The last two weeks have been perpetual progression of fear, mundanity, loneliness, and momentary bursts of nervous joy. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I wake up with the sun each morning and then anxiously wait half the day for a good morning text from across the house. Covid symptoms are neither linear nor predictable. My better half has gone to the hospital twice in the last twelve days, most recently for sharp lung pain that turned out to be the start of a blood clot in his lung paired with pneumonia. He’s young and healthy with no preexisting conditions, so this has been a scary time for both of us. We’ve done everything we can to keep me isolated, as we are both concerned about how my body might respond with my previous lung damage and chronic fatigue syndrome. Last week, I tested negative.
When he first went into quarantine, I was excitedly planning to use the time to read, write, sew up Christmas gifts and bake but I’ve instead been worrying myself to the point of exhaustion and then falling asleep before sundown in the never-been-occupied guest bedroom. I haven’t left the house at all and have only opened the door twice to bring into groceries dropped off by my dad and father-in-law. Two dozen bowls and an equal number of spoons are being held hostage in the master bedroom and the elusive covid elf (that would be me!) drops off worthless treasures outside the door, such as phone chargers, another book, the other thermometer and cold palak paneer. It’s such a strange existence. I desperately miss walks to the park and the mailbox, but am now terrified of the virus and its effects.
My boyfriend estimates that he’s lost twenty pounds over the last two weeks, and he’s tall and lanky to begin with. Unexpectedly, the “suffering spouse” weight loss plan has kicked in without my knowledge and I’ve dropped seven pounds in the same time. Apparently worrying is a highly metabolic process. I’m hoping that soon the need to worry will dissipate, even if I regain the weight I didn’t really need to lose.
Since March, I’ve thought a lot about what I think about the virus. To be honest, I’m a homebody so wasn’t too upset by the prospect of working from home, going out less, or staying in. We had adequate PPE on hand because my boyfriend panicked slightly when Ebola was confirmed in Dallas several years ago. N95 masks, P100 respirators, googles, gloves, and hazmat suits have been living in the storage closet just in case. Out two-person household shops at Costco and stocks up on staples when they’re on sale, so we had enough toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and nonperishable food, and I have a new appreciation for my boyfriend’s prepper tendencies and our guest bedroom “walk-in Costco closet.” I honestly felt prepared…until we weren’t.
The virus has turned life upside down. Without social media, our circle is small and covid has driven a wedge between us and those who still think this is an elaborate hoax. We’ve gone months without hugs and our favorite Indian buffet; months without Saturday board game night with my family; months without seeing my sister or my grandparents, and; months without being able to running an errand just to get out of the house. Life has changed so drastically, and it doesn’t appear that will change any time soon. Unfortunately, the governor of Arizona has implored locals to “exercise common sense” and–well–you don’t want to see what the average Phonetician’s idea of common sense is…
Yet, the virus has also been a potent reminder of what really matters. I don’t need new clothes, new hiking gear or extra trinkets. In the last year, we’ve embraced the stay-at-home life, upgrading from an upright Dyson to smaller model (on sale at Costco!), purchasing some new All Clad stainless steel pots and pans, and buying Indian spices to recreate our favorite dishes at home. Life should have been boring and domestic, but it didn’t feel that way. We went on evening walks, watched documentaries on the weekends, played two-person board games, worked on jigsaw puzzles, and tried new recipes. At the end of the day, quarantine has been nice because I’ve been in good company. Quarantine has made me extra appreciative of my loving partner and my wonderful parents. Covid taught me to not only not take my loved ones for granted, but to be extra expressive of my love for them.
Six years ago, my boyfriend took care of me while I suffered and recovered from a severe case of valley fever, with symptoms almost identical to what he’s going through. At that time, I came to recognize the importance of family and friends above all else. It was a potent lesson, though it took a few years to fully sink in: slow down, savor the moment, take care of yourself, and stop stressing. Nothing matters if you’re not around to experience it. When my boyfriend returned from the hospital the other day and said that he had signs of a pulmonary embolism, which had likely been minimized by his blood-thinning fish oil supplement, it was a reminder that–truly–nothing else really matters. I don’t know why this lesson is showing up in my life again, but the message is loud and clear: appreciate what you have.
Nothing was the same this year except the people who care. My network is small, but I have felt supported throughout the last year. I appreciate my family and friends more than ever before. Being isolated at home for just two week, too exhausted to call or text anyone, feel like I have been all alone for months.
For years, my boyfriend has been striving towards self-sufficiency. When covid began, we didn’t need to rush out for toilet paper, Tylenol or hand sanitizer. For the last seven years, we’ve kept a little bit of everything in storage for more minor emergencies, and this is the first time I’ve not been embarrassed to share that.
My employer instructed everyone to work from home beginning in mid-March. Though I miss the workplace and my coworkers, I’m grateful that my employer cares enough about the staff to protect us. Additionally, our PTO rollover was extended so the 2020 vacations that were cancelled might be able to be spent in 2021. Fingers crossed.
Finally, I’m grateful for my health. While I feel terrible that my better half has been banished to the bedroom for two weeks, I can’t begin to explain the look of joy on his face when I tested negative. Since my valley fever infection in 2015, we have been supplementing with immune-boosting substances (vitamin C, vitamin D, quercetin, CoQ10, magnesium, B12) and since the start of covid, have added in several prophylaxis measures (melotonin, N-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoic acid). The doctor at the hospital said the actions he had taken over the last ten months had likely prevented him from having a more severe case.
These are rough times. Sacrifices have been made, experiences put on hold, and opportunities lost. But, we’re all still here. We may be grieving, hurting, and unsure of what comes next, but we’re here and that’s one hell of a place to start.
Stay safe, be well, and take care! Sending a big hug from the high desert.