Early adopter — and my story shares a little bit of the mess and confusion when it all started. Alas, Australia got their act together managing the pandemic. (When I tell people I had COVID they often say “you’re the first person I met who has had it”. (see numbers/graph below)
One year ago today, I landed back in Sydney (on the same flight with a friend heading to Perth) from travels in the US and Canada to see family (Connecticut), attend the SheEO Global Summit (Toronto)
and plans to see friends in San Francisco which were cut short. Below was the email I had sent to family on 20 March 2020 when my results for covid came back positive. [comments added in brackets for more context]
It’s my responsibility to let you know my journey since that gathering on Saturday night. [12 March 2020, in Stamford, Connecticut — just a town over from one of the first hot spots in New Rochelle]
Mom and dad drove me to the airport since my brother had a fever the night before and felt it safer that he not drive.
I flew to SF early Saturday morning — no one at the airport, despite my flight being full (no social distancing)
Landing in SF and stayed at my friend’s second apartment across the hall from him. Social distancing achieved.
I was lucky to change my flight back to Sydney on Monday night [16 March 2020] — (right before the shelter in place requirement in the Bay Area) rather than Friday 20 March.
Walking down the streets in the Marina, things were already starting to change. Stores shut and signs alerting customers of the situation.
Again, an exceptionally full flight since Qantas, at that stage, reduced it’s fleet 90% (it’s now 100% reduced international flights). Coincidentally, my friend Tim was also on this flight — and who met Drew #connectingdots — Tim’s final destination was Perth, Western Australia.
Arrived in Sydney 6am on Wednesday and was picked up by my friend (in his convertible and top down). He dropped me home and braved the supermarket madness and went shopping for me for 2.5+ hours to ensure I had a full fridge as I am on 14-day mandatory [home] quarantine as an international arrival.
While he was shopping I checked my temperature and I had a fever. 100.1ish [37.8 C] (my normal is 97.5ish [36.4C]) (but I need to start taking it in C)
I called my doctor who told me to go to the fever clinic at St. Vincent's hospital which is 6 minutes from my house.
Friend drove me there and I went in.
I followed the signs (for once, Australia surprised me with good signage and a green line to follow, but I digress)
Got to the clinic with one person in front of me who said he had to get tested because his girlfriend tested positive. He was let in.
I told the nurse/staff member my story, that I just arrived from US two hours earlier after lots of international travel, had a fever, and ever so slight cough. I also had not yet noticed an itchy rash on my chest.
She sent me home to quarantine without a test — but I did convince her to give me a mask for myself and my friend (which she did so, reluctantly)
Called my doctor back to let her know I was sent back from the clinic. She was surprised (and annoyed) they didn’t take me. She told me to go to her office at 5pm for a test. But I was not allowed in her office, I had to go to the back alley behind her office.
I walked there (15 minutes) to the back alley where she tested me while she was in full hazmat gear. (Swab in the throat — gag, and same swab up my nose — ouch)
The following morning (Thursday, 10am) I got a call from her office that my tests showed I was negative for coronavirus, rhinovirus, pneumonia, and influenza!
And Vitamin D therapy in the sun.
So I thought.
Woke up this morning (Friday [20 March 2020]) with fever broke 97.1 and no cough, feeling good.
Got a call from the doctor at 8:30 am this morning thinking that she was calling to check in on me, when in fact she was calling to tell me my test was positive. I was thoroughly confused (as was she) when I told her that her office called yesterday to tell me I was all clear.
This has been reported to Public Health. They called me to get my details (had my name as Tell, not Trell) and they had to get the contact info of my friend who picked me up.
She called back 20 minutes later to ask where I got the test done because they couldn’t find my results — and figured that my doctor likely sent it to a private lab.
I’ve not heard back to confirm that the public health department has actually seen the results that my doctor called me about.
I feel fine now (although fever up a little 99.7)
and have been doing some creative cooking
and have wonderful neighbours and building who are looking out for me (the building is leaving a bin outside doors for anyone who has to be quarantined and when full asked to text someone to come and pick it up — can you say this is the new “scarlet letter”)
I have asked my doctor to send me results so I can forward on as needed.
What’s happened a year since.
Since I tested positive early, my mom was allowed to get tested in Stamford being in high-risk group. She went on her BIRTHDAY, tested positive, with very mild (none) symptoms. I think my worst symptom was the guilt of wondering how many others I may have infected.
I was in quarantine for 19 days as on day 14, when NSW Health called and asked if I still had symptoms. I still had a slight cough, I had to stay in 72 more hours (that’s how they tested the ‘all clear’)
Three months later I developed a condition called telegan effluvium — where my hair was shedding like it never shed before. It was a little disconcerting however, I bought a dustbuster and found some joy in sucking up my hair. Hair is fine now (naturally turning silver, which I’m ok with!).
I had donated plasma twice in order for the antibodies to be studied or used for convalescent plasma.
The Daily Telegraph wrote a story on it. (FYI, not a daily reader of said publication)
I am part of longitudinal study on people with Covid. I go into St. Vincents (who take me willingly now) for blood tests and cognitive studies. It appeared I still had the antibodies in November. I’ll have my next test next week.
They also found a small node on my lung as a result of one of the CAT scans. It’s not changed size, we don’t know if it was always there or covid related. We are still monitoring.
As for other ‘long haul’ symptoms — I can’t say if they are all from Covid, being ‘middle age’, or the ‘new ways of working’. Brain fog (i have been excelling at fantastical unfocus and creative procrastination) is real. I do get tired and have an early bedtime often (and bad sleep patterns) — but also have been less social given the last year. I have a constant metallic taste in my mouth. I also acquired a Covid puppy who eats everything including metal things.
Thanks for reading this far!! (Initially, I had grand visions to relay my story in iambic pentameter, limerick, or Suess-esque but that never happened. Done is better than perfect!)
Epilogue & more media: I was interviewed for a piece on ABC 730 about long covid. Here’s the article. I had made it clear that I have trouble blaming all my symptoms on the virus that was in my body — as it likely has lots to do with the pandemic impacting the world. This sentiment was shared with the journalist where we had discussed (he mentioned it first) that the media is creating a bit of a fear and scare campaign.
Here’s the video:
And I did finally write that suess-esque poem — this one about the vaccine rollout.