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Catching My Breath

When I returned home from work on Christmas Eve, I was delighted to find that a few members of my extended family had come over to enjoy the holiday with us. It was, of course, a very modest gathering, nine of us in total, and we were spread out in the house taking care not to come too close for comfort.

A few days later, one of the people in attendance became very ill, and they tested positive for Covid-19.

Once I learned of this, I had no choice but to advise my supervisor at work that I had been exposed to someone a few days prior to their positive Covid test result. I could not know it at the time, but that encounter would effectively cascade through my household, rendering one member of my family sick after the other. First, my sister was taken ill. Then, my mother (whose age and underlying medical conditions made her particularly vulnerable) soon followed. I began to feel under the weather as well, but after several tests I had been consistently negative for Covid-19.

Because of the way my family members' positive tests were spaced out, and due to the policies my company had adopted to minimize the risk of exposure between employees, I had only worked one shift in early January, a day after I was given the all clear for my sister's test. The following day, my mother's test came back positive and my supervisor advised me to stay home for another few weeks.

My sister recovered well, as did my mother, thank God. We were hopeful that things were going to return to normal, especially since my flu-like symptoms seemed to have passed. I was feeling much better and eager to try to reclaim whatever semblance of normalcy I could manage. My wife and I both went for one last set of Covid tests to verify that neither of us were infected. Her test came back negative. Mine, however, after nearly a month out of work already due to illnesses in my family, came back positive.

At the time I tested positive, I felt fine... better, in fact, than I had in weeks. I was beyond frustrated, and I still am.

A few days later, I became very sick. I got far worse than either my mother or sister were, and just as things seemed to be improving a little about five days into my illness, I began to have severe breathing issues. The coughing fits were so punishing that I felt as if I was being hit in the chest with a hammer with every gagging hack. After the coughing fits subsided, for a few minutes or more, I was so sore that I bent and clutched my belly, grinding my teeth with tears welling in my eyes. I could not catch more than half a breath. My throat was raw and I was spitting blood. I could not sleep through the coughing fits.

I am only now beginning to feel like progress is being made. I am on my third round of antibiotics and steroids that seem a bit more effective in helping control my coughing, which lets me rest a lot more than I was. Covid Pneumonia is particularly tough to treat because it winds up in the smaller spaces within the lungs where it is difficult for medication to reach. The nebulizer and steroids seem to be helping a lot more this time around, and I am starting to allow myself the luxury of hope that I might finally find that normalcy I was looking for over a month ago.

One person in particular has gone out of their way to keep in touch from work, asking after me, offering support and encouraging me to stay positive. I might not have written this blog post if not for their kindness. I am, once again, feeling very much like I have to crawl my way back up from the depths. I fear that I have, once again, lost whatever respect I may have previously earned... but I am starting to catch my breath. I can worry about the rest when it comes.

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