Every year, for the last forty-some-odd year, my in-laws have hosted a huge Christmas party with their closet friends. Dozens of Santa figures are gathered in different pockets of the home, opposite clusters of fake poinsettias. The twenty-foot tree stands perfectly centered in the front window. Days were spent arranging twenty place settings with the finest china, fanciest flatware, and just the right amount of romantic lighting. It’s the epitome of keeping up with the Joneses. And, since we’re staying here, my partner and I were roped into doing all the work.
On Saturday, eight couples showed up to The Twelve Days Of Christmas event wearing tuxedos and glittery ball gowns, and we made ourselves scarce. We are still taking precautions around the COVID-19 virus because even mild cases result in lasting heart damage, and I already have enough of that.
We holed up in the bedroom as glassed clinked, laughter roared, and the player piano led the drunken group in song: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”
I fell asleep early despite the raunchous cacophony, while the old folks partied until 2 o’clock in the morning.
Two days later, my in-laws woke up with tickles in their throats, crushing fatigue, and a hacking cough. The cheap, expired nasal swap spit out my father-in-law’s diagnosis: COVID-19. My mother-in-law’s test, however, verified her assumption: it’s just allergies. Even though half the attendees are now symptomatic, my mother in-law is impervious. Besides, she has too many social events to attend this week to declare herself sick. (Is it just me, or is that attitude totally unethical and selfish? Ugh!)
Five days after potential exposure, my partner and I remain quarantined our room. We’re loading up on prophylactics, such as vitamin d, zinc, nigella sativa, cod liver oil, IV glutathione, thymosin beta-4 injections, quercetin and curcumin, echinacea, low-dose naltrexone, and ivermectin. So far, we remain asymptomatic. I’ve spent the last five years working on immune system modulation to tame some autoimmune conditions, and I now feel confident that those efforts are paying off.
Last night, my boyfriend and I shared a $6 cup of lentil soup on the Whole Foods patio (because the in-laws refuse to quarantine and we can’t go to the kitchen) while brainstorming new lines to The Twelve Days of Christmas: “On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three sick friends, two hacking coughs, and a chorus of “it wasn’t me!” Or something along those line. We laughed our sides off!
We then drove around to look at Christmas lights. One of our stops was the lit-up railroad park. Two years prior, to the day, my boyfriend came out of COVID-19 quarantine. He was weak, skeletal, and lucky to be alive. He had been hospitalized for blot clots in his lungs and legs (PE/DVT), despite having youth, good health, and several prophylactics on his side. That evening, he mustered up a bit of energy and we drove to the nearby railroad park, where we peered through the fence at the shining tress and smiling families, holding hands and feeling truly grateful to be together again. It was bittersweet to be back in the same place under tangential circumstances. This time, we hoped, was different.
My boyfriend is livid at his parents for their carelessness. After his own brush with death, he has done everything in his power to protect me from the virus. And his efforts have been successful, so far. My immune system already has a history of self-sabotage, so COVID-19 could be big problem for me. While I agree that they are acting selfishly, I don’t share the same level of rage.
Earlier this year, purely out of curiosity, my primary care physician tested several antibody levels. For years, my antibodies to coccidioidomycosis, HHV-6, EBV and other viruses were continuously hospitalization-level and non-responsive to aggressive anti-fungal and antibiotic treatments. My antibodies have decreased significantly over the past year, suggesting that my immune system is calming down and learning to self-regulate. Thanks to a healthy diet, lifestyle, and painfully expensive supplement regimen, I think I’ve achieve immunomodulation. After exposure to a highly-contagious virus, I am perfectly fine.
I suppose we’re not out of the woods yet, but I feel good about the situation. I’m not worried in the least about getting sick. So, while locked away in the bedroom, my brain just keep looping through new variations on the Christmas classic. Here’s another: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, IM-MUN-NITY!”