Every year, for as long as I can remember, I get sick in the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and winter break.

Usually it’s just a cold. Once I’m pretty sure it was the flu, although I never actually got a flu test. I had strep twice, and one particularly awful year, we all passed around a stomach bug. On this day five years ago, just to add some variety to the mix, I ended up at the Touro ER with a kidney stone. The timing never fails.

So I kept telling myself that I was probably going to get sick soon and that I needed to not completely flip out and assume I was dying of COVID when and if it happened.

That, obviously, didn’t work. On Thursday night, I felt even colder than usual (my husband and I do not see eye-to-eye on what an appropriate thermostat setting is) and, almost as an afterthought, decided to take my temperature. It was 100.2. And yes, I know that’s not technically a fever, but it’s certainly much higher than my usual 97ish range.

Despite my pre-emptive pep talks, I immediately became convinced I had COVID, despite the fact that I have gone nowhere, done nothing, and seen no one in the past nine months.

Friday, I got a drive-thru COVID test at the UNO Lakefront Arena (seamless process, truly) and then returned home to lie on the sofa Googling COVID horror stories and trying to discern whether the tightness in my chest was anxiety (as per usual) or a sign that I needed to call an ambulance. I ordered a pulse oximeter on Amazon. I made my husband bring me various things to eat so I could assess whether I still had my sense of taste and smell. I obsessively counted, again and again, how many days it had been since I’d last seen my dad and whether I could possibly have exposed him. (I took him to the doctor Monday and dropped off a prescription on Tuesday, but I didn’t see him Wednesday or Thursday, which made me feel somewhat better.) I texted one of my best friends, who is almost as neurotic as I am, and learned that she had taken a COVID test the day before I did.

We spent a few hours trading texts analyzing our symptoms. I had fever and body aches and a vaguely sore throat, but nothing more alarming. She thought she probably just had allergies.

Ultimately, we both tested negative. She probably did just have allergies. I probably had my normal December crud. I never thought I’d be so happy to spend a weekend “just normal sick” instead of COVID sick.

As she texted me after I got my results, “What a relief! At least now we can both go back to assuming we’re dying of other things!”

A vaccine can’t come soon enough!

Stay well, everyone!