A few weeks ago I tested positive for Covid 19.
Noah had a runny nose, but when a temperature was added to the mix I thought we’d better be safe and test, especially with school on the horizon.
The test and waiting period
I called Healthbay Clinic in Al Wasl Rd, and booked in for a PCR for Noah. While we were in the clinic, I decided to test myself too.
The test cost us AED 370, plus a mandatory consultation fee of AED 180. (I did have an opinion on this later to the team as I felt that a bit excessive, particularly for every member of the family. The feedback was really well received. Testing fees were later amended all over.) What I loved about my communication was that the feedback was listened to, and going forward I dealt with a lovely lady called Myriam who attended to all my calls and emails.
Testing: Noah and I were lead into an isolation room, greeted briefly by the Doctor, and a nurse was in to take both tests. Noah’s test was an oral swab of the back of his throat, and mine a ‘brain rake’ through the nostril. He did really well, my eyes watered and my 3 year old wiped them away – I can only assume it was due to my lack of shiny sticker incentive.
We cancelled that afternoon’s plans, and headed home, with little thought to the potential of a positive test result.
The following morning, I woke up to an sms about Noah’s test result being negative and a few hours later received mine – name, Emirates ID number followed by the result of the test performed as POSITIVE.
Not at all a plan I had in mind for the following two weeks.
Surprisingly, apart from a brief call from the consulting Dr, I had no communication from any other medical authority with instructions, follow up, or any form of proposed contact tracing. This, I felt, was also something of concern that I highlighted to the team at the clinic. In the last few weeks this has changed, and relevant departments actively engage with positive cases, managing contact tracing and supporting with information and health checks.
As Andrew, our nanny and Noah (because he couldn’t stay with me) raced to line up tests, I sat still a little surprised by it all, and started planning for the two possible outcomes:
1) That only I am positive and would need to isolate alone or,
2) That more than one of us is and then the house becomes a group isolation zone.
As the household emptied en route for their tests, I did a mildly frantic scan of the rooms (now with gloves and a mask on) to think about all the things I would need in a room during a 14 day isolation. All a little surreal at this stage. Turns out it was option 1, just me.
We decided that our main bedroom would be best or me to spend my 14 days of isolation – it had space, natural light, a balcony over the garden and the room least likely for me to feel too claustrophobic in. I grabbed chargers, laptop, some snacks, water bottles, vitamins, masks, gloves and a mini phone tripod to watch Netflix on.
Before leaving, Andrew packed up all the things he would need from the room – including a wardrobe for the following fortnight.
The first few days were tough, Noah didn’t quite understand why I didn’t come out if the room and why he wasn’t allowed in. It also took a few days to get used to having meals and snacks left at the door. As I spent more time in there, we figured out bits and pieces along the way that I needed delivered to the door. These were things like dishwashing liquid, a steamer, vapor rub and plastic bags to get any unwanted items out of the room. I had plenty of Dettol disinfectant spray, toilet cleaner and general household cleaner to tidy every few days. Not quite the idea of ‘me time’ you aim for as a toddler mum.
The days passed really slowly at first. It was very tough hearing Noah get upset, or playing around the house and not being able to rush out and cuddle him. He still wakes during the night and a few nights would come to my door (which I’d locked expecting that), and try to open it while crying out for me – that was really difficult! Heart wrenching in fact. I’m not a very heavy sleeper so any movement or sound made woke me, and there was nothing I could do.
I found myself quite anxious on the first few days, unsettled and doing silly things like showering 3 times a day to pass time.
Of course, I had a ton of things on my to-do list but it took me about 7 days to settle into being productive.
Noah adapted really well. He spent his days playing with his train set, coloring and playing with his dad. We told him that I had lots of germs all over, and after a few days they will all be gone and I can come out and play. Every day he’d ask if I still had germs.
Some afternoons I’d stand on the balcony overlooking Noah and Andrew playing in the backyard… it’s the simplest things you miss.
My friends and family were amazing. Andrew was juggling things very well, and took great care of me. Of course we had our little fights, and it was all based on pockets of frustration on both ends. At one stage our nanny had a cold, and he was managing house, child and meals for everyone. I even got mid morning fruit platters, snacks and protein bars and the highlight were the impromptu teas! I received food deliveries, pamper kits sent over, snacks and treats and so many special little things sent by loved ones. And even had help from Lucy and Zain to get Noah’s school uniform. I appreciated every message, every phone and zoom call and most of all my little chats I had with Noah from my door. I’m so grateful for my Dubai family!
He’d worked out a little system:
A little knock at my door, to which I’d reply: ‘Yesss?’
‘It’s Noah. I want to talk to you. I’m going down the stairs.’
He’d walk downstairs and shout, ‘I’m downstairs’
I would then pop my head out of my door and we’d chat about his day. He set up a little camp, and spent part of each day there watching his shows, playing with his toys and chatting away.
The Iso Menu
I tried to keep any food requests as simple as possible.
Breakfast was honey on toast with a banana and cup of coffee
Andrew would do a fruit platter, with another cuppa either mid morning or mid afternoon.
Lunch almost every day was our favorite – Oakberry Acai with berries, kiwi, banana, peanut butter and cocoa nibs (yum!)
Dinners varied from delicious dishes cooked by family, to drop offs and deliveries sent by friends, to my husband’s specialty meals. Needless to say, any healthy eating was left well and truly outside the Marty household.
How did I feel?
After about 4 days in isolation, I did develop a slight cough and a little tightening in my chest. If that had happened outside of Covid times, I wouldn’t have given it much thought.
I lost all smell and taste for the first 6 days – the strangest experience I’ve had in a long time.
And, I was tired! Very tired.
We re-tested everyone in the house after 8 days – mainly to make sure that the negatives were still negative, and not within any incubation period. And this is something I would suggest anyone do – if negative, make sure you’re still negative after 5-7 days, particularly if you don’t feel well. The virus is quite sneaky, and you can test negative if you test too early to initially being infected. We did this at home, and I remained isolated. The home service was kindly arrange by Le Royal Meridien who were INCREDIBLE throughout my time in isolation. I was at the property prior to testing positive, and notified them as part of my contact tracing. Apart from establishing my movements around the hotel and all the admin, their director of health and safety, Craig, checked in me regularly and offered great support throughout. Honestly super grateful for that!
On day 13 I booked my end of isolation test and left the house for the first time – gloved, masked and without touching any surface. I returned from my test straight back into the room. Testing after completing a period of isolation isn’t always required, but with school and for peace of mind, I wanted to know.
In my last two days in isolation, I did a pretty heavy clean of the space each day. We are required by government regulation to get external sanitization of the home and I did so with Champions Cleaners who were easy and efficient with their service. I booked it in for day 14, and did another clean of the room before they arrived – stripping linen, moving everything in the room, throwing away anything on surfaces like a toothbrush, soap bar etc. I used Dettol surface spray on all my cosmetic bottles, scrubbed floor to wall myself to make sure it was done properly, and vacuum cleaned (and Dettol sprayed again every surface) once more. (Don’t forget things like chargers, plugs, switches etc)
If possible, don’t touch anything you don’t need to during the first 7-10 days at a minimum. Pack away anything not needed on counters or dressers, and limit your cosmetic usage etc to avoid having anything contaminated. I threw away my toothbrush and anything that spent the week out and may have been contaminated. I was probably a bit OTT, but when I’m in a spring cleaning mood, it’s always extreme!
Here’s a quick guide to what I found most useful while in isolation…
Here’s what I watched in ISO… (No judgements!)
Mental health, stigma’s and perceptions
I was pretty open about having Covid-19, especially to anyone that I spoke to, work colleagues or people that reached out. There is no reason not to be. I think it’s important to understand that our bodies handle the virus differently, and similarly so do various groups of people. I found if you’re reasonable in yourself, follow the right protocol for contact tracing etc and are honest in your day to day living about how you’re feeling and getting tested, then you’ve done all you can.
It is also not always possible to isolate with small children, especially living away from family and support, but if you can it is the best thing to do to avoid putting the rest of the household at risk. Regular contact leaves them open to infection, and I wasn’t wanting to keep testing Noah either. So the tough route was the best. He was VERY good about his tests, and was calm and still through both nose and throat swabs.
This virus has disrupted the entire world, but it shouldn’t be the end of yours. You shouldn’t feel ashamed, or embarrassed if you do test positive, and remember that you could have contracted it absolutely anywhere. Similarly, try to respect how others handle their condition, privacy and overall management. Be responsible about notifying people you have been in contact with, follow the isolation and quarantine guidelines in your country, and take good care of yourself. Notify your healthcare professionals if your condition worsens and protect your family by staying away. If you haven’t or already have had the virus, you know the stress of isolation. Remind friends and family to wear a mask, wash hands, sanitize and most importantly to get tested when feeling ill, or after contact with any suspected case.
We can all do our bit to prevent the spread of the virus, and contribute to a safer world where we can travel, see loved ones and experience life the way we want to. This is only temporary. Remember to remain kind through it all.