I was on my way to my last meeting of the day last week when my editor gave me the call.
“Hey, I’ve got some good news and bad news.”
The bad news was that I had been exposed to COVID-19. I had to go into quarantine immediately. The good news? I was able to work from home until I got my test results back. I went to the clinic the next day, got a swab up my nose, then went back home to play the waiting game. Five days later, I got my answer — negative.
It’s my second time being quarantined since the start of COVID. That first time, it was for a grand total of 11 days. That time, the pandemic had just been declared. The virus was still the “novel” coronavirus, I had been potentially exposed, and testing wasn’t readily available.
It was a scary time. But in those two weeks, no symptoms emerged. Worry gave way to boredom. Then boredom gave way to something out of the Overlook Hotel. It’s not fun, and by the time midnight came that 11th day, I immediately got out of the apartment and into my car. Everything was closed. Where could I go? Didn’t matter — I was free. And I was elated not to be sick.
Flash forward to nearly a year-and-a-half later, and things have gotten much better. We have an understanding of the virus and how to confront it. More importantly, there’s testing, so my time in the hole was cut in half. For those who haven’t found themselves in this predicament yet, I do have some advice.
Expect the unexpected. You may get the call notifying you of exposure at any time if you’re out in the world right now. Be sure your pantry is stocked. I say this from experience, as the first time I got quarantined, I had to head home right away, having been unable to buy groceries. I ran out quickly, but luckily, I did have a friend who took my money and did some shopping for me. That was a lucky break on my part. Second time around, a shorter wait and shelves that were already stocked made things much easier.
When you’re not working from home, focus on how to make your situation better. Now is the time to finish reading that book that’s been accumulating dust on the coffee table. And speaking of dust, this is the perfect time to get some cleaning done. These things do more than distract you from your potential infection and inevitable boredom — they bring some purpose and personal betterment. You’ll definitely be more satisfied with that than will with 12 hours of sleep and 12 hours of YouTube (something I admittedly did on a couple of those days).
A final bit of advice? Don’t panic. You’re (probably) going to be OK, and dwelling on it will only make the time pass slower. It's okay to be concerned, and even a little depressed, but don't let it dominate your thinking. Keep yourself occupied, keep yourself healthy, and you’ll make through your quarantine. I know. I’ve done it twice.