I woke up coughing on Monday and was immediately filled with a sense of dread. The previous day, I’d received a text to let me know that a friend I’d seen had tested positive for Omicron and there was a chance I had it too. I did a lateral flow test there and then which came up negative, but I was still uneasy.
When I tested again in the morning, I saw the two red lines on the lateral flow test and knew my Christmas was cancelled.
I only returned to the UK last week following two months in America with my boyfriend, Luciano. We are in a long-distance relationship, and it had been seven very long and difficult months since we had last seen each other due to travel restrictions. When we finally reunited in November, I was already nervous about leaving again but desperate to spend Christmas with my family this year as I had been in the US the previous two years.
I left my boyfriend to return to England reluctantly but also excited by the thought of being at home, seeing my friends and most of all, having a home-cooked Christmas lunch with my family. I always help with the cooking and decorating the table is my job too, which I love.
The very first time I left the house after the mandatory two-day isolation and negative PCR test was when I contracted Omicron. I was at a small, socially distanced concert where everyone had to present a negative test to get in, and everyone was seated and wearing masks. Yet it still got through.
I still have my sense of taste, which is essential to my job as a food blogger and I start at chef school in January too so I am very grateful for that. I was already at home for Christmas and thankfully my parents have no symptoms, although I am checking on them by text and they are testing daily. They are both triple vaccinated which puts my mind hugely at ease.
At mealtimes my mum brings me trays of food to my room, and these ‘takeaways’ are the highlight of my day! I’m trying to make the best of things by playing a game of ‘rate my tray’ with my Instagram followers to keep me from being sad about what I’m missing out on.
I know I’ll be OK as I’m fit and healthy, but I’m anxious that I might have put someone else at risk before I knew I had contracted Covid. My sadness at missing Christmas is nothing compared to how I would feel if I ruined it for anyone else (or worse) and this variant is spreading like wildfire.
I had my booster vaccine dose on Sunday morning when I had no symptoms and didn’t know I’d been exposed, and I keep thinking about the lovely NHS nurse who gave me my jab. We were chatting about how cold it was and how she didn’t have a jumper to wear, I joked about lending her my scarf for the rest of her shift. I really hope she’s ok.
I’ll be isolating in my room until New Year’s Eve, and then I’ll start 2022 on a better note. My biggest takeaway from all this (other than the trays of dinner from my mum) are that in the season of giving and good will, the best gift we can give is to keep each other safe.