Precipice is defined by Webster's as, as ‘a steep or overhanging place; a hazardous situation’. There are so many euphemisms for notions of ‘precipice’ when you think about it. People often use sayings such as, ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, ‘sitting on tenterhooks’, or ‘hanging off the edge of a cliff’ when describing feelings of precarity or uncertainty. Finding oneself in a position of precarity is never pleasant. Notions of uncertainty, apprehension and fear have become bed-fellows for the COVID pandemic; uncertainty surrounding what the future holds, apprehension for the health of friends and family, and fear towards barriers to employment and mobility. Since March, we have all lived on ‘tenterhooks’. Every time we get a sore throat or cough, we immediately jump to the worst case scenario. We begin to self-diagnose, to formulate our own lists for contact tracing, and to physically distance ourselves from the world around us. In the world of COVID-19, a cough is no longer just a cough. A stuffy nose not just allergies or hay fever. Fatigue is no longer the result of being overworked or having had a bad night's sleep. In a world where the ramifications of neglecting the signs is so dire and the impacts so significant, we can’t afford to ignore the signs. The idea that we could be the one who makes our loved one’s sick, that we can be patient zero to another resurgence, or that we become victims to the worst symptoms of the disease all play on our minds. So. Why am I bringing up such a heavy topic? Well, because unfortunately today I have found myself sitting on the tip of the iceberg looking down.
Having lived in a hotel room or airport for over 8 days, I began to think my stuffy nose and sore throat were typical of the dry air and my classic hay fever acting up. However on day 6 of my hotel quarantine, I began to develop further symptoms similar to the classic cold - fatigue, congestion, dull headache and a sore throat. Getting unwell with a cold after travelling is a common occurrence. Living in the same environment for a whole week, coupled with jet lag, pent up stress and other factors could quite easily provide the answer. Cortisol is a powerful hormone and the impacts of its release can be significant. However, the consequences to ignoring such symptoms are no longer the same. Staying up late to complete an interview in a different time zone, my sleep became further broken, and I awoke to feeling not quite myself. Taking a hot/cold shower, drinking a cup of tea, and having a chat with the public health nurse on the phone seemed the only right course of action. Luckily my nurse has been constant throughout the week as I have touched base daily, so we have gotten to know each other well (we do share the same birthday week after all). Having monitored my progress I was referred to a GP who will get in touch with me about next steps and determine whether another COVID swab is necessary. Should I not have had the long layover in the Paris airport and read about the recent resurgence in France, then I may be feeling more confident about my current circumstance. However, reading the recent news updates has not bolstered my confidence.
Living in my own little bubble, I almost forgot why I was even here in the first place. Why disposable packages of food get dropped at the door and why cleaning staff are not permitted to enter. Why nurses call on me daily and why police routinely knock on my door to make sure I am complying with the quarantine. While I have not been blatantly ignorant of the situation, I have taken for granted the fact that I could be out in a mere 14 days. I don’t think that I fully contemplated before the possibility that I could become symptomatic, that I could test positive, and that I could be here for a whole lot longer than originally expected. I am sorry that this post has taken on a rather heavy and ominous tone, but it doesn’t seem right to sugar coat it. I mean, global pandemics aren’t really a light conversation topic are they? Not really dinner party dialogue. However, I am trying to keep a positive outlook and think not about what could be, but what is. Until this point, my family and I have kept well. If I am tested positive then I am in literally the best place for that to happen. I am in a safe, clean, comfortable and well managed quarantine facility where I will not be putting anyone else at risk. I mean, this is why the 14 days of mandatory quarantine has been implemented is it not? Time to recognize it for what it is and do what the doctor orders; whatever that is.