The covid chronicles

Last weekend a friend was in town and wanted to catch up on all the big summer blockbusters and I ended up seeing three films over three consecutive days in packed theaters. Haunted Mansion (boo...), Oppenheimer (in 70mm, hell yeah!) and Barbie (2nd time was as good as the first). By the third day, I was thinking shit—these rooms are so packed—this can't be healthy to continue doing this.

I woke up Sunday with a bit of a sore throat, took some theraflu and didn't do much but rest.

Monday, I puttered around, walked the dog a few miles, edited a podcast, then started to feel a bit worse by the afternoon, like a full blown flu was hitting. I thought to take a covid test but we didn't have any in the house so we grabbed the only ones we could find at Walgreens, $25 for 2 tests (bonkers, how are these tests not still free or nearly free?).

By Tuesday I was convinced it was a full blown flu and continued theraflu and sleeping a lot. I took a covid test in the morning and got a negative result. By Tuesday night, something felt newly off, as I had a throbbing background headache.

When I was a kid, I used to get gnarly migraine headaches that would often end with me vomiting. I don't know if it was stress, high blood pressure, or blood sugar crashing (or a combo of all three), but once every few months when I was little, I'd get a headache and be done for the day. Thankfully, since I finished college, my stress levels decreased and I haven't had headaches in over 20 years.

Wednesday morning I got up and took a covid test, still feeling like a bad flu. Much to my surprise (I've probably taken covid tests 30-40x before?) I got my first pink line ever next to the blue line, and it showed up almost instantly.

I totally definitely had covid. That explains the headache.

I knew my next course of action was to try and locate some paxlovid, so I popped onto the Kaiser Permanente site and logged in to see if I could get it approved quickly. Last year I was forced onto Kaiser's HMO system which I've been out of since the 90s and I didn't have high hopes but they do a pretty decent job these days. I filled out some forms with my symptoms and a random clinician called me 10 minutes later, saying my prescription for paxlovid was available immediately at their pharmacy.

I hunkered down in our guest room and rested, took the first course of paxlovid and didn't feel any different. I remember with each covid shot and booster, or even when trying new mental health drugs that I could feel weird shit happening inside my body, but paxlovid elicited no such response. Friends warned me about a metallic taste, but thankfully I had none.

Food does taste like cardboard and I've been eating small amounts of simple food like rice and oatmeal over the past few days. Sometimes I wake up feeling like I'm starving, but once I start eating anything, it brings no joy and I lose interest. I haven't noticed any loss of smell, but then again my sense of smell has always been terrible.

Paxlovid comes in packs with day pills and night pills and after I took my night pack around 9pm, I went to bed and then that horrible taste greeted me. I wouldn't call it metallic so much as "toxic chemical" and friends and family did not adequately warn me about how bad the experience would be. I struggled to sleep all night, and while I did notice drinking water would make it go away for a few minutes, lots of swigs of water all night also means lots of getting up to pee, and hence, less sleep.

Today is Thursday, I ordered a bunch more covid tests on amazon that should arrive soon. I also can't believe it's Thursday. I've accomplished so little this week that it feels like maybe a Tuesday at most. Time was already a weird concept in the covid years, but knee deep in actual covid it really no longer makes any sense.

So far, things have been mild and I'm going to take it easy and putter around the house for the next couple weeks, avoiding contact with others, and taking daily tests to see how long this takes to shake. No one else in the house has contracted it, but last summer our kid got it and stayed home and we avoided it, so I feel ok about the quality of our air filters and HVAC.

It was over three years avoiding it by wearing masks whenever asked, and masking up on all plane rights (forever, probably), but the last year or so I've rarely had to wear one. I thought maybe I was one of the weird lucky ones that never catches it but a pandemic comes for us all at some point and my time is now.

Here's hoping it's over soon.