I am of that statistical group of older persons who have managed to avoid the Covid until this winter (of our discontent) (to quote Shakespeare badly) (a cold, wet winter plus sickness).
I caught the spiky virus while in Queenstown, where I was assisting some lovely women to oppose an alcohol licence for a new development over their garden fence, in Glenorchy. Because my client had just recovered from Covid, I never made it to Glenorchy, which was sad. So beautiful. My client and the applicant’s lawyers (two of them) had recent Covid diagnoses, and very few people left the courtroom uninfected that day.
That was Tuesday, and by Friday morning I was feeling, according to the immortal words of Jacinda Ardern, fairly average. The RAT test was negative in the morning, but positive at night. I registered online and got back lots of information about isolation periods and so on.
Saturday morning I received a phone call from my Doctor’s surgery, from an actual Doctor (not mine, but a colleague). I was shocked – I mean, when does a Doctor ring you to see how you are? He explained that because I had some health issues and some age issues, I was on death watch (oh well he didn’t really say that, did he?).
He informed me (which I knew) that I was eligible for the anti-viral drugs and would I like them? I told him that I had only mild symptoms so far and that, as I had heard the anti-virals had nasty side-effects, could I hold off for now. He said yes, I had a five day window to start taking them in and he would ring back on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to check up on me.
Which he did. Remarkable.
Up until this point, I had been wondering why our death rate from Covid was comparatively high in the Omicron era, and blaming it on high risk people not being reached in time by our (usually poor) primary health service. But if all high risk people are eligible for the same treatment as me, then a lack of good medical advice is not the issue.
I assume the government paid for this extra GP support and I found it excellent. In the end (apart from a perpetually blocked nose which keeps recurring) I got through Covid quickly, tiredly but with few symptoms. A cold rather than the flu. I did not die, even a little bit.
I feel uncomfortable that we know so little about the people who are dying of and with Covid. The standard response in the media is to refer to the age of victims, as if it is OK to have one’s life foreshortened if one is 60, 70 or 80. I hate that.
As a survivor, I am also now interested in how relatively mild Covid symptoms morph into serious and life-threatening pneumonias and other problems. Did my vaxx status (2 plus a booster) still protect me? (I assume no, looking at the literature). Was I just lucky? This weekend the 2000th person will die/ has died of or with Covid in New Zealand, and we know far too little about this.