So you’re sick, now what?
Taking Care of Yourself and Others with A Cold During a Pandemic
Although there have been a number of awful things that have resulted in the pandemic, there have also been a few good things that have changed that we all hope stay permanent. These are things like working from home, employers giving ample sick time, people finally understanding the concept of personal space in public places…
The list goes on and on.
One of my favorite things though, is that I have not been sick since three months before the pandemic started. This was the ultimate win. Until the fourth of July weekend. On Saturday night, I felt a small tickle in my throat, but thought nothing of it. Then Sunday morning, when I woke up, I felt like I was hit by a bus. Body aches, sore throat, nasal congestion, the whole thing.
My immediate thought was, “oh okay, this is just a cold.” I didn’t have a fever, or cough. And at this point, I have been vaccinated for two months, so there is no way that it was COVID. It was just a summertime cold. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except it kind of was, I hadn’t been sick since December of 2019.
Although I knew how to approach selfcare, I was unsure how to go about day-to-day life. After all, we are still in the pandemic. I knew I needed to take a nasal decongestant. Keep the cough drops, tissues, and tea on hand. But I didn’t know how to do “life” while I was sick. Before the pandemic, if I got sick, I would take some medicine, suck it up and be on my way. I would still go to work, school, and stores without giving it a second thought. Afterall, I couldn’t put my entire life on hold for a silly little cold.
But now that we’ve gone through the pandemic, and seen some serious loss; I found myself saying, “maybe I should put my life on hold for this.” So I did something that I normally would never have done before; I called out of work...for a cold.
At first I was nervous about what my manager would say. It was a Sunday, and a holiday. But to my surprise, he was incredibly understanding and even told me to take all the time that I needed. Before the pandemic, this is something that never would have happened. And I only say this because there was one time in high school that I called out of work for having a stomach bug, and I was written up for not giving at least a 24 hour notice. But I digress.
Once work was taken care of, I needed to get myself some medicine. And of course, everything that had been collecting dust in the bathroom cabinet had expired. After 18 months of masking up and vigilant handwashing, there was no need for any of that stuff. So I had to go to the store, but then I found myself questioning whether I should wear a mask or not. At this point in time, I haven’t needed to wear one in stores for 10 weeks, and I had been vaccinated for 2 months. The number of COVID cases in my area had become sparse. So I was unsure about this one. But then I decided I should. Because I like to hope that a stranger who was in my shoes would do the same thing to prevent spreading this summertime cold to anyone else.
So I got everything I needed at the store, and I headed back home. And then, I did nothing for four days.
I slept, rested, watched way too much Netflix, and took care of myself. And everyone was cool with it. I was not judged, or belittled. In fact, I was encouraged by everyone who knew I was sick (including my manager) to take all the time I needed to recover. And once I was feeling a lot better, I went back to work. It was business as usual.
Now, the point of me sharing this story is because we are living in super weird times. Technically, the pandemic is not over. But nearly everyone and their mother is vaccinated. Most places do not require masks anymore. People are going on vacation, to restaurants, and to amusement parks. It’s like life is normal, but it’s not?
So today I offer two takeaways for you.
First, continue to stay vigilant. Wash your hands. Stay home if you feel unwell. Keep your distance from strangers. Just keep doing all the things you have been doing since March 2020.
Second (and most important), be patient and kind with yourself and others. If you go out and about and see someone wearing a mask when it is not required. Don’t judge. Odds are there is a reason they are wearing it, and there is a 100% chance that it is none of your business. If you find yourself sick like myself, try to think of others. Maybe call out of work if you can. Try to wear a mask in crowded spaces and keep your distance from others.
I would argue that the times we are in now are even stranger than when the pandemic first started. When the pandemic first started, everyone was doing the same thing. Washing hands. Wearing masks. Keeping distance. But now in this quasi post-pandemic world, everyone is doing what they believe is best for themselves and others. So, save the judgement, and do what is best for you. We are all trying to navigate these weird times as best as we can.
As always, stay safe and be well.