That one-two punch really knocked me for a loop, and during my birthday week. That was just mean.
I had started feeling ill the previous week, starting with a headache and nausea. I had thought it was just a migraine, so had taken my medication and retreated to a dark room. Over the next several days, coughing, brain fog, chills, exhaustion and body aches set in, so by Monday, friend Sarah suggested a covid test might be in order.
Monday morning it was negative. Tuesday morning, though, it was a faint positive. After contacting my doctor’s office, a telehealth visit was set up and the diagnosis confirmed.
After nearly three years, my super-dodger status was gone. The last woman standing in my little group of lunch/dinner friends was standing no more. She was, quite honestly, too fatigued to do so.
I settled in for days of Mucinex, lots of water and orange juice, and whatever food I could manage. Heck, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost a few pounds from this.
And then Wednesday came, and a call from my insurance adjuster. There would be no resurrecting my car Izzy (Kids, don’t get hit by an F-250). When my old car, Gertie (named after my great-granny), started really struggling in the cold weather nine years ago, Mama took it upon herself to come down to help me find a newer car, and when we did, we named her Izzy after one of my remaining great-aunts. It was a tangible connection to my mom, who died in 2019.
Izzy was paid off, and I had planned to drive her as long as possible since a monthly car payment wasn’t really feasible, but that wasn’t to be. Now I have to try to find a newer vehicle again, and I dread it, and not just because I can’t afford this right now (and the rental costs are now on me, so yea?).
Now when the nausea hits, I’m not sure if that’s the covid or stress … or both, and I’m sure that the stress is slowing my recovery. (As I type this, I’m again in a dark room covered in blankets and cursing every time my fingers hit the wrong keys because I apparently overdid it Monday in my rush to try to get back home by Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning/afternoon it looks like it will have to be.)
Because of covid, I was unable to go back home, so have been at Sarah’s house far longer than intended. It meant we were able to celebrate our birthday together, to a point (I couldn’t go out to dinner with her and another friend as planned), and that I’d get to spend more time with fur-nephew Charlie, who was recuperating from a not-fun medical emergency.
But had I not been vaccinated, I might not be typing this right now. I’m overweight and had a stroke in 2015, so I was higher-risk than many. Having lost my unvaccinated brother to this virus, I wasn’t going to take any chances, and the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks.
Sure, I hear some of my trolls right now, now that they’ve finished griping about my use of “fur-nephew” (and probably annoyed that I named my cars), shouting that I’m just a hack for Big Pharma. If I were, I wouldn’t be worried about having to buy a car right now, or that my out-of-pocket costs are mounting while my bank account isn’t.
I’m just in touch with reality, and know that with a novel virus, we’ve been seeing scientific research happen in real time. Newer, better vaccines are ahead, but it takes time and more data (it took years and a lot of errors for a reliable polio vaccine to be approved, and it’s virtually eradicated now). Genetic sequencing of the virus being released early on and decades of research on mRNA vaccine delivery put us ahead of the curve, and has saved millions. Mistakes have been made, yes, but the vaccines (like all medications) are under constant monitoring for unforeseen effects, and have been pulled for investigation when warranted (like the J&J vaccine, which is now only considered in certain situations because of risk of adverse events). The big difference between now and past pandemics is that we didn’t have social media misinformation/disinformation running rampant before. Can you imagine if Twitter and Facebook (and some of our biggest misinformation peddlers) had been around in 1918?
But the vaccines we have now do work; they teach the body’s immune system how to react, which is what they’re supposed to do (no, the vaccine definition was not changed; it was broadened to include how an mRNA vaccine works, which is part of the normal evolution of technology and language). Nonprofit health-care information foundation KFF noted in November, “Covid-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness and death, but they are not perfect, so deaths among vaccinated people will still occur.”
I’m happy to settle for not perfect for now because it decreased the chances of me having to be hospitalized.
The side effects were minor for me: mostly a sore arm and a little fatigue (no tracking chip, magnets or 5G in evidence, and they might have come in handy). My covid symptoms, while annoying, have been mostly mild. The headaches, brain fog and exhaustion haven’t been fun, but they’ve been manageable (when I haven’t overdone it, anyway). I’ve been able to keep working remotely, though I’ve cut days short when needed. And the odds of me having long covid have also been greatly reduced.
Bloomberg’s Kristen V. Brown spoke to Jessica Justman, an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist at Columbia University, who told her, in answer to a super-dodger reader’s question of whether vaccination and boosters can prevent long covid or if it’s just a “roll of the dice”: “Yes, vaccinations and boosters help prevent long covid, and yes, it’s also a roll of the dice.”
Preventative measures like vaccination (which is never 100 percent for any illness), masking, hand-washing and social distancing reduce the chances of getting sick, but if you do get sick, the severity will most likely be much less than that of someone who hasn’t taken those precautions, Justman said, and there’s still much work to be done to understand covid. “This is where the roll of the dice comes into play,” said Justman, stressing that limiting exposure to the disease (this or any other) is important.
I can’t be sure where I picked up the bug, but the fact that I made it nearly three years without being infected is amazing.
It was inevitable that I would get it at some point, despite that I’m vaccinated and almost always wear a mask in public (no, they’re not comfortable to wear for long periods of time, but wearing a mask to protect myself and others is the very least I can do).
I’ll recover, though. Too many people can’t say that.