Columnist

Beth Dolinar has been writing her column about life, both hers and the rest of ours, for over 20 years. When not on the page, she produces Emmy-winning documentaries, teaches writing to university students, and enjoys her two growing children.

It was during a phone call with my boss that the text came in.

“Positive,” it said, the word highlighted in red, just so I’d pay attention, I guess.

I was positive for COVID-19, most likely the omicron variant that’s been hanging around the last few weeks. The news came as no surprise; it just affirmed what I’d suspected since the first weekend of 2022.

New Year’s Day I woke with a runny nose, then came a dry cough that kept me up part of that night and annoyed me for the next two days. As someone with a normally reptilian body temperature, the 98.6 reading on the thermometer made me wonder if that qualified as a fever. If so, it wasn’t much of one and within an hour it was back down to the mid 97s. I had no body aches and no headache, but I did feel a bit nauseous for that first day.

While waiting two days for my test appointment, I looked for other signs of infection. I’d go out to the kitchen to open the coffee jar and take a whiff to make sure my olfactory parts were still working. They were, as were my taste buds.

By Tuesday, the cough was gone, and except for a bit of a runny nose, I was back to normal. I kept my test appointment, though, driving to a shopping center parking lot to join the throngs as we gathered under tents and swabbed our own noses.

The results came in less than 24 hours. And I knew.

Now, to retrace my steps. In the week before my symptoms started, I’d had only three people in my house: two friends on separate days, and my son the day before he flew home to Los Angeles. The friends went for tests immediately; my son has been tested every day for his job. All were negative and remain so.

So where’d I get it?

Who knows.

I’d been to a grocery store exactly two times, masked as always. Otherwise I’ve been at home – working a lot, reading some, knitting some and finishing a thousand-piece puzzle. Smoothie and I have been taking a daily walk through the neighborhood, unmasked but passing no human being, not even one.

You could drive yourself batty trying to figure out how the virus got in, and even where it may have gotten back out. I’ve decided there’s no telling. The virus is everywhere.

“Just how sick were you,” a friend asked. I told her that if I’d had a film shoot, I’d have canceled, even if we weren’t in COVID-19 times. But I didn’t have to stay in bed all day, didn’t call the doctor and never had breathing problems. It was like a bad cold.

But it was unpleasant and worrisome. I am thankful for the science of vaccines, for without that protection I’ve no doubt I would have been more sick for longer.

I rarely dip into controversy or politics in this column, because others are better at those topics than I am. Instead I write about life, and COVID-19 is part of all our lives. It was part of mine. Some days I still feel it when I get tired more easily that usual. But that’s getting better every day.

Doctors are now saying we’re all likely to be exposed to the virus eventually. Having joined the millions of people who took precautions and still got sick, I can say the omicron virus is doable. I had three fairly miserable days, but only three.

For that, I thank science.

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