I picked my daughter up from preschool on Sunday afternoon for a playdate with a friend. When I picked her up, I sensed that something was wrong by her mood and behavior; she was being overly emotional about trivial matters (e.g., she was upset because a ribbon had come off her balloon).
That afternoon did not go well. My daughter complained of aches and pains and cried a lot; ultimately she became inconsolable and we had to cut our date short (I barely managed to finish my pizza, and she refused to eat anything at all).
It took her a while to calm down even when we returned home, and she continued complaining of aches.
On Monday morning, she had a bit of a fever and was still complaining of aches. It was clear that she wouldn’t be going to her kindergarten program that day.
At some point in the late morning, I started coughing more often than I usually do. Most of the time, I don’t worry about coughs and sneezes because I have allergies and mild asthma, but I could tell that these coughs were coming more frequently than usual. At that point, I was already at home because I needed to be there for my family, but my coughing let me know that I’d made the right decision.
My daughter was feeling mostly better (I’d put it at 90%), but I had a very heavy, dry cough and felt generally terrible. We both stayed home that day, and I took an official sick day, rather than working from home.
I felt well enough to take my daughter to her kindergarten program, and I was considering going to the office, but my wife recommended against it because I was still coughing, albeit less so than the day before. Taking her advice, I returned home after dropping my daughter off and worked from home again.
By the afternoon, I was already feeling even better than I had been when I had that morning. The coughing was fading. I even had lunch with a friend of mine outdoors at a local falafel stand.
I went to work after taking my daughter to her program. I would say that I was feeling 95% well. However, during the day, I received a message from my wife, informing me that she was congested and had probably caught whatever virus I’d had. She was sneezing a lot this evening, and her symptoms do resemble mine.
It’s now late on Thursday night, and I feel better still. Perhaps not quite 100%, but getting there.
This new world
The crazy thing is that before COVID-19, none of this would have seemed strange or even given me pause. It’s perfectly normal to get a cold, fight it for a few days, and return back to normal. Probably… probably… we didn’t have COVID-19… probably.
In fact, I read an article some months ago indicating that many of the seasonal winter ailments that tend to circulate through Israel every year were almost entirely absent last year… Because Israelis were all at home and commercial establishments were shut down during that time. Apparently, in the spring, when we were released from lockdown and the country began to reopen, many of those “winter” viruses (like the flu) came back in force.
As many of you know, Israel was ahead of the curve in getting most of its citizens vaccinated, and my wife and I both received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine. Also, my wife travels abroad for work sometimes and has been tested for antibodies and for COVID-19 on multiple occasions – and her antibody county is high. All of this suggests that we probably didn’t catch COVID-19 this week.
But… but… the question hangs over my head. Was it COVID-19? Was it the flu? What was it?
One of my coworkers said to me that some COVID-19 patients suffer from heavy congestion, which is something that I hadn’t known. I’d been under the impression that the virus primarily affects the lungs. A bit of research indicated that he was right – my symptoms could very well have been COVID-19 symptoms…
Also, as a news junky, I’m acutely aware that there have been nearly 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day in Israel for the past couple days. There haven’t been many pandemic-related deaths recently, but the populace and the government are spooked. Masks are increasingly making a comeback, and the Prime Minister himself is strongly speaking out against people who refuse to get vaccinated (assuming that they’re otherwise healthy).
Getting sick against this backdrop is scary, and not only because we are concerned with our own health. On Wednesday, I didn’t go to work because I was worried that somebody else could get sick – it wasn’t my own health that I was thinking of.
The really sad thing is that we had wanted to visit my aunt in Modi’in this week, but she’s immunocompromised, and there was no way that we would ever take such a risk. Our visit will simply have to wait, and that’s not the end of the world, but I am left feeling angry and frustrated at the entire situation… Perhaps it’s melodramatic, but it feels to me like a cloud of death could be settling over us at any moment. Things will never be the same again.