Late to the COVID party
It’s like man-flu, only with everyone around being even more annoying than they usually are. That’s my experience a few days into a bout with Omicron. Thankfully, I’m late to this series and have experienced none of the pilot, season one, Beta, or even Delta. I have also been twice vaccinated, and given what I have seen of this variant, might suffer the real symptoms but not the anxiety of prior episodes.
Not that you would think that I was ill if the family’s reaction is anything to go by. Instead, they seem annoyed that I have had an impact on their lives and they are now forced to quarantine when the year is about to get started.
No cups of tea, no mopping of my brow when clamminess overtakes me, and no slow shaking of heads in a sad, sympathetic manner. Not a get-well card or gift or a slab of Lindt 80% chocolate.
Quite the contrary. It seems that much like the overnight erection of the Berlin Wall, I find myself having been barred from parts of the house where others reside.
Hostile stares and accusatory looks are more the theme. I try in my rasping, weak voice to explain that I have no idea where I got the plague from. But my words fall on the uncaring, more concerned about quarantine than the delicate health of an ageing father.
It might not be true to say that I haven’t been preparing for this diagnosis for two years. As a third-generation hypochondriac (on both sides), from the day I heard the word “Wuhan”, I became certain that we were all going to perish. A pandemic is something I have unknowingly been training for most of my life.
I have imagined, enacted, and re-enacted the recipe of this positive diagnosis so often, that when it did arrive, it was admittedly almost anticlimactic. That’s not to say that it didn’t, much like COVID-19 itself, take my breath away.
In some sense, it’s my time to shine. The number of interviews, podcasts, articles, and sessions I have conducted on COVID-19 has by no means made me an expert on it, but it has allowed me to engage with those who are knowledgeable. So much so, that someone referred to me as “the deputy head boy of COVID South Africa”. Head boy, I assume, being Dr Anton Meyberg of the Sunday COVID Podcast. Not that I accepted the title by any means – because simply put, I’m no one’s “deputy”.
Lack of sympathy aside, the reality is that I’m deeply grateful for so much. I don’t feel well at all, I have lost my voice, am incredibly fatigued, and my family is annoying.
For me, Omicron hasn’t been easy. But the fact that I have this variant and not one of the prior variants, the fact that I’m vaccinated and that our medical care, family, and community is so exceptionally caring makes this something to celebrate, not fear.
It’s also possible that when my kids gesticulate wildly when I come near them it’s not because they are unsympathetic and don’t want me around, but rather because they are so concerned about me that seeing me like this is too painful for them to witness.
I’m certain that must be it.