IT finally got me. I have managed to avoid it for three years. I thought I was immune. But you know what they say; pride comes before a fall.
And I was very proud of myself. I had got through the COVID pandemic unscathed. Despite continuing to go to work during the early stages of the outbreak, despite my immediate family contracting it and despite going to several events with large groups of people in recent months, I had never contracted COVID; until now!
It was a shock. I refused to believe it. I thought it was nothing more than a slight cold. But after a couple of days of feeling a bit rough I gave in and took a test. Sure enough it was positive.
I am pretty certain I know where I got it. I had recently hosted an award ceremony for a major company and spent the evening with more than a hundred people.
There was a lot of hand shaking and a lot of close contact for the obligatory selfies. It was just like the old days ‘BC – Before COVID’.
Many of us, me included, have let our guard down. It’s understandable in many ways.
Most of us have been vaccinated – several times over – and the virus is rarely mentioned in the news.
It’s almost as if it never existed, which is quite astonishing when you think back to how much of a devastating effect it had on our lives.
But as I can sadly confirm it is still lurking, ready to catch another unsuspecting victim. The funny thing is I wasn’t totally complacent about it.
On the way to the award ceremony I did think about the risk of being in the same room as lots of other people.
Before I got out of the car I used some hand sanitister, but it clearly wasn’t enough to protect me.
I have been very lucky. The symptoms have been relatively mild.
In fact, I was so certain it wasn’t COVID that for a few days I carried on as normal even though I was feeling a bit under the weather.
I cut the grass, including strimming the edges, a job I dislike at the best of times let alone when I was feeling poorly. But my philosophy has always been to push through illness.
I rarely took anytime off sick during my career. I was fortunate that I was never that ill, even on the days I had a cold I continued to go in.
I still get told off by my wife for that, she says I risked spreading it.
But I hated letting anyone down by missing a shift. Daft isn’t it? I was never thanked for struggling into work when I really should have been at home resting.
My recent brush with COVID did force me to miss a shift at work. If I didn’t know that I had the virus I’d have probably gone in, but once I’d done the test I knew the responsible thing to do was to stay away.
Isolating turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought. In an effort to protect my family I stayed in just one room and ate separately. The first day drove me up the wall.
You’d think sitting around with nothing to do would be the easiest thing in the world. When I am busy I am usually craving time to just sit down and read or watch a film.
The moment I was forced to stop I couldn’t settle down and relax at all.
I was pacing the room, looking out of the window. Switched the TV on but couldn’t decide what to watch so switched it off again.
I did finally read for a while, but the enforced isolation was not the restful experience I thought it would be.
However, the boredom was a minor inconvenience and the time gave me the opportunity to reflect on the horrific effect COVID had on so many families.
I recalled the stories I covered on BBC Spotlight during the early days of the pandemic.
I had the grim task each evening of reading out the mounting number of people who had died.
There was a risk of it just sounding like another statistic and I was very conscious that the figures represented real people. Their families could be watching and their loved one wasn’t just a number.
The irony is that while I was sitting in my own little world of isolation contemplating this, a news alert pinged on my phone.
At the very moment I was suffering from COVID for the first time, the World Health Organisation declared the virus no longer represents a global health emergency.
I may have left it until it no longer represents a serious threat and I have largely managed to shake it off now, but it’s more than two weeks since I contracted it and I still have one annoying side effect; I can’t taste or smell anything.
It was the one symptom that made me take a test. The loss of taste and smell had crept up on me, but when it finally dawned on me it was suddenly very noticeable.
Like so much in life these are things we take for granted.
Being able to savour the taste of food is one of the great joys in life. I had never considered what it would be like to lose that.
It is slowly coming back. I have just had a cup of coffee and I think I can taste it, although it’s hard to know for sure, perhaps my mind is playing tricks.
I am craving a pasty and getting the full flavour experience, that’s when I will know that I have finally conquered COVID.
If you’ve been struck down with it recently I hope you are on the mend.
If you’ve managed to avoid it, long may that be the case.
But as my recent experience has taught me, it can catch up with you when you least expect it. Take care!
Bye for now.