Feeling ill · life changes · Physical health · ramblings · Thoughts and feelings

5 Days of Rest

On Thursday, I woke up with the worst sore throat ever. The feeling was like someone had stabbed my throat with a needle. It startled me so much I thought, This can’t be real, am I still dreaming? I was not. I quickly downed two cups of water, which was not enough to lessen the pain. By the end of the day, I had drank fifteen cups of water. The soreness got slightly less painful but still hurt occasionally whenever I swallowed.

I went to work Saturday morning like usual. The manager, Adele, who typically works beside me in her tent was not there; instead, someone else was covering her shift. I’m friendly with Adele, so for her to just be absent was unusual and not like her at all, especially since I had just seen her on Monday and bid her farewell with a See you on Saturday. The only possibility was she either had an emergency and needed to call out that morning, or she had already requested time off several days earlier.

Earlier in the week, I got a text from my Sunday work partner, Jules, that he had been notified via email of his exposure on Monday to an unnamed person from our company who had since tested positive for COVID-19. This exposure occurred this past Monday when he and over a dozen other employees were touring a nearby vegetable garden that was quite close to the urban farm where I volunteer to care for the farm’s animals on Monday. I wasn’t on the tour, but Adele and Jules and other people did wander over to have a look at the farm’s goats and I chatted with them for a bit.

That Saturday morning, I texted her and cautiously asked if she was all right. I didn’t outright ask if she was sick with COVID-19, though recalling what Jules told me about the exposure email, I put two and two together and suspected it was a strong possibility that Adele was the unnamed person mentioned in the email who tested positive. Adele replied with a confirmation that, yes, she made it out from a fever that lasted two days and was on the path to recovering from COVID-19.

I was glad to hear Adele was doing better, but then doubt crept into my mind as I remembered my sore throat. The soreness had downgraded to a dry, scratchy feeling in my throat and I sounded slightly raspy when I spoke. After some back and forth texting with my supervisor about my possible exposure from Monday, I took his suggestion and relayed the same information I told him to our company’s risk management officer (pretty intense job title…). I was then advised by her to not go into work on Sunday and isolate at home for five days, in addition to testing myself to get confirmation of a negative or positive, and that I would be allowed to return to work on July 28th if symptoms improved and if I am fever free for at least 24 hours without medication. Of course, I would still not be out of the woods then, as I will have to wear a well-fitting high quality mask or double mask around others until August 1.

Later on, I also remembered the past Thursday work event I was at, where a reported 8,600 people attended as guests. For at least 15 minutes during my lunch break there, I was standing on line waiting to order food from one of the food truck vendors. So many people were on nearby lines for other food trucks that I was literally sandwiched at both sides by lines and lines of people. No six feet of separation there, huh? I was on the line to get a falafel pita (it was my first time trying falafels), and I found it mildly amusing several people within that span of time stopped to ask, Is this the line for the falafels?

My company takes any case of potential COVID-19 symptoms very seriously. Twice in the past at different periods of time, I received emails notifying me I was exposed to another employee who tested positive for COVID-19. It is for privacy reasons that the employee in question is never named within the email, which is understandable. But it wasn’t hard to work out in those instances who might’ve gotten sick since both times I was only around a select number of people during specific workdays. At the time I was never asked to isolate myself for 5 days at home because I didn’t have any potential symptoms of COVID-19 that I needed to let the risk management officer know about.

A further complication of my sore throat being a potential symptom being COVID-19 is that on Friday I volunteered my time at a community garden near where I live. I was only around three other staff members that day, and that was the day before I found out Adele was ill. So I definitely had to notify them by email about my situation and will keep them in the loop if I test positive in the next few days.

So far, I’ve been testing negative with the at-home tests. I’ve heard there is a small chance the at-home tests can give a false negative, and rapid PCR tests can provide more accurate results although the results themselves take longer to obtain. I will have to get one done. It’s the only way I will feel assured that I’m truly COVID-free.

My symptoms today seem to be the same as yesterday. Dry, scratchy throat with a rasp to my voice. A sometimes runny nose. My upper arms and the back of my thighs ache, which may be due to working yesterday for long hours. I’m not sure, to be honest. When I do occasionally feel sore from the nature of my job, it isn’t like I consciously think about it because it happens so often and usually goes away after I’ve had a day of rest. Maybe I’m just more aware of how my body feels now because I am paranoid that I am testing a false negative for the at-home tests and that I really do have COVID-19. It’s still possible to be asymptomatic and have the virus, after all.

Another odd thing I’ve been experiencing on and off since yesterday evening is my right ear feels like it is filled with water and I am not hearing from that side of my ear at the same volume as my left ear. It was even accompanied by mild dizziness and feeling off balance while standing or walking. The weirdness of it comes and goes, as I had that filled-with-water feeling in my right ear for several hours this afternoon and now it is gone. I have never experienced this kind of thing before even when I’ve been sick with a cold, so I have no idea what is causing it.

Here’s to self-monitoring this situation closely and seeing what other bodily changes I might have in the next few days. The do I have it or not question is a horrible one to think about. If I do, that means all the other employees I spoke to in close range on Saturday were potentially exposed to the virus. And the staff members at the garden on Friday. If I don’t have it, then it will be a relief but also I already sort of feel underlying guilt for saying anything to my supervisor in the first place about my sore throat and causing a chain reaction throughout my whole network of coworkers. Jules worked alone today at our Sunday worksite even though there was a heatwave and even though it’s after the fact, I still feel bad I wasn’t there to share the burden with him.

Featured Image by Becca Schultz on Unsplash.

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