That spiky nuisance. The dreaded virus that we have been trying so diligently to avoid. It finally invaded, and I am accepting that after over two years, it’s my turn.
I’ve been dealing with some seasonal allergies in the last few weeks; the pollen count has been peaking and apparently, my body doesn’t like pollen. I hadn’t been suffering much in the last few years, so last week, when I started to experience some uncomfortable symptoms, I went to urgent care because I was afraid it might be COVID. I have been fortunate to avoid it all this time, especially since I work in a public high school where only about half of the kids mask up. Full disclosure, I had grown tired of masking myself, so when the school mandate was dropped, I dropped the mask like a hot potato. I was vaxxed and boosted, I had windows in my classroom, and I really wanted my kids to see my face when I taught them. I decided it was worth it to take the chance.
At the urgent care, I described my symptoms, and it seemed to lead in the direction of seasonal allergies. In an abundance of caution, I took the PCR, and started taking Zyrtec with a decongestant. The PCR came back negative, so allergies it was.
Fast forward a few more days. On Sunday, I had forgotten to take the Zyrtec and started feeling the drippiness that night. I figured I’d get back on it the next morning, so it didn’t mess up my medication schedule. I wanted to make sure that I’d be symptom-free on Monday, which was a very big day. My daughter was graduating with her associate’s degree and we were all excited, not just because it was a beautiful day to celebrate the first in-person graduation in years, but also because she had been selected to give the student commencement address. It was a very big deal, especially considering how far she’d come personally in the last several years.
I woke up that morning with some drippiness, along with some body aches, but I figured it was related to the workout I had done on Sunday morning, so I popped a couple of Tylenol, took my Zyrtec, and got ready to enjoy a beautiful outdoor ceremony in the local baseball stadium. It was a gorgeous day, bright sun, cool breeze, and lots of good feelings flowing. We saw our daughter off, cap carefully affixed to her mop of curly hair, gown and speech in hand, and feeling proud of her own accomplishments.
We got to the stadium, about an hour before the starting time, to scope out our seats. I wanted to get the best possible vantage point to record our kid’s shining moment. I still had some body aches, but it felt good to sit in the sun in the cool breeze. I allowed the tears of pride to ebb and flow as I considered everything we had gone through that got us to that moment. At a few minutes after 11 a.m., the procession started; she was in the first group to enter, with the dignitaries who would sit at the dais. I had a great vantage point to see her arrive, walking proudly across the field. I yelled her name, and she turned and waved, smiling, at her crazy mother who didn’t care about anything but her incredible kid. Decorum was out the window at that point for me.
The ceremony proceeded nicely. Finally, the SGA President (a former Thespian student of mine) introduced my daughter, who then proudly approached the podium.
She delivered a magnificent commencement address, congratulating everyone for their incredible accomplishments during the worst possible time in history. She talked about her own pre-pandemic struggles and how matriculating at this school changed everything for her. I heard a new voice emerge from my daughter: poised, full of grace and quiet confidence, with a command that few young people possess. In my head, on repeat, I kept thinking “THAT’S MY KID.”
After she finished, the excitement of anticipating her address started to wane. She was the first to receive her diploma and walk across the stage. Then, the rest of the 250 or so graduates followed. That’s when I started to notice that I wasn’t feeling so great. My energy started to wane and towards the end, as we walked back to the front of the stadium, the cool breeze suddenly started making my teeth chatter. I got chills upon chills, and I was bundled in a sweater and my husband’s jacket. Something was definitely not right.
Eventually, we reunited with my daughter, who looked amazing. Proud, confident, and happy to have had such a wonderful closure to the last two years. Nothing could take that away from her, and I was certainly not going to rain on her parade. This was her day.
Even COVID couldn’t take away my feelings of pride and awe for my kid.
We finally made it back to the car and things started going south; I did not feel well. After two years of not getting sick because of wearing masks, getting shots, and staying away from people as much as possible, I was feeling sick.
When I got home, all I could think about was my bed. The body aches, chills and general malaise were out in force. I thought, maybe I got the flu. I’d been avoiding COVID for all this time; I was vaxxed and boosted, so maybe it was not that. My husband suggested I take a rapid test, just in case. I kept thinking, no way. I don’t have a fever, I’m not coughing a lot, probably just the flu.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. After 10 minutes, the test showed a bright pink line. I had COVID. Time to quarantine.
Of course, the virus doesn’t care about all the things you have to do. All the things you are responsible for. I have a dance concert in less than two weeks that all of my students have been preparing diligently for. Now, I will be off of work for the entire week.
Work stresses and symptoms of misery aside, I am still basking in the glow of my daughter’s accomplishments. I am looking forward to her next steps, and to mine (whenever this damned virus goes away). I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to her incredible speech. I’ll just keep watching it on repeat in my bed.