health

'I tested positive to COVID at Christmas. Here's exactly how we avoided my partner getting it.'

Three days before Christmas I got the dreaded text message from NSW Health: You have tested positive for COVID-19.

I was instantly in a state of shock. 

I had tested negative just 3 days before after being a casual contact at work. Everyone else who got tested was also negative, so I had let myself breathe a sigh of relief. I'd been laying very low and being very careful, anxious about making it to Christmas. 

I had only just let myself get excited about seeing my family. We have a pretty low key Christmas, but after a crappy year of lockdowns and a loss in the family, I was pretty keen to see out the year together.

A day after my first test, I got a very slight sore throat and a headache, and because it was so close to Christmas, and with case numbers rising in NSW, I figured I better get another test. My symptoms disappeared within a day or two and I felt totally fine. 

Things no one said in 2021. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

I figured I'd just be negative again, and I wasn't too worried.

But on the Wednesday night I got a text message with my result - positive. 

I had to read it about 5 times to register it. 

In a state of panic, I called my partner who was in the office working and told him he needed to come home. In disbelief and shock, he bought 2 rapid tests on the way back and tested negative on both of them.

The timing couldn't have been worse. I was just about to go on holidays from work for 3 weeks, and we had a few days off together over Christmas. 

Nothing like a holiday in isolation. 

I felt devastated. Sad, and defeated.

We quickly decided that because he had so far tested negative, that we would attempt to isolate separately in our apartment. He went to get a PCR test the following day, and until we knew the results of that we stayed in separate areas of the house. 

Knowing that PCR results were taking up to 5 days to come back, we set ourselves up for a socially distanced Christmas.

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Everyone was talking about how getting COVID was 'inevitable', but we figured if we followed the health advice, which recommended to isolate separately, that maybe he wouldn't have to get it too. 

At best, he would have to isolate as a close contact for 7 days, then at least he could go out and get supplies while I bunkered down for 10 days. 

Lily watching Emily in Paris with her dog, Sadie. Image: Supplied.

I was honestly baffled that the rapid tests had come back negative - we'd been sleeping in the same bed, kissing, hugging and sharing a water bottle just the day before. He either had a super immune system, or the vaccine was really working. Because I hadn't had many symptoms, it was also really hard to tell when I would have been infectious. So we eagerly awaited the PCR results. 

Luckily, we have a two-storey apartment, with our home office/spare room downstairs opening out onto our courtyard. The bedroom, kitchen, lounge room and bathroom are all upstairs. 

To minimize me having to visit communal areas, we decided I would stay downstairs. 

My partner got home and all I wanted to do was hug him, but instead we sat at either end of the stairwell and talked, overcome with emotion and exhaustion.

It felt strange and lonely to be so close, yet so far apart.

To avoid spreading COVID, we implemented the following:

  • We slept in separate areas of the house
  • I minimised time in any communal areas, only passing through if necessary and always wearing a mask when I did
  • When I went to the bathroom or showered, I wore a mask while walking there, and wiped down any surface I touched with disinfectant. (This got old very quickly... but I figured if it helped it was a small price to pay)
  • I didn't use the kitchen at all - my partner would do all the cooking and leave the food halfway down the stairwell, which I would pick up - and then we would sit at opposite ends and eat and chat

Christmas was around day 3 of our separate isolation. 

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Lily on Christmas Day. Image: Supplied.

We wrapped Christmas lights around the stairs, found a way to both watch the same movie at the same time (The Holiday, of course) and he cooked an amazing Christmas lunch. We danced to Christmas music, and had lots of calls and zooms with our families. 

It was strange, but filled with love all the same.

The weirdest part was, I still didn't feel sick. 

Tired - a little. But not sick otherwise. Over the next few days I napped a lot, mostly to try and pass the time. 

I am so grateful that I was mostly asymptomatic, and I was more than happy to stay in isolation to keep others safe, but it felt weird nonetheless. 

The other confusing part was the lack of information on what the heck you are meant to do. All the information I got was a text from NSW Health with a link to some generic information online, which was quickly becoming out of date as things were moving so fast with the rapid increase of cases.  

It was even harder to find information about what a housemate or partner was meant to do.

I didn't get a call, and after many emails and calls to the testing clinics and doctors I was advised to book a telehealth appointment. I am in the fortunate position that I could afford this - but for many this may not be an option.

Lily's text from NSW Health. Image: Supplied.

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The GP was great and was the first person who actually had information. NSW Health had just updated the advice that day that anyone 'low-risk' could 'self-manage COVID at home' - meaning you simply have to wait 10 days from your positive test, then you should recieve a text saying you are ok to leave if you haven't had symptoms for 72 hours. 

10 days in isolation it was. 

The days felt long and lonely, despite so many wonderful friends and family checking in. My partner and I tried to connect as much as we could, but it was hard and tiring when we couldn't physically be close. 

After about 5 days (I honestly lost count) my partner got his PCR test back which was also negative. We both did follow up rapid tests, and both tested negative on those too. 

This was such a massive sigh of relief. Socially distancing and isolating separately had obviously worked. He will continue to get more tests, as advised when you are a close contact, but with me testing negative now, I think we are through the thick of it. 

Now I am nearing the end of my 10 days of isolation, I've had a lot of time to reflect. A few things keep staying in my mind.

We are so incredibly lucky to have access to the vaccine. I have no doubt that this was a large contributing factor to my lack of symptoms. 

Getting COVID doesn't have to be inevitable. Follow the health advice - it's there for a reason. 

Social distancing, masks and sanitising WORK. Don't be complacent. 

Finally, while having COVID over Christmas really did suck, the kindness I experienced from friends, family and neighbours is something I will always remember.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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