As of yesterday, it’s been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States. What was once considered to be an unthinkable scenario has gone through multiple phases of denial, anger, acceptance, depression, and back to denial all over again throughout the country. There have been so many peaks, valleys, followed by even higher peaks that I no longer even care to predict what is going to happen in the next 2 or 3 months. The virus will be through with us on its own terms, and on its own schedule. Speaking for myself, the previous year has been a similar chart of exhilarating highs and extreme lows, but I guess I’ll pick some highlights.
In April, I was ecstatic to finally be able to get my COVID-19 vaccine. I went for the option that was the most quickly available to me, which ended up being the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I was very eager to start living normal life again, and it seemed like the vaccines, any vaccine, would let us start doing that again. The vaccination clinic again felt like something out of a movie, with the National Guard present to help dispense vaccine shots. I got the shot in the morning, and by afternoon I started feeling feverish and had chills. I felt pretty much like crap all evening and night, but the following morning I woke up and felt basically normal again. It was pretty surprising to me to have such a strong reaction to a vaccine shot, since I had never had an equivalent reaction to the flu shot. Nevertheless, it felt really nice to have some level of protection against the virus.
As we all found out later in the year, the vaccines did a great job of keeping people out of the hospital and most likely experiencing anything more than a bad cold, but what they didn’t do was keep people from catching it entirely in the first place. I found this out firsthand after catching COVID in August. The timing was pretty dreadful, since Amparo’s family was due to visit a couple of days after I found out I was positive. It was pretty shocking to me when I found out I had caught it, because none of the initial symptoms seemed like anything more than maybe seasonal allergies or a moderate cold. It was only the next day after I found out I was positive that I started experiencing the signature symptoms of loss of taste and smell, which were completely absent for about two days. After sweating bullets that I may never taste or smell anything normally again, they slowly started to return in a couple of days like a slowly turning dimmer switch. I’ve never experienced anything so strange in my life, since my nose was completely clear but still couldn’t smell a thing.
The hardest thing about COVID infection for me was the 10 day isolation period. For a week and a half, I had to exist solely within two rooms while Amparo cordoned herself off from me as thoroughly as possible. Somehow she never tested positive, possibly due to some combination of luck, inherent immunity, and differing vaccines. We were still both extremely fortunate though, since neither of us have experienced any long term symptoms and had a 100% return to health afterwards.
Booster and Omicron
In October I was up for getting a booster dose, which was especially recommended for everyone who received the J&J vaccine. The current medical data at the time indicated that Moderna was the best booster to get if you had J&J, so that’s what I went for. I was hoping that after my initial shot and infection with actual COVID that I wouldn’t have as strong of a reaction this time to the new shot, but that didn’t turn out to be the case either. About two days after the shot, I again experienced fever and chills and then woke up the next day feeling fine. It seems that no matter how many times I experience the vaccine or the virus, this is pretty much what I can expect from the experience. It still beats not having the vaccine, but I wonder if in the future we might get a version that has fewer symptoms after the shot.
Then in December, the Omicron variant broke all of our COVID-19 infection rate graphs and hockey-sticked into astronomical levels of infection. As mentioned in previous posts, this caused Amparo and I to cut our holiday trip to Texas short out of an abundance of caution. Luckily neither of us caught it that time, or since.
Reflections and Looking Forward
In terms of the pandemic, I feel like I’ve just learned to live with it at this point. When infection rates are low, we got out more, and when they’re low, we stay home more. Work still hasn’t reopened for in person for me, and now I feel pretty used to working from home. The though of spending all day sitting inside of a big building re-breathing the same air with hundreds of other people actually feels kind of strange to think about (and slightly off-putting). Aside from the virus, we have also had other big changes coming along: we’re expecting a baby in April 2022 and we just bought a new house last month (which we’re still in the process of moving into). Maybe my next post will be about those things instead? All I know is that if in another year I don’t feel the need to post about the virus again, we will be truly done with the pandemic. I’ll keep hoping that is the case.