I got sick, it’s not COVID, but I’m still too scared to go outside

What does being sick look like in the time of COVID? I’m just getting over a really a bad ear infection (who gets ear infections these days?) and I don’t think I have ever felt so self-conscious about being sick in public in my life. I went to see a doctor on Tuesday, as the infection spread into my sinuses and was making my nose run. The doctor told me I was not very contagious (unless someone got too close to comfort to my ear), but it still felt very surreal to be outside, sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose during a pandemic.

I kept my mask on during the day, even in indoor spaces and tried to sanitize my hands every time I got within an arm’s length of a person. It felt like I was not allowed to be in a world, where there is an unspoken understanding that only those who were healthy were welcome in public spaces. My husband wore a mask inside, too, as we watched tv after dinner.

Maybe this makes me a horrible person, but I have never felt so self-conscious about being in public spaces when sick. I skipped trivia, yoga, pilates, even when I already felt better, because I was scared of infecting others (or rather explaining that I was not thaat infectious despite the constant sneezes). A year ago I would have sucked it up and just tried to sneeze into my shoulder.

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