It's good to not be dead.

If I took more pride in my writing, I'd have nothing to post today. You wouldn't be reading this.

Still weak from COVID, I've been in my recliner for two weeks now, so there are no stories to tell. Had breakfast with my family this morning, and it was the first time I'd left the house in two weeks, but nothing much happened at breakfast. No amusing anecdotes of my mom, sorry.

Four years into the worst pandemic of my lifetime — the pandemic that taught me the word 'pandemic' — I hadn't caught what's been goin' round. I'd fooled myself into thinking that's impressive, that I'd been smart to wear the mask since 2020, keep my shots current and all, which is true, certainly. But going four years without COVID is mostly a testament to what a complete hermit I am. It's easy not to get sick if you live your life utterly alone, as I have since my wife died, five years ago.

But jeez, how many old episodes of Doctor Who can a man watch, back-to-back-to-back? Writing is my preferred (and almost only) form of contact with other humans, and I could use some contact, so whether it should or shouldn't, this page now exists. Gotcha!

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Anyone who's been through COVID, I'd be curious to hear how your experience compares with mine. I'll go first.

At the worst of it, there was uncontrollable diarrhea, much of which didn't make it into the toilet. There was a lack of balance, me holding onto the old-people bars in the walls of the shower, fearful I'd topple. There was no appetite, and I went days without eating; it simply never occurred to me. There was nausea, fever, and a deep, constant gurgling sound with every breath I'd inhale, so loud it frightened the cat — and frightened me, to be honest. 

There was occasional difficulty breathing, and some slight but strange cognitive issues, mostly overnight or when I was especially exhausted, which was often. Sleep or lack-of-sleep was frightening and fascinating to live through, but will be boring in the telling.

I might've been asleep already, when I dreamed over and over that I couldn't sleep. Or I might've been awake. I'm still not sure, but for several nights the dream or the sleeplessness repeated, over and over:

Sleep was allowed, but regulated by a government agency. There were forms to file online, to set up sleep appointments — 4:00 to 4:30 AM might have been an open slot, so I'd log in and input those times, and then do nothing but watch the digital clock at my bedside as it crept toward my authorized sleep time. For hours, I watched the clock tick onward, or dreamed it.

My waking brain wondered whether it was delirium, but to my overnight brain it was insomnia, in its dullest possible manifestation — I could do nothing but lie there and watch the clock. Couldn't look away. Couldn't get out of bed. Couldn't move. Couldn't sleep, unless I was asleep, but if I was asleep I never knew it.

The only thing not to hate about it was, when the clock finally clicked over to whatever time was my sleep appointment, I'd fall asleep almost instantly. Which means, I guess, that deep down inside I'm a man who follows orders, and I hate that about me.

After falling into authorized sleep, my frenzied and incoherent dreams weren't about watching the clock, but became even more relentlessly stupid and repetitive.

In one recurring dream, I was pushing my wife's wheelchair, but she wasn't in it.

In another I was answering phones at Access, but couldn't understand what any of the callers were saying.

In a third, there was a bloody gouge on my hand, and my cat was licking it, eating my blood and flesh. 

In the recurring nightmare that recurred most, I was in a diner waiting for breakfast — always a different diner, and breakfast was always wrong. Somehow computers were involved, something had glitched out, so my hash browns were undercooked or uncooked, or the omelet included shells, or the toast was moldy but toasted and buttered... 

And then a few minutes later, I'd be ordering breakfast in a different diner, where something else would go wrong, and breakfast would again be a horror, or never come.

Now, though, everything's mostly back to normal. What a relief at the diner this morning, when breakfast came quick and tasted great.

There's still a chest-rattling, bodyaching cough, and often I'm still exhausted, but at least and at last I'm sleeping normally, which is poorly. I can stand without gripping the bars. I can breath. There's a very slight gurgling in my chest, so quiet the cat can't hear it.

Only two weeks from the worst, all the symptoms are almost entirely gone. From what I've read of the disease, this makes me one lucky sumbitch. Many people, millions, have life-long lingering aftereffects, but I don't think that'll be me, and for the rest of my life, I'll be thanking my lucky genes.



  1. Hey, on the mend!...Yeah, I was the most careful, then finally in December let down my guard, ie, went to two clinics in one morning maskless and caught the damn thing...So now I was tainted and didn't tell very many, but it was a mild case, one night of insomnia, and then a few weeks of feeling under but not too far under...So that's it...Eel

  2. Here I am, two weeks and a day after first testing negative, and I'm doing well. I still have short term memory loss and a little cognitive confusion. I just got back from the store: I was trying to dig out the correct change for the groceries, and I kept counting and getting different amounts. I finally handed the cashier a 20 and held out my hand for the change. I stuck whatever she gave me in the pocket of my sweats, but I'm not sure which pocket. It took me about 40 minutes to do 15 minutes of shopping because I kept forgetting why I was headed to the freezer department.

    On the other hand, my wife tested negative the same day I did, and she's still coughing and having trouble sleeping. The difference (maybe): because of my cardio condition, my doc got me the Swedish antiviral (five day intensive therapy, eight pills a day). One never knows for sure, but I swear that's what made the difference.

    I'm giving my wife an olde family recipe every time she starts coughing: 1/3 OTC cough medicine, 1/3 water (swirled together) and 1/3 brandy (cheap brandy-- what the hell, you're mixing it with cough medicine). It seems to reduce the intensity and frequency of the cough and occasionally stops the cough entirely. She has a history of pulmonary problems, so whenever she gets sick or Trump wins a primary, she starts coughing.

    I'll send another report next week.

    Hope you're continuing to improve.


    1. Oh John, I do hope the cloudiness clears quickly. None of what you describe has happened to me, and jeez, the money-counting thing would scare me. The thing where you forget what you're looking for, more than once — that sounds like a fresh hell.

      A big part of what's kept me away from drug or alcohol addiction is that I don't want anything seriously messing with my mind for more than the briefest time, and always and only by my choice.

      That said, your olde family recipe intrigues me. Never had any success with any kind of cough syrup, but if it doesn't work the brandy might at least knock me into sleep.

      Please do keep me posted, on you and your wife. I'd like to have you around for a long while, and I'd like you to have her for a long while too.

      Love you man.

  3. Thanks brother. The cognitive stuff was slightly underway before I got Covid, so it's hard to separate the new forgetting from the ongoing forgetting. I get by OK, but I need to make a lot more lists than I used to.

    Sleeping is a small problem for me as well, certainly exacerbated by Covid. I've been listening to audiobooks, mostly Dashiell Hammett (which is free because of the 95-year rule). You'll note the difference between an audiobook and a radio play. With great authors like Hammett, nobody can make a radio play as entertaining as his writing. Gunsmoke, was a well-funded radio series with fine acting, unavailable in book form. You might try streaming a Hammett, maybe "The Gutting of Couffignal" or "The Scorched Face" (both short stories) or a novel like "The Maltese Falcon" (all on YouTube for free).

    I think I was going to make a point, but I forgot what it was.

    Drink fluids, because, what else are you going to do with fluids?


    1. It's too easy to forget 'drink fluids', but it makes all the difference I think. I drink water from a half-gallon jug beside the recliner, which lets me gage easily how much I've been drinking, and the coughs definitely get harsher and less productive if I go eight hours forgetting to chug.

      Got three noiry novels, and they're good for nudging me toward sleep, but I've heard them all many times. Maybe I'll grab "The Gutting of Couffignal"

    2. I'll be genuinely curious how you like it. Enjoy.


    3. It'll take me a week to know the stories, 20 minutes at a time.

  4. I feel totally wiped out just by reading about your covid malaise! SO glad you're on the mend, Doug.

    - Zeke Krahlin

    1. I will take that as a get-well soon card, and it's appreciated. You could also send chocolates!

  5. I go away for a while and you get covid? Glad you had your shots so you didn't die.

    Saw the most beautiful sunset yesterday at Ocean Beach. Do you still miss San Francisco?


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