This is a story about how my days leading up to Christmas fulfilled every worst possible scenario.
This December is so much different from my last one, just like this whole year has been. My blogging made a peak last year when besides spending every weekend in a different country I also did a new article every day for a whole week. That level of productivity still astonishes me.
Let’s reminiscence of those good old days that feels like forever ago with my Natalia’s December- 4 weekends= 4 states to remember what we used to do before 2020 hit.
This year I can barely manage to write anything at all and here is why.
Surely most of the population was gifted with extra time on their hands this year but not me. As an essential health care worker, my every other thought is preoccupied with covid, and Christmas time was no exception.
Remember back in March when we thought we would be done by summer? Yep.
So here we are. December 2020 and honestly I’m so done with everyone having an opinion on everything.
As I explained before- every time someone in our pharmacy tests positive for covid, the rest of us have to have a test as well.
Considering everything from the first contact and incubation period, we get tested on around the fifth day from positive contact.
2020 being 2020 and doing the most 2020 thing of all, surprised us once more this bloody year with a fucking perfect timing.
7 days before Christmas another colleague of mine tested positive.
We are a group of young girls from all around Czechia and Slovakia in our pharmacy and naturally, we all wanted to travel home for Christmas.
Crossing the borders home comes with so many rules and restrictions that are changing so much and so freaking often it’s impossible to keep up.
I swear they release new restrictions before you finish reading the previous restriction decree.
I knew I would have to get tested before visiting my family and I accepted that. It would cost me a shit ton of money to travel just to my hometown but fuck it, I haven’t been home in 5 months and I firmly believe I deserve peaceful holidays too. I did my share to the society by working my ass off this year.
But what I did not expect was that there would be an actual possibility of testing positive so close to Christmas and spending yet another holiday alone, just like I did on Easter – What an odd Easter this is.
Waiting 5 days for the test was hell.
I prepared so many plans of “what if…” and I even convinced my family to get tested as well.
I don’t want to infect them and I’m getting my nose wiped to keep them safe for an unholy amount of money so it’s only fair they would care about my health as well. (they have the tests for free so it really costs them only an unpleasant experience). They weren’t happy about it even though they all tested negative but did it for my sake.
I’ve been tested so many times before but I have never been as nervous as I was before this one.
This test was the only one that actually mattered because I wanted to see my family.
My friends and family tried so hard to find some sort of loophole in the rules to get me home without the test or to get a cheaper antigen test clearly missing the point.
I didn’t want to get tested to obey some government rules but I was scared to death of actually infecting my closed ones.
So the bad news came in Friday but our contact with said colleague was a few days earlier so we had to get tested Monday. I myself got an exception and I could get tested Tuesday morning because I had a train tickets on Wednesday and if you want to cross borders between our 2 countries you have to have a covid test maximum of 72 hours old. Christmas was Thursday. I know it’s a mess.
I haven’t been this stressed for so long now.
For a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, I tried extra hard to be even more careful than before.
I met only my colleagues, disinfected everything constantly and I was extra harsh on patients coming in with face masks under their noses. I just wanted to go home and I wouldn’t let anyone ruin that for me.
So on Monday, my colleagues got tested.
We were all feeling fine and we were not in much contact with the positive colleague so we were pretty positive of our negative results.
But of course, things could get even worse.
The results came in. Most of the colleagues were negative but one tested positive and our hearts collectively broke.
The negative results of the rest of the colleagues meant shit.
So what if you tested negative from your first exposure to the virus when you got the second dose from another colleague the next day and therefore you have to consider a new incubation period.
So you’re right where you started but now it’s 2 days till Christmas.
What do you do?
Gonna see your grandmum even if you might be positive?
There are so many Christmas movies with the same cheesy theme- being with your family on Christmas and the struggle of not being alone for the holiday.
And that’s what it always was for me- a cheesy movie.
I always spend Christmas with my family, it was sort of given and I didn’t see the big deal about it.
But as this privilege was stripped from me and there was a good chance I’ll spend this Christmas all alone I started to see this cheesy movie in a whole different light. I was not ready for that. I just wanted to go home.
But don’t worry the story of how everything got so much worse is only starting.
The next day I got tested myself for the 5th time and it was a pretty basic one. I had a time reservation so I just came in and filled out the registration and got done with it in like 5 minutes.
I must say that I have never had an unpleasant health care worker performing the test. They are all such lovely people.
The lady performing the test asked me if this was my first time. I replied it was my fifth and her colleague laughed and said: “Well you could basically do it yourself at this point right?” and he’s totally right with his joke.
This was Tuesday morning.
The test results should arrive in 48 hours but the last time I got mine in 7hours from the same hospital.
I was relying on much earlier results than the 24 hours as I got a ticket home on Wednesday evening.
The waiting was horrible. I could barely eat and I was wide awake the whole night just refreshing my email and checking the spam and just praying I would get the result asap. I was in a bad shape both physically and mentally from the anticipation.
The morning of my train ride home came and I still didn’t know if I was positive or not.
Then the text message came but not with the result, but something much worse.
Another colleague of mine was feeling sick, feverish, and with whole-body pain even though she tested negative.
My heart sank even deeper.
It meant shit got real.
We had several cases before when no one got sick from one positive colleague but we had cases in the pharmacy when 10 people got infected from one positive person and even ended up in hospital.
We could be sure that we were not the lucky ones again. It was getting very serious.
Before my results came in another text message came in that fucked me even deeper.
One colleague of mine who’s also from Slovakia but traveled home a few days earlier send us a very unpleasant message.
She was positive as well.
What’s the most bizarre about this is that she came home with a negative covid test (needed for crossing the borders), got tested again when our colleague tested positive just to make sure and her results were negative once again.
But then 2 days later when she was supposed to come back to Prague she was positive. It was exactly 7 days from meeting the first positive colleague.
That was a real low blow cuz it meant that the incubation period could be much longer than those 5 days we counted on.
And I still didn’t have any results.
It was just my awesome luck again that kept pilling up.
It happened to me before that they simply forgot to send me my results so this time I took the matter to my own hands. I emailed the hospital where I got my tests and humbly asked for my results.
A couple of hours later I had it on my phone: NEGATIVE.
It was a bittersweet relief.
I’m negative in the moment but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna get positive in few days.
You know that the safest thing I could do was to stay home in Prague alone and not risking the health of my family.
So I tried to tell that to my parents, that my not coming back home for Christmas is the right thing to do and the hell went loose.
My mum took high offense that I don’t want to come home, it was unacceptable, I don’t know what I’m talking about and whatever happens happens. I was told it would be safer to be positive at home with a family that could take care of me than in my apartment all alone.
So the safe option was dismissed and to maintain the peace in our family I took the train home.
I had my negative result with me and never took my respirator off for the whole crushingly long 13-hour ride home.
I’ve been home for 2 days now and we did have an amazing Christmas together. The cruel possibility of missing it out this year made me appreciate it so much more.
Today is the fifth day of my second exposure and I need to get tested.
But in this lovely Christmas time, the testing points in my hometown or nearby cities are closed.
But luckily we had a rapid antigen test from a blood sample at home as my mum is also a healthcare worker like me so we did it ourselves.
The reliability is not as high as with the PCR test but it’s still better than nothing. Plus this one is gonna show you the possible presence of antibodies, meaning you already had covid – which I didn’t.
Once again I tested negative for the sixth time.
It either means these quick tests are shit or I have one hell of an immune system and the vitamins I’m taking are doing wonders.
I’m still not completely sure I’m not dangerous so I’m keeping the contact to the minimum and I’m gonna get tested again as soon as they open up the testing points again.