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Dori, Interrupted: Getting COVID with family is a bonding experience

Three days before Christmas, amid birthday festivities, my mother collapsed … twice. After a flurry of screams, shaky hands and paramedics, my family spent the night at a local ER. That ordeal was not COVID-19-related, but it should have tipped me off that the holiday season was going to be interesting.

My father had a coughing fit on Christmas Eve. The following morning, Christmas Day, he tested positive for COVID-19. We decided to wait until my dad was well to open presents. Despite what our email inboxes may say, tangible gifts are not the reason for the season. In a household full of high-risk individuals, we started dropping like dominoes. 

Dec. 27, 2022, was doomsday. My COVID-19 test displayed two bold red lines. I was almost offended at how quickly the second line appeared. 

I had lasted three years without catching “the ’rona.” Who would have thought my own father would betray me? Now, I exist as one of the 101,094,670 reported U.S. cases as of Jan. 8, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. I do not feel special.

Despite my many booster shots, COVID-19 sucked. Like, it was terrible. My body vibrated with aches, my throat was awkwardly sore and my head felt heavy. Also, I could not stop burping. Zero out of 10, I would not recommend it.

It was weird shuffling past a living room frozen in time, presents nestled under the lit artificial fir. We had effectively postponed the holidays. Our matching pajamas, a Christmas Eve tradition, quickly became our sick ward uniforms.

My sister, bless her heart, had to play nurse for the family, retrieving medication and food while we isolated ourselves in separate rooms.

Naturally, I Googled symptoms and analyzed articles. I quickly became annoyed at stories written with a lighthearted tone. Didn’t the writers know some readers felt terrible? It seemed the only people who truly understood my inopportune condition were my parents.

My dad, my mom and I tested positive for COVID-19 one day after the next, respectively. In a way, we could see what side effects to expect. We each also qualified for Paxlovid and bonded over the medication’s unfortunate side-effect that caused our mouths to taste like melted pennies. 

When using my brain made me physically exhausted, my mom understood. And, when my parents could not do much more than sleep and cough for a few days, I knew the feeling. 

My household finally held a masked Christmas on Dec. 30, 2022. Everyone sat a proper distance from each other, and thank-you hugs were outlawed. I was drained just from using the stairs and could not wait to get back into bed. However, it was nice to gather as a family again after days of mostly solitude. 

One by one, we began testing negative at home and with PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests. Movie nights returned, as did embraces and the ability to brush my teeth without getting dizzy. 

As I’m writing this, I still feel awful. I cannot offer a recovery-oriented conclusion. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, having underlying health conditions prior to having COVID-19 makes one more likely to develop long COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 conditions. 

“Some people … experience multiorgan effects or autoimmune conditions with symptoms lasting weeks, months, or even years after COVID-19 illness,” wrote the CDC.

But, c’est la vie. And my family is currently OK, which is something to be thankful for. Stay safe, y’all.

Dori Gray is a senior journalism major at Ohio University. Please note that the ideas expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to chat with Dori? Tweet her @dorigraywrites.

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