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What Covid Taught Me

Sometime in late March, I contracted the SARS-COV-2 virus. I don’t know how, where, or exactly when — maybe at the office, where hygiene standards had grown lax, or just in passing at the grocery store. It doesn’t matter, and even if I knew for sure I wouldn’t say.

Two weeks later, I had a cold that morphed into the worst case of pneumonia I have ever had. After a night of nausea so intense that it literally knocked me out of bed, I went to the clinic, where I got my official diagnosis. I went into quarantine for two weeks, got some steroids, and waited it out.

When I fell ill, I was just a week away from getting the first shot of vaccine.

***

In the end, I was very fortunate.

Despite weeks of fatigue, social isolation, greatly reduced fitness, and that loss of taste and smell that people often report, I got very lucky. I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I didn’t need to be ventilated. I lived.

My family, who was also exposed, was also fortunate enough not to need hospitalization.

I know people who did. I know many who still wrestle with symptoms of Long Covid months after getting the disease.

Gratitude was my first lesson.

***

I hated having to ask for help. When it felt like a bad flu, I thought I could wait it out, and I was still in such denial. It couldn’t be Covid, of course not, it must be some nonspecific pneumonia like I caught after a trip to New Orleans in 2017.

After crash-landing off my bed, busting my nice horn-rimmed glasses, unable to sit up because I’d puke if I did, I knew I couldn’t weather this on my own. The next morning I went to an urgent care clinic and got help.

Humility was my second lesson.

***

I still don’t know what lasting effects my brush with Covid has had. Once the steroids had knocked out my fever and the nausea, I was left with no appetite, no taste or smell, and almost no energy to do anything. I couldn’t even wash my own dishes.

And I could barely work. I had serious concerns that it had affected my cognition. I still wrestle a bit with finding the right word, but my focus has improved at least.

I spoke about my recovery on Facebook, breaking a vow I took to avoid the website in order to inform people about what wound up a typical case of Covid. Many friends had encountered months-long recovery times, and not just those with Long Covid.

But people were getting better.

Hope … I guess? I’m not ready to accept this lesson yet. I’m wary.

***

Tolkien and his works have been on my mind these past few months (probably longer.) I’ve begun a re-read of the major Middle-Earth books — The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, all of which I first read 20 years ago.

“Like butter over too much bread,” Bilbo Baggins says in Fellowship of the Ring. Stretched out, feeling way too thin.

I’m feeling tired, but also lucky, finally past the rough road and on to better travels.