By: Matt Gordon
I caught COVID-19 for the 63rd time this week.
It started as it nearly always does with a friend of a friend of a friend contracting the illness. Next, I find out about this, usually via indirect, and vague, social media inference, and with startling immediacy I get a tickle in my throat or notice the redness in my own eyes or just can’t stop coughing, even though my body doesn’t really even feel the need to cough. There I am just coughing nonetheless. The onslaught of the sickness also lures me to graphs, all sorts of them. Graphs depicting the growth of COVID in my county and my age bracket and my innards; graphs showing hospitalizations and deaths; graphs displaying the inelegant pairing of math and epidemiology that is absolutely impossible for a normal human being, much less a below average one like me, to understand. Yet I stare at such graphs on reputable websites as if a severe scrunching of my face might somehow deliver to me some semblance of comprehension of what the X-axis and Y-axis could possibly be trying to awaken for me. Someone should probably make a graph which shows the correlation between facial contortion and graph comprehension. Illumination never comes for me. Instead I am flummoxed, scrunched, and afflicted. Only my fear is aroused.
What this all tells me is something doctors are mum on. Coronavirus (remember the good old days when we called it by its fuller name: Coronavirus) they say, is a respiratory infection. But, for me, this hasn’t been the case. For me, COVID-19 has infected my mind. 63 times and counting. Sure, I don’t miss out on the symptoms: fever and chills, check; cough, can’t stop-won’t stop; difficulty breathing, might as well be Darth Vader over here; fatigue, I haven’t moved in days; body aches, uncommonly so; headache, it is like a smithy up there; sore throat, I sound like Louis Armstrong; diarrhea, don’t get me started (or, I sound like Louis Armstrong).
But that isn’t all—and boy how I wish it were; you probably do too. As the CDC site notes, “This list does not include all possible symptoms.” No, not by a longshot. Here are some other things I’ve experienced in my 63 bouts with this malady:
-Energy Drink Affliction (EDA) – because I’m sure I have COVID pretty much always, I feel tired pretty much always. I’ve combatted this with the copious use of energy beverages. What began as a shot here or there has turned into an all-day compulsion. I am propped up by b-vitamins, caffeine, and guarana, whatever that is.
-Cancelation of everything – Just to play it safe, I pretty much bail on every meeting, phone call, chore around the house . . . anything. I’m not going to be the super spreading event, so it is better to just conserve my energy, imbibed from a nearby can, for when I truly need it (to make it to the bathroom in time should one of the more unsavory symptoms come on).
-Bankruptcy –prior to COVID, I ordered carryout or delivery food once every decade or so. And even though I have total access to groceries and a tremendously stocked fridge and pantry, I now eat carryout or delivery approximately sixteen times a day. Apparently every food service ever is dependent on me—a customer they never had prior to the pandemic—to keep them in business. That is how it started. And then I got the apps on my phone, and then apps at my door. There was no turning back. I requested the government just give me my stimulus monies in the form of Grub Hub gift cards, which, thanks to the marked-up menu, the delivery fees, and the tip, enabled me to buy an order of delicious, luke-warm Awesome Blossom onion petals. Since I had convinced myself I could neither taste nor smell, I didn’t enjoy them quite like I should though.
-Limp/Footwear Degradation – When I get COVID, I want my wife to know it. Since she has become numb to my cough and voice in general (I think this is a symptom all her own), I feel I must visibly represent my diminished condition through a dramatic limp. I drag one leg behind like one might a stubborn pig, all about the house. I’ll change legs as my body demands, but I’ve noticed a nasty side effect of this symptom: oddly worn out shoes. That’s right. Some of my sneakers have become worn and scuffed in peculiar locations on account of being dragged about thusly. Maybe I’ll get a new pair with my next wave of government assistance? Maybe it’s a tax write-off? I’ll ask my Grub Hub driver if he knows anything about this when I see him in a couple minutes. He has become like a father to me in these trying times.
-Neuroticism – I’m nervous about coming; I’m nervous about going. I wear a disguise to leave the house. I put pillow cases on the TV at night to keep the CDC from monitoring me, protection from Fauci’s ceaseless eye. I sleuth about websites trying to find more stuff that is wrong with me. And I always find plenty. Unending graphs of indiscernible data about all that is wrong.
I could go on. I have symptoms for days—generally a fortnight at a time, followed by a five-day symptom-free quarantine, a short self-examination for physical fitness (push-ups, the sit-and-reach, the broad jump, shuttle run, reporting my results to my seventh grade gym teacher, Coach Riney, and so on), before finally readmitting myself to pseudo public life through wearing jeans again.
COVID-19 has been a real disrupter in the rhythm of life, even those who have just had it once can attest to that. But for those, like me, who have contracted the mental version of it 63 times, the toll is immense. But alas! The scientists are coming—on bespectacled steeds they thunder in with their solution. They will hold me down and vaccinate my body. Like COVID-19, I just hope they can reach my mind too.