I was super careful —or so I thought. Getting “the call” felt almost surreal. It forever changed my life—perhaps for good and bad. Good because I am now super aware of my surroundings and I have amped up my hygiene practices. I have a renewed sense of commitment in following the protocols—absolutely no slacking off.
Unfortunately, it may have made me paranoid. My family thinks that I go too far with my “COVID prevention methods”. There is a dedicated laundry basket for everything—“out clothes”, i.e, clothes that are worn to work, the supermarket, etc., are dealt with separately. There is also a special hamper for shoes. Absolutely no entering the house with shoes. If I had my way, we would be walking around with those protective shoe coverings that the staff at the polyclinic wear.
So, back to that dreadful phone call. I could not believe what I was hearing. The pleasant man on the other line could not possibly mean ME. In fact, I had only gotten tested out of an abundance of caution (what the officials like to say).
The cleaner at my small office had tested positive, and since I am only there twice a week, I figured I was safe.
Boy, was I wrong!
While I thought the testing process was horrible with that long needle “juk” down my nose, nothing could prepare me for this news. My numbness turned to shock, then anger, then sadness in a matter of seconds. I had no symptoms, and it slowly dawned on me how people have been taking COVID for granted. How there could be hundreds of people walking around, showing no symptoms, but are actually spreading this dreaded disease that has killed almost 50 on our little island. I then gave thanks that no one else in my family had tested positive—including my high-risk parents.
I breathed a sigh of relief, too, that our family home was big enough to facilitate isolation and that I did not ignore common sense and did as I pleased, putting my family at risk. I cried ugly tears—out of despair, but also out of gratitude. I was conflicted.
The drive to the isolation facility at Harrison Point went by without a hitch. It just took ages to get through the standard health checks, processing, and so on. The doctors, nurses, and staff seemed friendly enough. However, during my 7-day stay, I was riddled with anxiety and guilt, even though I knew I had done nothing wrong. This is when I realised that this diagnosis and subsequent isolation would change my life forever and that upon leaving, I would most likely have to see a mental health professional. Hearing about young, healthy, people on ventilators, families, including children being critically ill from COVID . . . really affects your mental well-being.
It wasn’t all bad, though. I made friends with a few patients with whom I have remained in contact. I am grateful that in little Barbados, we have a facility that takes such good care of its patients. But I do want to implore Barbadians not to drop their guards as “Aunty Mia” says.
COVID is not going anywhere and just because you don’t have any symptoms doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Follow the protocols and cooperate with the contact tracing efforts.
It could save your life!
“COVID is not going anywhere and just because you don’t have any symptoms doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Follow the protocols and cooperate with the contact tracing efforts. It could save your life!”
This article appears in the April 19 edition of COVID Weekly. Read the full publication here.