When Positive Is Really Negative

I have so many thoughts and they’re something of a jumble in my brain.

Nineteen years ago, on December 19th, I took a home pregnancy test and learned I was pregnant with our first child. My husband was skeptical. It was not until, the following day, our 5th wedding anniversary, when I when to the doctor’s office and took a pregnancy test there and confirmed the results, that he truly believed it. In my mind, there was no difference between what I did at home (pee on a stick) and what I did at the doctor’s office (pee on a stick), but the doctor’s office stick felt more official.

That ran through my head this week when I took a COVID-19 home test on Wednesday evening after hours of feeling achy, having chills, and fighting serious fatigue. I’d been to the doctor that morning (about my chest pains) and had no fever or anything. But everything changed by the evening and the test was positive. I reached out to my admin and made an appointment for a PCR test the next morning back at my doctor’s.

Thursday morning (that’s just yesterday – whoa) I headed to the doctor’s and swabbed my nose again. It felt like nineteen years ago. I swabbed my nose at home and then, the next day, swabbed my nose at the doctor’s office. Somehow, I managed to hold onto hope that the doctor’s office swab would be different than the one at home. (19 years ago I was not hoping for a different result, just in case that isn’t clear.)

I also spent time Thursday morning figuring out who might have been a close contact at school, defined as anyone with whom I was within six feet for more than a total of fifteen minutes over the previous two days. I named several colleagues and felt stumped when it came to my class. I teach third graders. They are frequently within six feet of me. On and off, again and again, every day. Determining who fit that definition was overwhelming. Which certainly makes my administrators’ jobs more complicated.

On the plus side, apparently our schools have Binax tests on hand and were able to immediately give them to my colleagues who were close contacts. Protocals at school were followed and I feel comfortable with how all of that went (if guilty for all the work it made for my colleague and the stress and challenges for them and my families).

I am now in my bedroom for ten days. We are lucky to have a large enough house and plenty of bathrooms to make it possible for me to isolate in this way with minimal inconvenience to my family. On the rare occasions I leave my room, or when my husband needs to come in and get some clean clothes, we have KN95 masks. Masking in my own home stinks. Having both my kids home and my husband off of work (after today) and not being able to be with them stinks. Staying holed up in my room through Christmas stinks.

Other jumbled thoughts:

  • I feel stupid. We’ve (as a family) been so careful for so long. I feel that I must have done something stupid to have been infected. (Intellectually I know that many people who have been even more careful than I have gotten this virus. Still.)
  • I feel guilty. How many people have I exposed before I had symptoms and took a test?
  • I feel grateful. So far, after feeling super awful Wednesday evening, it has felt mostly like a minor sinus infection. My breathing, so far, feels good. Again, so far, I can smell and taste.
  • I feel irritated. I’m stuck in my room, all alone. I want to be with my family. I want us to be able to do things together, whether that’s as small as watching a movie or eating dinner or bigger like taking a long walk or finally putting ornaments on our Christmas tree.
  • I feel lucky. I have a job that immediately stepped up to take care of things and I was able to take leave without any challenges. We, as a family, have the resources to have home tests available, anything I might want/need to keep from going stir crazy, and the space to all be here together as safely as possible.

A friend recently shared this twitter account with me. It has been hitting hard ever since.

More jumbled thoughts:

Two years ago I missed the last day and a half before the winter break because I was put on administrative leave. It was exceptionally traumatic. Missing those same two days again this year hurts. It brings back some of the pain and stress from two years ago. Unlike two years ago, this time I am contact with friends and colleagues about what is happening and having their support makes a huge difference. (So thank you all!)

Lastly, this month has been something of a roller coaster.

Early in the month, I got my first copies of my first book.

Then mid-month, all of this.

I am at least mildly terrified to see where things might be at the end of the month…

2 replies on “When Positive Is Really Negative”

  1. Charlene O'Brien says:

    I love the line, ”… I got my first copies of my first book.” I hear “first book” and feel there’s a second in your future. So sorry for the positive rest!

  2. Bud Hunt says:

    Boy I hope your worst symptom going forward is boredom. And maybe a little restlessness.

    You didn’t do anything wrong.

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