This morning, I walked out of our apartment at 930am, running late. I had reached the corner and was about to turn onto Fourth Avenue, when a guy looked at me. He held his gaze on my chin for longer than comfortable. I stared back at him and realized I had walked out without a mask. Even though I have been religious about wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding crowds, I still, on occasion, walk out without a mask.
And I should know better. I just spent the last two weeks getting over COVID-19.
Three Saturdays ago, I felt tired. So tired. My back ached. I blamed it on shoveling snow, but the ache wouldn’t go away. Something wasn’t right.
Sunday, I just wanted to sleep. I woke up. I thought about my usual Sunday walk in Prospect Park but just wanted to keep sleeping.
Monday, I went about my daily routine, went to the office, had acupuncture in the late afternoon, but I felt tired, so tired. 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 has tested positive. And no one in my immediate circle (officemates, neighbors) tested positive.
I suspect my immune system was compromised because I was dealing with a recurrence of Bell’s Palsy in January. Then, maybe I stood too close to someone in a grocery store or on the subway.
So I spent two weeks quarantined 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. I tried to eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day.
Yet, the whole time I felt a general sense of fatigue. My insomnia returned, so not only was my body 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 — so 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 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.