fitness

Finding out I had COVID-19 (Guest Post)

Image: Two weeks’ worth of days written on a sheet of paper on a clipboard. The dates are November 15th to 28th. The dates up to November 22nd have been crossed off, and November 28th is specially circled in bright yellow.

Past contributor Michelle Lynne Goodfellow was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November 2020. To pass the time during her quarantine, she wrote about her COVID experience.

In Ontario, where I live, there’s a website where you can check for your COVID results. And because I got my test done at a hospital, I could also use the hospital’s patient portal.

(They suggested they might post the results faster on the patient portal. Umm, no. Close, but the Ontario results page won that race.)

I tested at at 5pm on a Wednesday night. Starting Thursday around noon, I kept checking and rechecking every couple of hours.

Nothing Thursday. Nothing Friday morning.

Finally, around noon Friday, I tried again. Refreshed. Entered my health insurance information.

New screen. My heart stopped when I saw the red POSITIVE notice.

Lots of internal swears. Immediate call to my workplace, to let them know for sure. (I’d been self-isolating with symptoms since Wednesday morning.) Texted my sister, while simultaneously calling my 77-year-old mom. With whom I share a house. And who was sewing in the bedroom across the hall. (We’ve been communicating by phone or FaceTime (and Messenger) since Wednesday morning.) Chaos for about 10 minutes, while all the important people were brought up to speed.

I couldn’t believe it. Nobody could believe it. I’m the most vigilant, most diligent, most COVID-prevention-protocol-rules-following person I know. How and when did I mess up badly enough to get COVID? HOW DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN?

(After contact tracing, we still don’t know. I’ve had no known, close contact with someone who’s also tested positive.)

My first thought was for Mom’s safety: PleasepleasepleaseGod don’t let her get it.

Please.

I didn’t care for myself. Wasn’t really worried for myself (although I still wake up every morning doing a cautious body check: Has anything changed overnight? No? Sure? Good…)

I don’t enjoy not knowing things. I didn’t like not knowing whether I had cancer or not. I didn’t like not knowing if I had COVID or not. Not-knowing sucks.

But my default not-knowing strategy has, over the years, become, Don’t worry until you know there’s something to be worried about.

Well, now there’s something to worry about.

This rule-following woman became the self-isolation poster child. Since Wednesday morning – not Friday, when I found out my result.

I live in my bedroom. I don’t leave it except to go to pee etc. in our home’s only bathroom, or to go outside for a walk on our property. (Or to occasionally get something from the basement, where I have a sewing and art studio that Mom doesn’t go into.)

I have five more days of quarantine, as I write this. Mom has a few days more than that. I have never so badly wanted to wish away time as I do right now. I want those five days gone. I want everybody (Mom) okay. If she doesn’t have symptoms by the end of my quarantine, she needs to be tested herself. And her quarantine will be over shortly afterwards. PleaseGod.

I don’t talk much about my mental health. Haven’t so far, anyhow. But the hardest part of getting COVID is managing the anxiety and the negative thought-loops that are my coping mechanisms left over from early childhood trauma. I’m in trauma therapy right now – have been for several months – and I’m getting a lot better at coping with stressors and triggers. Still. It’s been a ride.

I try to go for a walk outside every day. I can walk around my yard while in quarantine, so I do – several times around the edge of the whole property: down the driveway to the drainage ditch, across the front lawn to the treeline, along the treeline to the edge of the field at the back (with its stubble of wheat stalks left behind after the fall harvest).

Along the edge of the wheat field to the other side of our property, up over the berm planted with spruce trees and down again, beside the bird feeder that Mom watches from her living room recliner, along the side of the garage, and down the driveway again.

Four loops takes about 20 minutes. I’ve been wearing my Vessi waterproof shoes to trudge through the light dusting of snow. (The waterproofness works, so far. I should try to get a sponsorship. “Wear your Vessi shoes to walk around in your snow-covered grass yard during your COVID quarantine.” (Yes? Probably not…))

On today’s walk, I listened to the scared parts of me. The little girl parts, who are afraid of big, scary things like losing my mother.

And the grown-up Michelle let them be scared, and that was progress. She made space for their panic and their keening.

And I go back into my room, and cross off the quarantine days on a self-made calendar. Five more sleeps. Five more sleeps…

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is a writer, artist, and maker. You can see some of her creations on her Instagram feed.

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