Well, after vaccinations, boosters, and two-and-a-half years of avoiding COVID, my wife Wendy and I finally succumbed to the WD-40 version—or whatever variant we’re currently on. I do take responsibility for catching it. Wendy and I attended a large conference where there was a lot of hugging, talking, and spewing of droplets. Without a mask, I was most certainly exposed to an abundant variety of variants.
I tested positive two days after the conference and then a couple of days later, Wendy did too. I suspect that I actually infected her during our three-hour ride home from the airport when I launched into a sneezing attack that probably spread COVID to the people in the car behind us. I feel bad that I may have spread it to her but such is the meaning of “for better or worse, in sickness and in health.”
Since this COVID spreading process is somewhat unclear, we decided to isolate from each other until we had both logged in five days after the initial symptoms. I retreated to the basement where I had my own bathroom, a nice guest room, some books, a TV, and plenty of tissues. I think I may have recycled the equivalent of a California redwood tree by the time my sniffling subsided. I’m forever grateful for the economy pack of tissues we got from Costco.
The interesting thing about COVID, as compared to the common cold, is that we never use to worry about dropletting on others when we had a cold. We went shopping, went to parties, even went on dates while sniffling, sneezing, and coughing out viruses of all kinds. However, with COVID, the outcome can be worse so we’re more careful. I actually found myself hiding my head behind a wall when I talked to my wife thinking I was protecting her. This is a bit ridiculous since she already tested positive and our HVAC system was probably spreading COVIDness to each other anyway.
As for symptoms, we didn’t feel so good for the first few days of the infection. Our energy was low, our heads were stuffy, and our throats were raw. As time went on, these symptoms subsided and all that remained was some lingering congestion. But on the second day of the initial symptoms, I did lose my sense of taste and smell.
This has been the most baffling part of the virus. I’ve always had an acute sense of smell and with COVID, I had nothing. In the past, I was able to detect a burning crumb in the oven long before it set off the smoke detector. I could smell a slight propane leak before it became a big propane leak. And once, my schnoz alerted me to a dead animal under the family room before anyone else even noticed. Regrettably, my nose continued to work perfectly as I removed the carcass a few days later (cue dry heaves).
With COVID, though, I couldn’t smell coffee, garlic, or even gasoline. What’s worse, I couldn’t detect when my deodorant had stopped working and I had no idea what condition I had left the bathroom, if you get my drift. It’s been quite an adjustment.
As for my sense of taste, this has also been a weird phenomenon. For instance, early on, I couldn’t taste anything. Meals were just a bland process of gnawing on boring textures. The experience of eating a baked potato was like chewing Play Doh that had been left out of its can. But strangely enough, I did have the sensation of certain flavors. Tangy food still activated the glands in my jaw. And spicy food made my lips burn. This led my brain’s muscle memory to make me think I was tasting even though I wasn’t. It was a culinary mind game.
The good side of losing my sense of smell and taste is that my food needed no seasoning. I could even eat food that might be past its “best by” date. And after my dog rolled in something odoriferous in the yard, I did not recoil when she jumped onto my lap.
It’s about three weeks from the original infection and my smell and taste are slowly coming back. I can smell garlic but still can’t tell if my socks should be worn another day. And I have recovered about eighty percent of my pre-COVID taste but coffee is still quite dull. I’m grateful that I am recovering and I do hope that my acute sense of smell returns. I loved that I could pinpoint a small container of spoiled broccoli in the back of the refrigerator when no one else could. Yes, it was a gift.
Even though my COVID symptoms were mild and many have suffered more than I have, the experience reinforced something I have heard from people wiser than me. Every single day, we take things for granted that we may one day be without. It’s easy to be reminded of this when we lose a loved one or experience a job loss. But unless we actually lose something, we may not always appreciate its value.
It’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves throughout the day that nothing should be taken for granted. I guess, you could say that it’s always a good idea to stop and smell the roses…if we can.