My son is the musician in the family, but I’m working on a blues song to describe a recent experience: ‘Stuck in Norway with Covid‘.
Yep, that’s me. It was my first business trip in 2 1/2 years, and somehow, even though I’m vaccinated and boosted and was masked on the flights, I contracted enough coronavirus germs to turn the test strip darker than the control strip.
Backing up a little, the first week of my trip, I was in Scotland, and it was great. I shared a little about it in the posts below. There will be more!
I flew from Edinburgh to Oslo on Sunday. I thought I was getting a cold. We’ve had quite a few of those this winter, and they’ve never been COVID.
When I arrived in the Oslo airport, I was dragging my suitcases with flagging energy and dripping and coughing inside my mask, feeling like this cold had come on very suddenly and was getting flu-like. I knew I had to take a test when I saw a sign. I didn’t want to be a super-spreader.
So that’s the genesis of that song I could write: ‘Stuck in Norway with COVID.’ I had to hole up in the airport hotel until I could either get a negative test or a doctor to declare me fit to fly / that I had recovered and was no longer contagious.
But I’m wasn’t really singing the blues, my friends, because it could have been so much worse. I am so very grateful to have had those vaccinations that conjured enough antibodies within me so that my illness at its worst was like the flu, not something that would kill me.
I’m so very grateful that I was in a place with running water, climate control, a coffee / tea pot, and room service. The food was very good, and I never lost my taste or smell – or my appetite.
My room had a big bed with soft pillows, which is great since I spent 75% of the time sleeping. There was some strange art on the wall above it, though. I’m still trying to figure out if there was some cosmic message for me in that image of the woman swinging from the storm cloud.
There was a window that looked out toward the airport and I could see and hear planes, sending their signal that the world is continuing to move, which is reassuring even though I was stationary.
I had devices and chargers and multiple ways to stay connected with the people who care about me, whether they were colleagues just miles from my airport hotel in Norway, or across one or more big bodies of water.
I had audio books to keep me company when I couldn’t sleep or was too fuzzy-headed to work and or read something on my iPad.
And finally, to the point of this little story, I had a care package.
This package was a heavy paper sack with handles, filled with enough goodies to be a little heavy, delivered by my boss less than 24 hours after I told him the negative news that I was Covid-positive. He and his wife must have had experience with this, because it was awesome.
It had medicine: paracetamol, ibuprofen and cough syrup. The cough syrup actually tasted good, although before this, I wouldn’t have believed that was possible. Norwegian cough syrup is the BOMB.
It had vitamin D tablets.
It had a thermometer, COVID tests and blessedly, a boatload of tissues.
It had a big jar of orange juice and a box of plump, juicy blueberries.
It had a massive box of caramel-filled chocolates.
The care package was partially the result of my answer to my boss’ question, “do you need anything”; I had asked for a thermometer, because among other things, you must be at least 1-day fever-free to mix with the population after testing positive, cough syrup because I was coughing so much that I scared myself, and fiber-reducing meds because I thought I would run out of my small travel supply.
Everything else was thoughtfully added in consideration of what I might need, and, I suspect, what might make me feel better more than just physically.
That experience has me reflecting on the impact a care package can have on a person who’s not well. I haven’t been sick much in my life and haven’t been the recipient of many care packages, so this was a new thing.
A care package sends the signal illustrated by its name: we care about you.
Its contents send the same signal, each with their own message. Unpack that paper bag with me, and you’ll see what I mean.
- The medicine was practical. It does what it’s supposed to do, and when there’s plenty, you don’t feel like you have to ration it. That’s a good thing when you have no way to acquire it yourself.
- The COVID tests and thermometer were also practical. I didn’t think to ask for tests, but it was a great add. I could stay on top of my status without having to venture over to the airport across the street to take their free test and wait for the results. And knowing when my temperature started being normal was also very helpful.
- The tissues were beyond practical. They were obviously added through personal experience with COVID. When you are overwhelmed by the amount of mucus and phlegm your body can produce (who knew?????), there cannot be too many tissues. I tore through the whole box the hotel provided in the first 2 hours I was in that room, and was reliant on TP until the care package came the next day. Tissues are soooooo much nicer. It’s the little things.
- But now we move into the really restorative items. The juice and the berries, OMG, how delightful. The brightness of something fresh and tart really help with the fatigue and brain fog, and there’s just something so cheering about fresh fruit and juice. Every time I felt a little confused (like when I had to look up the word for mucus, because I could only think of the word ‘snot’), I took a big swig of the OJ. I swear it cleared my head.
- The vitamin D tablets were super-thoughtful, because, unbeknownst to me, people with vitamin D deficiencies are more susceptible to severe cases of COVID. Vitamin D can help boost your immunity, especially with regard to ‘viral pathogens that attack the respiratory system’ (according to my online research). So those tablets weren’t just helping then, they were preventative care for the coming days. And, who has enough vitamin D in the winter when it’s dark half the time? I should have been taking vitamin D before my ‘Stuck in Norway with COVID’ experience.
- Finally, the chocolates. They were what propelled me into this long reflection about care packages and the message they send. Those caramel-filled treats don’t really have anything to do with getting or staying healthy – or do they? I’ve realized that the care package is really there for the whole person, mind and body, and that something a little frivolous like a caramel-filled chocolate confection is a mood-lifter. Here’s how that happened for me: I was sitting at the desk looking at notes from a meeting and thinking about writing a report that needed to be created. My mind was drifting and I wasn’t getting it done. I was frustrated with my inability to focus. I saw the chocolates on the desk and decided to take a break. I bit into one of them and it was instant gratification – the sweet chocolate and the slightly salty, very gooey caramel inside. I crammed it into my mouth, most unladylike (hey, I was all alone there!) and still got caramel all over my fingers, most notably on my wedding ring. This made me laugh out loud, because it was like I’d reverted to toddler eating habits, and for some reason, the spell of frustration was broken. I was back to being a reasonably smart, reasonably effective person is a slightly strange situation, and I gave myself permission to be less than strong.
I didn’t get a photo before I tore into the package, but here are some of the contents, strewn across the desk.
I’m going to remember the effect that care package had on me the next time someone I know needs a little TLC.
I thanked my boss profusely, of course.
So, this post is the only version of ‘Stuck in Norway with COVID’ I’m going to write, and it’s not a blues tune, but rather a hymn of gratitude. I’ve been home for over a week now, and am so very grateful: for the care package, that my COVID case was no worse than a bad flu, that my colleagues were all so solicitous, that I didn’t infect any of them I interacted with in Scotland, and that I’m back home and feeling good.
Wishing you all well!
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