We’re Still in a Pandemic

Brianna Albers avatar

by Brianna Albers |

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In terms of “things I was expecting,” my mom coming down with COVID-19 was not one of them.

The Albers family is notorious for doing too much at once. One of my caregivers often jokes that we’re the busiest people she knows. If we’re not renovating something, there’s a good chance we’re thinking about it. Our house is a labyrinth of unfinished projects and furniture on caddies, shuffled perpetually from one room to the next. Of course, we’ve been saying for years that things will settle down any time now — but it hasn’t happened yet.

So, when my mom fell under the weather, I assumed it was one of two things: a seasonal cold or the inevitable result of doing too much too fast. To put it in perspective, she had spent the previous week in a frantic rush, balancing to-do lists like a professionally trained juggler. Her body finally had enough. It made sense to me that after weeks of running on fumes, the adrenaline was wearing off, leaving her drained and achy. She would rest for a couple of days, and then she’d be right back at it.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when my dad broke the news.

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It was a perfectly average Tuesday afternoon. Rey was zonked on her cat tree, and I was engaged in my less-than-favorite pastime of putting words on the page. I was winding down for the day, so when my dad entered my room, I assumed he was there to discuss the pressing question of what was for dinner. But no. Instead, he collapsed on my bed with a little huff.

“So.”

I hate that word. “So” is loaded in our family, indicating the start of an undesirable conversation. I swallowed hard as my heart thumped in my ears. “So.”

“Your mom has COVID-19.”

It took a while to register. My mom? The woman who made me mac and cheese the night before, who danced in her seat to the “Gilmore Girls” theme song? COVID-19? The thing that threw the world into chaos last year?

“Oh,” I said eloquently.

He went on to say that, all things considered, my mom was OK. She wouldn’t be running a marathon anytime soon, but it was looking to be a mild case. She would quarantine in our basement while my dad ran to the store for a couple of COVID-19 tests.

To my credit, I didn’t freak out. Not at first, anyway. My dad left, and I stared at the wall, processing.

My mom. COVID-19. My mom.

By the time he returned, I was slightly more anxious. What if I had it? Or worse: What if my dad had it and I didn’t? Who would take care of me? I’d been feeling under the weather myself — an ickiness I chalked up to seasonal depression and a particularly nasty period. But what if it wasn’t?

What if it was COVID-19?

We swabbed my nose first. I asked Google to set a timer and waited impatiently for my results. You know my anxiety is bad when my tried-and-true distraction of video games barely makes a dent.

Finally, the timer went off. I held my breath as my dad looked at the swab. “Do you see a pink line?”

It felt like one of those cheesy pregnancy test commercials. I blinked at the swab, willing my eyes to focus, willing the world to be kind just this once.

A single blue line, with no pink in sight.

Dizzy with relief, I texted Mom the good news while Dad swabbed his nose. Twelve minutes later, we had our answer.

We were both negative.

I couldn’t believe it. I’m fully vaccinated, but it seemed impossible, given my living situation. My mom does everything from meal preparation to medication administration. It felt too good to be true. But there it was anyway: two blue lines, the answer to our out-of-nowhere prayers.

We still don’t know how my mom got it. She works from home, and is arguably more of a hermit than I am. Our working theory is that I gave it to her. My symptoms were consistent with a vaccine breakthrough infection — fatigue, mild headache, and a slightly elevated temperature.

All in all, it could be worse. My mom is well on her way to recovery. As I write this, my body is adjusting to my booster shot of the Moderna vaccine. The house is quiet and lonesome with a third of our family in quarantine, but my dad and I make do, usually with copious amounts of “Doctor Who.”

Our brush with COVID-19, while mild, served as a reminder: We’re still in a pandemic, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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