Of self-cleaning ovens and Covid-19

So this is supposed to be a blog about how wonderful it is to be alive in NYC…and it still really IS wonderful and I am still so thankful every single day that I get to live in the greatest city in the world.

But as anybody who is alive right now is aware, things have gotten…a little bit weird.

I’m beyond grateful that I got to see Six before Broadway closed down indefinitely. And I know things will come back to life…eventually.

But I also just (ummm, I suck at finishing things, so actually it was a month ago) took an antibody test, admittedly a questionable one, and tested positive for IgG antibodies to Covid-19. Or maybe they’re actually antibodies to other coronaviruses, such as HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E, among others (mice, bats, cattle, more bats…germs are gross, man…)

I like to tell myself that I have super-immunity. I am proud of the fact that I so rarely get sick and like to think I am impervious to the germs that swarm around me on a daily basis.

I am also an insane hypochondriac, and spend too much time on the Internet for my own good. I know way too much about the typical symptoms of even “mild” Covid-19. (spoiler alert: you can hardly call it “mild” in most cases). So I watched with interest and started to write down my extremely mild (actually mild, not Covid-mild) symptoms, “just in case”. Because there are apparently a million different ways that this virus might manifest itself, and it’s nice to try to be able to identify what it might look like for at least one person.

In the Reddit world, the questions asked are always age (50), blood type (A negative), pre-existing conditions (high blood pressure, mild asthma, “morbid” obesity-that last one I’m spelling out in case the name of the blog didn’t give you a hint. I hate the expression but clinically it fits me, so here we are), and ummmm, maybe exposure? I live in the Bronx, hung out in at least three boroughs in February and March, and work in Westchester. My supermarket is ShopRite of New Rochelle – which is the city where the Westchester “patient zero” was. There were maybe half a dozen confirmed cases in my workplace, a three-story building, and that only includes people who were actually able to get tested. I have a friend whose mother tested positive and she clearly had it as well, but there wasn’t a test available for her. I would really love to know how many more people in my workplace were positive but couldn’t be tested for it, but this is one of those things that we’ll probably never know.

On Monday, March 23rd, they finally got us set up to work from home. Tuesday was my first full day working at home, and for some reason I felt this was a good time to finally try out the self-cleaning function on my oven. Only problem was, I am not quite sure where I put the directions, so I had to wing it. I don’t know which came first, the oven-cleaning or the sore throat, but the sore throat was definitely my first symptom.

(I kept an almost-daily log of the symptoms that I thought might be significant, but looking at them now, I am realizing how boring it is, so I’m going to summarize instead. Disclaimer: The summary isn’t much better.)

From March 25th until around April 4th, I had a cough that came and went but was not consistent. I had a little bit of tightness in my chest, but it felt like asthma. At some point during this time, I was out of my Singulair (asthma meds), so I was attributing it to that and honestly it didn’t feel any worse than any other time I have been out of Singulair.

I was coughing at times, particularly when lying down. I used my rescue inhaler for the first time in more than a year. I had a few random sharp abdominal pains, that felt different than what I would normally experience, but those (as with many of the symptoms I will describe here) could well be psychosomatic.

 There were times when I felt like I needed to cough up something, but wasn’t able to. A little bit of phlegm here and there (sorry, gross comes with the territory, and I am sparing you some other stuff). There were one or two days that I coughed up a little bit of blood-tinged sputum, but that’s something that can happen if I run out of water in my CPAP humidifier, so it may or may not have been relevant.

From my journaling of my experience, around March 27th:

Sneezed a few times…throat scratchy, nose stuffy. Is it possible to catch the common cold during a time when you and everyone around you are washing your hands 800 times a day?!

I was taking my temperature morning and night, but never had a fever. I had moments when I felt dizzy or felt really tired, but I felt there was another explanation for almost all of these symptoms. It did feel like I had a cold.

I had a long weekend off at the end of March, and I slept a ton, but that’s not necessarily unusual either after working and when I can’t go anywhere.

Not that it stopped me from eating, but I didn’t have much of an appetite for a couple of weeks, which I attributed to stress. I only noticed my appetite coming back around mid-April, two weeks after my symptoms had dissipated.

I noted a few times that I was trying to figure out how not to cough when I went out in public. More because of THE LOOK that people would give me. I was still convinced that this was a cold/allergies/hypochondria. But for the most part, I was able to contain the cough and it was never out of control to where I couldn’t hold it back until I was away from people.

I never lost my sense of taste or smell, but I did have a weird taste in my mouth for a few days. Headaches on and off. A few days of sneezing and coughing, but it was never constant. When I was at work, I didn’t even cough often enough for it to be difficult to talk to customers. If I had thought there was any chance that this was Covid-19, I could have and would have called out from work.

I had one day where I had two short moments of of gagging that came out of nowhere. The coughing seemed to start when I stepped outside, lending itself to my “allergies/asthma” theory.

I had an antibody test on Wednesday, April 29th. The following Sunday I got my results. Positive for antibodies. So did I or didn’t I have it? I am working on trying to get another test, one that measures the number of antibodies in my blood, not just the presence or absence of them.

I am pretty sure that this account is still boring, but for what it’s worth, I want to have a record of this. I realize that antibodies don’t guarantee immunity, and obviously I plan to continue to take the same precautions (because my fat, menopausal ass LOVES the idea of wearing a mask in the middle of summer…), but I feel a slight bit of relief anyway.

I can only hope that this was my bout with Covid-19, or better yet, that I was exposed but asymptomatic…but time will tell, I suppose.

That’s all I’ve got for now, except maybe a promise to get back to serious blogging when the city starts to open up again…

Thanks for reading, if you’re still here. Wishing all of you good health and antibodies!


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