I have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
It happened so quickly. Last Tuesday I had to be at OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing to take the COVID-19 test. It’s required right before surgery and I was told they were pretty busy so it was best to arrive early. 6:30am was early enough; I was finished before 7:00. The PA who administered the test (ouch!) said I’d hear back on Wednesday. So out of my mind it went. Everyone thought it was just a formality. I know I’m high risk, but I had been taking every precaution.
That’s why, when my cell rang at 7:45 that evening, even though it was a number I didn’t recognize, I blithely answered it. A nurse from OHSU’s COVID-19’s triage unit. They had the results. Positive.
I lost it. This surgery was originally scheduled in December to take place in February. The day before that surgery, it was canceled because of miscommunication between the doctor’s office and my insurance. After much work and a lot of noise, surgery was re-scheduled for late March. Then came one exciting, frenetic day when I was called on a Thursday in early March and told that there was an opening the next day if I wanted it … that they were closing the hospital to elective surgeries on Monday. I rallied friends and because they are who they are, they agreed to help make it happen. The call came late that afternoon.
“Jane, yes, I’m so sorry to tell you this … The administration just met and they’re closing the hospital today.”
And here it was again. All I could do was cry as the work I had done for the past five months was shot to hell. I asked to take the test again, to talk to my surgeon, to talk to anyone, just do something to get a second test. I had and still have no symptoms. I know that doesn’t matter, but to me, at that time, it was all I had left. I was told I was either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic or, perhaps, (as I suspect) it was a false positive.
We were so completely focused on trying to make the surgery happen that it did not even dawn on us what the nurse had actually, on an organic level, told us. I stood rooted to the floor as the implications became real thoughts.
I was diagnosed with COVID.
The magnitude of what was to come or what might be coming crept up on me as I realized we were facing a different reality.
Scenarios played through my mind … From the beginning, experts have said the disease was serious mainly for those with “underlying medical conditions.” I personify “underlying medical conditions,” mainly because I have a compromised immune system. I could see the wording used by Oregon Health Authority in their daily report, “58-year-old woman … died … underlying medical condition …” I saw myself, on a ventilator, laying in a hospital bed, which terrifies me. I shook myself hard before it could become even more maudlin.
No, I thought stubbornly. I will not die alone in a hospital bed. I have not been through what I have, so I could die in a damn pandemic. This is not how my story will end.
I stood up straight, shoulders down and back, and dried my tears. Faced my fears and locked them away.
I am in “isolation” for 10 days, barring the emergence of any symptoms. My sons are in quarantine for 14. They, at least, can leave the house as long as they are appropriately garbed in mask and gloves. I am confined to house and yard.
It is a struggle to avoid apathy, at the same time, my mind swirls in the quiet. I start and stop too many activities. Clean and clean again the same counters. But then, I force myself outside to plant the last vegetable in my container garden. Move the hose and bucket to the front yard and wash the car. Step deliberately and with purpose when my right leg slows down. Listen to music and dance.
And that is that. I am not thinking about what could happen. I have prepared for it already. I am not worrying about this not being a false positive. I am not in denial, there is nothing to deny. But COVID is tucked away into its compartment and I am counting down the days.
As of Saturday, we are on 6 of 10.