Holed up in Isolation
I had been feeling relatively unwell a week before both me and Womanfriend lost our sense of smell a week ago.
During the early days, it was diarrhoea, followed by a general sense of feeling unwell, which progressed into having a stiff neck, and subsequently coughing and a general sense of fatigue.
It was up till the point when we lost our sense of smell, that I realised that it was unmistakably COVID.
The next few days became more than just a physical illness; to be honest, I think both of us were lucky that the symptoms weren’t pronounced. But the loss of smell (and taste for womanfriend) was a shock; it’s a feeling of loss, which in most times, it’s hard to understand and relate until it happens to you.
Then came the anger. Both of us had been really careful with not venturing out as much as we can, and being careful to mask up whenever we do. In addition, I do keep track of our own daily movements, so it was easy to work backwards to figure out where we’ve visited.
Aside from our daily outside walks, the only other place we went, was the local supermarket. But how we got it there, was (a partial) mystery - we were masked up, and had been careful, but crowd control isn’t always the best - there’s just no way it was possible to social distance while shopping, and secondarily, a good amount of people don’t even have the social awareness to stay away from one another, with people squeezing together if they happen to want things near whatever you might be getting.
That really shook my confidence, for one, that the general measures are actually effective in stopping the spread. The second is the conventional wisdom that getting masked up is actually enough.
To just go back and think about the days we were out and happen to have caught it, did make me indignant to how people aren’t taking care/attention in high risk areas, and shook us a little that even if we did pay attention, it’s still possible to be unlucky when others do not.
Then, there’s also the anxiety of whether the loss of smell would recover; the daily question on your sanity, in the form of “Did I smell this? Or am I imagining it?", comes each time we cook or have something, and the doubt on remembering whether we had ever noticed certain smells/scents in the past that we’ve lost now.
So far, I think both womanfriend and I have recovered generally; we’ve been symptom free (aside from the loss of senses), and had been out taking our exercise walks again. Thankfully there isn’t any apparent loss of lung capacity, and we seemed to still be able to walk briskly without shortness of breath.
Aside from the walks, we have largely avoided any other unnecessary ventures outside of the house, aside from the needed grocery shopping trips. But given what we know now, it really gave me little confidence and comfort that people are actually safe doing so.
People are telling us what is there to fear, given that we have recovered and hence am immune to it. I’m not totally convinced by that; it appears (and is to a good degree likely) that subsequent mutated strains of COVID can reinfect people, and that my risk actually hadn’t diminshed - in fact, if I know that I’ve been infected at a location, chances are it’s more likely to be a vector of transmission that contracting it again, immune or not, is still higher than places in which people who didn’t get it.
I’ve adapted to ensuring that I only get groceries with an even less frequency, and only during off-peak morning hours. At least I’m sure that any droplets should have settled, and that hopefully that the virus shouldn’t be viable for an extended period of time without a host. There wouldn’t be much people around to have people swarming around for a prolonged exposure either. Still, I don’t really think it’s foolproof, but at least it’s better than risking peak hour where people are breathing all over you, even if it’s with masks on.
In any case, all I’m hoping is to have a good recovery of my sense of smell, and to keep on avoiding contact, likely for the foreseeable part of this year.
Here’s to hopefully a better remainder of 2021.