Over the two-year course of this COVID-19 pandemic, I have taken extra steps to keep myself and my family safe. I’ve kept abreast of the latest medical advice and research. I’ve invested in N95 and KN95 masks. I’ve hauled around my HEPA air filter to places where proper ventilation would be hard to come by. Most importantly, whenever I’ve had the slightest concern that any health symptoms I’d been experiencing might have been COVID, I have gotten tested with Wake County’s free PCR COVID tests. Six times I’ve done this, and six times I received a relieving result of negative. Most recently, we were shipped a set of four COVID antigen tests free from the government, and a test using one of those turned up negative, too.
I kept my precautions up, thinking I had succeeded in avoiding an COVID infection. It turns out I may have been wrong and didn’t even know it.
Last week, I noticed that one of my right toes was a little stingy and looked bruised. I didn’t recall injuring it so I wondered if it might be the “COVID toes” I’d heard about. See, COVID patients reported sores on their toes (mainly. Fingers may be involved, too), and my toe looked suspiciously like this. COVID attacks the vascular system in addition to everything else it hits, and red toes can be a symptom. Around that time, I had an attack of my Reynaud’s Syndrome, with some of my fingers turning numb and white for over an hour. This red toe effect could also be caused by Reynaud’s (which is also a vascular disease), so I couldn’t say for sure what was what. Thus, I popped open the antigen test and 15 minutes later it told me I was COVID negative. Sure, an antigen test is not as accurate as a PCR test but this was at the height of my symptoms so I assumed if I was going to pop positive on anything it would be right at that moment. But, no, it was negative!
Over the weekend, I got to thinking about how my body reacted to the primary, secondary, and booster COVID vaccines I had gotten. Basically, I didn’t react at all! There were no noticeable side-effects whatsoever. I was thinking about this and deciding that perhaps my reaction to the actual virus would be a similar non-event. I decided to contact the VA to schedule a COVID antibody test, knowing that this might show whether I’d been exposed and didn’t know it.
I got the blood drawn this past Monday morning. The result came back the next day and, like I had started to suspect, it was positive. My body has SARS-COV-2 antibodies.
Now, experts caution that this does not necessarily mean I had been exposed to SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19), only that my body knows how to fight it. It could be that sometime in the past I’d been exposed to a similar coronavirus. However, I think it’s unlikely that it was anything other than one variant of COVID-19 or another. Most likely the omicron variant, the highly virulent one responsible for more than 95% of current infections.
Just knowing I have antibodies, though, is a huge weight off of my shoulders. And if I was infected, the odds are high that my wife, son, and possibly my daughter have also had it and didn’t know it. My son Travis has taken twice as many tests as I have and had them all come back negative. He was astonished to test negative one time after eating lunch in a closed car with his school buddies, many of whom tested positive. To me, that seems like evidence that Travis had already seen COVID and was immune. AT the time he credited his vaccines but there may be more to it than that. I think he feels better now, knowing that he, also, might have antibodies, though we still need to confirm this with a test.
I suppose if I had to get a positive COVID test result, this is the one to get. I’m glad I continued to protect folks outside of my bubble (and I will continue to do so), but with a teen in the home and one dropping in on a regular basis, it was inevitable that it was going to pass through at some point. Crazy that I never even knew it.