Almost two years into the pandemic, it finally happened: I got Covid.
The day I tested positive, I did all of my regular things – walked down the hill, caught the bus into church, picked up a few things at the grocery store, went to Cafe Barista for a chai latte after church. (In retrospect, it’s hard not to cringe at the amount of contact with others that I had, but I didn’t know at the time!) I talked to my parents via video chat as I usually do in the afternoon. I felt absolutely fine.
About an hour after the phone call, I started to feel a tickle in my throat, which quickly transformed into an actual sore throat. I was concerned. At all previous times when I had wondered if I possibly had Covid, I didn’t know anyone else who was positive. But this time, I knew a few too many people in my circles in Guatemala who were Covid positive themselves. I knew I needed to take one of the antigen tests that I’d brought with me from Canada – and I needed the results before Monday morning, when I was supposed to be at school for a full day of teaching. I also didn’t want to take the test too early and have a false negative. I waited for another hour, and then I used the technique I’d heard about just that week on a CBC podcast – I swabbed my throat, and then swabbed my nose. And then I prayed for an accurate result.
And indeed, once the 15 minute of developing time had passed, the test was clearly positive. And then, even while I was thankful for a result that meant not having to question whether it was actually a false negative, I sat in disbelief for a good 10 minutes before actually figuring out what I needed to do. Which was, of course, to let people know and figure out what to do about all of my classes for the week.
I called some family members and notified others. I texted the school director, and then I went to my office to look at school stuff. I teach a lot of classes a week, and our English department already doesn’t have enough staff to have subs. Thankfully, Max, the Communications Director here, could cover some of my classes, even though it meant taking him away from his Comms work for the length of my absence. Our teaching assistant Ella covered some of the classes – she was basically my proctor for the tests that we had scheduled. And I actually still taught my online classes – sitting out on my porch, at our dining table. It was both hard and helpful to still teach my online classes – super helpful, since I had to give those tests, and it meant not just handing things over to a sub and hoping for the best. I could still see students, review and practice with them, and ensure they were well prepared for the test. And hard – I was tired, and it really wore me out. There were definitely some moments that I caught myself staring off into space, glassy-eyed, and had to regather my mental faculties to continue with class.
As far as Covid symptoms, I’m so very thankful to have been thrice vaccinated and to have had a very mild case. In week 1, I was very tired. I slept more than 10 hours every night. After the first full day with a headache and a sore throat, the fatigue was my only symptom. In week 2, I suddenly got some nasal congestion, and that meant I kept waking up at night, gasping for air. Now, 3 weeks past my positive test, I’m feeling good again… until I walk up a set of stairs with my mask on and really notice the effects on my lungs. This morning I went for my first run post-Covid, and it was the hardest run I’ve done in a long time. I ran my usual Saturday morning route out through Pastores, but when I got to my turn around point, with the downhill running all behind me, and the prospect of running back uphill the whole way home, I stopped running and walked back. I’m not that intense about running!
At the end of all of this, I’m so thankful to have a team that pulled together in my absence and made things work. I’m thankful to have had lots of Guatemalan colleagues who texted while I was away, asking if I needed anything, telling me they were praying for me, and who greeted me enthusiastically when I returned to school. I’m thankful that I was well vaccinated and had a mild case, and so thankful that I didn’t need any medical attention.
I was also feeling great about not needing to worry for the next little while about getting Covid until the next variant comes around. Then I listened to another CBC podcast that explained that if you get one variant of Omicron, it offers you no protection against this other very similar variant of Omicron. And doesn’t that just feel like the most Covid thing.
I’m so happy to be back with students, and to feel more clear-headed when I teach them, whether in person three days a week or online the other two days of the week.