestic equivalent of walking into the emergency room for your shift and declaring: “It’s so quiet!” That statement, the words themselves, waft up to the ears of the gods and then the gods laugh as they rain shit down upon you. So, it was day #7 post-exposure that it hit Hubby, hard. One second he was standing in front of the fridge looking for mustard, the next he was leaning over the counter saying, “I don’t feel so good…”
We knew right away that the virus was calling from inside the house. Dual testing, first a rapid then a PCR, confirmed the diagnosis. This was a serious development, because now I was exposed, the kids were exposed. Because I don’t care how careful you try to be, when there’s a nine- and a ten-year-old and a dog and two cats in the house, and your spouse works, eventually you will be called upon to do stuff. Sometimes, he’d had to slice the fruit, spread the peanut butter and jelly, pour the milk.
So I made another million phone calls. There were interminable hold times with Occupational Health. There were crisply distilled instructions from the school nurse. Somehow I did my clinical work via ZOOM, the kids did remote school, the animals were fed and watered, and we made it to the drive-through testing place while Hubby lay feverish and fatigued, congested and coughing.
This is why I didn’t write about this before: I was worried. (Well, that and that I literally did not have one free minute all day before I collapsed into bed comatose…)
Seriously, though. With COVID, no one knows how they’re going to feel, what it’s going to be like. There’s such a variety of presentations and a wide range of severity. It’s reasonable to worry, even if you’re young-ish and healthy. It just didn’t feel right to be blogging in real time. If my tone was too light, if there were a touch of humor, might it not anger the gods?
Hubby pushed through, though, and after a few days he was trying to do laundry and vacuum. Trying. Good sign though. During this time, family, friends and neighbors dropped off extremely welcomed care packages of meals-ready-to-heat, baked goodies, healing teas, even wine.
“But I can’t drink the wine,” commented Hubby, as I cradled a gifted bottle of Californian red.
Oh, honey, it’s not for you… I thought, mentally thanking our thoughtful neighbor.
As Hubby improved, I started thinking about my blog. How would I share this experience, when I had time to actually write about it?
Then, exactly one week after Hubby’s illness onset, it hit our son hard. Within the space of one hour, our ten-year-old spiked a fever and started coughing. It kicked up his asthma from the get-go. We were all up much of the night, me and Hubby running for the albuterol inhaler, diphenhydramine, acetaminophen, tissues, tea with honey, and also comforting our anxious nine-year-old daughter.
The next day, I had a fully booked morning virtual clinic, and the kids were supposed to have remote school. With our son sick and Hubby still recovering, something had to give. I emailed the teachers and told them the kids weren’t likely to be logging in to school, and asked for a pass. My mom again ran to the pharmacy for us, more prescriptions, more OTC remedies. The house became more and more like one big sickbed, tissues and half-drank mugs of tea all over the place. Our son’s swab also came back COVID positive, which upset him a bit, despite his knowing that there wasn’t much else this could be.
We’ve made such a big deal about avoiding infection, and here was the infection running amuck in our house. We reassured our kids as best we could. But I won’t lie, we were way more worried about our son than we had been for my husband. He’s a stoic kid with a hearty appetite, and to see him lying around bundled up feverish and coughing and not hungry was anxiety-provoking. But just two days in, he also turned a corner, and has been slowly weaning off the inhalers. When he started bickering with his sister and roughhousing with the dog, we knew he was going to be okay.
Now, it’s been almost one week since his illness onset, and I think I’m safe to write about it. Yes, it could still hit our daughter, or me, but I doubt it. We’ve been exposed and exposed and exposed for two whole weeks, and clearly her youth and my one dose of vaccine have protected us. I’m on serial testing per Occ Health, and have swabbed negative three times. (Hopefully such a statement doesn’t test the temper of the gods, and is taken as fact, not daring…)
Well, cross fingers, anyway. Today finds us still on strict isolation protocol, but with everyone well enough to take care of themselves, for the most part. Yes, the house is an ungodly mess. Yes, I have plenty of work to catch up with. But now, I have some time to dare write about it, so I will.