Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2023/ My Turn

My Turn

Well, I got COVID. I tested positive yesterday but was definitely showing symptoms the day before, and possibly showing symptoms days before that.


Here is the timeline. I have seasonal allergies and also hypochondria. If I am feeling anxious I am capable of making myself feel sick to the extent of having a sore throat and runny nose. It seemed as if I was having some allergies early in the week, on the Tuesday. But the symptoms were not consistent. When I was outside then I would be sneezing. When I was inside I was okay. I believe I did a COVID test Tuesday evening and it came out negative.

Wednesday the problem got worse. I went to my volunteering at a market garden (where allergies tend to be more intense) and had a headache and nausea. So I had to leave early before I vomitted everywhere. I did a COVID test and it came out negative.

Thursday I was weak but asymptomatic. Friday I was fine. Saturday I felt a tickle in my throat. I did a COVID test and it came out negative, so I thought it was my anxieties and/or allergies. I did my shopping and attended an outdoor socialization event. I was masked for both of these but had not used a fresh mask.

Saturday night I was not sleeping well. I was sweating and felt chills. My sore throat was worse. I did a COVID test and it came out positive.

The most likely option is that I had been positive on the Tuesday, but that the test did not pick this up.

The next most likely option is that I became positive on the Saturday.

In either case I feel foolish. I always am walking the tightrope between health anxieties and sensible precautions, and I totally messed up here. I exposed people at work on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday. I exposed people at the social event on Saturday. Now I have to try to avoid exposing my housemates, and it is really stressful.

Not Careful Enough

How did I get infected? Did I let my defences slip too far? Are the new variants more virulent?

To most people I have come across as rather COVID-paranoid. I wear N95-style masks to work every day, and am one of the few who does so. I wear masks to the farmer's market and in shops. For the most part I do not socialize indoors with others. Have I not been careful enough?

Obviously not. If I was careful enough I would not have this infection.

I can think of a few recent situations where my defences have slipped:

It is entirely possible that I am now sick due to my own negligence. That feels pretty bad, but the idea that I may well have made many other people ill because of that negligence feels much worse.

If I get through this, maybe I need to become more paranoid. My understanding is that the more times you are infected the greater the risk for permanent damage. I was not planning to become an Enovid-huffing, goggle-wearing freak who steadfastly refuses any indoor contact, but maybe that is what needs to happen. It really sucks not knowing the circumstances under which I got infected. If I knew how I messed up maybe I could tighten up that particular flaw, instead of having to conclude that everything I was doing was insufficient.

Writing all the people I had been in contact with and admitting I had exposed them to a deadly disease did not feel good at all.


As I write this my symptoms have been fairly mild. I wish that was comforting. I have been reading COVID-paranoid publications, and they are terrifying. They are filled with story after story of people who were mildly infected, and then seemed to get better, and then weeks later started experiencing all kinds of health problems. Now I am waiting for that shoe to drop.

One particular fear has to do with exercise. I had been riding my bike to work every day, and riding bicycles every Sunday for exercise. But now there are fears that too much vigorous activity too soon is a risk factor for Long COVID. This is going to be a huge pain. When will it be safe for me to cycle to work again? What do I do until then?

Long COVID seems like a lottery. Having seen some of the winners it is one I would very much like to avoid.

Brain fog is debilitating, and since I am employed primarily for my ability to think clearly, if I suffer brain fog then that will be catastrophic careerwise.

The inability to exercise or bicycle even for short trips is the other grave danger.

I do not know what will happen, and I do not know for how long I will suffer long COVID, and I do not know how severe it will be, but I am not at all happy about these short term prospects (never mind the longer term ones like diabetes).


I have heard of two treatments that might help reduce the incidence of Long COVID. One is Paxlovid. The other (much more experimental and not approved in Canada) is the pre-diabetes drug Metformin, which is a drug I had been wanting to avoid. Nonetheless, as a frightened member of the privileged classes I was willing to try one or both if it helped me lose the lottery.

As of this writing, the rules around Paxlovid are:

In principle I am none of these things, and I knew it. But I did fit one criterion: I had not had a booster vaccination in the last six months. Hooray for my negligence! (Did anybody get a booster in the last six months? The fall boosters are just rolling out now.)

The issue with Paxlovid is that it is supposed to be started within four days of infection. It is possible that I had already passed that mark (and there is evidence to suggest that Rapid Tests deliver the news late ) but if I counted Saturday as Day 1 then Day 4 would have been Tuesday. So now I was under a time clock exactly when I was already sick and tired and stressed.

I looked at pharmacy websites and they pointed me to the Ontario website. I called Telehealth Ontario and they said I was probably not eligible, but to call my family doctor. I called my family doctor's office and the incredibly unhelpful receptionist told me they couldn't help and to try calling pharmacies! So I started calling pharmacies. The Loblaws-owned (oops. Loblaw-owned, I guess) Shoppers Drug Mart said to go away because they were all out of Paxlovid. I should have called Rexall but I didn't. I tried some local pharmacists. The one at Frederick Street Mall was as helpful as he could be, but he could not access my medical records to determine my kidney function, and without knowing my kidney function he could not precribe me. By this time it was the end of day Monday, so I gave up. Tuesday I kept going. I eventually called the people at Guardian Lancaster Wellness Pharmacy, who were very helpful, but also said they needed medical records. They offered to call my doctor's office, and the doctor's office would not release those records because my actual doctor was away that day. So then I called the doctor's office and asked them to release MY OWN medical records TO ME, and they refused. By this time I was sick, tired, stressed and steaming mad. But I remembered where I had my last blood work done, and I called them and they agreed to release my medical information to the pharmacist, so at the end of the day Tuesday I got a prescription.

In retrospect this was a dumb, selfish thing to do. The benefit to me would likely be marginal (because my symptoms were mild and I have few risk factors) and maybe Pfizer is restricting supply, because other Loblaw-owned pharmacies are sold out. So I have probably deprived somebody with a legitimate need for the medication from their dosages. This is doubly true if we really are in a surge and lots of people who are more careful than me get COVID too.

Nonetheless, selfish hoarding won out and I got my prescription, which as I write this I am in the process of completing. I doubt it will do much to prevent long COVID, but I can hope it will do no harm.


There were a few things that went right about this experience, and most of them had to do with greedily hoarding material goods:

Honestly I wish I had had the foresight to hoard other things. There is a nitrous oxide spray called Enovid that might have been useful in preventing infection in the first place. Maybe I could have even scored Metformin, although I am still not convinced I want it. If I was not so stingy I could have also gotten a pulse oximeter.

I also wish I had hoarded my work laptop when I went home for the weekend. I do not like bringing my work laptop home unless I know I will need it. As it stood I ended up arranging to get my work laptop to my place in a somewhat humiliating way.

The Laptop Classes

I had been going into work every day, and although I have definitely hampered some projects by not being present, there are lots of other tasks I could in principle be doing from home. Mostly I am lounging around not doing those things, and I can get away with that.

Even if I have to forgo some income and take unpaid time off of work so that I can heal more slowly I don't really care. People with lots of privilege can do that kind of thing and (maybe?) not get fired, so long as it does not happen too frequently. One of my bigger concerns is that I get reinfected soon, at which point I feel my employers will be much less sympathetic to my health anxieties.

I am fairly confident that working away from home suits me better than working at home -- at least given my living circumstances now. But to even have that choice is a luxury.

If I get Long COVID I could lose a lot of these privileges, which is one reason I am so frightened. Other people have loving support networks who will care for them even when they are disabled; for the most part I don't. I may be comfortable but I don't feel safe. That insecurity fuels so much misery in the world, and I am 100% guilty of this.


I feel that we are in the midst of a great wave, but maybe I have to think that because it would be too shameful to have contracted COVID during a lull. I hope it does not happen to you, but if it does then I found the following resources useful. (Be aware that they are both written from COVID-hysterical perspectives):

Postscript (End of October 2023)

My COVID journey is not over yet. I spent the entire month "working" from home, and have not been to the office once. Office work is piling up, so I will probably go back soon. I did take some sick days during the acute phase but I used them all up, and we have all pretended that I am working full-time even though I have not been putting in full-time hours.

The acute infection ended up being mild like a flu, but not mild like a cold. I was sweaty and ran a fever and was tired, as described above. This lasted about a week.

My energy levels have gone up and down a lot. There have been days when I have been wiped out and days when I am fine. This past week my energy has been mostly okay, but I am definitely not at full strength and don't know whether I will be.

After the acute phase ended (but not during the acute phase, which was interesting) I developed a dry hacking cough that manifests any time I do any physical exertion. Even if I stood up or walked downstairs I would have a hacking fit. It was ridiculous. It still is ridiculous, because although the cough has improved it is not gone. Now that colder temperatures are upon us I expect this cough will linger for months and months.

The coygh scared me a lot about Post-exertional Malaise (PEM), which is that thing where if you do any physical exercise at all (say, biking to work) then you are wiped out and your energy gets worse and worse and you are an invalid. So I mostly stayed sedentary, which sucked. Over the past few days I have been doing a bit of physical work, and although I still have ridiculous coughing fits I am not wiped out by the exertion. Yesterday I rode my bike for the first time and I think it was okay (but I rode slowly, and the trip was not long). I think I won't be going on Sunday rides for a while.

I don't think I will recover fully. I hope that I recover well enough that I can hold down my job and have some quality of life. I am quite scared about contracting COVID again (these new variants are ridiculous) and I don't know what to do about that.

I know I have been cavalier about COVID but I now confidently assert that it is no joke. My case was relatively mild and I had a cushy job that I did not lose and probably I will be okay enough to keep living independently, and I am still suffering consequences of this disease. It sycks, and it looks like this pandemic is far from over even though we have collectively decided otherwise.