I like to imagine myself as tough, and in many ways, I am. Unhappily, this is not the case for my physical health, and never has been. I get sick when no one else gets sick, and it lasts longer. Every respiratory infection sticks to my lungs like they’re twin bowls of GLUE. I have been hospitalized, I’ve spent entire years of my twenties bedridden. It wasn’t fun! See Lois Larkin bedridden in The Missing – it came from somewhere!
When COVID first happened, I understood the importance of not spreading it to other people, and my obligations as a citizen, but I’m not sure I would have quarantined, if the government hadn’t imposed it, and had not the people around me taken it so seriously. I’m not an entirely sensible person. My husband quietly did the work, and at one point, on the phone with my dad, I suggested flying out to see him. His voice cracked and he said, “I don’t think you remember how sick you get.” My only explanation for this obliviousness is my own frustration with human frailty. My whole life, my body has called the shots, and I often rebel against it, as if trying to show it who’s boss.
Anyway, two years later, I went to StokerCon and didn’t mask like I should have, and got COVID. I knew I might get it, and my biggest worry was that I’d pass it on to my family/inconvenience our plans. I figured that it would probably be Omicron, and probably mild, if symptomatic at all. After all, I’d had three shots of vaccine and almost everyone I knew had it and they were fine.
I came home on a Sunday. I tested positive, and was symptomatic by Wednesday. I felt much worse on Thursday, and had one of those uh-oh-I-might-be-in-trouble-moments, as symptoms worsened. But then I called my doc, and got a script for the antiviral, and by the next day, I’d plateaued instead of getting worse. It’s Sunday, and I’m tired with a sore throat and that’s it. If the literature it to be believed, I may have a mild relapse, but it’s very unlikely that I’ll feel worse than I did on my most symptomatic day. Re: Long haul—who knows? I don’t! But I have a suspicion that my chances of contracting it are far lower than they would have been.
Maybe I would have been fine if I’d gotten it early on in the pandemic. I have no idea. But there is the possibility that masking, along with these vaccines and antivirals changed the course of my life. We live in unusual times. Every day, there’s a story of a shooting, of corruption, of violence and disease and end times. But I think it’s important to recognize the beauty that is science.
I am in no way trying to imply that this pandemic is close to over—from now on I’m going to be much more vigilant about masking. Still, I think of this miracle that is science, and the coldly beautiful scientific method, and am overcome with awe.