I have Forgotten How Awful it Feels to be Sick

I have Forgotten How Awful it Feels to be Sick

Perhaps the biggest silver lining of the pandemic lockdown was that I didn’t get sick for 3 years. Sure, there was a lot about that time that sucked. So I don’t really look back on it with a ton of nostalgia. Especially since my husband hated working from home and, in many ways, we both drove each other nuts. But it was nice to wake up every morning without fearing the dreaded tickle in the back of my throat. The one that heralded the onset of the latest seasonal bug.

My husband is a teacher. So for pretty much as long as I can remember, dealing with the seasonal bug has always been a thing. Especially at the start and end of winter. There always seems to be a period where people cycle in and out with whatever thing has struck the school. I’ve always just accepted it as a fact of life and tried to minimize the impact on the household.

Of course, my husband is so used to just powering through that he rarely even slows down. Unless there’s a break. One year we traveled to visit his parents on the other side of the country and he was struck with such a bout of flu, he ended up sleeping on the couch for two nights. His mother made him a lemon and alcohol concoction to help keep his throat and sinuses clear.

Then for 3 glorious years, we didn’t have to deal with the seasonal bug – or any other bug for that matter. I never had to worry about a particular slow down in productivity, because there was nothing to unexpectedly knock me off my feet.

The Era of Masks

I think the closest I came to getting sick during the pandemic lockdown was when my husband and I went for one set of our covid boosters. That night, we both crawled into bed with body aches, and I was overcome by a round of chills. I ran half-frozen through the house to grab an extra blanket, curled back beneath my covers and passed out as soon as I warmed up. I woke the next morning with just a sore arm and no other symptoms.

Even after the lockdown lifted and my husband returned to the classroom (an event I still privately celebrate), we were able to keep germs largely out of the house due to his school’s robust mask policy. No one was entirely thrilled about the fact that they had to wear masks so much while in the classroom. They didn’t have to wear their masks everywhere all day; the school made an attempt to keep the school compartmentalized to minimize exposure between groups. But the masks did their job. None of the germs came home, and I was able to continue tippy tap typing away in my own little bubble without any worries.

As of the day of this writing, I still don’t leave the house without wearing a mask 90% of the time. (Every now and then I forget and just try to avoid standing too close to people.) I discovered during the height of the lockdown that I’m immunocompromised. So while many people have felt comfortable discarding pandemic protections, I maintain several of mine. Since my immune system may not entirely be up to the task of fighting off certain tough illnesses, I think it’s better to just avoid them all together.

An Old Nemesis Returns

Too many of my friends have emerged from the lockdown to start new jobs and caught covid shortly after. Or sent their kids back to school only for them to come home sick during the first week. And while most of those friends have weathered the storm without too much difficulty thanks to keeping up with their vaccinations, I’ve spent this long avoiding covid and I’d rather not trip at the finish line. (Especially since, as I mentioned, my immune system isn’t necessarily up to the task of fighting it off.)

So while I still do sometimes get some odd looks leveled in my direction, I don’t pay too much attention. If anyone asks, I explain that I’m immunocompromised. After explaining this to a pair of church ladies that dropped by my house close to Easter, one of them admitted they were in the same boat but felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny of others, so had given up on her mask. I was polite in my response, of course, but I think the risk to a person’s life should trump all else.

Though frankly if people don’t like me wearing a mask, maybe they won’t knock on my door. Not having to deal with solicitors was the second silver lining of the lockdown, and I do miss it.

Anyway, I’ve strayed quite far from my original point. Which is that I’ve recently rediscovered how much it sucks to be sick – and I hate it.

A few weeks ago, allergy season started. So when my husband started sounding congested and claimed allergies as the cause, I didn’t question it. He does have pretty gnarly seasonal allergies.

But it turns out the allergies weren’t allergies at all, and so an old nemesis haunts beneath my roof once again.

I’m no longer built for being sick

My most recent sickness makes me feel like a child. Perhaps it’s because it’s been so long since I had to deal with the symptoms of a common cold. Perhaps it’s also because the first time I got sick after the break, it was extremely mild. My throat got sore for a few days and then I was fine.

This most recent cold has just been awful. Not only has my throat been sore and scratchy, I haven’t been able to breathe out of the right side of my face. My nose has been like a drippy faucet, and I’ve been eating cough drops like no one’s business.

Of course, I’ve pulled out all my old tools for dealing with a cold. Nyquil is pretty much my secret weapon. It knocks me out for 8 hours of sleep and I wake up the next morning feeling quite a bit better than when I fell asleep.

But recovering from even a simple sickness still feels like such a long, slow process. All I’ve been able to think about while I’ve been sick is those glorious, sickness free days where I didn’t have to worry.

My husband and I often employ measures to make sure the germs he picks up from school don’t pass on to me. I’m going to be doubling down on them for the rest of the school year to avoid having to do this again.

But it reminds me that if there was one good thing that came out of the pandemic, it was not having to deal with this. Because this is the worst.

(You can probably tell, but this rambling was created on the tail end of my latest round of cold medicine. Hopefully it isn’t too nonsensical.)

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