The Privilege of Isolation in the Age of COVID

 

A bowl of oatmeal topped with mixed berries.

My son promises me this is a single packet of instant oatmeal.

 

 

I’m supposed to be writing chapters about other things, but, My Dear Readers, what is procrastination if not diverting energy to other equally demanding endeavors? AND to do it whilst isolating, thanks to finally meeting Rona after all these years.

Rona is not nice.

Yes, five days in the master bedroom.

Day 5 of isolation is over – free of fever, feeling more like a cold than anything else, but still testing positive. The handy CDC quarantine and isolation calculator tells me that I can leave isolation but masked when in the company of other humans. The other humans I live with would prefer I stay isolated a little longer, which is totally understandable since my brain swab lit up like a Christmas tree.

Instead of breaking free, I am typing at my freshly dusted childhood desk that serves as a vanity in my master bedroom.

I came home Sunday evening with symptoms that came on fast and furious.

Monday morning I tested positive for COVID19 (Day 0). I promptly took over the master bedroom, which is bigger than some NYC studios so I’m grateful for the king bed (singles and couples, BUY THE BIG BED) and bathroom. The double sink vanity and my mirrored closet doors came in handy when I had a burst of energy two days ago; we keep cleaning supplies under every sink so I cleaned the vanity, the mirrors, and lightbulbs. 

The first 48 hours were the worst with fever and a sore throat I haven’t experienced since who knows when. I ran a fever for four days but I never had trouble breathing, never turned blue, which I often do when I am super cold (anyone remember Emmy’s wedding?).

This is the privilege of vaccination combined with upper middle income status. I am vaccinated with one booster. I actually got vaccinated earlier because I could take time off and volunteer with my county at mass vaccination sites in early 2021 when vaccines were just rolling out. That feels like a lifetime ago. Volunteers had early access.

And even though the boosters are widely offered, there are side effects so privilege means being able to have a buffer with work and time off if reactions require it.

Until you have COVID19 you don’t fully understand what “mild” means. Mild means you might not have any symptoms, you might experience what feels like a seasonal cold, or you might be really sick but not sick enough to require a doctor or hospital.

My innocuous posting online about isolating surprised me with the number of DMs from people commiserating privately with me because they had either already had the infection or were also sick.

For a bunch of folks who like to be authentic online I realized there is still a strange stigma about having caught the virus. 

No shame.

It’s a virus.

I think for those of us who rode the high horse about vaccination and masks are rather embarrassed to find our best efforts are just that. Nothing can fully protect you unless you never ever venture out.

Also, many of us stopped wearing masks in public. I did. I teach yoga. I teach yoga in a heated studio, and for months I wore a mask and then I didn’t because it was no longer required. I sometimes follow rules, and when there were no rules about wearing masks I took it as permission to save the good ones for the airport.

And to be perfectly honest I’m not sure when I’ve tested negative and have the stamina to return to teaching I will wear a mask when I teach because y’all can complain about wearing a mask but try doing it while cueing a one-hour power flow in a room heated to 90 degrees. Super not fun. 

We all take risks and sometimes we don’t calculate the risks correctly. And sometimes we take all the precautions and still nature takes over and reminds us that we cannot control everything. That’s right. Even here in the effing United States of America the most cautious of us cannot control everything, especially a global panini that dropped the collective “us” to our knees in the spring of 2020.

So if you are coconut positive or were and didn’t share it with your socials even though you share everything else, IT’S OK. I just want to invite us to figure out why we/you didn’t share your COVID status when you’ve shared your lunch, your black squares, etc. and to address the strange and inconsistent ways shame grabs a hold of us/you.

So how bad is it?

Day 0-2 were the worst. It was a combination of the flu and strep throat, and I haven’t had strep throat  in years. In fact, I haven’t been sick like this since before the spring of 2020 because masking, social distancing, and hand washing works.

I had a fever. My throat was raw and sore. I lost my voice. My sense of taste and smell remains intact. Food wasn’t the priority, but I drank water in hopes of soothing the incredibly raw throat. I drank ice water instead of hot tea, which goes against every Korean sensibility but I am not postpartum so ice water is allowed. I think.

The fever broke on Day 4. I now sound and feel like I have a cold that will morph into bronchitis. I am feeling waves of fatigue and headaches that make me want to cry (I have a very high pain tolerance, folks), but remember I also have the privilege of isolating.

I haven’t taught a yoga class in more than a week and probably won’t for another week or so. That’s lost income that I can afford. 

My adult-ish sons are home and feed me “son-sized” portions of food. Two days ago I called C and asked him if the bowl of oatmeal he had just left outside of my bedroom door was really only one packet of oatmeal. He laughed at me and promised it was just one packet. I’m not sure I believe him.

C eats two packets…along with two eggs and a cup of egg whites with spinach and smoked salmon and sometimes a side of leftovers so his sense of normal portions is…off.

I also have a husband who checked in before he left for work and when he arrived back home.

My son’s girlfriend made soup and mango sago so I love her the most.

Friends are texting funny and beautifully mundane snippets of life. I read two books. I wrote more than 1k words but not for the deadline I am about to miss. This is mild because the vaccine works.

But this entire time I kept thinking about friends and strangers and the more than one million people in the U.S. and the more than six million globally who have died as a result of this pandemic. People are still dying.

So it’s not that bad. But it is. It really is. 

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