COVID-19 Diagnosis Was A Surprise

COVID-19 Diagnosis Was A Surprise

By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

I recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19 and wanted to share my experience.

Like so many people, I was surprised to be diagnosed with the disease, as I have strived for many months — most of the time, anyway — to strictly follow the CDC guidelines by wearing a mask and social distancing.

During the December holiday week, for instance, I canceled attending an outdoor dinner party.

But my sons and daughter-in-law were in town with my grandson, Bowie. I had missed seeing them. They were in touch, however, and we planned a New Year's Day lunch around the pool of my club. My 4-year-old grandson enjoyed jumping off the diving board, as he is a good swimmer.

The outdoor luncheon went smoothly with no signs of any illness. And a dinner with close friends was uneventful as well.

But soon after those events, my nose began running and I noticed a ringing in my ears. What was happening?

So I was off to the testing site to take a COVID test — and the verdict was positive. I was told to go home and stay there for at least 14 days, which is not easy, when you’re as active as I like to be. But the stakes were too high to not follow the rules. When one has COVID, I found, it’s very hard not to pass it on to those you love, especially if you live in the same household.

The first thing I did was to call my daughter-in-law and the friends with whom I had dined on New Year's Day. Fortunately, none of them picked up my virus. The best and most important thing to do in this pandemic is to protect others.

But where did I catch it? I soon learned that a household helper had the virus. Is that how it was passed on to me?

I have recovered, although I initially experienced a lingering lethargy as I worked to get my old spirit back. Bed rest, for me, turned out to be the key to my recovery.

And there was an odd bright spot to my quarantine. A great read kept me company for part of the time: Leonard Lauder’s new book, “The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty.”

Leonard has been a friend for many years, and I also was close to his late wife, Evelyn. I even went to their son William’s bar mitzvah celebration and my late wife, Suzanne, enjoyed the Lauders’ company on many occasions.

Evelyn was a superb hostess, and her dinner parties were filled with many people of the moment. She was the first hostess I encountered who served honey-crisp bacon as an appetizer.

Her interest in decorating was keen, and she had a great knack for choosing terrific fabrics. I recall her using a woven fabric with a forest-like garden design on the furnishings in her Fifth Avenue apartment in New York. The woven design became very popular in the design world of the 1980s and it remains so today. The fabric on her lounge chairs and sofa carried right into the greenery of Central Park outside the apartment.

Leonard’s book, by the way, is a must-read. It is history, in many ways. Like Leonard, I too remember the air-raid wardens of World War II (my dad was one). I enjoyed reading of Leonard’s love for his mom and dad and their kind ways.


  • Jane Dagmi on

    Carlton, so glad to hear that’s behind you. Yay.

  • Marie Ragan on

    Hurray for you and I share survivor status with regard to the Covid virus! Family and friends are so important to the recovery process! Now it’s on with planning shopping updates to my condo decor! Thanks for all your colorful design
    tips and newsy information. Stay well and happy! Marie Ragan 🎶😃

  • Pete Smeader on

    Hello Carlton, I worked at Grand Hotel as a teenager and for 12 seasons.
    Carla who used to look after the Grand Hotel in the village shop on Main Street told me about your recent bout with covid 19; I’m so glad you recovered and are well again as you are a wonderfully great inspiration to the world.
    I wish you many more healthy years and Thankyou for all the beauty you have brought to the world.

    Pete Smeader former Canadian Grand Hotel Mackinac Island employee

  • Mary Young on

    So happy you have recovered from your COVID-19 diagnosis. As I read your post I decided I was going to pick up the book by your long time friend Leonard Lauder from Barnes and Noble today. This year we are staying in the Carlton Varney Suite at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. 😃

  • Pam S McAlister on

    Dear Mr. Varney,
    Thank you for sharing your Covid 19 experience. Thank God you have recovered.
    It seems my friends who have had Covid 19 have all had a similar but different symptoms. One was so tired but no other issues. Another one had fever and sinus problems and they lost taste and smell.
    And yet, I know so many who have not been affected with the virus. Hopefully the vaccine will slow down the number of infections. I have had the first of the Moderna vaccine with no ill effects.
    I appreciate the review of the Lauder book. Sounds wonderful.
    Sincerely, Pam McAlister

Leave a comment