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2 pink lines.

Truth be told, it was only a matter of time.

After 21 months of masking, social distancing, and following safety protocols, we had the first COVID positive case in our home. It was a shock, considering the individual affected is fully vaccinated and has had NO symptoms. Still, in some way, it seemed inevitable.

Unlike the first go around and then the surprisingly potent delta wave, I only knew of positive cases from relatives overseas and our patient population. To receive a positive result from a family member was surreal. My first instinct was to hyperventilate and retreat into my bedcovers, but the moment passed, and I was back to my obsessive, overcompensating self.

Isolation. Exposure texts. Canceling events and sending emails to everyone in our work/event bubble. In a fit of paranoia, I even called up a contact we’d fleetingly met a week ago and looped them in. (Overkill maybe, but completely understandable in the middle of a freaking pandemic, am I right?)

And in the spirit of absolute transparency, let me say this. I found it uncomfortable but weirdly necessary to apologize to anyone who might have been in the respiratory vicinity of the affected family member. Most of my conversations began and ended with “I’m so very sorry,” because even though it was no one’s fault, I felt like someone needed to take the fall for it and, well… there I was. If you are one of those I called — once again, I’m sorry.

Our clinic is still seeing patients, so we had to get creative. After much planning and worrying, there was a consensus. We implemented over-the-top safety and handwashing measures to ensure that not a single viral molecule made its merry way from the homestead to the clinic. Swabbing one’s nose every morning has become as commonplace as getting that second cup of coffee. And we’ve been running through gloves, paper towels, masks, and hand sanitizers at such a fast clip Amazon can barely keep up with us. They might as well set up a warehouse across the street and toss packages at our clinic every morning.

Since then, the family member in question has tested negative on multiple occasions. Ditto for the rest of us. And thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, we haven’t really felt the sting of being infected. I consider us incredibly lucky to have access to vaccines and the privilege to choose health over harm. So many of our brethren have suffered painful illnesses, endless hospitalizations, and lonely deaths. That isn’t something I would wish on my worst enemy.

But this pandemic is here to stay. Epidemiologists predict that our future will see us coexisting with the virus until it becomes endemic and no scarier than the common cold. And while that seems like simplified fortune-telling, the road to peaceful cohabitation will be anything but. There are still those who refuse to mask or get vaccinated, and it’s terrifying to see how wilful they are in their ignorance. Heaven help us all because, clearly, we cannot expect the same from our fellow man.

21 months and many more to go.

Stay safe, dear reader.

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