After spending a weekend wedged uncomfortably beneath a pair of uncooperative sinks and hacksawing through a collection of antique plumbing fixtures, the Monday morning body aches seemed to be par for the course. I’d been sore before and this wasn’t any worse than any other time. It was Monday, July 18. It was about three weeks before Bill Moor achieved his first positive Covid test, and I was about to discover that the body aches weren’t the worst of it.
I was sitting in a crowded gymnasium that evening when it happened, not the best place to suddenly realize that you’re a dangerous, contagious funk-monster. Fortunately for everyone, I was masked and social-distanced, although it had never occurred to me that I was the one carrying the bug. When it came to matters of disease transmission, it was them I wasn’t so sure about.
The important thing to know is that I was fine. I was completely fine, a sore back notwithstanding. And then all of a sudden, I felt cold. Very, very cold.
I looked around the crowded gymnasium. There were 80 people in the confined space. Half of them had been working out for the better part of an hour. There was no air conditioning here. It was 95 degrees outside. This was not a cold room.
And I was freezing.
My first test came back negative, but in the back of my mind I already knew it was too good to be true. My temperature soared to 103, the chills continued, the body aches increased, and you don’t want to know about the GI problems. When I tested again on Tuesday, the diagnosis was conclusive: After avoiding the coronavirus (remember when we just used to call it ‘coronavirus’?) for more than two years, I was positive.
I was sick with it for about three days before the chills subsided, the fever went down, the aches disappeared, and as for my bowels, let’s just say that they returned to normal.
But I was not better.
I spent the better part of the next two weeks – my quarantine period – with a period of prolonged exhaustion and fatigue the likes of which I have never experienced in my four decades of life. My first post-Covid excursion took me all the way down to the mailbox, and when I had to navigate the stairs on my return trip, I openly wondered whether I had the strength to make it back to bed.
A few things you should know about me: I am 38 years old. I am vaccinated and boosted. I am healthy. I am fit. I keep a sensible diet, mostly. My favorite pastime involves riding bicycles a hundred miles at a time.
I only tell you that so that I can tell you this:
Covid still kicked my ass.
And I know I’m still one of the lucky ones. A friend – a younger friend – spent a night in the hospital with labored breathing just a few weeks ago. That’s a symptom I never had, and it’s the scariest one you can get, but then she’s one of the lucky ones too. After all, this is a disease that’s killed more than six million people worldwide and 900 in St. Joseph County.
The weeks that followed have seen a slower recovery than I would have liked. I can get through a day without a nap and I’m riding my bike again, but I’ve given up a lot of strength and speed. It feels like I’m climbing even when there’s not a hill. I get outraced and outfoxed by my wife, but then that’s not actually anything new.
I’m not sure what I could have done or should have done differently. Our societal return to normalcy gained me a lot – I successfully launched a book, got married, and sat down for coffees and beers with new and old friends. It rescued beloved restaurants that had been on the brink, brought financial solvency back to many, and reopened libraries.
It also cost me about half of a summer.
I guess I’d say the tradeoff has been worth it, but that’s easy for me to say.
After all, I’m one of the lucky ones.