On Friday night Daegan wasn’t feeling well and was worried he might have COVID. For the first time we opened our rapid tests to do one. And let me tell you – I’m not sure about other brands but the one we got had instructions clearly written for medical professionals. We had to look up a YouTube video to figure out what to do. What do people who don’t speak English do? Had this been written in Mandarin or Gujarati I’d have been out of luck. Looking online there are a few videos in various languages but why in our neighbourhood where 24.4% of people speak Urdu, 5.1% speak Pashto and others speak Tagalog, Persian, Gujarati, Arabic and other languages, were there no instructions sent in other languages – or a QR code on the box to lead you to where to find those?
In any case, once the instructions were sorted, Daegan took his sample and we started a 15 minute timer. Within less than a minute two strong red lines were visible. He had it. After three years of religiously masking and following public health measures even as others relaxed theirs, it finally hit.
Not only that, likely we all were likely to get it. We tucked him into bed with water and an iPad and told him to take it easy. We ordered takeout and prepared to be stuck at home for a while. That night was tough for him with coughing and vomiting.
The next day I knew the clock was ticking. I made a grocery list and picked up easy to cook things, crackers, club soda, and also grabbed some of the last cold medicine on the drug store shelf. (Thank goodness there was some left). I felt great all day. Hindi class started at 7:30 PM and I felt totally fine. But by 9:30, 30 minutes before class would end I was not feeling good. I could no longer think, had a headache and chills. We ended class early and I got under the blankets and watched some TV, taking a little cold medicine before bed. The night was filled with cold sweat and strange dreams. I woke with a low grade fever, headache, and chills. While I slept I lost my appetite and my ability to focus. All of my emotions were also amplified. Watching travel videos that I used to watch when sick in the early 90’s when Sage and I first got together filled me with so much overwhelming gratitude that tears came to my eyes and I could barely describe it to Sage without tearing up again. Later in the day we all tried to order a few more groceries for delivery that I’d missed and the three of us couldn’t think and it got belly laughs from all of us.
By the middle of the day Daegan was feeling a bit better and I was feeling my worst. I had four saltine crackers for lunch and was so full! Sage still continued to do well – and to this moment still is managing well though doubtless she is fighting it off one way or another.
On the other side, it’s been fascinating to watch feedback from my smart watch. There’s so much interesting data!
When I woke up after just under five hours of sleep on Saturday I was surprised to see that my stress levels which usually were around 10-15% (resting) were now nearly at 100% – hugely stressed as measured by my heart rate variability. Along with that, my heart rate was hovering around 110 just sitting on the couch – which is usually where I’m at when I’ve just climbed a flight or two of stairs. My breathing which was normally at 14 breaths/min was up to 20. My “body battery” which measures how rested I am said I was at 6% – the lowest I’ve started my day with and it seemed totally accurate. Reading a bit from various health departments I saw that this was all relatively normal though a little worrisome at first. Taking cold medicine seemed to lessen not only my symptoms that I could feel but also reduced stress and heart rate. Interesting! The big measurement that is most mentioned was blood oxygen. That came in at a healthy 98% – no worries there.
I had a massive dinner of a slice of toast with peanut butter on it and slept 9.5 hours. When I woke I felt much better. My fever was gone, my heart rate around 80 now, and stress hovering around 30% – maybe a little more than usual but still good. (Now it’s 17 – almost normal). I had enough energy to make a normal breakfast and enough appetite to eat it all. (But then I had to have a rest to recover). I can think normally again – with the attention span to read books and articles and even write a bit. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to work from home tomorrow at least for a little bit.
What I did take away from this is that my instinct to not do a long bike tour in a faraway place is a good one. Had this happened two days into my trip cycling in Rajasthan, I’d be stuck in Narnaul – the hotel was decent, the food passable so I would be comfortable. But let me tell you, based on how I feel right now I’m not sure I can tell you when I’d be up for loading a bike with all my gear and riding another 150-200 km – which is what it’d take to get me to either my destination or back to start. The alternative would be to figure out how to get the bike and I back to Delhi. And that’s in a place I’m reasonably comfortable. If I were doing this in, say, rural Thailand, I might be stuck. Visiting without a bike might happen sooner but there’ll be no bike tours on other continents until the situation changes a bit more for the better.
The advice everyone I know has given has been to take it really easy getting back to normal living, particularly with exercises and that’s my plan for sure. But I will say this. Some people take inspiration in the New Year to make plans for all the great things they’ll accomplish. I didn’t do that then but let me tell you, something about having been so sick yesterday and feeling this much better has me inspired. All these things I took for granted before – the ability to go out and do interesting things (or stay in and do them) are now so exciting!
While I won’t be doing long bike trips elsewhere I’m really inspired to do lots of local cycling and even have a few longer ride destinations figured out. As spring comes I’ll be hitting the road soon, commuting by bike to work again and then going on longer rides.
But it’s not just physical activity that I’m inspired by. The experiments I’m doing related to cooking, productivity and things like avoiding the algorithm – improving my inputs, are also sounding really inspiring.
If nothing else, I’m going to make a sabudana kichidi that you can’t use to hang pictures on the wall. I’m determined!
Meanwhile, I’m just going to take it easy – make a simple dinner that is easy to cook and eat and watch some more TV. Daegan and I are coming out the other side of this quite rapidly it seems. Hopefully Sage continues to feel good but if she doesn’t feel great we’ve got this. (And we’ve all had three boosters so the likelihood of anything bad is minimal.)