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Catching COVID over the phone

My brother Clay had said he and his wife Karen would be there for breakfast, so of course they weren't, but my brother Dick and Young-sook, his wife who speaks three words of English, were the first to arrive. Hadn't expected them, so for at least the dozenth time I told Dick to please please let me know in advance when they're coming to breakfast, and for the dozenth time I know he never will.

Breakfast was full of our family's ordinary news and inanities. We never have conversations about anything that matters, mostly just what happened at the hairdressers', on reality TV, who's recently died among the senior citizens we all know and are.

News that I'm quitting at Vector was delivered, received, and quickly drowned in the conversation, with no objection from me. I don't want to talk about it.

The biggest news was Aunt Debbie's centennial. When I was a teenager, my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Kyle taught my Sunday School class, and also ran the church's youth group for middle- and high-schoolers. They weren't really my aunt and uncle, just very good friends of my mom and dad, but they were sorta like family.

And also, they were great. I loved 'em both, but when Uncle Kyle died a few years back, I didn't go to his funeral. I don't do funerals, on principle (and the principle is, I hate funerals). I live my life pretty much alone, and prefer to mourn alone.

Aunt Debbie continues to be alive and well, except that she has very severe Alzheimer's disease, doesn't know who she is, doesn't know that her husband died, and for the last several years before his death she hadn't known who he was.

Now she's 100 years old, and my mom's planning to bring a cake to the nursing home. Not even trying to lean into my rotten bastard persona, I wonder who the cake is for? Aunt Debbie isn't there, isn't anywhere.

♦ ♦ ♦  

On the bus after breakfast, I felt more than slightly askew, which is well past my askew limits. Nauseous, achy, and at home, tilting back in the recliner, a fever announced itself. For fevers, take aspirin with plenty of water. That's a rule, right?

So every time I awoke fevered over the next several days, I took aspirin with plenty of water.

Sleeping was a series of absurd dreams, clearly based on my soon-to-be ended work at Vector. Dreamed of taking call after call after call, working the familiar Vector screen to book rides, yes, but also inexplicably double-alphabetizing the titles of every episode of Doctor Who. Double-alphabetizing means that each episode's title is re-arranged alphabetically, so "The Tsuranga Conundrum" becomes "Conundrum The Tsuranga" and is indexed under C, where no-one would ever think to look.

Several sweaty days were lost swirling in those dreams, waking only to pee and then take some aspirin with plenty more fluids. I had no appetite, but occasional, unstoppable bursts of diarrhea.

Once, the house's only toilet was occupied, so I pulled out my emergency toilet here in the room, but by the time I'd attached a plastic bag only about 60% of the flow splashed into the bucket. The rest has dried on the floor, until the day — not today, certainly — when I might have energy enough to mop the carpet.

Most of my spray of shit hit a pile of dirty clothes, which I did find the energy to launder the next day. Now all my gray t-shirts and underwear have squibbles of brown, apparently permanently.

Usually I pee into a pisspot, saving myself thirty footsteps to and from the toilet, but following the standard instructions to drink plenty of water, pee sprang from me frequently, and in directions it hadn't sprung before. Several times over several days I lined up my dick to the mouth of the pot, let loose, and saw my stream completely miss the pot. What exactly went wrong I don't know, but I started taking the extra thirty footsteps to the toilet.

I called in sick on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, except that when I tried calling in sick for Wednesday my phone said it was only Tuesday, this morning. 

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Guess I'd only called out sick twice.

There's a test coming in the mail to confirm it, but everyone knows it's COVID I'm describing. In four years wearing the mask, the coronavirus never touched me, but now it's kicked me upside the head.

I thought it had snatched about 25% of my IQ, too, what with all those bonkers dreams about double-alphabetizing Doctor Who, and me feeling incapable of coherent thought even while nominally awake.

Today, writing about it, is the first time in too many days when I've felt a little like me. Hello, I'm Doug. So far, anyway. 

On the bright side, COVID's wiped out my final week at Vector, a job I was coming to hate more and more, maybe more than any job I've ever had. How slowly those days crawled by. I would willingly choose delirium over answering another hundred calls for bus rides, and then another hundred calls for bus rides, and then another...

♦ ♦ ♦

Vector is where I caught the disease, by the way. I'm sure of it. I wore the mask at work, of course, same as I've worn masks everywhere in public since 2020. But there was one call...

An old lady on the line said she couldn't hear me, and speaking louder wasn't helping, so on that afternoon, last Thursday, I pulled my mask down, and asked, "Can you hear me now?"

"Oh, yes," the old lady said. The mask stayed down for the rest of that call, and that's the moment COVID got me.

 2/6/2024   

29 comments:

  1. My brother, after masking and avoiding social contact for four years, I got Covid three weeks ago. My wife got it at the same time. I felt horrible for a few days, but got lucky and was more or less up and around about five or six days after testing positive. My wife, three weeks later, is still coughing and feeling pretty crappy, although she's testing negative like me. I've lived a life of bad habits and my wife has lived a life of good habits, so there is no god, although we already knew that. We both wish you a speedy recovery and she thanks you for your Saint reviews.

    get well,

    John & "Martha"

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    Replies
    1. Your first go-round, too? I am glad you made it through, you and Martha. I wouldn't wish COVID on Trump.

      Guessing 'John and Martha' comes from Superboy's parents?

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    2. Martha was Amos Hoople's wife. John is my given name. My wife is rarely like Martha. I'm rarely like Superboy.

      John

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    3. I have never felt less Superboy.

      Delete
    4. You're younger than I am. Any chance you aren't familiar with Our Boarding House With Major Hoople or the genius of that single-panel comic? I have stories.

      John

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    5. I have zero knowledge of Our Boarding House with Major Hoople. Sure, I could cheat and Google, but conversations are more fun than search engines, so please, do tell.

      Delete
  2. Glad to hear that you are returning to the land of the living. I have some residual cognitive issues, but I think they are improving. My memory is still a little faulty, but I'm an old man. Shit happens.

    John

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    Replies
    1. What's the cognitive issues, if I may ask? I know many people have had it worse, but I can still taste and smell (boy do I smell) and no cognitive issues. Just *astounding* exhaustion, weakness, and a lingering nonproductive cough.

      Delete
    2. I see that you pre-answered that question elsewhere, so I shall not be on the edge of my seat, but I am rooting for you, brother.

      Delete
    3. Still having small memory problems after three weeks. Today is my wife's birthday and I forgot to sign the card I gave her. I wrote in it -- I just forgot to sign it. Then, shortly before I gave it to her, I sort of remembered forgetting to sign it, and snuck in a quick signature. I have no idea whether this is progress or regress, but I'm trying not to be bummed out about it.

      jtb

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    4. Much more important that you have someone to give a card to, than that you might briefly forget to sign it. May all your cognitive issues prove so fleeting! :)

      Delete
    5. Occasionally it's rocky, but mostly not, and I don't take it for granite.

      jtb

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  3. Oh jeez, sorry to hear you caught Covid...those masks are far from foolproof, though I'm sure you caught it at work, being part of a small crowd 5 days a week. And most of the workers, I'm guessing, don't wear masks. Or maybe you caught it riding the buses.

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    1. Probably my own cheapskatery to blame. I wear those cheap, disposable masks you're supposed to wear for one day and then toss, but it's been the same mask since September.

      Delete
    2. If you're not wearing a KN95 and changing it frequently, you're probably not getting much aerosol protection and Covid is transmitted in aerosol form. Like you, I wear a cheap face mask and reuse it a few times. So not much protection, but I am reminding other people to stay at least two meters away and to not cough in my direction. It seems to help.

      John

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    3. Occasionally in my quest to remain Covid light, someone will ask me why I always say two meters and not two yards. Sometimes someone will say they're the same thing, and I'm just trying to sound European. I have no idea why I would want to sound European -- I don't even know how European sounds. And two meters is a lot longer than two yards: roughly the length of my penis in the good old days. These ain't them.

      John

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    4. Heck of a penis, then. I don't think I could've peed two meters at my best, and these days it's a mere trickle.

      In 2020 I was wearing the mask to stay alive, but eventually it became just something to hide behind. I still love the mask for that.

      Protection, yeah, but mostly I want it to be comfortable, which means the elastic goes all the way 'round the back of my head, never an over-the-ear loop. I hate the ear loops. Finding a comfortable headstring mask is difficult.

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    5. Well, I was talking about the difference between 36 inches and a meter (about 39 1/3 inches) or 3 1/3 inches. Then double it for Covid distance and you get 6 2/3 inches. I don't get that anymore, but there was a time. Now I just try not to piss in my underwear. I have some fairly old underwear, but none of it fits behind my ear. Quite. I might be conflating two sizing issues here. Blame it on Covid.

      jtb

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    6. Sorry, but this leads right up to a recurring matter. Not sure whether it's a 'me' issue or an old-man issue, but there tends to be plenty of dribble these days, maybe because I no longer have the power-hose of a young man? Sometimes when I think I'm trickling I'm actually dribbling, and ounces dribble into my underwear.

      That's why I usually sit, especially at work.

      Just me?

      Delete
    7. I define myself as normal, so I'd say it's a normal older man thing. I do dribble. I remember in the last couple years of my Dad's life he asked me to buy him something to tuck inside his underwear because he dribbled. I'd say we're normal, at least in the penile sense.

      John

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    8. You wouldn't happen to remember what you got him, would ya?

      Delete
  4. I've been lucky to have the same pharmacist for thirty years: he's worked a few places and I just follow him around. I just asked him and he said that any man who lived long enough was going to need such a product. I'm sorry I can't remember brands, but I think this was a store brand. Maybe 5" X 4" and not as thick as you'd think. I don't remember them as being expensive, but I had a little money then. You'll want some kind of discount pharmacy.

    John

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  5. I was a painfully shy kid and a fairly shy young adult, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be a shy old man. I don't need to tell you this, but don't try guessing what will work. Walk up to a pharmacist and tell him you dribble and want a pad that absorbs dribbles before they soak underwear. As a pissed off old man, I prefer to say it viva voce, but it works if you ask quietly.

    John

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I am years, nearly decades past embarrassment. I'd say it loud, say it clear, make sure the kiddies in the candy aisle could hear me. But I'm guessing I'll be looking for something like this...

      Delete
    2. Looks ingenious, actually. Wrap it around the shaft... sure hope it won't make me horny...

      Delete
    3. Wow, that's WAY fancier than Dad had. If you're gushing, maybe you need that. But if you're just occasionally leaking, a nearly two-dimensional pad does the trick. The pharmacist will give you the options.

      John

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    4. Pharmacists are underrated, and have been helpful for me with advice like this several times. I'm a Bob Johnson guy, so I'll just give Bob a call.

      Delete
    5. We underutilize pharmacists, and mine is about to retire. We've been partners through life changes, illnesses, surgical recoveries, a damn heart attack, and Covid. Don't know what I'll do without him. Don't know where he falls on the rating systen, but I'd give him a 10 or 11, although I'm unfamiliar with the scale. There's a good independent pharmacy about 15 minutes from my house, and I'm trying to talk him into working there a couple of days a week instead of "retiring".

      John

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    6. I've never had that kind of a long-lasting relationship with a particular pharmacist. Never even noticed aa particular pharmacist's name (which might be why).

      All I know for certain is that doctors' drug expertise is frequently lacking. Once for me and once for my wife, it was the pharmacist not the doctor who noticed that the prescription would interact unpleasantly with another prescription from the same doctor.

      A pharmacist is also great for recommending an over-the-counter remedy, if you're lucky enough to find a pharmacist who has thirty seconds to spare an a chain store.The indy places are always better.

      Delete

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