Monday, September 26, 2022

After recovering from Omicron, what comes next is complicated

Toronto musician Joe Dent contracted Delta Edition in July of 2021 and Omicron Edition in December. Her symptoms were mild and she has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Christmas arrived three weeks late for the family of Rachel Vigliatore. Held on 16 January, the immediate “doing Christmas again” was crucial: Ms Vigliatore and her husband had recently emerged from isolation after contracting COVID-19 in December. She was also accompanied by several relatives who had come out of isolation after the infection, as well as nieces and nephews, including Ms Vigliatore’s parents and vaccinated daughters.

After testing everyone rapidly, the healthy family sat down to a four-course dinner, followed by the opening of panettones and gifts for dessert.

“This year we took precautions out the window and thought nothing more could happen,” said Ms. Vigliatore, a 41-year-old high school teacher in Pickering, Ont., whose family had skipped Christmas in 2020 because of the pandemic. “It’s great to be together again and to see the pure happiness on the faces of our kids and their parents.”

This winter, a growing number of vaccinated Canadians on the other hand after a bout with Omicron are now weighing complex questions about how to live. After fearing a COVID-19 infection for so long, some who recover after mild symptoms experience a calm, unexpected feeling of relief: The danger is temporarily over. For others, the immuno-cocktail of vaccinations, boosters and recent infections creates the illusion of invincibility. Some of them are lucky enough to describe mental relief followed by mild symptoms. After nearly two years of crisis and non-stop calculating his risks, he calmed down for a moment.

Experiencing this kind of relief after recovering from COVID-19 is thorny: The disease causes so much damage to the body, and many people are seriously ill. Importantly, many unknowns remain around immunity after infection. Immunologists and infectious disease experts believe that vaccination with a COVID-19 infection may offer an increased level of immunity over existing forms. But it’s not clear how powerful immunity really is after infection, how long it lasts or how widely it varies from person to person.

People who have not fully recovered after contracting Omicron are apprehensive about the future, unsure of their risks for transmission, re-infection and incurable long-term covid. What will happen next is not clear, they are living in increments.

COVID-19 was never far from the minds of Ms Vigliatore and her family as their Christmas again. They exchanged stories about symptoms and expressed their gratitude for their vaccinations and good health after recovering. “Shall I say I felt completely relieved? No, but I thought we were a little bit safe,” Ms Vigliatore said.

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Post O’Micron Christmas was an allowance borne by her family members themselves, she said, after more than two years of family time following public health guidelines. She and her husband, who is also a teacher, have again greatly limited their contacts after returning to work in their schools.

“Our family event, it was easy for us to file [COVID-19] Away because nothing bad happened to us,” Ms. Vigliatore said. “No one ended up in the hospital or on oxygen. No one is affected. In a family with a different experience this conversation would have been very different.”

For those who have resumed their lives after a COVID-19 infection, “the feeling is complex and mixed,” said Jonathan Stee, a clinical psychologist and adjunct assistant professor of psychology at the University of Calgary.

“Some people may feel a sense of liberation, anger, confusion, surprise, excitement, constant anxiety, and … a combination of such emotions,” Dr. Stee said. “There’s no right way to feel.”

Double vaccinated, Dent got COVID-19 twice, first last June and again a week before Christmas, possibly with Omicron. Each time the 26-year-old felt relieved, recovering from mild symptoms.

“Both times I loved it because it was over and I felt like I didn’t have to worry about it,” said Toronto musician and part-time restaurant server Mr. Dent. Protest in the city amid restrictions

Although Mr Dent continues to follow public health guidelines, some of his fears have subsided. “It’s just a load off your mind. Even just on a streetcar and someone is coughing in three seats, I feel like I’ll be more stressed about it if I don’t already have it.” .

He observed that his postmicron status had put friends to rest: “Even other people who don’t have it are more receptive to hanging out because they’re not worried I’ll spread it,” he said. said.

Mr Dent plans to travel to Costa Rica with his father and brother in a few weeks, a trip he would be more concerned about if he had not already contracted the virus. Still, he plans to get his booster shot before the trip as an added layer of protection. “Never Say Never. I Could Still Be Sick.”

While Dr. Stey acknowledged that people have been burned by the crisis and longing for normalcy, he urged those who have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic to find ways to appreciate the temporary relief of anxiety, without taking unnecessary risks. Have recovered since 19.

“Both vaccination and recovery from COVID-19 is not a license to be careless,” said Dr. Stey said, a national initiative that works with independent scientists, health care experts and other thinkers to combat misinformation about COVID-19. global pandemic.

Dr Stey recognized that recovery is prime time for gratitude, perspective-taking, and closer reflection on the pandemic’s toll. He urged balance, not complacency, for those who have come through it: “We need to be careful that we are not out of the woods.”

While some people who recover remain hyper-vigilant, others view their recovery as an opportunity to enjoy small liberties. These are minor tasks: going to the grocery store after months of online shopping, hugging another friend and breaking out of isolation, letting kids play with their recently recovered classmates.

Some who have made it the other way around feel more confident going to work, feeling that their risk of infection is momentarily reduced.

Missing her bakery shift is not an option for Kulwant Chauhan, who became the sole breadwinner for her family in Brampton, Ont., after losing her husband to a heart attack three years ago. And so the 42-year-old is taking extreme precautions during the pandemic, avoiding gatherings and thoroughly sanitizing before returning home to her children, aged 10 and 15, and mother, 63.

In November, 2020, at a time when vaccines were not being administered in Canada, Ms Chouhan contracted COVID-19. She recovered after experiencing mild symptoms and was relieved of the notion that she might have limited immunity following infection. She felt even more excited after receiving both vaccines.

As the Omicron edition hits the ground running across the country this winter, she’s under stress again: Her work involves interacting with customers every day. On December 23, while her family was out, Ms Chouhan again tested positive for COVID-19. She remained in isolation for five days until her mild symptoms subsided.

Now fully recovered and back to work, Ms. Chauhan feels comforted by the caution.

“I don’t want to be sad because I know many people who have lost loved ones. But I am grateful that my body can handle being infected twice,” she said. “I’m so relieved. I don’t have the luxury of working from home. Being a little sick for a few days was a small price to be able to go to work without feeling crazy.”

Others who have recovered from COVID-19 say they are reminded of what life was like before the pandemic.

After contracting the virus in December, Jeffrey Doucet, a 30-year-old software entrepreneur from Toronto, had a migraine lasting three days. Nevertheless, Mr. Doucet, who is single and lives alone, felt that the period of isolation was worse than his physical symptoms; Double vaccination, he recovered quickly.

Mr Doucet was dismayed to emerge from his isolation in the closed city amid a tidal wave of Omicron cases. “These are all people who have recovered and they can’t do anything,” Mr Doucet lamented about the closed restaurants and bars. “But I understand how the rules work.”

After recovering, Mr Doucet decided to take a business trip to Orlando – a move he may not have considered before getting the virus, pointing to Florida’s astronomically high case count.

“I would be lying if I said I was not really enjoying it,” Mr Doucet said of his visit. “Granted, that’s not an endorsement of how Florida has managed it over the past two years. But right now, this time, after the recovery, it’s comforting. That’s how life should feel.”

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