“I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.”
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I’ve just completed 10 day’s of isolation for a really serious bout of asymptomatic COVID-19.
Exposure date: approx 2nd or 3rd Dec 2020 (either in the DRC or on the return flight via Addis Ababa)
Test date: 8th Dec 2020
End of 10 day isolation: 17th Dec 2020
Oh that stomach-drop feeling when you test positive for COVID-19! I can still feel it when I think back to that moment.
BBC Bitesize tells me that in “Bible times, people suffering from leprosy were treated as outcasts. There was no cure for the disease, which gradually left a person disfigured through loss of fingers, toes and eventually limbs. Leprosy sufferers had to leave their homes and families and live together with other sufferers on the outskirts of the town. They were forbidden to have any contact with healthy people and they had to ring a bell and shout “unclean” if anyone approached them.”
I doubt that they received any medical or other assistance, and I’m sure that the pain of the disease, as well as the pain of isolation would have been traumatic.
I, on the other hand, was not sick.
I had no sore throat, no cough. I did not lose my sense of smell or taste (believe me, I could smell the blocked sewage manhole near our house due to Amatola District Municipality’s lack of maintenance – but that’s another story). Aside from a slightly fuzzy head at times and a borderline-obsessive propensity to Google COVID-19 articles, I was as healthy as I’ve ever been.
In summary, I ‘suffered’ a serious case of asymptomatic disease which, if not for my test, could have turned me into a silent spreader.
I don’t want to complain peeps. I wouldn’t wish symptomatic COVID on anyone (several of my friends and family have had medium to severe COVID and by all accounts it’s NOT pretty). However, I do think I could have born my isolation better if I’d been sick and miserable in bed. I imagine there’s a kind of triumph one feels when coming through a terrible battle and making it through with all fingers and toes in tact.
Instead I was a feel-like-a-fraud, diseased, untouchable, walking picture of wellness.
I wore my mask constantly, even in my own company sometimes as I forgot what it felt like to be mask-free. I washed my hands and disinfected myself and everything I touched constantly. Hubby moved out of our contaminated room. We cancelled all his birthday plans. No birthday kiss on 10.12.2020. No anniversary kiss on 11.12.2020. And on about day 4 of isolation I started to get tetchy and tearful.
I’d become a modern day leper, sans bell.
False positive you cry?
But statistically, there’s only about a 3% chance of testing falsely positive, while there’s (depending on the day of testing) up to a 37% chance of testing falsely negative. And yes, I read about this obsessively during my ‘incarceration’.
Below is a picture of me physically distanced from others, in the open air, on the beach, masked, with a takeaway coffee from the Morgan Bay Hotel (which I did not personally go inside to order). On a week day morning we had the beach virtually to ourselves. We had to mark Hubby’s birthday somehow. And yes, it’s a small village, so someone recognised me from about 20m away and ran away.
Fear and fake news is spreading faster than COVID.
P.s My was-it-or-wasn’t-it symptoms:- 1. a couple of days before I tested and for one or two days during isolation I had a slight headache (which did not require pain killers); 2. on days 7 & 8 of isolation I felt a slight shortness of breath which could just have been due to the humidity here together with a smidge of asthma (my normal). If I’d not been exposed and therefore not been tested, there is no way I would have suspected I’d had COVID.
P.p.s. 5 PCR tests I’ve had! 5 uncomfortable rummages up the schnoz with a ‘sharp’ thingy. Not pleasant. The part of this experience I really hated was being the reason that my Mama, her cleaner and our friend D had to be tested as well. My poor Mama had the thing shoved up both nostrils because she moved.
P.p.p.s. On the question of a false positive, I’m going to have an antibody test this week so we will soon clear that one up.