Several years ago, I had a nasty flu. In my recollection, I wrote something about it here, but my search skills fail me, and if I did, I’m not able to locate it.
In late February/early March of 2020, I remember a conversation in our family about COVID. That was before any of us had a fucking clue what lay ahead. Which is interesting. Because in my memory, at least, I kinda did the math right. I said something like, “Look, we’re all gonna get it, and it’s gonna kill a LOT of people, but WE are, mostly, safe, because the vast majority of people it will kill are people who arrive at the table weakened and WE have the good fortune not to arrive at the table so weakened.”
In April 2020, my Dad’s best friend’s son, my age, died of COVID. As far as I know, this dude – sort of like a cousin to me, growing up – wasn’t “weakened.” He was, simply, unlucky. The following week, one of my dad’s other close friends was found dead in his apartment, three days after my dad had spoken to him on the phone. He had had a cough when they spoke. An up-the-street neighbor of mine died right around then, and the hospital up the block from me had two refrigerated body trucks spewing steam 24-7. I was incredibly lucky that – other than A and J, whom I’ve just mentioned – no one I knew died; it was close enough, though, that I was, well and truly, terrified. In the time since, several of my friends’ parents have died from COVID, and a couple of my (younger) peers have experienced debilitating cases of long COVID – one lost her hearing; one has slept 12-14 hours a day for over two years now.
I have been exceedingly careful, since the start of this pandemic, even as I have pushed a number of barriers. I started taking the subway to my office in May 2020 – long before the vast majority of people I knew did so. Although I was in my office, I was alone there. The only “risk” entailed was the trip to and from. I did this for my own mental health – I crave the “loose ties” I had given up in the second week of March 2020, and I needed them back to avoid feeling the world crushing in on my chest. My anxiety was skyrocketing. (I took much of that out on Marina.) In February of 2021, my in-person work with others resumed – much earlier than it did for many in my universe. This was by my choice. I had been vaccinated. I didn’t feel safe, per se, but I felt… well, if not obligated, at least compelled.
The time between then and now has been long. In my three-person household, somehow, we managed to avoid the plague. My son has six grandparents. Each of them has had COVID – none, thank God, a serious case. He has two aunts, and two first cousins – all have had COVID. Some more than once. A number of great aunts and uncles. All our friends have had it, with nary an exception. As recently as a week ago, I heard my son say, “We’re immune!”
Well, we’re not immune. Or at least, I’m not.
This past weekend, as the bat mitzvah of the daughter of a friend approached (and God knows, I love/hate me a bat mitzvah), I found myself… craving a really long, hot, shower. I just felt like the warmth would do me good. “Hmm,” I thought. “That’s strange!” I wondered if I had a fever. (I didn’t.) I wondered if I had COVID. What with how I was going to a large event, I figured I’d test myself. I was negative. So I had my long shower – and it felt great. I went to the bat mitzvah. Had a great time. Saw lots of old friends.
And, as I sat crammed into a tight car ride home – there were six of us – two in the front, three in the middle row (including me) and one in the “way back.” The one in the “way back,” incidentally, recently had gotten over COVID. He (my erstwhile “best friend“) had texted me after our dinner ten days earlier – a dinner with four others, in a restaurant, at which we barely spoke – that he was positive. At the bat mitzvah, he wore a mask. Most of the time. Except, you know, when he didn’t. (He also managed to exchange phone numbers with the former roommate of an ex-girlfriend of his – very on-brand.)
Anyway – we’re on our way home, and, as the car navigated its way south along the East River, I began to feel a little… well, not so much myself. I got home, fell into bed, and was asleep in seconds. Fast forward two hours: I awoke, drenched in sweat. My fever, at that point, was 101.7. It kept rising, to 103.5 sometime Sunday. I took another home test at about 8 am.
That’s what it looked like. I texted all the folks I’d just seen – there were a lot. It was a bat mitzvah with a lot of my closest, oldest friends. (I’m lucky that way.) I contacted everyone I might otherwise meet with in person in the coming week to tell them I’d be out. And I watched as, with two exceptions, empathetic, sympathetic texts/e-mails rolled in. The first exception? I won’t say more than this: this person knowingly had exposed me to COVID previously. Their response to my text? “Thanks for letting me know.” And the second? My erstwhile best friend. He wrote, “Oh man. I hope it wasn’t from me.” He followed with empathetic words (“sorry to hear” and “I hope… it’s an easy go of it.”). But I barely could perceive those latter words, because I know my best friend well enough to know that he leads with what’s important. It’s only, after all, a few weeks since I analogized him to the scorpion. And here he was, worried not so much that I was drowning, but that he’d poisoned me, that my drowning was on him. Speaking of on-brand….
That was Sunday morning. I spent the period from 11 pm Saturday – 11 am Monday in bed. I made 1 or 2 trips to the bathroom. But, literally, other than that, all I did was sweat, change my sheets, sleep, not sleep, sweat, and change my sheets.
By the middle of the day Monday, my fever had abated for a few hours, my symptoms receded, and I imagined I was all good.
And, being me: I made some stretching happen. When I feel like I’m dying, nothing feels better than my cock’s snapping to attention as a pretty woman joins me in bending over, placing her ass in my face. This is, surely, a maladaptive strategy. Not destructive, exactly, but certainly not all that helpful. I mean, it was good for me to move. I’m not sure if it was good to move that way. (It hurt.) And, I have no idea if there might not have been other things I might have done to make me feel alive that might have been more… generative. Like, oh, say, writing?
Anyway: here I am. It’s now Tuesday night. I’ve lost a solid three days to this motherfucker. I’m grateful and fortunate that, with five shots in me, I have the internal fortitude to fight this off. God knows what it would’ve been like had I had only four shots. Never mind three, two, one, or none.
I don’t imagine I’ll be anything like 100% tomorrow. (I feel like I’m about 50% now.) But. I’m here. And I hope, I’ll have more to write.