"Hello, the lab results are in!"
A very weird email to receive, but anyway here's what happened to me
I haven’t written a really personal Webworm in awhile. I mean, I know they’re all personal in a way — little bits of me are found in every one — but I haven’t written a newsletter that’s just about me.
I don’t ever want this thing to be the David Farrier show — I want the focus to be on other people, be it the good guys or the bad guys (yes, I know there is grey). But this one is very me-centric, as it felt dishonest not to be.
About two weeks ago, I caught Covid.
It started with a text from a friend I’d been in a car with. They’d tested positive, and wanted me to know. It had come as a surprise to them, because they were double vaxxed — and hadn’t been around anyone since their last rapid test. Yes — people in LA are very good at testing!
“Huh”, I thought.
My first question in my mind was whether I’d given it to them; If I’d been carrying Covid around and just had no idea. I operate on a high level of paranoia, so wanted to get a proper test. It was the weekend, so all the pharmacies that offered free testing were booked up. So, I did the highly privileged thing and went and paid $250 for a rapid PCR test.
It came back negative:
Okay — so, I wasn’t patient zero. I felt fine, but realised I’d need to isolate myself for awhile just in case. If you catch the virus, it won’t turn up straight away — it takes three to five days. Sneaky Covid.
I masked up, went into a pharmacy, and brought two do-it-at-home tests for $15. Much more affordable than $250. My bank account breathed a sigh of relief.
On Day Two — I felt fine, so I decided there was little point in testing. I was happy as Larry. Larry David.
On Day 3 I still felt fine, but decided to open the test and read the instructions. I laid the test out flat, swabbed my nose with reckless abandon (15 seconds per snoz hole), added the testing liquid, and sealed the test up. 15 minutes later — nada:
But by the end of Day 3… my nose was running and I had a very ticklish throat. “Psychosomatic” I told myself. Or a cold — there are plenty of colds doing the rounds at the moment. I was stuck at home, bored, and my mind was running away with me. That night, I had one of the worst headaches of the year. I took some Advil, went to sleep, and woke up with a cough.
Day 4, I took the 2nd of the over-the-counter Covid tests I’d bought. At this point I’d genuinely expected a positive result as I felt like trash.
I got another negative result.
The headache stayed, the cough stayed, and some phlegm and body aches arrived. I felt like I was about 20 years older than I’d been the previous day. My head felt foggy. I sat down to edit Hayden’s latest piece for Webworm — and it was really hard. I wanted to blame Hayden’s terrible writing, but even in my state I knew that Hayden was a fucking great writer. This one was on me.
I devoured water, drank heaps of juice, and I booked in a test with Carbon Health, a free Covid testing facility that would be open the next day. I downloaded the App, I uploaded my vaccination card and driver’s licence — and on Day 5, I went in for my appointment. A nurse took my temperature: slightly elevated.
By this point I just wanted a result — but I wasn’t about to die on the floor so it was no rapid test for me. I’d get my results in two days.
Day 6 — felt like shit. Coffee started to taste bad. Uh oh. Yep — turns out my smell and taste weren’t gone, but they’d changed.
Day 7 — got my results. The word no-one wants to see on any kind of medical form: Abnormal.
The text underneath was like someone was writing the worst possible Webworm newsletter to me as some kind of revenge:
Our lab results are in and you’re COVID-19 test was positive. This means the RNA from the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected. We know this can be frightening and stressful news to receive.
The note went on to tell me to begin quarantining immediately — which wasn’t a problem, because I’d already begun. I did regret having nothing much more than a bed in the place I’d just moved into, but hey — at least I had a bed.
And this is where I’ve been — isolating at home.
That test result came in last Friday. I’d say Friday was my max “feeling terrible” day.
By Saturday, the headaches had stopped and my body felt slightly less achy. I still had the cough. I scheduled a virtual doctor’s visit for Saturday afternoon — where I was told my symptoms were all pretty on point. The doctor predicted I’d been through the worst of it, and I’d start to improve the next day.
And they were right. Sunday felt pretty good. The cough pretty much stopped. The nose wasn’t running. I was still tired, but heaps better. I slept like a baby Sunday night — despite the horrors of that episode of Succession.
And here I sit today, feeling pretty okay.
I’m fucking thankful I was vaccinated. My body was prepared in advance to fight this thing off — and it did. I have little doubt it’s protected me from other exposures to Covid during my time in America. I got to go to a festival in Vegas and watch Danzig, The Flaming Lips and Deafheaven — and not get sick.
For whatever reason this time, the naughty pandemic snuck through. This is rare. I am one of the unlucky ones. I was due for my booster the next week — so yes, get your booster. At its worst, it felt like the worst flu of my life. Without a vaccine, well — chances are it would have been a lot worse.
The doctor told me I could go back into society 10 days after my symptoms appeared — as long as I wasn’t running a fever and my symptoms had largely abated. That’s me, today.
I’m going to give it a few extra days.
I asked if I should get a negative test first — and was told there was little point, because I’d probably still test positive. The thing is, my body is now carrying the “dead” virus, not the live one that wants to spread to other people. The bonus? I’m very, very immune for about three months.
I learnt I can get the booster shot as soon as I want to. I’ll be doing that next week. Do I need to still get it, even though my body is now riddled with natural immunity? Yes. As Webwormer Susan correctly points out:
People who have had booster shots have 53x the antibodies than people who have natural immunity from Covid.
And from the NYT:
“The new study also found that boosters increased T cells that recognize the coronavirus. Antibodies may be good at knocking the coronavirus out early in an infection, when the virus is colonizing the nose. But deep in the airway, T cells may provide a second line of defense.”
I learnt it can take up to five days since exposure to test positive — so it’s really important not to get ahead of yourself.
I learnt the most annoying thing is telling people you that you have Covid… and then being sent a torrent of the most annoying text messages known to humankind:
Endless one-liners. All while your head is pounding. Maddening. My advice? Except for close contacts and maybe one good friend: keep it a secret! Unless you love answering about 1000 questions that are all the same.
No, I have not turned into an anti-vax idiot. As I said before… I’m fucking glad I was vaccinated:
“Breakthrough coronavirus infections can cause mild or moderate illness, but the chances of serious COVID-19 are very low, especially for people who are not living with a chronic health condition.
The COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in keeping you from having to go to the hospital, being put on a ventilator or dying due to severe coronavirus disease, including COVID caused by the delta coronavirus variant.
At least one large study suggests that being vaccinated reduces the chance that you will end up with lingering symptoms of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as “long COVID.”
I think it’s also a reminder that as we wait for vaccination rates to climb — and go about our lives — things aren’t normal yet.
We should still be vigilant about symptoms, wear masks when we can, and keep our distance when it’s possible. This vaccination is saving our asses — but that doesn’t mean we should figuratively sit around on them all day long. Let’s stay vigilant.
One good thing I took from this whole experience is that I got to catch up on a shitload of films TV: The Power of the Dog (Netflix, A), Maid (Netflix, A-), True Story (Netflix, C), Landscapers (HBO, A+), The Crime of the Century (HBO, A), Dopesick (B).
I’ll keep you updated.
Yes, it is quite funny that I sent my last newsletter out as I had Covid in my bod. Now a quick word about that piece on schadenfreude. As to be expected under any of Hayden Donnell’s Webworm pieces, discussion turned into wonderful chaos and despair pretty quickly in the comments section. It was all very valid, and as usual made me proud of the community we have here.
I wanted to share this comment from Jay. He actually posted a few times, and I’ve played editor and merged a few of his comments into one. I hope you don’t mind, Jay:
“Justice isn’t on its way: there is no justice in a world where billionaires get richer while billions are unable to access a vaccine that would save us from the evolution of variants of a virus that has the potential to be our Black Plague. There is no justice.
But perhaps there is hope. Because as we realise that there is no help, no justice, we who are being ruined by the billionaires and the politicians and the landlords and the myriad other wealthy leeches, perhaps we can transform from dreamers to doers, downtrodden to change-makers.
It’s a faint hope, there are so many barriers and challenges and fights to get from where we are to where we need to be to make change, but we are hurtling toward a tipping point in history where we make change or we are extinguished as a species.
That’s not hyperbole any more — with climate change, with Covid, with inequality, with so many things — we’re really really running out of time as a species to work out a way to survive, never mind thrive.
I don’t know what change looks like, I don’t know how we get there, but I know that we can't go on as we are, thrashing our planet and the people on it within an inch of their capacity. We can’t keep ripping coal and other fossil fuels from the belly of the earth, burning it, and thinking it’s going to be okay.
We can’t keep making people work three jobs with no pee breaks to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. We can’t keep withholding essential medicine from people just because they’re not able to pay, nor can we keep letting children sleep in garages and cars. Something, many things, everything has to change.
So there is hope. Hope that we see this need for change and put shoulder to plough and do it.
It may be some terrifying, revolutionary, bloody change: it’s sometimes like that. Or it may be that it comes peacefully and with some sense of decorum. But we can absolutely stand up, and walk into the future with hope.
We can make good choices. We could choose to shut down Tiwai Point, switch off Facebook, and cut off Trump’s access to the internet forever. We could choose to never harvest another ounce of coal from the ground, phase out fossil fuels rapidly and introduce renewable power globally. These are all things within the power of people. These are things we can, should, have the power to do.
All we really have to do — and it’s something people like the French are pretty good at — is stand up and say, “Not one inch further or we will get real stroppy”. And people are getting there! Look at how mutual aid is starting to flourish. Look at Stacey Abrams flipping Georgia. There is hope! It’s slow to start, but once it gets rolling it will pick up steam.
Or we do not. And then there is hope that the earth regenerates without us and the next dominant species does better.”
Well fucking said, Jay.