On Tuesday I woke up with a scratchy throat and a sinus headache. Since I work in a grocery store and have almost certainly been exposed to COVID on more than one occasion, my first thought was I shouldn’t go for my scheduled in-person visit with my 90-year-old mom.
Mom’s in a nursing home where they just started having visits again for the first time in months. They first tried about six months ago, but ended up canceling after two weeks because a staff member tested positive. Now, however, most residents including Mom are vaccinated, so I get to see her without a window between us.
The administration has also started rapid testing anyone who visits. That’s why my second thought was, “No. I need to go because then I’ll know if it’s COVID.”
If it was, I’d get in my car and go home. No harm, no foul.
As expected, the test was negative. My mild symptoms were clearly just a cold.
Still, I canceled my Wednesday dentist appointment and took things easy the next two days before working on Friday as scheduled. By that time, I’d taken my temperature a few times. Twice it was slightly elevated, but by Friday it was normal.
And on Saturday, I planned to do the same. But when I took a shower that morning, I realized I couldn’t smell the eucalyptus oil I’d dribbled in the tub to help clear my head.
I opened the bottle and tried breathing it directly.
It was strange. I could kind of feel the oil’s effects, but not smell it. (And if you’ve ever breathed in eucalyptus oil, you’ll know the scent is very strong.)
Feeling like an idiot, I stood there dripping as I sniffed every bar of soap and bottle of shampoo and conditioner … even the Vicks Vaporub.
And then I remembered having pizza the night before and thinking it didn’t taste like much even though I’d used quite a lot of garlic on the crust.
Well, this was a bit worrisome.
I was scheduled to work all weekend because my co-worker was out of town, and for a moment — and only a moment — I considered putting off going for a test until Monday, not because I wanted to get anyone sick, but because I would feel an idiot if the whole thing turned out to be nothing.
Except I couldn’t taste the toast I ate for breakfast either.
And that’s how I ended up visiting the drive-up at a local drug store for a lab test instead of going to work yesterday.
According to them, result times are averaging one to two days.
Meanwhile, I’ve had a phone call from my employer’s Human Resources Department to instruct me on the process I’ve apparently put into play.
Wow. Now I really felt like a fraud. I’m sure he has other things he’d rather be doing than calling me on a Saturday night.
The man said I did the right thing, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What if I’m wrong and just made a fuss about nothing?”
Then I went into the pantry and tried to smell the vinegar.
It’s weird not to be able to taste or smell. I could sort of feel the vinegar in the back of my throat, but even with the bottle right below my nose, I couldn’t smell anything.
We ate quiche last night, and I put a load of hot sauce on it. I could feel the heat, but it tasted like nothing.
I’ve been drinking tea and it’s comforting because it’s hot, but there’s no flavor.
So, do I have the virus or not?
All I know is I’ve been sick before with everything from pnuemonia to bronchitis to pleurisy, and there have been times my head was stuffy enough to make it difficult to smell, but I’ve never experienced anything like this.
At this point, I’m sort of hoping I have the virus because otherwise I’ll feel like a complete fool. And if losing two of my senses is the worst thing that happens to me, I’m grateful.
Whether I have it or not, the joke is on me. Either I’ve gone for a complete year of shutdown working in a grocery store and gotten it when a vaccine is finally available (at least in theory because it’s not been available for me!) or I’ve somehow gotten one of the main symptoms of COVID without having the virus.
I’ll let you know when I find out.
Meanwhile, I’ll be in the pantry, sniffing vinegar and slurping hot sauce.
Addendum: Just got the text that I’m positive. Right now, I’m feeling very grateful to have mild symptoms.