A few months ago, my son Chris spent some time in a car with his girlfriend and another person, going back and forth between Sacramento and the Tahoe area. The other person had Covid at the time, and didn’t really tell Chris or his girlfriend. At the same time, my daughter Bryanna picked up Covid from work. I went by her apartment and took her a drink from Dutch Bros. Chris kissed his girlfriend and came home. Then we all found out about the Covid vectors, and I was sure Chris and I were both infected.
We didn’t get sick. We both tested negative. Bullet dodged.
A couple of weeks ago, Melissa and I went to Chicago for WorldCon, where there wound up being 60 reported cases of Covid.
We came home, and we didn’t get sick. We both tested negative. Bullet dodged again.
During the Writing Excuses Retreat 2022, the first reported case amongst our group was announced in the middle of the week. By Thursday, I had a tickle in the back of my throat, but tested negative. Thursday evening, my symptoms became much more pronounced. I hoped I was just exhausted, and that a good night’s sleep would set me right.
I woke up the next morning and felt like garbage. I tested positive. I am not Neo, after all.
Lots of friends and acquaintances talk about mild symptoms, and that it was no big deal. A couple people in my perimeter have said that if they hadn’t taken a test, they might not have known that they had Covid at all.
It hit me hard. One of the doctors on the ship gave me Robitussin and Nyquil equivalents. He may or may not have said something about getting lots of rest. If he did, I took it to heart. When I got back to my room, I took a dose of the red stuff instead of the blue stuff, in case I wanted to stay up and write during my sick time, and then I promptly crawled into bed and slept for 26 hours. Friday doesn’t exist for me.
Melissa was not sick at this time. She may have had the option to change rooms, but she didn’t want to leave me, and I selfishly didn’t want her to go, either. She brought me food and fluid throughout Friday, but I only remember a little of it. I was apparently very grumpy about it. I just tried to sleep to get to the other side of the pain, because there was a lot of it.
On Saturday morning, I got up and went to the bathroom. Melissa wasn’t in the room. She might have gone to deck 4 to read. She might have gone to find herself some food. I don’t remember. I didn’t want her to get sick, and I remember turning away from her all the time to avoid breathing on her. When she was in the room with me, I tried going to the opposite side. It turns out, that little dance was useless, but I really didn’t want her to get sick, too, because I at last knew first hand what it was like, and I did not wish for her to suffer.
I coughed as I entered the bathroom. Not a particularly weak cough, either. I put some force behind it, but it didn’t move the material in my chest enough. It moved it some, which is to say that thick, heavy mucus entered a part of my throat it should not have. It felt like a stone lodged near my vocal cords.
I tried to swear and discovered I could not speak. Then I realized I couldn’t breathe.
I could not breathe.
Fear hit me, but not panic, exactly. I could see myself in the mirror. My eyes went wide. I remember thinking, “Oh. This is Covid. This is how people die from Covid. Choking to death.”
That could have been my end. It was close.
I figured out that I could get a trickle of air in if I tried hard enough, and I did. Through what felt like a bent straw in my throat, I managed to inflate my lungs as much as I could, and then I tried to cough again.
The blockage ejected. I spit at least some of it out in the sink. It was colorful.
I could breathe again.
I believe the long sleep is what got me in trouble. I was a bit dehydrated, which made the mucus thicker in my lungs. After drinking and eating, I started to feel much, much better. There was still pain in all my joints, and a headache, and it hurt to swallow, but the pains were starting to recede. By the afternoon, the pain was almost all gone, and all I was left with was the wildly fluctuating fever and a world of snot.
Every day since then has been a ton of better. Right now, I feel like I have a head cold, and I’m almost over it.
Catching Covid while on the cruise meant that I couldn’t come home when planned. We came back to Galveston, and around 20 of us Covid+ people from the retreat got transferred to 2 AirBnBs. I’ve been keeping my spirits up, and trying to help the others around me. I’ve made meals a few times, and it’s been a pretty good way to deal with being confined. It’s been a good place to recover.
Yesterday was a bad day, though. Yesterday deserves its own post, but it’s part of My Covid Story, now, so I’ll include it here.
Yesterday, Monday, September 19th, started with a call from Chris. Our cat Paws was in trouble.
Paws had problems while we were away. About the time I started to show signs of Covid, Paws had stopped eating, and Chris took him to the vet. Paws needed fluids and food, and there were signs of multiple organ failures. It looked bad, bad, bad for him. He probably should have been put down at that point and saved him any additional suffering, but apparently the vet was more hopeful than that, and scheduled a number of treatments, thinking he would get better.
Monday morning, he was not getting better. Chris was having to deal with it all alone. Something happened. Paws made some kind of noise. His tongue was sticking out, and he stopped breathing for a few seconds. Things were happening, and Chris was scared. He put him in his car and started racing to the vet emergency care, which was about 20 minutes away. During the drive, he called Melissa.
Melissa spoke to him, and then I heard it in her voice. Covid. It finally got her.
We tried to give as much reassurance to Chris as we could, but there was only so much we could do. His two sick parents were halfway across the country, and the cat wasn’t showing any signs of life.
Paws passed away. He will not be there to greet us when we finally manage to get home.
A little bit later, I made Melissa take a Covid test. In the dim light, it looked like she tested negative again. She took a picture of it and sent it to the kids, and looking at it on our phones, the truth was made that much more obvious. In addition to her being congested, and having a fever, and aching all over, there was a faint line at the T on the test.
Melissa was not Neo, either.
If Melissa managed to remain Covid free, we would have transferred to a hotel in Houston tonight, then double masked and flown home on Wednesday. Our plans needed to change, so we’ll be here through the end of the week.
There is some relief in Melissa turning up Covid positive at this point. I’m no longer doing a weird dance, trying not to breathe on her. I don’t have to mask around her. We can cuddle when we go to sleep again, though she’s currently a bundle of lava.
Last night, I finished the first draft of a story that was very challenging to write. Today, I read it to her.
The company around me is very nice. There is a lot of support here. As far as isolation is concerned, a person could do much worse.
That is My Covid Story. I should probably add the words “so far.” I still have symptoms, and we’re not home yet. But I think I see how this story will end, and this is enough.