Both trying to avoid it, scrubbing it and putting alcohol in it to also end up in a hospital bed with the coronavirus circulating through my veins. But I am not afraid, nor am I scared for my health. I lived my healthy 28 years as a flu. And I am relieved that this mandatory quarantine has been decreed throughout the country because what did scare me, and still worries me, is the lack of awareness of the situation we are experiencing. I also understand that it is part of a logical adaptation process.
And I say logical because, when on Thursday March 12 I was preparing to leave my house in London to fly to Buenos Aires, and just began to talk about the quarantine for those who came from abroad, I did not measure the magnitude of this epidemic either and I was excited that the news had not yet named the UK as a country of risk. And maybe I wouldn’t miss the weddings I was traveling for and that I had been waiting for with so much emotion.
When I crossed the airport and got on the plane, I already sensed a little more the power and omnipresence of this virus than I had been reporting from the BBC myself, but that did not finish feeling like real or having to do with me.
Ever since I landed, I followed the orders of the national authorities, isolating myself completely and obsessively when I arrived at my family’s house, following the recommendations of professionals and international organizations. Within hours my body began to ache and my temperature rose, but since it was only 37 ° without any other symptoms, both those who treated me through official phones and from my medical coverage said that it was not enough to activate the protocol. of coronavirus and to call back if the fever rose. I tried to convince myself that it was all the fault of the stress of flying in the middle of a global pandemic and that it would pass.
The next day, with 38 °, discomfort throughout the body and having come from a country of risk, the protocol was finally activated in a private hospital in the Capital where they did all the check-ups: radiography, blood collection, swab. First they tested to see if it was one of the common viruses, those of the flu of each year, and when it was negative, the samples were sent to Malbrán that same night. I was hospitalized waiting for the results, as indicated by the protocol, which by then had been taking 48 hours.
With the fever already controlled, I began to feel myself crossed by the physicality of time (it sounds to me like I have studied it, but I never understood well that time is matter, until now), to try to pass it (kill it?) With virtual contacts, writing, watching some series and doing yoga, sure that sooner rather than later they would tell me that I had nothing and that I should continue the isolation at home, where my family had already started quarantining.
The minute by minute of the coronavirus today in Argentina and the world
Four days after that swab, I was on a video call with my mom and sister and the room phone rang: it was my doctor with positive coronavirus results. With them still on the screen, I had a feeling of total unreality, as if this was not happening to me, because this virus lived in the headlines of my screens, in WhatsApp videos in foreign languages, but now it also lived in my body . I decided to hold onto reality (I felt perfectly fine) and not concepts (pandemic, Italy, respirators).
This virus lived in the headlines of my screens, in WhatsApp videos in foreign languages, but now it also lived in my body
I have never been admitted to a hospital before, and less than less isolated in a room that can only enter doctors, nurses or cleaning staff. All covered from head to toe with cap, goggles, a chinstrap on top of the other, a plastic mask that covers from the forehead to the chin, nightgown and latex gloves.
Every time they enter, after completing the task they have come to do, they rinse the gloves with alcohol gel and throw them away, put more alcohol in gel and one by one they take off the protection elements and throw them in the garbage can inside the room, except for the large plastic mask, which is cleaned with gauze and alcohol. They go out and put gel alcohol back on, they tell me. Since everything that enters here can be contaminated, the food is served with disposable plates and cutlery. When you enter, take the opportunity to bring everything you need and thus reduce the probability of contagion. And because it must be a hassle to put on and take off all that costume all the time, I say.
Burden of guilt
This virus comes with a very guilty burden. To think, every time someone enters, please do not let this be the moment in which they spread. Or to get frustrated by the waste of resources: if they bring me a rivotril or a cookie that I will not consume, it must be thrown away.
We have at our disposal the obstacles to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and it is only staying in our houses
Ten days after the hospitalization, I find myself structuring the hours of my days so as not to go crazy, accompanied by the purring of the air filter that purifies a little a space where the windows are sealed and the door opens the minimum and indispensable. Hoping that the new swabs will come back negative or that the protocols will change and I can isolate myself at home. What comes before. I am infinitely grateful for the few face-to-face contacts I have per day and I know that I will never take the feeling of the wind on my face for granted.
I am not afraid of what this bug can do to me, I am only concerned that there are still deniers who refuse to understand what these ten days among doctors taught me: we have within our reach the obstacles to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and it is no more that staying in our houses, without buts. It is an unusual situation that has nothing to do with the life we knew until a couple of weeks ago. And adapting is going to require new ways of thinking and acting. Let’s try to live up to it. Let’s stay home.