When COVID became a thing back in March of 2020, the world was a mess. It was as if we had no clue what to do (though we had the blueprint of history to show us). I remember sitting at brunch with a group of new friends at SMMW20 (Social Media Marketing World – one of my favorite conferences ever) in San Diego after the news broke worldwide and wondering…should we be here?
That was then and this is now. We’re a wiser world that’s caught up on the vaccine game. We know to where masks, etc. (though many still politicize that here in the US, but that is what it is sadly). My husband and I did everything we thought we should do. We worked from home. We wore masks. We got both Pfizer vaccines together back in the spring. Neither of us had caught COVID to date – so we thought we were doing pretty well with this pandemic-thing and gettin’ the hang of it. We even got married in October with 108 guests and no one got COVID. (We also required everyone eligible to email in vaccination cards ahead of time and encouraged the unvaxxed to test negative prior to coming).
Recently, I scheduled our boosters for us – right before Christmas week. Honestly, I think I got a false sense of security, thinking we had this COVID thing under control and didn’t have to worry about catching it at all since we were double-vaxxed and boosted. So I agreed to come to a few events that week. BIG events. Boy, was I wrong. Here’s how it went down:
MON. 13 DEC 2021 [ LUNCHTIME ]: Attended UGA’s Georgia Economic Outlook event at the Georgia Aquarium.
Easily 800 people. No one was wearing masks except maybe 5%. (I didn’t wear mine for pictures, to drink my coffee, to talk to friends I trusted, to eat…basically 80% of the time). You can see my mask hanging off my wrist in the picture on the right. Wrong place to be, clearly! No negative tests were required to enter.
[ EVENING ]: Attended intimate happy hour for a non-profit
This was a much smaller event, probably about 30 people with past council members I knew. A few people had on masks, but this facility made us show our vaccine cards at least prior to entering, so I suppose I felt a bit safer being around the people here.
Thurs. 16 Dec. 2021 [ MID-AFTERNOON / EVENING ]: Meeting with small group of people in two public places
Originally, I set out to meet with one individual and it turned into a tour of a new spacious (i.e. not crowded) tech lab here in ATL (that a few friends of mine are actually running I found out – very cool), and then an early evening of cocktails down the street at another club in the area plus dinner. Didn’t get home until…maybe close to 10pm? Dinner was with 5 of us around a banquet table.
Fri. 17 Dec. 2021 [ NIGHT ]: Large Combined Company Christmas Party + Bday Party
About 800-1000 people were expected at this party as well. I’m not sure of the final numbers that were there. It was certainly a large, expansive room (held at the Southern Exchange Ballrooms in downtown Atlanta). Originally I was told that this was my hubby’s company Christmas party (although I didn’t know at first how large it was going to be). Then I was told it was a joint-company Christmas party with several other organizations. Okay. (This is, apparently, what happens when he has to be responsible for the details). I was also told it was a cocktail party.
So I arrive in my cocktail dress, my husband in his suit, and the entrance to the place has a short red carpet and huge balloon display with women outside in evening gowns. “Darling…is this the right place?” We go in and I remember Southern Exchange Ballrooms (plural) has multiple event spaces inside, so I thought maybe there are multiple parties going on at once tonight. The ladies at the front asked what party we were here for and gave us a wrist band. We go in and we see a lot of mannequins stationed around the room with tailors hanging about. Fashion? Are we…truly in the right place?
My husband had left his mask at home and thought he had an extra in his jacket but didn’t. We looked around a bit to see if they might have a box of disposables as an event courtesy laying around anywhere – even asked the servers who seemed to all be wearing uniform black masks. None to be found.
He was thinking we might be at the party for maybe an hour or two at the most and then we’d bounce for the night. It ended up being an all night affair as we were seated right at the front of the runway stage (yes, turns out the event had a fashion element as well). It was multiple company’s Christmas parties combined with a fashion show for one of the CEO’s kids and himself (since they had new clothing lines to debut), the CEO’s 50th birthday party and an award show. All in one night. Needless to say, we were in it for the long haul.
The food was served in a buffet line – which I’m not sure if COVID officials determined if that was safe yet or not either, but I do know surfaces became less of an issue as we learned more about COVID. Still, it felt a bit precarious to partake of buffet food. We sat in rounded tables of 8.
I’m fairly certain we caught COVID at this party because it turns out my hubby’s boss had COVID – plus his wife – who were seated to the right of Marc (the husband). To my left was a couple who just flew in from Florida I believe and were headed to New York the next day with their daughter. Turns out they didn’t feel too good the week after either – though they never actually said they had COVID (or either didn’t get tested). So both couples to the left and right of us whom we sat next to all night long definitely had or likely had COVID.
Sat. 18 Dec. 2021 [ NOON ] Brunch with my friend Susan
A soror (sorority sister) and friend of mine had brunch the next day at one of my favorite Vinings brunch spots. It always had a long wait but we decided to stand inside with each other and chat to each other through our masks. We ended up snagging two seats at the bar and eating there. There was a young man to the right of me who talked to us a good bit. (I pray he didn’t get COVID from me but I didn’t have symptoms yet anyway at this point).
[ 3pm ] Pfizer Booster Appointment
That afternoon, I had a booster appointment to go to and I also set one up for Marc (albeit at a different location).
Sun. 19 Dec. 2021 [ 1pm ] Brunch with Marc’s coworker
The next day I had to go back to the SAME brunch spot (sacrilegious, I know) to spend time with Marc’s former coworker (and my new fitness buddy)! She had a little cough but Marc said that was due to years of smoking – she always had a bit of a cough.
By this time, even before going into brunch, I felt pretty woozy. Like I had vertigo. Luckily, I didn’t have to drive. My arm was sore from the booster. I thought this was booster side-effects so I proceeded as normal.
Week of 20 Dec. 2021: COVID Symptoms Setting In
As the week moved on, more symptoms came on. I seemed to have a constant, light headache I couldn’t get rid of. More annoying than anything. I developed a VERY sore throat and a light cough because of it (like I always had a little tickle in my throat going on). I still had the off and on feelings of vertigo / wooziness. I felt like I had a very low grade fever and chills and I even developed a pretty runny nose along with some upper chest congestion. Definitely some light phlegm action going on too. Nothing to go to the hospital over, but definitely concerning. Every time I complained of symptoms to my husband, he echoed similar symptoms. I thought he was just copying me for the fun of it. He thought I was being a hypochondriac. 🙄
Thurs. 23 Dec. 2021: Finding a COVID Test
By that Wednesday, I started getting very concerned. Our booster was that past Saturday. It’s been 4 days and most booster effects, I read, should be over within 2-3 days max. I decided to get tested for COVID. I just knew I was sick. But the COVID tests were scarce! CVS – no appointments for over a week. Walgreens – no appointments for over a week. Since he’d just changed jobs, we didn’t have our insurance cards in yet either and we needed to get new doctors set up.
So I googled around to see what people were doing to get COVID tests around here now. It’d been quite some time since I needed to get one. I came across some free drive-through testing sites. I picked a day where I didn’t have any meetings scheduled, packed my dog Millie in the car and headed to a site to try my luck.
I was originally thinking it might take 1-2 hours at the most to get through a drive-through testing site. When I drove up to the parking lot at the facility I chose, I could see I was headed the wrong way for this line to get tested. So I drove back out of the facility to follow the line and see where it ended. It was a GOOD half mile down the road before snaking through the entire perimeter of their sizable parking lot.
I decided to drive past the line, go find a restroom (who knew how long it might be before I’d be done with that line?), grab some breakfast (it was about 10am) from Starbucks so I wouldn’t die of hunger and found my way to the back of the line.
It took an average of 6.5 minutes to move up ONE car length in this line.
A half hour in, I wasn’t even in the parking lot yet. By the time I’d invested one hour, I felt I couldn’t leave – then my hour and time would’ve been wasted. So I decided to stick it through. I ended up waiting in that car line for FIVE HOURS at Wellstar East Cobb Health Park – which was positively ridiculous! And this, they said, was NORMAL (albeit a slightly elevated volume of people due to the holidays). Thank God I had The Silkiest Millie with me to keep me company and a Starbucks sandwich and drink for sustenance. (I shared my sandwich with Millie so she wouldn’t be starving). I still can’t believe I spent 5 hours of gas and time like that. Who has the time to do this?? I’d seen the lines and lines for COVID testing on TV before but I didn’t really realize how much time people were having to spend to get tested.
By the time I got to the end of the line, I remarked to the lady testing me about the wait. She noted I should’ve gotten in line first thing in the morning! She also noted it was the holidays and testing demands were ramping up (plus there’s Omicron going on, etc.).
But it would mean (as I already thought) that I’d have to miss our family’s Christmas events – which we typically do a few days after Christmas. The “Big Family Circle” (with all our closest extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins – usually a crowd of over 30 people in one house) was going to be that Wednesday the 29th and our “Little Family Circle” (parents, sisters, their spouses and kids) was that Thursday the 30th. We were going to come down the Tuesday before to help my mom, who was hosting this time, clean and decorate the house, prep and cook, etc., and then we were to stay through Thursday morning brunch with presents.
By now, my mom was already texting me and all my sisters to see who could bring needed items with them as they drove in. So I had to let her know I would normally be glad to help but that I was awaiting COVID results. She called me immediately, of course. “It’s probably just a sinus infection!” she exclaimed. She thought everything was sinuses or allergies. True enough, a lot of times with us, it is. “I don’t know mom, I feel like it actually might be positive,” recounting the week’s previous events with her. She felt determined it would come up negative. I think mostly because she didn’t want to miss one of her girls for the family festivities – our first since the pandemic broke out the previous year.
Test Results: COVID Positive
My results were emailed in on Christmas Day – imagine that. I missed them though. The one-pager Xeroxed sheet I was handed said they would both text and email me – so I was monitoring my texts (not my email) over the holidays looking for results. By the time I realized I’d missed the Christmas Day email, it was too late. The link they sent me with my results had already expired. So I had to call the 1-800 number to get my results. You ended up having to wait several minutes only to have to leave a message with your name and number. I left a message and decided I didn’t want to leave that to chance. I run a business and use a voice mail service that blocks spam calls. I didn’t want this all-important call to get blocked accidentally! So I kept calling. By about the 4th try of holding on, I finally got a human nurse on the phone.
She looked up my records and informed me, as I suspected, that I was indeed COVID Positive. Marc was in denial. He felt he “just had a cold” and had been telling all his coworkers and friends he’d been on the phone with over the past few days that “Andrea has COVID” – as if he didn’t. “Bear,” I called him, “Seriously? If I’ve got COVID, you know you’ve got COVID!” As much time as we spend around each other in the house – he certainly had it. Sure enough, he was able to find a test the following week and it wasn’t until he saw a positive result that he admitted he had it too. Men.
His symptoms seemed to linger longer than mine did. I seemed to get sicker faster than he did and his kicked up after me. Not really sure why that happened. Maybe it’s because I went to those Georgia Aquarium and other events the week before and got COVID there first. Maybe we both got another dose of COVID at that Christmas party. Who knows. Either way, I shouldn’t have gone to those events in hindsight – but here we are, living and learning.
The nurse I spoke to regarding my results said that – based on when I started feeling symptoms come on (which was that Sunday the 19th at brunch), that I should quarantine myself until the 30th. Well that was only a few more days – even though I’d have to miss being around my family because of it.
COVID Tracing: Informing My Contacts of My Status
I don’t know if people still do this, but I felt this was the appropriate thing to do: after finding out my test results, I thought back to all the people I knew that I was in close contact with and informed them of my status. No one has ever done that for me, that I know of, but then again, I hadn’t been going to any events really during the pandemic. Just small meetups with one friend at a time – if that – and even that was sparingly done.
Everyone I reached out to seemed to be fine with the exception of one lady who had COVID also but she traced hers back to an event on the 15th (something I wasn’t at). Either way, if someone had been around me and found out they had COVID, I would want to know. So I let my people know. (Let me know in the comments below if you have done this or would do it also!).
New Year’s Eve: 31 Dec 2021
By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around I was feeling pretty much like my normal self! Most of my symptoms were pretty much gone. Marc was feeling better also by then if I’m not mistaken. So we stayed at home. I did my “One Word” New Year’s Eve Party as usual on my business Facebook page and Marc cooked us a lovely steak dinner! Absolutely beautiful.
Finding At-Home COVID Testing Kits
COVID tests still seemed to be fairly difficult to come by. I looked on Amazon for some at-home testing kits (as I wanted to test myself on / just after my Quarantine Day (i.e. end of my quarantine as defined by my nurse: 30 Dec. 2021)). Nothing would arrive until mid-January! Luckily, my new brother-in-law had a client in the pharmaceutical space and he was able to send us over some kits from DC. Certainly, by the 30th, I felt far better. Even that whole week, my symptoms had largely subsided. Just some leftover phlegm and the occasional tickly light cough, but no more sore throat, light fever/chills, headaches, etc.
On 3 Jan. 2022, I was able to take my at-home COVID test and finally found out I was COVID negative. Finally! My COVID journey was over.
Taking Care of Ourselves During COVID
My hubby didn’t really “take care of me” when I was sick because, again, he thought I was being a bit of a hypochondriac and we both thought we just were experiencing booster side effects for awhile. His symptoms kicked in the week following mine, so I was able to be there for him. Here are some things we found helpful:
- TheraFlu: I didn’t think of this for my own COVID symptoms, but by the time he started feeling sicker the following week, he thought of the TheraFlu we had in the house, and I fixed him hot TheraFlu drinks around the clock all day long – as much as the directions would allow.
- AlkaSeltzer Cold: When we ran out of TheraFlu, we used AlkaSeltzer Cold as a backup.
- EmergenC: a lovely fizzy strawberry flavor to drink. And otherwise, before we were drinking this, we were just drinking up the orange juice in the house.
- Chicken Noodle Soup: We hadn’t started our fitness program yet with E2M; however, even if we had, I’d still be serving us up chicken noodle soup. Classic. Can’t beat it.
- Hot Ginger Tea / Hot Tea in General with Honey: So helpful for a sore throat. My Marc didn’t have a sore throat, but I certainly did.
- Lysol: I Lysol’d down the bedsheets, door knobs, his chair he sits in in the livingroom, the refrigerator door, the bathroom door knob, his work area every day when he wasn’t in those areas. Just to try to keep the germs down.
- Windows: I also aired out the bedroom once a day – just lifting up the windows and throwing the fan on for awhile for about an hour-ish. Even though it was a bit chilly outside, I did it while we were both working in other areas of the house – just to give the room a chance to air out.
- Other Items to Have on Hand: Tissues, Thermometer, Small Garbage Cans (for the tissues), BC Powder (for the headaches – even though mine never really went away for several days, but it provided temporary relief – enough to sleep).
Don’t have a false sense of security about COVID.
Just because you’re double-vaxxed and boosted (maybe more than once by the time you’re reading this) doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID. Doesn’t mean you won’t get sick. It just means you likely won’t get put in the hospital because of it, but it’s still JUST as miserable as any other cold / flu experience.
Avoid large events (especially if they don’t require negative COVID tests prior to entry).
Recently I was invited to another big huge event which I, in normal times, would love to go to. However, I asked the event organizers about their COVID protocols. All they had in place was to ensure a clean environment and that masks and social distancing were encouraged. No negative COVID Tests required. I now make it a policy not to attend large events at this time without COVID tests being required beforehand. Even with my own small meetings I’m having in person (just one at the end of this month, which has a virtual option), I’m requiring a negative test prior to attending.
Do inform the contacts you know about your status.
Again, I don’t know if other people do this, but the CDC definitely recommends that you inform your contacts you were around of your positive status – obviously so that they can get tested and are not spreading it around themselves. According to the CDC, once infected, you can spread COVID to others 48 hours before you even exhibit symptoms or test positive.
We are a long way off from seeing the end of this pandemic, but we are learning more everyday. I wrote this blog post in the hopes that it will help someone else learn how to deal with it better once they get it, be responsible by telling others they have it and do their best not to spread it. It’s also to help other couples who might have it together so they can figure out how to best take care of each other.
What feedback / thoughts do you have about your own COVID experience? Let me know in the comments below and thanks!
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