"My test results are positive...."

Uri Martins

Jan / 7 / 2021

This past year, we have all been living at some level of COVID alert. After the news in China and then the spread to Italy, we were all washing hands, wearing masks, elbow bumping, trying to keep our distance from each other and working from home. Everything eased up during summer and then the cold weather arrived and with it, our second wave. And I was careful. I followed the protocols, the rules, but this time I got infected.

Here is my story and experience on a personal level.

During the third week of December, it started with a headache and immediate fever. After a restless night, I went online to check the COVID checklist. My symptoms ticked several boxes, and I was instructed to go immediately to a COVID centre for a test confirmation.

A temporary building had been set up and being Swiss, it was thoroughly organised. I filled in another questionnaire and when it was my turn, the doctor and nurses tested me. It all took 15 minutes. I drove back home and within 20 minutes I had a phone message that confirmed I was COVID positive with orders to immediately isolate myself.

With Swiss precision, 10 minutes after that message, I received a call from a government official making sure that I had received the result and that I would be following the mandated orders. These included:

1. Immediately returning home and isolating myself for 10 days, with housemates or family, in my case with my girlfriend.

2. Opening the Swiss COVID App and entering a special 6-digit code that aims to track my location and in case I am out of my place, it will notify people that they have been exposed to covid.

3. Notifying everyone with whom I have had contact in the last 5 days.

The official told me that on day 10, someone would call back to check the evolution of my symptoms and determine whether I would receive an official confirmation to leave quarantine.

I can't deny it, even though I knew I could be positive, it was still shocking news. However, I stayed calm. I notified my girlfriend, my work and tried to organize myself in the best possible way, especially to find ways to receive food and possible medications. GTP were concerned and supportive and luckily no one there had contracted COVID.

The first day we decided to focus on staying positive, with good thoughts and collaborating about everything that was needed at home. We organised a loose routine that would allow us to do interesting and productive things while we recovered.

During the next days, the headache disappeared and on the third day my temperature returned to normal. However, I completely lost my sense of smell and could not taste food. This is very disconcerting. After 6 days I was thankfully able to smell the coffee again and start to taste the flavours of food. There was coughing during these days and I felt fatigued but eventually I felt much better. Although having felt awful, I had had a mild case of the virus compared to many other people.

During these days we had a good coexistence, from preparing healthy meals and each of us doing work from home. It was a time to do my online design course homework and study French and my girlfriend did her online specialisation work courses. Later we had hours of talks about ourselves and our stories, getting to know each other better. At night we cooked dinner together and some days we experimented with baking cakes, cooking pancakes and making ice cream (yes, successfully!). Apart from the fact of being aisolated, and that we had to have a forced Christmas at home, cancelling vacations, I can say that it was a very pleasant surprise to be able to live together under those circumstances and have a good time.

Just as the government official predicted, I received a call on day 10 asking me to complete another questionnaire about my symptoms. He suggested that we stay one more day at home and later we received the official confirmation that we were released from quarantine. Our first outing was almost surreal, walking in the Lavaux vineyards, breathing open fresh air and looking at the mountains on the other side of Lac Leman.

The entire experience made me reflect. I started to think a lot about what really matters in our days, about our freedom, and personally how much it makes me happy to ride my bike and to be able to go out to climb mountains or ride among vineyards and at the same time sharing those moments with friends or family. I thought about my family, the values they instilled in me and how much I would like to be able to see them in person. I started to think about how important it is to reconnect with the essence of the human being and with nature, to keep in mind that every day is a gift and a blessing to be here. Smiling every morning and falling in love with life, and every day giving our best to everything around us. It is time to get closer to each other, support each other, take care of each other, respect and live together as one society.