Managing Covid-19, Kids and Cans of Beans.
Four out of the six of us in our home tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week – we have all been tested now. Thankfully none of us have a severe case so far, but I am keeping my eye on Athol, as he has asthma his chest is usually tight and often struggles to find breath. I just feel as though I have an extra dose of gravity – I spent most of day one and day seven in bed because sitting was too tiring.
None of us have had a fever, apart from an abiding tiredness, we have experienced aching legs and stiff backs, sore eyes, loss of smell, loss of appetite, dizziness, and headaches. I have also had a little dry cough and very minor chest pains, but as I have had those both since before last summer it’s hard to tell whether a lot of what I am feeling – including the general apathy and irritability – is just normal stuff to do with being me.
Funnily enough the two of the kids who didn’t test positive both had coughs and sore throats before the rest of us developed our own set of symptoms. So we don’t know whether they had false negatives or whether they will still catch the disease, or they just won’t.
Of course now that we are in the thick of this worldwide dread disease on a very personal level, I have been doing a bit of reading up on the Health Service Executive website, mainly trying to figure out how long we need to be isolating for as we succumb to the family Covid relay race.
It would appear that if you have Covid-19 you need to isolate for 10 days or for 5 days after your fever has gone. But if you don’t have it, if you are a close contact, you need to isolate for 14 days. In other words our Covid free kids have life worse off than the rest of us.
It’s doubtful that the room isolation and lying in bed is all that tough for a teenager anyway as it closely resembles their normal state of being. Actually you might be excused for missing that your teens ever had Covid.
One of the questions I couldn’t find the answer to on the HSE website is how long you have to isolate for after you have had Covid yourself but then another person in the household develops it once your isolation period is up. As we know very little about this virus and how long transmission rates last for, there is uncertainly around how long immunity lasts or whether you can carry the bugs with you from others after you have had it.
Another issue that parents have to face is how to isolate themselves from their children if both adults are sick. We haven’t managed to do this, even though my children are old enough and capable enough to cook food and care for themselves, I wouldn’t be able to leave them off in another part of the house for 10 or more days without us. We also don’t have enough bedrooms for all of us to sleep separately.
If your children are young it would be impossible to leave them to their own care, thankfully children don’t seem to be as risk of developing severe cases of the virus as adults are, the challenge though would be caring for them when you have no energy and they have endless supplies.
In the early stages of my illness I just couldn’t believe I had more than a cold and so I continued to do what all mothers do when they are sick and that is to keep on cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry and all the other things that bring us joy. Besides, lying about is really boring after day one. I have to say though that even though I was bored, there were times when my arms were too tired to hold my Kindle.
By the time I had the test and then waited for the results we were a good five days down the line. It was too late to isolate myself then and we made the decision to isolate as a family unit. When my results came back positive I got a bit of a jolt – I seemed to suddenly be ten times sicker, in my head at least – it made sense but it still felt unreal – how could it be that a year after I first heard about it, this dread disease had traversed the globe and finally made its way through our door?
A side effect that not many websites talk about is coping with Covid guilt. I felt all the guilt – guilt when I called up work to say I had another sick family member and so would need even more time off, guilt for not isolating ourselves properly from one another so that we didn’t all catch it, guilt that I don’t feel like doing much at all a lot of the time except for sit on the sofa and watch back to back episodes of Masterchef, guilt that we had had elderly friends over for a Christmas meal (thankfully they are fine) while it was likely my daughter was infectious although at that stage asymptomatic, and guilt that we have to call on people to help us by dropping off what we need to survive.
Guilt is ridiculous I know, many friends have offered to help and we would do the same if they were in need. In fact if they didn’t drop us food we could be in more danger of dying from starvation than Covid-19. The company that I work for may have high expectations but I am assuming they would prefer if I wasn’t there at the moment passing our bugs onto them.
On the other hand, Masterchef might not be the best viewing choice, unless you are looking for inspiration to pep up your exciting array of cans of beans and soups with the half eaten packet of bourbon biscuits from your kitchen supplies.
I have been grateful for the support we have been shown, from the teacher who dropped off books, to the friends who have travelled out of the way to drop dinners and even strangers who put together an amazing parcel of essential supplies after hearing we were isolating.
Wow – when people you have never met deliver a large mound of goodies – you could be left with a tear in the eye. And that tear definitely has more to do with the kindness of strangers than the sound of spinning wheels as their car leaps off into the gathering evening gloom on your approach. The bags were so chock full that we ran out of space in our store cupboard and the girls packed the extra cans into drawers.
It is a bit strange that even though we are all in lockdown together, we still feel like outcasts – people are dropping things at our gate or in our post box at the top of the driveway. Thankfully, unlike the lepers of Bible times, our isolation has an end date in sight. Also thankfully we don’t need to carry a bell to ring wherever we go, not that we are going anywhere anyway. AND, thankfully we don’t have to place signs in our windows that say ‘Covid In This House’ or anything like that – yet.
In a way I am relieved we have had this illness pass through our home, especially as we have had mild doses, as hopefully that means the worst is over. For the past year I have felt it was like watching the time come in, no matter how high you build those walls of sand around your castle, the waves eventually break them down. Unless of course somehow you managed to get your castle a vaccine first.
The great news is that studies are coming out which indicate that recovering from the corona virus is better protection against the disease than having the vaccine.
I do have moments of disquiet if I allow myself to wonder whether we will suffer from any long term affects, or that those who are currently unwell will suddenly get worse and I will be calling for an ambulance in the middle of the night. In those moments I am trying to remember to be still and know that I am not the one in control, and any fretting isn’t going to add a hair to a head or a day to a life. All we have to go on is this day, right now, and right now I am grateful for each moment of home school my kids can participate in, each smile Athol gives and every can of beans that we have.