Perhaps the best thing one can do in the face of such a grim global crisis is to have an infectiously positive outlook. Unfortunately last month I became positively infectious.
I had attended one of the many free antigen-test sites in Bratislava, where I live with my partner, Hanka, and our baby, in anticipation of a return to teaching in a classroom. My test location was inside a parked tram; buses, schools and sports centres have also been commandeered to provide tests for anyone who wants one. To my surprise, Mr Covid had found his way inside my nose. I had a feeling it would happen sooner or later, but I am still unsure how we met.
Regardless, I and my virus returned home to my family to break the news. Hanka was not too surprised – many of her family had already made Mr Covid’s acquaintance. Now it was our turn. We ordered our shopping from Tesco and waited for the symptoms to arrive.
Our sense of smell left us. I could no longer smell my son's pooey nappies. We could no longer taste food. Hanka began feeling tired and fatigued. I felt like I had a bad hangover
The next day our sense of smell left us. I could no longer smell my son’s pooey nappies. We could no longer taste food. Hanka began feeling tired and fatigued. I felt like I had a bad hangover. Young Michael was unfazed. As I went to sleep that night I felt my heart fluttering. Whether that was nerves or coronavirus working its magic on me, I don’t know.
Because the numbers are still up, schools are mostly closed. First and second grades are still going in. The possibility of an even harsher lockdown hangs over us. Two government ministers quit in the past week, and the prime minister of Slovakia, Igor Matovic, is posting furiously on Facebook. Vaccine rollout is slow, but Matovic recently raised a few eyebrows by unilaterally purchasing some Sputnik vaccines from Russia. I am unlikely to get the jab before the end of the summer, though.
It is vital that older students go back to school as soon as possible. My colleagues and I have noticed a wave of apathy descend on our classes, especially those with teenagers in them. Engagement is low. Many of the pupils have admitted hanging out in the group-chat platform Discord during class and playing Among Us with each other. How are we supposed to compete with an intergalactic whodunnit game?
As the week wore on I waited to start coughing. I did not. Hanka didn’t, either, but she was bedbound for two days. The worst part of last week was when our babóg developed a high temperature and a very runny nose. It was scary. We felt powerless. Visions of the Captain Trips virus from Stephen King’s The Stand, which wiped out 99.4 per cent of the human population, flashed in my head. I began looking up what Google had to say about infants getting Covid. I only scared myself further. This lasted for three days; then his fever, thankfully, broke.
We kept our infection relatively quiet. I have told only family and some close friends and colleagues. I was really touched by the support offered, by people saying they would do our shopping and so on. I must remember to pay it forward. I broached the idea of making a post about it on Facebook to herself, but Hanka thought it would be a bit embarrassing. (Don’t worry, she’s agreed to feature in this article.) I really don’t think embarrassment should come into it. Getting this thing isn’t a moral failing; it’s a function of biology.
After an iffy week I am no longer waking up feeling as if I had drunk a bottle of Jägermeister by myself. Hanka and I have our sense of smell back. Michael is himself once more. We will be quarantined for another week or so, but we seem to have cleared the hump – albeit with some lingering energy deficiencies. Others were not as lucky as us. Coronavirus has been claiming 100 lives a day here in Slovakia.
Here's hoping for a swifter rollout of that sweet anti-Covid juice. Be it Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Sputnik, in the words of The Simpsons' Barney Gumble, "Just hook it to my veins!"