I Got… Something…
It began about half-way through February. It was relentless. I’d never experienced anything like it before; I’m gonna call it ‘explosive Dorothea.’ I’m gonna call it that because that’s what spell-check wants to call it and, at the moment, I’m feeling both compliant and open to possibility. Dorothea awoke me throughout the night. I took to wearing multiple pairs of cotton underpants just in case I didn’t make it to the toilet in time. I would have slept en toilette if I could have but I can barely sleep in a reclining car seat so that wasn’t gonna happen.
In the daytime, Dorothea enjoyed surprising me when I was, say, halfway up the stairs… or on the phone. Aside from that major inconvenience, I seemed fine. I figured that if all good things must pass, perhaps Dorothea soon would as well.
But it didn’t. And it was cramping my style. I couldn’t trust my intestinal tract from one moment to the next. I certainly was never going to make it to, say, the nearest grocery store, 45 minutes away. Little did I know that within about another two weeks I wouldn’t be welcome at the nearest grocery store, across the state line. At the time I didn’t even feel welcome in my own body.
I am an avid avoider of “the news;” I always have been. My husband, however, is a glutton for punishment, (he married me, after all), he can’t get enough of it. So, about three weeks into my new relationship with Dorothea, when I start getting a scratchy throat and develop a bit of a cough, he mentioned this new virus thing that’s going around and I did the thing I never do (now that I’m a grow-ass woman) and I went looking for trouble… online.
Scratchy throat, cough… hmmm. Corona Virus? But, y’know, it could be just a coincidence. My eyes had gotten a little watery what with a serious pollen explosion in the surrounding woods so I wrote it all off to possibly having developed some sort of allergy… for about a week. Then came the Monday night when I settled myself somewhat tentatively down on the couch, breathed in, like I normally do, and practically went airborne.
I thank all the would-be gods in their multitudinous heavens that it only happened once. It felt as if someone had poured liquid fire into my right lung. OK, I thought, perhaps this unusual virus has come to visit me after all…. though I had nowhere read anything about fire-breathing. Still… it was… unusual. I experienced some difficulty falling asleep that night.
The next day my lung seemed OK but my whole rib-cage ached… then certain parts of my rib-cage began to really hurt, especially when I took a breath in. My husband, who does not like it when bad things happen — and yet, ironically, watches the news — gently insinuated that I might be experiencing phantom pain. I not-so-gently insinuated that I was well acquainted with pain. And I am, as I have, in my life, experienced extreme pain for extended periods of time in the late 80s when I was dying from a disease called scleroderma. You tell me I’m having phantom pain at the risk of your own well-being. I KNOW when I’m in actual physical pain, thank you very much. I’d had enough of that kind of BS when I’d spent six months trying to get a diagnosis back then.
My husband then thought that I might want to go to the doctor. I didn’t. If I have the damn disease, I figured, they can’t do anything about it so, why? Besides, I don’t entirely trust doctors. Both my parents were doctors, pathologists, and their advice was, “If there’s any way you can avoid going to a doctor, avoid it.” My father had added that he saw more people in the morgue as a result of ‘physician error’ than anything else. And I definitely wasn’t going to go to all the inconvenience of two hours on the road and being talked down to just so doctors could gather some stats. If that!
This went on… and on… and on. Somewhere around a month in I determined to go on a diet for IBS figuring that at least I could get Dorothea under control. It took a lot of discipline on my part and well over a week, but it worked. Then I learned about the breathing exercise for COVID19 and decided to try it out. That worked too! After a few weeks, I had very little pain. That said, I still had exactly zero energy.
I am, by nature, filled with energy. I can go and go and go. But for the first few weeks of whatever-this-was I could barely life my feet off the floor. I ambulated by slowly sliding at snail speed. Never mind stairs. I didn’t even try. I had to have my husband fend off phone calls because even a ten-minute conversation required a twenty-minute nap to recover from. It was crazy.
Mid-April I began feeling some energetic improvement and was experiencing very little pain in my lungs but I’d heard so much advice about “the virus” — which, y’know, I still couldn’t be positive I had because of my refusal to visit the doctor — and about how you ought not to just jump back into your regular go-mode or you risked going backwards which I didn’t want to take a chance on. And I wasn’t feeling exactly, entirely peppy so I just kept moving relatively slowly and kept doing the breathing exercises, just in case.
I may have over-done the breathing exercises because I was a little afraid to stop them. I started coughing up phlegm of an indeterminate shade of yellow and then began to consider that I may have actually been irritating my lungs at this point… so I finally agreed to go to the doctor since what I really didn’t want was a secondary infection in lungs that had already been seriously challenged by a few fairly serious diseases over the course of my life.
Freely admitting that I may have screwed myself, I ended up in a small emergency care facility fully outfitted to deal with the current viral situation. Haz-mat suits, top-to-bottom, masks, you name it. They treated me as if I might be radio-active. I was fine with that. They were also polite and respectful, gave my lungs a good-to-go, and supplied me with a script for antibiotics should the condition worsen.
Then they gave me the damn test. I won’t even go into that. My husband apologized to me for not telling me about it but he’d wanted to spare me dreading it. I thanked him.
Three days later I got a call to inform me that I had tested negative…but, of course, I don’t technically know if I actually had The Virus to begin with and you know what? I don’t give a damn. I sure as hell had something and it sure as hell was unpleasant and a tad scary. In a world already filled with so many unknowns, in a life equally filled with unknowns, I think I can handle one more. Plus, I imagine that at my next annual physical my doctor will probably have me for tested antibodies. That’ll make my long-suffering husband happy; he likes to know things.
I am writing this on May 7. Today I feel like a normal person. I can’t say that I have my full quota of energy back but at least I can trot about like a normal person… as if I was ever normal. Life is… well, whatever it is.