A reaction that surprised me

Something happened to me yesterday that I was not prepared for.  In fact, I was taken aback by.

Let me tell you what happened.

As you know, I have had the Covid-19 virus, having contracted it some 8 days ago.  As you also know, I have been without symptoms for days.   And you may know that the CDC two days ago revised its guidance regarding isolation, shortening the time period for those who have had the virus from 10 days to 5 days.

Given this information, I, for the first time, yesterday ventured out into the real world once again. I played some pickleball in the morning, and felt great.  Came back to my abode, showered, and made my classic go-to lunch — peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread!

I did some work, read a little and then got in my Jeep Liberty for the 20 minute drive to my haircut appointment.  I was really looking forward to the haircut, since my hair has gotten a little long and unruly.  I was also looking forward to it because it would be a chance to reconnect with my hair stylist whom I have been going to for over a decade, and whom I really like.  My appointment set for 4:30pm, her last in what had been a long day for her.

Needless to say, I walked into the shop with my mask on, as required in all indoor spaces regardless of your vaccination status.  I said hi, and sat down in the chair to get my haircut.  I asked her how she is doing.

Asked how I am, I responded that I am really good, thank you.  I tell her that I had the virus.

WHOA!  OMG!  She gasps.  She immediately stops in her tracks.  She is visible shaken.  She is frightened.  OMG.  She moves away from me.  She moves out of the cutting room into the hall.  She is flabbergasted.

She asks me in a loud voice “Neil, you have the virus!”  “Oh my God!”  and she repeats herself.  “Neil, you have the virus!”  then she says, “What are you doing here?”

I am so taken aback. I am sitting in the salon’s chair, mask on, waiting for her to put the black robe around me.  She is really panicked.  She is really shaken.

I explain to her that I am fine.  I am on day 7, I tell her.  I have no symptoms.  The CDC has changed the isolation period to 5 days.  It is not transmissible after 3 days.  No reason to worry, I say.

All of which has no impact whatsoever.  No, siree.  She is really panicked. And she is standing outside the door to the room where she does my haircuts, some 10 feet away from me.  She is talking in a loud enough voice so that other stylists can hear her.  She is looking for some support from others on the floor of the salon.   She, in short, sees me as a pariah.

And I am someone she knows well.  We are close.  We have talked about a lot in our lives over the years. We both recently attended a celebration of life event for a close mutual friend.  This is not someone I just met.

And yet, she wants nothing to do with me right now.  She does not want to get close to me.  She is shook.

Holy cow!  Seeing her so upset, and seeing that my comments are not helping one bit, I make the decision that I should leave.  I get up, and with plenty of room to spare, mask still on, gingerly walk out of the salon.  I say to myself, what just happened?????????????

Driving back home I am so worried about her that I call her on my cell phone.  She picks up and I say I am so sorry that I frightened her.  I tell that I would never do anything that jeopardizes her safety or health.  I repeat all the information I recited to her twice in the salon.

She said, “Neil, I cannot afford to get the virus.”  She thanked me for the call, but she is still really shaken up.

So, that is what happened yesterday – my first day out of isolation.

What really hurts about this are two things.  One, obviously I do not want to panic anyone. I do not want to unnecessarily get anyone in a state of panic.  The thought that I did this to her pains me.

What also hurts about this is that the thing that I want most after being in isolation for 7 days is a hug.  This was not a hug.

Based on this experience, I have decided that I will not voluntarily tell people going forward that I had the virus.  If someone asks me, of course I will tell them.  but I am not going to disclose it unless I am asked.  People are panicked over the virus.  Even though I am the safest person to be around right now, my guess, based on this experience, is that many people don’t see it that way.

When I say I am the safest person to be around, I need to qualify that statement based upon what I have learned today.  Let me explain.

The real answer as to whether I am safe to be around (i.e., cannot transmit the virus) lies in getting tested again and coming up negative.  However, the medical community knows that for the next 30-60 days most tests given to people who have had the virus will show up positive, that some grams of the virus still exist in our bodies.  This does not necessarily mean that you are transmitting the virus.  Eisenhower Hospital in Palm Desert CA, for example, a stellar medical institution, refuses to give PRT or any other covid test to its patients that have had the virus, just for this reason.

I presume that this is part of the reason why the recent CDC guidance to change the isolation period from 10 days to 5 days does not include a requirement to be tested and show a negative result.

So, the current reality is that most everyone who has had the Omicron variant of the virus ceases to be able to transmit after three days, so say most health officials.  That is why the CDC is saying 5 days, assuming that you have no symptoms for the last two days.

However, most everyone does not mean all.  The current reality is also that some people who had the virus continue to be able to transmit it beyond day 3 and beyond 10 days.

And the sad thing about this is that there is no way to prove to your loved ones, your friends, or anyone that you come into contact with that you cannot transmit the virus, even though you have had it.

In the end, we are all making decisions each day about whom we spend time with, whom we socialize with, whom we eat with whether they are vaccinated or not, boosted or not, or have had the virus or not.  In all cases, we are taking some risk that the virus will be transmitted to us.

Bottom line, I am going to have to live with my long and unruly hair for a little longer, I guess.  And I can do that.



6 thoughts on “A reaction that surprised me”

  1. She over reacted…who knows of she ever gets over it…she never had a client with covid?? that seeems to be unreal, seeing as to what her profession is……..go to another barber,

  2. I cancelled a phoyo shoot for New Years eve…the virus is rampant here..Last week 21 Saints were out with the virus.. they had a rookie QB..now this week a lot if them can play again..
    They arent allowed to play with covid.. Maybe get a real test somewhere that you can show to folks that says negative..

    hair dressers are weird..they get so close to you..I go to a barber because I cannot stand salons.. it would not seem weird to me that your hairdresser or barber reacted in that manner..i would be a little pissed off.. at her..that she thought you would give her covid.. my barber is a woman.. she’s real good at cutting hair… she gets all puffed up about it.. you are dealing with someones ego, so keep that in mind..

  3. I am sorry you had to deal with that reaction. The reality is she probably has been exposed many times before by people who had it and didn’t tell her or that did not know they had it. You don’t need to apologize. Enjoy your time out of isolation! Happy New Year ?

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