Before I got Covid 19, a half marathon was the longest race I’ve ever done.
Quiet streets interrupted only by the siren doppler effect take on a whole new meaning when you come down with the fever. There is a bit of false flag deception built into this from the get-go with common symptoms of anxiety-attacks that painfully mirror real symptoms of the thing itself, but I knew, nonetheless, the weirdness I was experiencing and the stingy nerves was something abnormal. It was also something I used to pay good money for.
A. was basting a whole trout in olives and tomatoes and herbs and maybe I was just frightened at trying something new, bones face and fleshy cheek bones and all. It was late on Tuesday last week and we hadn’t eaten dinner, so maybe I was just hungry. I get kooky when I don’t eat. Just ask her. Slowly, one by one, the rule-outs began, leaving me with nothing but questions and a fever of 102.
The first night was a shroud of uncertainty and night sweats.
The next morning I noticed, after the fear spiked, was that there was a sense of peace that came over me in knowing. Knowing I probably got it, and there was nothing I can do to change that. The fear came much later. Days later. In between, there was the steady counterpoint of Derry Girls on Netflix and Zero zero zero on Amazon and a near constant pot of chicken soup fortified by home-made bone broth that A. made.
The triage nurse on the phone chuckled when we asked about self-isolating in a studio apartment and he confirmed what we already knew. We were both, more than likely, already exposed.
As a point of reference:
We were literally washing the things we bought from the store when I first noticed something was up. This was after seventeen days of staying at home and wearing gloves and masks before it was cool. A. and I were ahead of the dawn of awakening that finally penetrated our Great American Exceptionalism mainly due to A.s self-admitted paranoia and ours having relatives in Italy. We had a glimpse inside the time machine from the get-go. And none of that changed anything.
It’s amazing how many of my loved ones were medical experts when I trusted them with knowledge that I was sick. Everyone wanted me to get tested. As if it was an easy thing. The cold hard truth is due to the shortage because of the Federal Government’s incompetence and cruelty- public health mandates that only severe cases and essential workers can get one… with the only exception being celebrities.
I was a celebrity at one time – but only a minor one, so that doesn’t qualify me.
And speaking of truth…
A positive or negative test (or false negative / false positive – who the fuck knows -see earlier articles yadda-yadda-yadda ) doesn’t really change anything that can be done. I have a friend with a friend who works ICU at County and they keep their patients on fluids and make sure they stay on their stomachs and sides to stave off pneumonia that this thing likes to gift us after a few days. Before this all began, I was seventy percent water or so, now I am fairly certain I am water. And I pee a lot. I mean, a lot. When this is all over I’ll go get tested for antibodies, but for now it is rest and fluids. So please don’t leave links in the comments of what to do. You may, for the first time in your post-Google life not be an expert.
But there are a lot of mild to moderate cases / unconfirmed but suspected blah blah blah cases- like my own that need to follow a few things in order to stay out of the hospital and keep it from being clogged up for the inherently more critical. As the news states, a lot of young people ended up in the hospital, which I am not surprised by having now experienced it. The amount of rest and humility it demands for your body to have a singleness of purpose to defeat this fucker, and the sustained effort of nothingness is incongruous with what it means to the vigor of youth. But it will take you down if you do not lie down and stay down. Period.
And manage your fear. No joke. The hardest part is managing the fear. And knowing when to cry. Which I think must be the gift built into the DNA coding of this wee little fucker. A chance for all of us to lie down and do nothing and look at our own fear. For a week or two. Think of as a vacation. But a really shitty one.
If I may get like zen-light for a moment… I think having a mild case of the plague taught me even more about the nature of impermanence. That the ride of the fever rises and falls… That’s what it does. Like all things. It made me think of that thing I heard on my ten-day meditation retreat. From the teacher. Over and over again. “Everything rises and passes away.” Over and over and over again. And somehow I didn’t get it till now. Now, I directly experienced it. In between episodes of Love is Blind on Netflix and minor panic attacks.
This wee little fucker can teach you this and other lessons the hard way or the easy way. That’s entirely up to you and your willingness to stay down. Again, I’m speaking to anyone who isn’t in our most vulnerable population. Inflation, like all pain, teaches us to submit. But modern culture especially American, pipes us with messaging of the opposite. But I think what I’ve learned is that maybe we all should be like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke and just stay the fuck down.
Breath is life and this thing literally takes your breath away.
In the end, all I can say is … these times require all of us to be brave. And bravery enters only with fear. You can’t truly have one without the other. So anyone who says you can’t have faith and fear at the same time probably has never been frightened. And I believe this pivot point in humanity will bring us each in our own way to our very own private breaking point. And I say let it happen. It might come from the kids being brats with their homework under house arrest, or not being able to sleep because of an unnamed worry, or a friend being sick, or you being stuck in limbo, or not knowing if you are getting better or worse. If now is the time to go to the hospital or a time to practice box breathing. But it will happen. And it will happen for all of us on earth. And I say that is a good thing. The only thing. And I stand behind that one hundred percent.
A friend who is HIV positive and lived through the AIDS crisis and admits to being, ‘very good with criers,’ says, ‘he relaxed when he learned he got HIV.” I totally understood. In an era where the lived-in experience of how to ascend the mountain and get back down safely is limited, I was in need of a sherpa. And the sherpas come in all forms. In my case, a queen from Australia. That kind of fellowship helped relieve the strain this put on my own lady as she made various kinds of soup and tried to deal with me.
Having trench buddies helped me days in for the critical moment. See, this thing gives a false victory. It makes you think you are getting better, and you are, in fact, getting better, but that is exactly when it leaves lung problems behind in its wake. If you don’t stay down. The way back down the mountain, as any experienced mountaineer knows, is often where people get hurt. Because they are weary and filled with a sense of that false victory and think they know the way. So, if you get this, or someone you know gets this, please insist they do as my friend who practices Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and plays he flute suggests – stay down. For two weeks.
I don’t know how people do this alone. Or without some kind or blend of Ayurveda -Chinese medicine – Jewish penicillin diet. And A. jokes to being built for the post-apocalyptic end times, but my love and gratitude for her knows no limit. In a month or so of seclusion here in a small studio, we haven’t said a single cross word to each other. And laughed more than our share. And that is something indeed. The only thing.
I didn’t miss the junk mail in my inbox from how to clean my gutters and I can’t even begin to comprehend that my favorite song writer, and personal poet hero John Prine is dead and gone. All I can say at this point, and there will be more later I am sure, is that I feel our conversation needs to shift to not how do we not get this, but what we do when we, or someone within our we, gets this. It will happen. it’s already happening. And none of us can do it alone. Or in the words of my dearest love, “we are all in this together, but separately.”
With gratitude day by day for our personal grocery delivery angels, E and his father (and the tongue photos he interpreted) and the Chinese herbs and encouragement to stay calm amid it all.
PS In my humble opinion, traditional modern western medicine must bend an ear to five-thousand-year-old practices of boosting our chi and immunity when there is no cure. And maybe that is why the lack of critical cases in Korea is so low. I don’t know. But that is a topic for further discussion down the road. In the meantime, back to rest and The British Baking Show.