It’s confession time. I pressed Andy hard not to travel to Alaska because of the delta variant gaining traction. I pleaded for him to skip this year to keep him safe. But the draw to Alaska proved too strong. He assured me that all of the people on his boat were fully vaccinated. He packed his bags, including quality masks, and I drove him to the airport.
Andy was excited to see his good friend from Colorado, Terry Hull. Terry brought a friend named Lance. The three of them shared a condo, bonding during in-room meals (before COVID they dined with other lodge guests). Andy and Terry introduced Lance to Sitka during their daily walks. A fourth man, Ted, who was traveling solo from Southern California, joined them on their private fishing boat every morning.
After a fabulous week, Andy returned home with a hundred pounds of fish including salmon, cod, and halibut. He was extra tired from the travel, his ears plugged up during the flight and wouldn’t clear, and he had a stuffy nose. We both thought he’d be fine after a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, my greatest fear came true. Andy felt worse. His blood pressure was low and he had an irregular heartbeat. After losing his sense of smell and taste, our daughter brought over two rapid COVID test kits. Andy tested positive; I was negative. We called our physician who ordered a formal COVID test, saying the rapid ones are sometimes unreliable. We got the same results.
Andy isolated himself in the master suite, which has its own bathroom and outside door. I quarantined in the rest of the house, sanitizing it from top to bottom. I slept in the guest room. Instacart and I became reacquainted. Thank goodness for Blue Apron. I served meals to him on the patio; I ate inside. We chatted outside wearing masks, keeping six feet apart. We said our goodnights through closed doors. Every day he improved a little more.
On August 22, Andy gets his regular life back if he remains asymptomatic. The County Health Department has advised me to stay quarantined for ten more days since there’s a chance Andy can still infect me. COVID is nothing to mess with. It’s a cruel, hungry monster who prowls for victims, including vaccinated Alaskan fishermen. We know that Terry and Ted tested negative but Lance tested positive. The contamination source remains unknown.
There are days when I wonder if the pandemic will ever end, given the fact that only 49% of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. That number must grow exponentially or we’ll never conquer this monster. New variants will continue to emerge.
I will admit to having some dark hours during this COVID scare. Besides caring for my husband, I had to cancel back-to-school lunch dates with my granddaughters and a three-day girlfriend getaway to Half Moon Bay. Just as my pity party reached a new level, a dear friend sent an email that offered a much-needed perspective.
“At this point in our lives,” Uday wrote, “there are only a few, very few, things that we are passionate about. And it is important to do them, otherwise, it would be a dull life. When I learned that Andy had made reservations for next year's trip, I silently applauded him. All of us are concerned about Covid 19 but we cannot stop living. Vaccinations have allowed us to take reasonable risks.”
Uday worried his words might upset me, given how fervently I tried to block Andy’s trip. The truth is I’ve made peace with the fact that Andy took a calculated risk to do something he loves. He did everything within his power to stay safe. Thanks to the vaccine (a medical miracle), his symptoms were mild and temporary. You can bet the two of us will be first in line to take that booster shot so he can return to his happy place in 2022.