The pandemic is not over.
Take it from me.
Now I sit here in self-imposed exile in a room in my own house trying not to infect my family.
I suppose I’m lucky in a way. My symptoms pretty much went away because I took an anti-viral medication. But my medical history is such that I’m extra sensitive to this disease.
It’s not a question of whether I’ll survive in the meantime, but more a matter of if it will ever truly leave me alone.
I wonder if it might not have done me some permanent damage. My heart is already scarred from heart attacks. Will this make it worse?
My intestines are impaired from Crohn’s disease. Will this exacerbate the stabbing pain I sometimes feel just trying to live?
Will I be one of the 7.5% of people who contract the virus and then are left with “long COVID”? Three or more months from now, will new symptoms crop up that I didn’t have before?
Because of the medications I have to take to help with my many other delightful maladies, I was always more susceptible to catching this disease, but I don’t think getting it is on me.
I was extremely cautious about COVID.
Few people took this situation more seriously.
When I didn’t have to go out, I stayed home. When I did go out, I always wore a mask – ALWAYS.
The only people who have seen my whole face in the flesh in years are my immediate family – wife, daughter and father-in-law.
I’ve only eaten out at a restaurant maybe twice in the nearly three years since the The World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
And one of those times was at a hospital cafeteria waiting for my father to get out of surgery.
Yet when I did unavoidably venture out to get groceries or pick up food from restaurants to eat at home, I’d rarely see the same level of caution from my friends and neighbors.
Hardly anyone seems to wear a mask these days. Few social distance, too. Most act like the whole pandemic is over and some even give me the stink eye for my wariness.
It made me wonder – where could I have caught this virus?
The most likely option is my cardiologist’s office.
After months of hemming and hawing, I finally agreed to come in and take a stress test.
As I was struggling on the treadmill hooked up to various machines that go ping, I was instructed to take down my mask if it would help me run (they called it walking) faster.
The next day I started to feel really crappy. The day after that it was so bad I called my primary care physician to see me.
I had a 100 degree temperature. My head felt like it was in a vice. I had chills and my muscles felt like I had been run over by a truck.
I took a home COVID test but it got a negative result.
I thought I was just sick or maybe had a sinus infection.
I had a close call months earlier but after several negative home and office tests, I had been diagnosed with a bacterial infection.
However, this time it was different.
Once I told the nurse my symptoms, she said the doctor wouldn’t see me. Instead he got on the phone and said he was getting bombarded by calls from people reporting the same symptoms. These were tell-tale signs of the latest COVID variant.
It probably wouldn’t show up on the test for 12-48 hours more. But since it was early, he wanted me to take Paxlovid – an anti-viral that can reduce the severity of symptoms and rid me of the disease in about a week.
So that’s where I am now – in the low security prison of my own bedroom.
My wife has to sleep in my daughter’s bed or on the couch.
As prisons go it’s pretty comfortable. I mostly read or listen to music or watch TV. Sometimes I sleep but the medication I’m taking puts a terrible taste in my mouth that keeps me awake.
If I don’t constantly sip water, it almost feels like my mouth is full of smoke and I’m choking.
I wonder if getting a fourth dose of vaccine would have helped. I had planned to get another Fauci ouchie in August closer to the start of the new school year.
As a teacher, I thought being in class with students was when I was most in danger. But they generally took the pandemic seriously and only began to unmask en masse in May.
I guess I’ll never know.
So many mysteries, so many worries.
I wonder if anyone out there still wants to read an account of catching COVID now that 90.6 million Americans have gotten it and 1.2 million have died.
Perhaps it will just add another data point for posterity. Maybe it will be part of a bar graph steadily making its way up or down.
I guess it depends on the trajectory of our collective future.
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