I tested positive. Having spent most of the year 2020 avoiding this virus, washing my hands, being socially distant and always wearing a mask it was a shock and a huge disappointment to get the call from the testing centre to say I had turned in a positive covid swab. We had been so careful, but someone working inside our house had then tested positive and texted to warn us.
We were about to host my son for Christmas dinner and pressed pause until five days were past and we could give him the reassurance of negative tests. Instead we had to cancel our family Christmas. We opened presents over zoom as I fought to stay composed. My symptoms arrived the next day, with my husband joining me the day after. Fever, muscle aches, a morning headache and an upset stomach kept me in bed for four days.
We took all the vitamins, zinc and aspirin that were recommended to us but avoided some of the quirkier remedies that Facebook suggested. My daughter isolated in her room and we communicated by text as she tried to avoid the virus. We FaceTimed at midnight together on Hogmanay- I was in my pyjamas, she had dressed up to see the New Year in alone. It was a low point for me. The next day her fever and aches arrived and she joined us to see out our symptoms together. We muddled through making food for each other and watching TV. We were a covid house.
The initial anxiety was that we might get really sick with breathing difficulties or need to go to hospital. This gave way to a fear that we might have passed the virus on to someone else. I help out at a food distribution Center at my church once a week and pray with people from their cars. Thankfully the Christmas timing meant that I had not exposed anyone outside my immediate family.
After the initial four days the symptoms receeded to a cough and general tiredness. My sense of taste and smell disappeared overnight as coffee became hot brown water. Orange juice could be milk and a curry tasted like mashed potatoes. Bananas and avocados were repulsive and apples became the only delicious treat.
We told our friends and sent out messages to stay away. My family were very supportive, sending texts and calling us on FaceTime. Some friends sent encouraging daily messages of care and concern, offering to pray. A few people withdrew a little, quick to judge me on how I had caught it and then not contacting me to check in. One friend picked up a take-away meal and dropped it at the door. Someone else bought fresh orange juice and flowers and left it at the gate. Chicken soup arrived in a gift box with a ribbon from someone I had never met! Kindness from unexpected corners was a sweet comfort.
Covid comes with guilt- the regrets about how you catch it, the fear that you might have passed it on, the anxiety that you might develop life-threatening symptoms and then the guilt that you are escaping with a mild case whilst others are dying. I felt all of these fears overwhelming me at different unexpected moments.
After ten days we were supposed to be non-infectious and free to go back out into the world- but we didn’t feel ready and actually there is not much open. Eventually I did make a trip out- fully masked, to get to the post office and send out the late Christmas presents to my son.
We now have some kind of immunity for a few weeks. I can return to help at the Food distribution, and can pray with real empathy for others who are sick. I can encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
What helped the most? Daily text check-ins and positive messages of support. The package at the gate. The phone call with no judgement or internet advice, just encouragement. The knowledge that others were praying. The chicken soup!
I look forward to the day when I can taste a banana again. And I pray for the day when covid is gone and we can return to a connected open world with in-person church, open schools, thriving communities and the joy of hugging a friend.
Now living in California, Mandy Catto lectures in spiritual formation at Biola University. Originally from Scotland, Mandy has been involved with Activate Your Life for twenty years and is one of our directors. She is passionate about evangelism and friendship and loves reading and being by the sea.
(And here is the Covid Christmas picture I persuaded Mandy to let me include in this post)
Thank you so much for sharing your story Mandy. I’m not sure we have chicken soup delivery boxes here, but what a perfect gift!
If you have a Covid experience you’d like to share, please contact us.
Have you experienced (or delivered) a practical and timely doorstep parcel? xx