This winter, just before my wife and I were scheduled to leave for our honeymoon, we both started feeling sick and decided to get tested for COVID-19 before travel. We are both vaccinated and had gotten our boosters, but didn’t want to risk it and potentially get others sick in the process. Two positive tests and a lot of phone calls later, we were settled in for isolation.
After almost two years of COVID news, I thought I knew it all and couldn’t be more prepared to be sick: I was wrong. Here’s what I wish I knew before getting Omicron:
1 – ‘Mild’ cases are anything but mild.
As two vaccinated people, my wife and I thought our breakthrough cases would be a breeze to get through and focused most of our concern on isolating to keep others safe. However, with a disease like COVID, my mild case felt like the worst flu I had ever had. The fatigue alone made every task exhausting no matter how much I slept, and it lasted for a full week.
2 – Prep as much as possible in the beginning.
The symptoms I felt just before my positive results felt like bad allergies and quickly got worse. I wish I’d used more of that initial energy to prepare, especially for meals. The best choice my wife and I made was ordering a family pack of canned soups- they kept us well fed and took almost no effort to prepare. We also checked our medicine stock and found, for example, that we were out of cold medicine. Make sure to have what you need without doing too much stockpiling!
3 – Expect new and old kinds of head pain.
I’ve had low-frequency episodic migraine with aura since I was 11 years old. While I have experienced highs and lows over the years, this has been markedly different. I was averaging 1-4 migraine attacks a month before COVID, my attacks have almost tripled since, and they brought friends. If there was ever a time to make sure all your rescue meds are ready, now is that time.
4 – Weird symptoms follow you long after the normal ones.
Brain fog and shortness of breath held on for much longer than I actually felt ‘sick’. I started testing negative for COVID two weeks ago and still have many weird symptoms hanging on. (Look up COVID toe at your own risk- trust me, it’s not pretty.)
5 – You’re contagious for a longer time than you think.
If you test positive for COVID, it’s time to make some calls. Anyone you were in contact with at least two days before you started feeling symptoms (or two days before you tested positive, whichever came first) could be at risk and continuing to spread the virus. Anyone you can think to call, do it. The embarrassment or awkwardness is far outweighed by the assurance that you can keep other people safe.
Omicron may have hit me like a bus, but compared to many others I was incredibly lucky. I recovered outside of a hospital, had the resources to get what I needed delivered safely to my home, and had been vaccinated and boosted before I caught the virus. The best advice I can give is to take precautions, follow guidelines, and understand that despite it all, you could COVID anyway.