When I first told my work colleagues of my COVID positive, our Editor-in-Chief thought one thing: diary! I duly penned my first instalment, where things were going so well I wondered if I’d have much to say, and my second instalment, when things took a slight turn for the worse. As I now wrap things up, I think my first instinct was correct: there really wasn’t much to worry about, but it has still become an important message to deliver.
Days four through six were classic “I’ve got a cold” days – not much fun to be around and no doubt a bit pitiful, but by the end of the week I was on the mend and improving rapidly. By day eight I was basically fine, just a little tired.
As mentioned previously, the reaction of friends initially was very interesting (shock from anyone not in NSW or Victoria!) but it became more about an appreciation that when fully vaccinated the potential danger is dramatically reduced. We actually made the choice to post about our situation on social media as a means to spread the “positive vaccination experience” word.
The local hospital had had me completing a daily online questionnaire – as much to keep an eye on how I was going as it was to collect data. Every couple of days for the first week I’d get a call checking up on me. By the second week – with me answering “no” to everything – the calls stopped. Obviously many more than me that needed their attention.
I did find it interesting that as my isolation period came to its end, I wasn’t required to get a final test to prove I was negative. Simply walk out the door. I did get a call from VicHealth making sure that I had received my text allowing me to leave, and a friendly “welcome back to society” from the friendly nurse I spoke to!
My “release” also roughly coincided with the end of Melbourne’s lockdown and it made the experience even more surreal. Not only the joy of being able to leave the house, but also going out to dinner. Of course, that was also fascinating as it became our first time checking in on arrival at the restaurant and showing our digital fully vaccinated “pass” to enter.
An interesting footnote to the digital certificate issue is that Gawu (our foster daughter) had only had one dose of Pfizer when she caught COVID. While the official word from the Federal Department of Health is that you should still go ahead with your second dose post-COVID, Gawu was turned away from her second appointment, and told she has to get a vaccination exemption. This process hasn’t been straight forward, again highlighting the fact that much of the path forward is getting worked out along the way.
Still, from an overall experience I have to say that we have been very fortunate that we never got too sick, and being fully vaccinated has played its part in getting back to normal life.
Chuck Smeeton is Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Institution of Australia.
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