This morning, I walked out of our apartment at 930am, running late. I reached the corner and was about to turn onto Fourth Avenue, when a guy looked at me and held his gaze for longer than comfortable. He was staring at my chin. I stared back, realized I had walked out without a mask. Even though I’ve been religious about wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding crowds, I still walk out of the house without a mask.
I should know better. I spent two weeks getting over COVID-19.
Three Saturdays ago, I felt tired. My back ached.
I blamed it on shoveling snow, but the ache remained.
Something wasn’t right.
Sunday morning, I woke up and just wanted to sleep. I thought about my usual Sunday walk in Prospect Park but just wanted to stay in bed, keep sleeping.
Monday, I went about my daily routine. I went to the office, had acupuncture in the late afternoon, but I keep feeling tired. I couldn’t shake the fatigue. I walked by the corner pop-up clinic and decided, OK, I’ll get tested.
The Rapid Test took 5 minutes. The doctor walked in and said, “Your test came back positive. You are infected. Go home and quarantine for 14 days. You’ll be OK.”
The strange thing about the diagnosis: I never go out without my mask. No one in my family would test positive. And no one in my immediate circle (officemates, neighbors) tested positive.
I suspect my immune system was compromised because I was recovering from a recurrence of Bell’s Palsy in January. Maybe while recovering, I stood too close to someone in a grocery store or on the subway.
So I spent two weeks in my bedroom. I established a routine of getting up at 8, stretching, taking care of work, then napping as soon as I started feeling tired again. I repeated the same thing in the afternoon and early evening. I doubled my dose of vitamins C and D, got religious about taking Magnesium and Zinc, and tried to eat fresh fruit and vegetables every single day.
Yet, the whole time I felt that general sense of fatigue. No matter how much I slept, I kept feeling tired. Because I was sleeping on-off all day long, my insomnia returned, so my body not only was fighting the coronavirus, it was also trying to recover from less sleep.
The day after the diagnosis, I felt myself staring down a rapidly closing tunnel. I lost my peripheral vision. I thought I would fall on the carpet in my bedroom, pass out. I climbed back in bed, took a long nap, and never felt that again.
That was the only major symptom.
No cough, no fever, no difficulty breathing. Achiness, a metallic taste that wouldn’t leave my tongue, sore eyeballs (!), and the most damning fatigue. No matter how much I slept, it wasn’t enough. I could always sleep more. Plus, it was tossing and turning, fitful sleep. Not at all restful. I wanted more and couldn’t get enough.
I count myself lucky that the infection was mild and I’m fine now.
Last March, I had a conversation with Daisy Robinton following her recovery from COVID19. Daisy’s a neuroscientist who’s also a fitness model. She’s someone that takes her fitness and health seriously. She told me that on Day 7 of her infection, she couldn’t get enough air, didn’t think she would breathe again, was ready to give up. A coupla days later, she was better.
It’s hard to believe that half a million people in the U.S. have died from this pandemic. Sure, the numbers are going down. And yes, people are being vaccinated (Kristen, her parents, and mine have all had both vaccine doses).
But don’t let your guard down.
If you’ve experienced a sense of safety or an impulse to stop wearing masks or social distancing, don’t.
After that guy on the corner gave me the well-deserved stink-eye for being maskless outside, I turned around, walked up the block, and went inside to grab a mask.
People are still getting infected, and it can be severe.