Just when you think you’ve done everything right, the other shoe drops. That is exactly where I was a little over three weeks ago. I had both vaccinations and my booster. I had masked everywhere I was asked to and even in some places it hadn’t been required. I stayed six feet away from virtually everyone and had played the game of chicken every time I was out for a walk, most of the time being the first to veer off to the street. In short, I had followed the rules. A day after receiving my booster, I attended a meeting and forty eight hours later, the first symptoms began. Of course at the time, I was in denial. This was just another seasonal cold and I would be better by morning. But morning came and more symptoms appeared and by nightfall it was clear that something more was going on. The next morning I got tested, as I am sure you all have at some point during this pandemic, out of caution or maybe a little fear. By that evening my taste was gone and I spent a sleepless night fighting a fever and anxiously awaiting my test results. “Your Covid-19 Test results: POSITIVE.” I read that email multiple times, willing it to change to negative or at least “sort of positive”, but every time I opened the email, the message was depressingly the same. It was 5:30 in the morning and calling the people I had been with, would have to wait till at least dawn. I had dutifully made the list the night before in preparation for the calls I now would have to make. Thankfully it was a short list, but they were people who were so very important in my life, a couple who are among our best friends, my daughter and son-in-law, as well as our two grandchildren, and of course my wife who upon hearing the results, asked me to read the email a few hundred times more.
Let’s talk about the Covid-19 cycle of emotions that I , and I assume most people who have experienced this, went through; Guilt – Shame – Frustration / Fear – Anger
Guilt, the first emotion. I am now about to call people I love, to tell them that I have contracted this beast and that because we were together during that period of time when I may have been shedding the virus, they should probably be tested. I also have to call the organizer of the courses I am scheduled to teach starting in three days. Schedules will need to be rearranged, delayed, or possibly cancelled. I am now impacting hundreds of people scheduled to attend these sessions. But lest I lose focus, it is the loved ones I was with whom I might have unwittingly infected that weighs on me the most. I will now anxiously await the results of their tests.
Shame, the next emotion to deal with. This is a very publicized plague. We have been told time and time again that it shows no favorites. None the less, I am now ashamed. What did I do wrong or what did I not do enough of? How could I have been more diligent and avoided this? No matter what people who find out are telling me, this shame runs deep.
Frustration was my next emotion and at least this helped to reduce some of the guilt and shame. I HAD done everything right, or at least as right as humanly possible. I should have waited at least a few days before attending that meeting in person. I could have given it a bit more time to boost up my immunity. For me this was just frustration, the symptoms were far reduced from what they could have been had I not been vaccinated and I was already beginning to feel a bit better by the time I reached day three. For others, less fortunate, the frustration would have been replaced by fear. I couldn’t do much other than to be isolated in my own home and this lack of ability to be “normal” was frustrating.
Eventually, one reaches the final stage. As I began to regain my strength and even had some of my taste start to return, the anger sets in. Why did this happen, and why did it happen to me? Is there a responsibly irresponsible individual out there who gave this gift to me? And why is this pandemic hanging on in the first place? Isn’t it getting tired of closing businesses, laying off employees, filling hospital beds, killing hundreds of thousands? Anger, if controlled, expressed without action, can be at least cathartic. In my case, it at least reduced the stranglehold the other emotions had on me. I might be able to heal, both inside and out.
But it is time to switch gears. It has been just over three weeks and I am feeling much better, but far more importantly, no one around me, none of my loved ones, none of my friends were infected. Within a day, thanks to rapid testing, everyone’s tests came back negative. What a huge relief. I can’t imagine the alternative. Maybe now there might even be room for a little humor. When this first came on and I had lost my taste, my daughter teased me. I have not had a sense of smell since I was thirty years old, none, nada. Her thought was how about maybe the virus doesn’t have a vested interest in whether it’s turning smell off or on, just flipping the switch. Great possibility, but not the reality. Still no smell. And please, spare me the “if you can’t smell, then” ideas. Pretty sure I’ve heard them all and I will add this, when it came to changing my children’s diapers, I may not have had the joy of smell, but I wasn’t blind and the mind can be very creative.
So that you don’t worry about my sense of humor recovering, I thought I’d leave you with the following:
Five things I mastered thanks to the Pandemic
1. How to coordinate your mask with your wardrobe. This is important as no one wants to see a less than stylish look and would rather have it be, at its finest, a statement piece. I may have to make a point of attending masked balls in the future just to get use out of my extensive mask collection. Shout out to Annette for getting mine started.
2. Corona Virus and Corona Beer are two different things. You don’t have to taste test here, trust me. I, like so many others, after month two of the pandemic, wondered if and when Corona Beer would change its name.
3. How to Zoom, Google Meet, and Go Webinar Workshop like a pro. Remember the early days of the pandemic, when the two statements uttered over and over were, “you’re muted Frank” and “for God’s sake, put some pants on.”
4. How to celebrate Christmas with the family in the driveway and make it look natural. As one Jimmy Buffet song goes, “it’s twenty degrees and the hockey games on.” Thanks to a patio heater I drove a hundred miles to obtain (the last one they had), we managed to last three hours before we broke up the festivities and sent our two daughter’s families back to their nice warm homes. Here the shout out goes to Eli whose very useful and much used firepit still resides on our patio.
And #5….How to measure six feet accurate to within an inch without the use of a ruler. Pretty much speaks for itself!
I am hoping my readers have stayed healthy and that maybe, just maybe, you are enjoying Thanksgiving at home, inside, warm, and with your family. And for that matter, anyone else in your bubble. Stay safe, but find ways to keep enjoying life.