Sunday, July 10, 2022

Rosey's COVID-19 Diary: Eternal Isolation

Amahle The Hippo (Taken 6.17.22)

It's Sunday afternoon. Counting time is weird. I guess it was premature of me to test at 1:21pm today if my day zero was Tuesday after 6pm. But as I expected, I am still very positive on home tests. Like sometimes when you take a home test, you have to look at the line to see if you're still positive, the line can be so faint. And apparently other times, when it knows it knows, and even 5 minutes before the 15 minutes was up, there was that ugly purple line. 

It is so upsetting. But then I Googled because that's what everyone would do, right? Even if you've been reading STAT News and Med-Twitter and Becker's and CIDRAP and and everything from Dr. Wachter and Dr. Jha and Dr. Topol, and been getting at least a dozen daily COVID-19 specific newsletters for months on end, when it comes down to it, when it happens to you, you want to know as much as you can. Like am I still contagious? Do I still have to isolate? And the answer is very much YES to both. Indulge my misery, after the jump. 

According to GAVI, the Global Vaccine Alliance, the virus is still replicating if it is detectable on a home test. 

  • How long after I get COVID-19 will I test negative? Testing positive for COVID-19 even without symptoms can be disruptive to life, but how long should we expect to test positive for?  - GAVI (10.29.21)
    ...if we test positive on a PCR as well as on a protein-based antigen test, then we might still be infectious. This is because having viral proteins for a long time means that the virus is replicating and producing more of its core material.
And as referenced by that article, did you know that the WHO (World Health Organization) still recommends 10 days of isolation from symptom onset plus three symptom-free days after?? That means I'm am supposed to isolate until JULY 18!!??!! OMG. No wonder this virus is just spreading like crazy. I know that WHO operates on global assumptions and that doesn't take into account if I can actually take home tests, but I'm still positive, so isolation is still expected. Who can do that without losing their minds, all the while damaging every personal and professional relationship around them? As it is, Darren is already sick of me and my needs and is pretty much checked out. Nova being gone for camp should make that easier but how did we survive two and a half years of pandemic isolation from the world together and then have it disintegrate the second I actually get sick? 

The downplaying of the very real and very scary and very awful effects of this virus is a disgrace. The CDC has really failed us because there can be no expectation that states or local governments will do anything as basic as a mask mandate without the stamp of the CDC. LA might hit the CDC target this month and go back to masking, but it won't come without resistance and it's really too little too late anyway. 

I consulted the CDC to see what they have to say these days. Here's the part of the CDC guidance that applies to me: 
  • Ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms - CDC
    If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask through day 10. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.

    Then this part:
    If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test1 towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation). If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10.

    See? I already failed that test because I took that Alka Seltzer Plus last night because it knocks me out and helps me sleep on this painfully uncomfortable bed, and there's definitely acetaminophen in it. Now, since I'm isolating at least until day 10 (Friday) or 13 by the WHO Standards (Monday), you better believe I'll be popping all the pain meds I need to get me through. 
While I said in a recent post I was well enough to go to the San Diego Zoo -- also knowing I won't until this shit is clear from my body -- the reality is that I can still feel all this congestion in my head. I have regular allergies so that doesn't seem off or abnormal or any reason not to do stuff in normal times. Same with headaches and body aches. I'm a 45 year old overweight woman sleeping on a fucking camping cot while on my motherfucking period. If I didn't leave the house every time I felt icky I would literally never leave my house. But so long as I'm testing positive I'm gonna keep popping the Advil or Tylenol when I need it.  

Besides all that fallout, the reality is that it is possible I haven't even seen the worst of my symptoms. This beast is just replicating inside of me, and I'm past time for any meaningful monoclonal antibodies and I was never really sold on Paxlovid, especially after reading this shit show of an article, so I'm going to have to just ride out a whole week longer and see what happens. That is a fucking nightmare. What if it's penetrating my organs, my heart, my brain, my lungs? 

The only good thing, if I am to maintain any optimism in this fucking nightmare -- besides obviously that I'm well enough to be bitching about stuff and am not in a hospital bed -- is that I have all this time alone in my studio. This place was looking like trash. So yesterday I started cleaning and organizing. So far, I rearranged the entire pantry so that it made sense and also kinda took stock of our inventory of food so I stop buying the same stuff over and over. We will have Kraft Macaroni and Cheese on our shelves long after the name switch to just  Mac & Cheese. I have this shelf that had the most random stuff in it, so I organized that, too. And the shower down here is our paper storage - toilet paper, paper towels, tampons, Kleenex-- which I fixed so the whole mountain doesn't fall every time someone needs something from it. And I also got to the linen closet, where I must've dumped 50 pounds of assorted shampoos and creams and lotions and ointments that I've carried around "in case of emergency" for the greater part of two decades, never believing I was worthy of actually using the good smelling Bath & Body Works stuff when I liked it before knowing what crap it is now, long past any yummy smells or consistent texture.

So in that sense, this is how I'm going to survive this next week; tackling new corners and boxes and closets until I have a meaningful amount of trash and donations and can maybe get enough out of here that the studio can be all the things we want it to really be like an office, a music studio, an organized place of our seasonal items, storage, and the speakeasy we enjoyed and loved back in the earlier (unemployed) parts of this monumental global crisis. 

And I'll also give myself space to be mad and sad and lonely and angry and pick fights with my boyfriend and know that we'll move past it soon enough. I miss my pets, even though I get some moments with them, and I miss the Zoo, where I was really working on daily visits with Denny and Amahle & Funani among all the others I love to visit. It's hard. 

As I posted on Instagram:

The groundhog has seen its shadow and shall retreat to its burrow. 
By CDC recommendations, this means isolation continues through 10 days. For me, that's Friday. By WHO standards, it's 10 + 3 symptomless days which is next Monday! I may lose what of my mind I have left. 

I'm definitely working thru the stages of grief here: 

Denial:  obviously took a test today hoping I'd be negative when my congestion and lingering symptoms told me I would still be positive

Anger: realizing in all my contacts, I forgot the two AT&T stores we sat in to get a new phone for Nova, and how there was no ventilation and only we wore masks and I hate them as a corporation yet after 20 plus years a a customer find it impossible, not to mention expensive, to leave.

Bargaining: maybe I can just mask and it is enough? (No, it is not, by the way. Obviously.) 

Depression: this one is obvious. It's called "isolating". There is nothing pleasant about that even if you're a person who values time alone.

Acceptance: working on this one. Day by day. Cleaning to take my mind off of it all.

Stay safe out there. This shit sucks.

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