I wore a mask.
My customers usually wore a mask.
When I went out places, some wore a mask.
I never get sick, had no flu in decades. But I still wore mine or distanced.
Then, 12 days ago I got sick. I couldn’t smell anything. My appetite disappeared. So weird. Then, congestion came and gave me a wicked cough with a painful chest.
The irrational fatigue began to set in. After three days, I could barely stay awake. I would be talking with someone on the phone and feel myself drifting. Or I’d be watching TV and wake up an hour later. It was 11 a.m.
Then the coughing became so bad it made me dry heave into whatever was nearby. Bags. Cups. Amazon boxes. Sometimes in the middle of the night. It never satisfied the body that nothing came out. The coughing wouldn’t let me breathe deep enough to recover. It was like being underwater. I had to mentally tell myself “calm down. Breathe in slow, don’t panic…” It was like I had asthma. It usually worked till I could get some tea or a throat lozenge.
Random fevers came and went like spam calls on a weekend. 102, then 98. 102.3 then 97. 103.4 showed once, so I reran it… 101.4. Whew. Now I could tell my mom the better one. Just a fluke. They were there and gone. It was 2:30 am.
But my head hurt. I never take medication for anything but started maxing my Tylenol daily intake. 4,000mg, wishing for more. I’ve never done this before. It’s like your head is floating.
On day four I took a shower, thinking it would help to feel clean. It took me twice as long, and when I was done I collapsed on my bed for half an hour and laid there wiped out. It took everything out of me.
All this time i was slowly losing a grip on taking care of the Corgi. Either he’d be locked in his crate as I slept too long, or I’d fall asleep with him out and he’d pee in the house. I couldn’t keep up, so we finally found him a farm kennel. (Thank you, Tracy)
For three days, I could barely breathe as I rested, sometimes at my worst I was afraid to get too tired, so I was trying hard to stay awake at night. Afraid to engage the mind, or fall asleep, I would just stare into the wall. Counting how long I could stretch my breath without coughing.
For a couple of the days, I shook so badly with chills, under three covers, that I once bit down on my finger because I was afraid to break my front teeth. It was 5 a.m. and the sun coming up told me I couldn’t lay toward the windows. Flipping was such a chore. #?%!¥$!
Through the mail my mom sent, and strictly requested, pulse oximeter readings every time I was awake. This didn’t help either of our stress, with it floating between 89-91, before settling on 91-93%.
Then the uncontrolled chills turned into ridiculous sweating, with no covers and the AC blasting. My arm was leaving wet shapes behind on the couch where I sat. My FOREARM was drenched. I started laying on towels. They got soaked too.
I forgot to mention the underlying feeling of nausea, day after day after day… making it not only unappetizing to eat anything but impossible, even if I could find the energy. You get so sick of it. I did have some chicken soup. (Thank you again, Tracy) It was the only thing I could enjoy, although I couldn’t taste much. Just the saltiness.
I think it was 3 pm on Monday when I finally got most of a muffin down as “dinner.” The sense of cloudy confusion they call “COVID brain,” makes everything run together, every response slower, every sound louder, and ruins whatever you’re binging on TV cuz you’re two or three lines behind. So I started watching simple stuff like Happy Days and I Love Lucy, because it was engaging, but didn’t require too much. I felt dumb.
Days 5-7 were the worst, but hardly the last, as my body wasn’t done and seemed determined to kick my rear end just a little harder. I had trouble getting to the bathroom on time. The most demeaning part of any sickness left me sitting on a toilet for so long I’d wake up leaning against the wall. I’d stumble back to the recliner so I could get up again quickly if I had to, but had to run back before I even got there. When is this gonna stop?!
I did laundry almost every day. Every time I went for another one it wiped me out and left me out of breath. From walking across the house. Everything felt like a workout.
Finally, on day nine I slept for two 3-hour segments. It felt amazing. Relatively speaking. My smell had come back, so I poured a bowl of Raisin Bran, just to find out something was still wrong – it tasted like garbage. I preferred when I couldn’t taste it at all, then I could finish it. But I had a peach. Then another. And even though it tasted like pure cinnamon combined with metal, I ate some applesauce. The saltines were like salty sawdust. Gross. This virus was really messing with weird things.
Today, I made it upstairs for the first time in a week. I was winded, but not destroyed. I fell asleep on my bed while enjoying what a mattress felt like for the first time in almost two weeks. It was 7 p.m. Now it’s just after 1 a.m. and I’m gonna take a shower again, but thinner, quieter, slower… and grateful. Now I wait for return strength to be able to take care of my dog again. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tracy)
Look, I wore a mask. I washed MY hands. I distanced. Personal responsibility! I carried hand sanitizer in MY pocket. Most of them didn’t. Well, I didn’t “let fear control me,” but your virus ultimately did. I just survived 10 days of absolute hell, but at least you had your “freedom.”