The Virus and Me

Yes, several weeks ago I tested positive for COVID-19.

My plan to follow guidelines with scrupulous care and therefore safely avoid getting sick did not work. Lots of other people refused to wear masks or did not wear them properly so I quit shopping in most markets and opted for contact-less pickup or delivery, though it really strained my budget. Still, essential workers in the home had to work and even the most careful folks can end up beside someone at work who unknowingly breached safety guidelines. Grandchildren had to attend school and that opened the door to other potential virus connections. While I avoided social interactions, a forgotten rapid stranger-encounter may have occurred at exactly the worst time.

And so it was, while cooking soup one night, I grabbed extra spices because the simmering mixture on the stove didn’t taste like much of anything.[i] A passing grandson commented, “Wow, that smells really good!”

Ding-ding-ding. Who would think my wake-up call would come as I stood over the stove?!

I quickly realized I could not smell anything and that my taste buds seemed to have sheltered off-site. However, I checked my temperature repeatedly and it remained normal, I didn’t have a cough or chest pains, and I believed my fatigue and crankiness related to not sleeping well. Out of concern for others, though fairly certain I did not have COVID-19, I decided to go to a drive-up location to test, just in case.

That old saying, ‘When it rains it pours,’ comes to mind. In one 7-day span, I tested positive for the virus that devastated the world, got knocked over during a windstorm (with 75mph gusts) by a large flying trampoline (true, I swear) (family rescued me from the wannabe-fighter-jet), and somehow found time to break a tooth. No emergencies (and I’m getting better at crafting temporary dental fillings), but responsible medical and dental offices don’t want to treat folks who tested positive for the virus. Beyond that, some offices request a lengthy wait after the end of symptoms and want proof of a negative test, something the health department said could take weeks or months.

In short, it has been quite an eventful period for me. I want to blame the moon or stars, scream about bad timing and stinky luck, but sometimes the unexpected happens. Somehow, we humans, graced as we are with resilience, move on after we adjust. And perhaps, in those adjustments, we learn.

Here’s what I’ve learned about self-care from my experience:

Paying attention to our body and our needs is really important. The virus delivers different symptoms to different people, behaving in both kooky and horrifying ways. It appears I got the kooky-version and I’m so thankful that I seem to have bounced back. I’m thankful my immune system was up to the task. I felt “off,” but it took me I-don’t-know-how-many-days to catch on. During those-days I pushed aside the fatigue instead of slowing down. New practice: I’ve set aside a minute, twice a day, to check-in with my body through a quick head-to-toe scan.

We can do our very best to follow the rules and still get sick. It’s tempting to give up. However, it’s important for everyone to suck it up and continue to do our best to follow safety guidelines to protect ourselves and others. For info, follow your local health department online, or visit the websites for the CDC[ii] and WHO[iii] to review their guidelines. New practice: once or twice a week (not 20-times daily) I check for updates in public health guidelines, vaccine availability. Every day I continue to show I care about myself and others by following those guidelines.

My experience is that time invested in worry is not well spent, except when it motivates us to do better. My suggestion is to redirect any time devoted to worrying into whatever informs or uplifts you, and that we all continue to behave as if we treasure our life and the lives of those around us. Every evening I check in, asking myself: What did I do for the good of others? What did I do for fun?

Late last week I tested negative and now have medical and dental appointments.

As far as losing my senses of smell and taste, I’m hopeful for their full return. I can smell some things now (like lemons, bananas, and eucalyptus) but the scents fade quickly. On the bright side: my grandsons’ notorious little-boy-farts do not bother me. 😊 Nuts and cinnamon, favorites of mine, do not register. Even expensive coffee tastes bitter and burnt so I’m having fun exploring teas. On the amazing side: sunflower seeds, soy sauce, raspberries, my favorite (Miyoko’s) non-dairy cheese, and Medjool dates have super-charged swoon-worthy taste.

Life is like that, right? Those unexpected challenges feel like losses or “bad luck,” but often something else awakens if we pay attention. So, please pay attention. Treat yourself and your communities with the gentleness you deserve. Take odd symptoms seriously. Limit the suffering.

You deserve peace and joy. May you have the strength to keep yourself safe, may you walk in strength, and may your life flow with ease. You deserve it.

May you be healthy, happy, strong, and safe.

Last words: Please remember that neither my opinions/experiences nor resources I mention are meant as cures, treatment, or medical advice. This is intended to uplift and educate, not as counseling or professional services. If you are in a moment in your life when most efforts feel huge, consider finding a mental health professional to support you.[iv] If you are considering ending your life or if you are in crisis, please reach out to emergency services (9-1-1) or a crisis hotline[v] to connect with someone who will have your best interests at heart. If you feel adrift and need help such as supplemental food, try calling 2-1-1. Most communities in the US use this number to connect callers to a resource directory and some offer the service online as well. If you feel ill, please contact a medical professional. Your tender heart deserves respect.

Copyright 2021 D.R. deLuis


[i] I routinely use a tasting-spoon that never touches the stirring-spoon or what I’m cooking. I also wash my hands far too often when handling food, but I like to think that’s a safety-first attitude rather than OCD-ish trait. 😉

[ii] Visit the CDC website for additional info at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html

[iii] Tips from the World Health Organization are available here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

[iv] One potential resource for finding an affordable counselor is www.opencounseling.com and most communities offer a 2-1-1 number where you can get info on local resources.

[v] If you’re uncomfortable speaking with someone, try reaching out to the Crisis Text Line. In the US and Canada text “HOME” to 741741; in the UK text 85258; in Ireland text 2050808. To speak with someone, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website to text/chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

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