I guess the “year from hell” would not be complete for me if it didn’t include the one thing I worked diligently for just over 10 months to avoid: COVID-19. The novel coronavirus decided to take up residence in my and my partner’s bodies as the year was coming to a close, though I suspect I might have had symptoms a day or two before my partner did. The confirmation came while I was preparing Christmas dinner.

I was mincing fresh garlic to rub on the turkey breast I was going to cook. Normally when I am doing this, the kitchen is infused with the aroma of garlic, and my fingers maintain the odor far longer than I would like. But this time as I smashed the last clove, I realized I couldn’t smell it.

I had been having what I thought was my typical seasonal allergy bout, but no amount of congestion has ever masked the smell of fresh garlic. As I began sautéing onions for the dressing, I again noted that there was absolutely no heady aroma.

I mentioned this to my partner who had already become worried about my sniffling and coughing, and we both promptly went online and made appointments to get tested for COVID. He drew an earlier appointment than mine, and so I drove him to the CVS location doing the testing.

In just a few hours, we got a call from the pharmacy: He had tested positive. Knowing that, I cancelled mine for the next day. There was no doubt that I had it as well.

What seemed unique, though, was the fact that I never ran a fever, and neither did my partner. We checked our temperature morning and night, before and after the test results. His went up a tad but never reached what could be called a fever. Mine stayed the same old slightly-under normal it always is. So it seems that fever is not the canary in the coal mine as has been touted. Just because you aren’t running a fever doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus.

There is a lot about this disease we don’t know, so better safe than sorry.

Christmas day was uneventful, except that I felt overwhelmingly fatigued. I spent most of the day cooking and napping. All that was missing was watching football. That night I slept 10 hours — a record for someone like me who rises with the dawn, no matter how late I stayed out the night before.

We both called all our friends and relatives and gave them the news, though both of us had no plans to get together with anyone for the holidays. We were following the CDC guidelines pretty closely. My hands are dry and chapped from all the washing and hand sanitizer, and I have been beyond stir crazy as I worked from home on most days and always stayed away from others and wore my mask religiously.

What I have learned as I have experienced this disease first-hand is that it is not exactly as advertised in the media. For me and my partner, it has been very mild — mainly a persistent cough, a little shortness of breath and feeling much like being hit by a truck. I did have chills one night — but no fever!

What treatment did I get? Well, I did not rush to the emergency room since I understand very well that hospitals are far too overwhelmed to deal with someone with what is, so far, a mild case of COVID. My physician checked in on me once they got my phone message (Remember: It was Christmas Day). They basically told me to drink liquids, rest and take vitamin supplements.

I was already on low-dose aspirin and blood thinners for another condition, and early reports say those things aid in recovery from COVID. Lucky me! Also, because I am asthmatic, I already take an inhaled steroid, and that might actually be keeping me from getting worse.

As I continue to recover, I find I feel compelled to warn people that the loosey-goosey measures some people are taking might not be enough to assure you don’t pick up this malady. Wear a mask whenever you go out in public. Stay socially distanced (eight feet is my new standard). Stay away from groups and crowds. If possible, stay home.

Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. Try not to touch your face. If you have to meet with someone, do it over Zoom or some other online service.

Yes, I did all of that, and I still slipped up somewhere. I probably got over-confident or just let my guard down. The point is, it only takes one little mistake and BINGO! Except this thing has no winners.

Not everyone ends up in the ER or on a ventilator, but going through this mild case so far, I can assure you it is no picnic, and I want it to be over!

May 2021 bring not just the vaccine that beats this disease, but common sense to everyone until that vaccine reaches enough people to provide the much heralded “herd immunity.” I wish you and yours the best going forward.

And oh yes, I also wish Donald Trump will stay in Mar-a-Lago and never tweet again!

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.