Out of the Office: Catching COVID

I caught COVID a couple of weeks ago and it sucked. I’m not sure how I was exposed, or by whom, but the symptoms hit me like a freight train and gave a good indication of what my at-home test results would be, even before the second pink line popped up.

I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe less severe illness courtesy of the two doses and booster of Moderna? Between body aches, a killer headache and a throat so sore it hurt to talk, I had no problem being out of commission during quarantine. The severity of those symptoms greatly reduced after about 72 hours, though I’ve got a lingering cough that’s more a nuisance than anything.

I’d somehow managed to go through the COVID-19 pandemic without catching COVID. There’s been some close calls, and a few just-in-case tests, but I think part of me feared the virus could only be cheated for so long. Ten days in isolation gives one a lot of time to think.

I went back to March 2020, when the first wave of lockdowns began sweeping the country. I was still in college, a few months shy of a graduation ceremony that was later canceled. A few weeks shy of the abrupt closure of my university facilities, and the subsequent move back into my parents basement.

How much has changed since then! I graduated. Moved out of the basement, to Alaska. Took a job that I love, covering government and education for the Clarion.

And yet.

The cloud of COVID continues to hang over us. If you’d told me in December 2019 that we’d all be wearing masks to protect ourselves from a virus, I’m not sure I would have believed you. If you’d told me in March 2020 that I’d still be wearing a mask in grocery stores in 2022, I’m still not sure I would have believed you. I mean, it’s a little unbelievable, right?

Remember at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was hunkered down and watching Tiger King? Everyone was into baking their own bread and trying to figure out how to unmute themselves on Zoom. (There’s still some people learning how to do that.)

I was taken back to those early pandemic days after testing positive last month. I rearranged the furniture in my apartment and cleaned out the closet, all the while quietly stewing about how physically awful I felt and wondering whether I could have done anything different to prevent myself from getting sick.

I’m not sure I could have. I think most people are on the same page when it comes to slowing the spread. Wear masks, get vaccinated, social distance, wash hands frequently, etc. But it’s difficult to be so vigilant all the time. Getting sick from COVID-19 wasn’t a failure on my part, or on anyone else’s necessarily.

I’m finally back at work and taking time to appreciate the feel of my desk chair, seeing co-workers and the feel of newsprint fresh from the presses. Who knows what lies ahead for us when it comes to COVID-19? Certainly not me. I can’t control where we’re headed, only what my role will be in the meantime. That’s OK with me for now.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.