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Well, it finally happened. Two years on, inexorably and inevitably, I caught the ‘rona. It’s hardly surprising, really, since I have been going about my business, carefully, but pretty much normally from the start, as have most of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my own little corner of the world. I had both the original Pfizer shots, late last Spring. I’m not “boosted,” as I don’t subscribe to the idea that showing up every few months for another shot will do anything other than–over the course of time–make me even more susceptible to new variants increasingly clever enough to evade them.
And anyway, I heard Dr. Fauci say that–sooner or later–everyone would get Omicron. So there.
I’m 67 years old. I’m in pretty good health, although I could stand to lose just a few pounds. I don’t have any of the commonly cited co-morbidities, and other than a diagnosis of early sarcoid in my lungs and lymph nodes over 30 years ago (which is monitored and buys me an annual chest CT scan to look at problem areas), I’m the picture of what the Victorians used to call “rude health.”
So I’ve banked on the fact that if Coronavirus ever caught up with me, I’d survive it. And, by gum, I think I have! So far, anyway.
I do want to issue a heads-up, though. Even the “mild” Omicron variant is not a day at the park for those of us of a certain age. It’s pretty vicious. And although we can argue about the safety and benefits of the initial rounds of shots (something I’m just not going to do here), I’m glad I had them. If you come down with a case, take it seriously. Follow your doctor’s advice. And take care of yourself.
As I bear down on the end of my second week in purdah, I thought I’d offer an update, so that those of you who care know I’m still alive and kicking, and so that those of you who’ve written me off don’t get too comfortable in your certainty. None of what I write (now that I actually have an interest in writing something again) should be considered definitive medical advice. I’m just telling you what I did to get through it, and what has worked for me.
I caught it from a guest in my home. No blame attaches to him. He didn’t know, and neither did I, but once two of his sons (one, a PA state cop, the other in nursing school) were tested and found positive, the die was cast. The first sign for me was excruciating joint pain, which–absent any other symptoms–lasted about a day, and was then accompanied by chills, then a fever, for another two days.
(Side note: I’m famous, at my doctor’s office, for being the woman who never spikes a fever. Never. Ever. My temperature is 97.5 at all times, and hasn’t varied for decades, no matter what else is going on. Same with blood pressure, which is about 100/65, no matter what. So one day into this, when my temperature was 101, and my blood pressure was 130/80, I knew something was up. Thankfully, my pulse oximeter showed good oxygenation. TBC, between the veterinary/livestock needs, and Mr. She’s last illness, I’m pretty well-acquainted with how to monitor vital signs, what I should consider a problem, and when I should start to worry.)
I retired to bed, feeling utterly miserable. Thought, for about 36 hours, that I might be destined for the morgue. Notified friends and family. Dismissed pleas that I go and be tested: What the hell for? Sit in a room for hours with dozens of people probably sicker than me, or in a parade of cars at a drive-through testing location breathing in petrol fumes, to find out–what, exactly? That I had what I knew I had? No, thank you.
Slept. Didn’t eat. Remembered to stay well hydrated. Waited it out. Called my doctor’s office at some point just to put them on notice. They said I seemed to be doing the right things, and to keep up the good work.
About 72 hours in, the fever and the aches abated. Still didn’t have much appetite. I’d been taking a Nyquil knock-off with “fever-reducer, cough-suppressant, and antihistamine,” which probably made me feel even more out of it than I would otherwise. Switched to a straight cough-suppressant, since that was now the most annoying symptom, and which had resulted in chest pain from the racking cough. Used copious amounts of saline nasal spray, something I’m prone to do anyway to mitigate a tendency to sinusitis.
At this point, my brain started to reassert itself, and I found myself thinking about comforting unguents and palliative medicines from my childhood. (Tea and coffee were, at this point, sheer anathema.) Onion soup. Ginger and lemon which (fortunately) can usually be found in my refrigerator. Made a syrup from 1 cup of sugar, one cup of water, and one cup of thinly sliced fresh ginger root. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let steep for an hour. Strain. 2 tablespoons accompanied by 1/2 freshly-squeezed lemon, in 8oz of hot water. Did more to clear out my bronchial passages and quiet my cough than just about anything else. Still drinking 3-4 cups of that a day. Listened to friends with (sometimes) helpful advice. (Sometimes) even took it.
This started about four days in, by which time my cough had become bearable, my temperature and blood pressure were normal, and other than an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion and strain, I felt pretty OK. (Sheep and chickens don’t care about overwhelming feelings of exhaustion and strain, and still have to be fed and watered. I suspect such factors contribute to overwhelming feelings of exhaustion and strain for me, just as other sorts of unignorable factors do the same for others. Do what you must. And not much else.)
And so, for the last week, I’ve done almost nothing (except what’s absolutely necessary for the aforementioned sheep and chickens). Every day, I’m a little better, I have less of a cough, and I have (very) slightly more energy. Why, yesterday, I even wired two new electrical circuits! (Something which, a week ago, I wouldn’t have had the physical, let alone the mental, capacity to accomplish.) Little by little, I’m coming back. And today, for the first time in almost two weeks, I feel like writing. I’ve read that full recovery can take from three to six weeks, if you’re of a certain age and you get a pretty good dose of this. I believe it.
And I’d like to issue a special shoutout to friends and family who’ve sent me stuff, regularly checked in on me (sometimes, too regularly), and who’ve dropped off meals and supplies on the other side of my driveway gates (which function like the medieval plague crosses of old). Thank you, all! You’ve kept me going when I wasn’t sure I could. And so here I still am.
No, it hasn’t come yet. And I’m not expecting it to. Sorry.
To close, I look again to my childhood, and to one of my mother’s favorite songs from hers (also, apparently, beloved of George Orwell):
Don’t count me out. Just yet, anyway.
To fellow sufferers everywhere: Take care of yourselves. Let others take care of you. And do everything you need to, to get well. Prayers.Published in