"You can never be too careful," some say. "Let's put safety first." And I have. I have kept away from crowds and have taken every step I could to avoid getting Covid. Contrariwise, I have friends who have paid no attention to the CDC warnings at all. And many of my friends who consider themselves careful seem reckless to me, eating at restaurants, going to group gatherings, etc. No matter. No one I know in any category, super safe, pseudo safe, nor unsafe, has gotten the Corona virus.
I was among the first in the U.S. to get the Moderna vaccine. I informed all of my friends who were eligible whether they were careful or not, whether they thought they would get the vaccine or not, of how to do it. I even helped one friend beat the system so he could get his, too. All my friends got the vaccine. As did my mother.
You will remember, now, that I often misquote a line from "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," in which she points to a sign and tells her pupils, "Take that sign down. Safety is important, but it certainly shouldn't come first (link).
I have been careful in order to avoid getting Covid, but even more, I have been vigilant so as not to infect my mother. So, I got the Moderna vaccine on January 8 and took my mother to get hers on January 9.
On January 15, I began to feel ill. I had terrible stomach pains and became achey all over. I had gone to see my mother at noon while the wrecking crew did their business. When I left her house, I went home and got into bed. In essence, I got up at six o'clock this morning.
I am one unlucky sonofabitch, it seems. In the hours and days following, my temperature kept going up, my digestive tract got worse, the aches and pains became intolerable, and I got a measles looking rash head to toe that is quite uncomfortable. My mind became a terrible mess, and I found myself crying aloud for help in the darkness of night. Not metaphorically. I think I'm tough. I've gone through some physical things without complaint that would lend support to that claim. But I was calling out for help this time, to no one, for I am totally alone.
For three nights, I would lie in bed, get up, sit in a chair, go back to bed, get up and go to the couch, go back to bed. I had to turn on all the lights in the house to even pretend to sleep for the dark was too overwhelming. I ran a high fever and had such chills I was reduced to piling many covers over me while I convulsed for half an hour or more. I turned the thermostat to eighty.
I ate nothing for two days. I managed to sip some Coca Cola on the third. Still, my belly was overblown, distended, and tight like a snare drum. The rash grew worse.
At first, I believed I was having a reaction to the vaccine. It seemed strangely delayed, but I had not been around anyone except to go grocery shopping and to a couple doctor's appointments. And then there was Mr. Fixit. Back from his trip to Park City, Colorado, he wanted to come by and get his tools. I put him off for a few days, and when he did come over, we sat outside, ten feet apart. Perhaps he stayed too long.
By the third day, I was sure it wasn't a vaccine reaction.
I had some concern that some of my symptoms, the rash and the bad G.I. system, might have been caused by a sulfa-based antibiotic I was taking. I called the dermatologist's office for guidance. He said that I had the symptoms of Covid-19 and that he didn't think it was a drug reaction, but to quit taking it to be certain. He told me to call the surgeon and let him know. I did. He did not want to prescribe any other antibacterial medication and said it sounded as if I had Covid. I called my primary doctor to let her know and to see if she could help with the itching caused by the rash. Her office said it sounded like Covid and that I should take Benadryl. They all said Tylenol for the fever. Beyond that, they wanted to know if I had been tested. I had called the hospital about testing, I told each of them, and they said that the antibody test would not be accurate because I had already had the vaccine. I would need a viral test, not an antibody test. I tried to sign up for a viral test, but I could not get one if I had a fever. I also told them that I was not having trouble breathing, that my senses of smell and taste were fine, that my lips were not blue, and that I did not have trouble waking. I said that I was too weak and addled to drive myself to the emergency room and that I did not really wish to go lie on a gurney perhaps in the hospital gift shop while they kept an eye on me. I did not feel I was in mortal danger and that I would just be taking up space that I truly didn't wish to occupy. They all understood and agreed with that, each saying that in all likelihood the hospital would send me home and tell me to continue doing what I had been doing.
The few friends who knew I was sick kept insisting that I get to the hospital and that I needed to get tested. They are smart people with advanced degrees, and I could only wonder at their logic. It became obvious to me when I couldn't get a test if I had a fever that there was only one point to the test at all--to prove that I didn't have it. Testing positive only meant that I should do what I had been doing--isolate. Testing negative meant you were free to roam. There was nothing they would be able to do for me either way. I wasn't having trouble breathing. They were not going administer Remdesivir or the plasma from a recovered patient to me.
One of my friends had Amazon bring me a Pulse Oximeter. When it arrived, I opened it but I was far too addled to figure out how to put the batteries in. The next morning, I saw that I was supposed to take off the rubber protective covering, that it was just packaging protection. I put the batteries in and put the thing on my finger. Lots of numbers came up. I had no idea what they meant. I looked at the direction that came in the box. Even with my reading glasses on, I could hardly make out the words. The instructions went on page after page after page. I couldn't see anything that told me what the numbers meant. The attempt exhausted me. I went back to bed. My friend texted me to see if the thing had arrived, and I told her it had but that I was far too feeble to fuck with it. From what she told me, the top number was the one I wanted. 98, I said. My blood oxygen was good, she said.
My mind was a mess. I hadn't been able to sleep in my bed for more than an hour at a time. My life was a twenty-four hour cycle of moving from one uncomfortable place in the house to another. I kept thinking that is was possible that I would never see anyone again, that if this got into my lungs, I would call an ambulance and that I would be put into isolation. It was a very valid idea, not hyperbolic. I talked to my mother by phone several times a day. I needed to tell her about my financial accounts, but it was too much effort.
I needed two things from doctors that were not forthcoming. I needed something for pain relief, and I needed something to calm me, They have the keys to both cabinets, but they were not using them. I scoured my bathroom drawers. I was taking Tylenol, then I took more than recommended. I added Motrin to it. It helped with the fever and brought me maybe two hours of pain relief. I found Benadryl. When the dosage didn't work, I doubled it. I found some leftover drugs. One Gabapentin. One Hydrocodone. Four Tramadol. Not much. Tramadol and Tylenol together have a synergistic effect, I read. That is where I'd begin. Toss in a Xanax.
I slept for nine hours, the first sleep in many days.
Doctors used to be in the business of relieving misery. They didn't make as much money then. Now they are in the business of making money and they won't go out on the limb of relieving misery. To get drugs out of them now is next to impossible unless they are ones you are loathe to take. As soon as I am on my feet again, I am getting a street dealer. I am going to load up on all the drugs I will ever need when I am sick. I know their value, and their value is great. Fuck druggies. They are useless shit and I would leave them to die their pain free overdose deaths. It is surely one of the best ways to die. No? Tell me a better one. There are few people in the world who have been cracked worse than I have been and lived. I tell you that Morphine is straight from the Gods. As I lay in a hospital bed with tubes in my nose, my chest, my arm, and my pecker, my front and back sliced open to plate two of my seven broken ribs and inflate my collapsed lung, my clavicle and scapula having multiple fractures, deep chunks of flesh leaving open wounds in my legs and feet, my AC joint completely destroyed, I watched them inject pure, crystal clear Morphine into my vein to relieve me of complete and total abject agony. I was "on" narcotics for a very long time, and when it was done, it was done. I have no more use for being a junky than I have for living in debilitating pain.
I know when pain relief is called for.
I will most certainly be getting a dealer.
I wrote to Mr. Fixit to tell him I have Covid. He did not write back for days which made me suspicious, but yesterday he wrote that he is feeling fine. I keep check on my mother, of course, praying great prayers that she doesn't get sick. So far, so good.
When I've been without a fever for two days, I will make an appointment to drive through one of the pharmacies and have the viral test. I must find out if I can still get the second vaccine. The surgery has been complicated by all of this. I keep wondering how much a person's psyche can take. I feel I am straining the limits.
Some hours, when the agony had been eased a bit by drugs or by mere cycle, I tried to watch t.v. It was an awful irony that my Amazon Firestick quit working. I did the few things I was able to do like unplug it and plug it back in. That worked marginally for a day before it completely quit me for good. After that, I was stuck with commercial t.v. I found that no matter when you turn it on, there is a commercial. Always. I don't understand how anyone can watch it. But I have a DVR recorder, so I can record shows and fast forward through commercials. Still, what in the world would I watch? All I could stomach were some stupid reality shows that Ili and I used to watch together for shits and giggles. And so I had that and the news.
Did you know Biden was president elect? Did you know? Did you know he becomes president on Wednesday? Have you seen the video of the Capital takeover? Did you see it again? And again? Did you know Trump was pouting? Did ya'? Did ya'?
No wonder we are a nation of morons. Each hour we are told the same things as in the previous hour with the same urgent voices of distress and disbelief.
I watched part of Biden's convocation to those who have died of Covid. Watching that with the very virus attacking my body, I still couldn't stand it. I hate such things with every sick and well cell of my being. Please read "The Unknown Citizen" (link). I am opposed to all such tributes, I'm afraid. I'll admit it. I can't stand the Martin Luther King Jr. tributes at all, either. They seem to cheapen rather than honor to me and are only to elevate the reputations of those who preside.
Even in my illness.
This year of my life has been shit. I have lost too much--love, money, community, health. I have been isolated and alone. Even as I become Covid-proof, I have medical uncertainties facing me. I shall, however, try to stand today. I have had coffee which is good. My fever is gone. I shall walk the grounds today and spend time on the deck breathing fresh air. I will try to take some sustenance and begin to regain strength. My mind seems to have stopped its unravelling, and though I am shaky, much of this seems behind me now.
And so, that is the dry update. I have missed many beautiful days here, but today is set to be another. Coffee on the terrace seems lovely.
And. . . oh! Have you heard? We will have a new president today. I survived the Trump administration. I made it out alive.