The final straw

I finally cried about my COVID status on Friday. I did a rapid antigen test and it said I was still very, very positive.

According to the current health regulations, I didn’t need to do the test, I could just exit quarantine after seven days. But I was terrified that I was infectious and would give it to someone.

I’d been hoping to spend Friday night with DD after a long separation. I was tired of being trapped in the house, feeling aimless and miserable. I wanted my isolation to be over.

My positive rapid test result on Friday came around 10 days after I first started having symptoms. If the same thing ever happens to you, don’t bother trying to Google what that means or what to do about it. I’ve already put in the hard yards and details are very sketchy.

The general opinion seems to be that you are most infectious for a few days before and a few days after the onset of symptoms.

Scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) recently conducted the largest and most diverse COVID-19 infectivity study to date in the world, looking at samples from more than 90 patients.

In the study, researchers compared nasal and throat samples of patients at various times from symptom onset, and measured the ability of the samples to infect lab-grown cells.

After growing the virus, the researchers monitored how infectious the samples were. The researchers found that patient samples did not contain infectious material after eight days following the onset of symptoms.

Therefore, by day 10 you shouldn’t be a danger to anyone. But knowing there are two pink lines on a rapid test doesn’t give you much confidence to re-enter the world.

Rapid antigen tests are supposed to detect COVID-19 when people have a higher amount of virus particles in their system and are more contagious.

Like the rest of NSW, I ran out of rapid tests on Saturday, but NSW Health sent a text saying I was free to leave quarantine anyway. It still didn’t right, but the youngest and I were going stir crazy, so we went for a walk on the headland at Freshwater.

I did another rapid test on day 11. Still very, very positive.

Finally, on day 12, I couldn’t take it any more. I masked up and drove to DD’s place to end our VERY long separation. We sat outside and he used one of his last two rapid tests on me (the modern definition of true love).

I didn’t feel very hopeful when he set the alarm on his phone for 15 minutes time. It finally rang, he switched on the fluorescent torch and the result was …. negative!

I may have danced a bit and hugged him a lot. We had lunch together on his deck and I talked his ear off.

I’m thrilled to finally be negative, but some symptoms still linger. I wake weary each morning, I’m congested and I cough a little.

I yearn to read about other people’s recovery experiences, but that’s another Google black hole.

I’ve spent a lot of time searching and there are very few first person accounts.

Comedian Paul McDermott has been tweeting about coming down with COVID on December 19, which sounds pretty similar to mine.

He wrote: “It was quick and vicious – Like the worst flu, with a touch of food poisoning. Headaches, burning eyes, full body aches and pains, hot and cold fevers, shaking, and feeling completely exhausted.”

Five days after the onset of his symptoms, he wrote: “I felt for the first time I was on the mend. This feeling was short lived. There was an upswing, less tiredness, less nausea and my appetite had returned but the thing was still in my system and was letting me know. I was overtaken and overwhelmed again.”

On January 3, he wrote: “There are some lingering symptoms and, two weeks later, I still don’t feel 100%.”

I’m at day 13 and I still don’t feel 100% either.

My advice to anyone who is eager to catch COVID and get it over with: be careful what you wish for.

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