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Opinion My week with omicron

A dose of a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is prepared at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago on Nov. 5. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
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Covid hunts us like dogs — and it finally caught me.

As I write, I’m on Day 4 of isolation. That is, I’m locked away in my room, hostage to the mercies of my insouciant butler, who, along with our petite zoo, has been free-roaming throughout the house and enjoying his wife’s indisposed condition a tad too much.

I’m not a happy dependent, as some readers might imagine, and am finding my butler’s sporadic attention to my needs more than a little annoying. He takes my mood as a sign of improving health, and my dependency, I suspect, as an opportunity to control my caloric intake. Apparently, he hasn’t yet heard about the anti-diet movement.

In the spirit of public service, I thought I’d share my experience — very briefly — for the few who’ve not yet had the displeasure.

Day 1 produced a slight hint of something not quite right. A mini wave of nausea caused me to notice that I was sneezing quite a bit and ripping through a box of tissues. I had thought it was only the lingering effects of the weekend’s ice storm — and life in an elderly house (c. 1827) that requires an indoor coat in winter. I think of home, appropriately, as a large wine cooler.

Day 2 consisted of a series of long naps and a wracking cough.

Day 3, ditto, with a worsening cough and notable chest pressure. More napping. I rallied long enough for a shower, which reminded me I should have taken one sooner.

Day 4, lipstick. Weary of my wretched image as I ambulated past a mirror, I dabbed a little rouge on my lips, hoping that perhaps now my butler might be inclined to provide more than a bowl of gruel each midday.

Obviously, I’ve turned a corner and will be in fighting form again before this column hits print. This is to confirm, as you’ve already heard, that omicron sometimes causes a less severe version of covid (for the vaccinated) and, in my case, without fever. Some have fared worse than I, others much better. An 82-year-old friend had no symptoms at all.

How did I catch it? That’s the riddle of our time, especially if, like me, you’ve had your three shots and typically wear a mask in public. Additionally, and testament to my not-so-latent obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I hold my breath if closer than six feet to another human until I can scoot away. A bird’s-eye view of my erratic path through a grocery store would look like a drunk rat trying to resolve an inscrutable maze.

Between naps, I’ve retraced my steps in the days preceding my positive test, including car travel to a few destinations over the long weekend. Did someone’s cough float on a breeze toward me as I sat by a bonfire at an outdoor pizza joint in Mount Pleasant, S.C.? What about the guy who, clearing his throat, passed by the ATM as I extracted some cash in nearby Lake City?

We can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out who, when and where. The truth is that omicron is everywhere. Perhaps we’re on our way to herd immunity, though experts predict a reprieve from infections would be short-lived pending another, new variant and barring a vaccination rate of at least 70 percent of the population.

Estimates are that about 740,000 people test positive for the coronavirus daily. That’s a lot of sick days, and a lot of disruption to businesses and excessive strain on health-care workers. It makes some people wonder whether we should go on about our business even when we test positive. I suspect many people do just that. Not sick enough to stay in bed — and needed at work — they figure everybody is going to get it anyway. Or so I’ve heard tell.

The downside to this argument is that not everyone has been vaccinated, and many of those folks could get sick and possibly die. But really, whose fault is that? If you want to survive covid, there’s only one clear option: Get the shots and cheat the reaper. Evidence is overwhelming that people with covid who are unvaccinated are much more likely to be hospitalized.

I’m not recommending that anyone ignore medical advice to isolate if sick or quarantine if exposed. Omicron isn’t nothing. I was sicker than I thought I’d be, but I’m going to be fine. It seems we’re nearing the end zone. If you’d like to join the celebration, get the vaccine.

If you’ve followed all the rules, good for you — and me. If all else fails and you feel as though you might be getting sick, try to make the best of it. Charge your batteries, stockpile some easy edibles and notify your butler(s) that their services may be required.

I’m sorry to say it, but the dogs of covid aren’t likely to relent until they catch you, too.

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