A Year in Review: Covid Providence

I am going to say something I doubt has been uttered by very many, if anyone at all: the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. For me and those in my life at least. Not everyone has been “blessed” (for lack of a better word) but for the overall arcs over the past year it was beneficial that it went into total shut-down.

Let’s start with the first that, in hindsight, was super dangerous and had drastic effects: my husband’s obsession with the gym. He had been on paid leave from his teaching job. His symptoms of ALS had just started to show at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. He thought it was stress, because the job is insanely overwhelming at times, but that turned out to not be the case. At the start of his disability, he started to see a slough of doctors to pin-point what was happening to him. They had no answers. So, my husband treated this time like a little vacation. He was searching for purpose and the drive to do something worthwhile. And even though he was seeing a doctor for the random physical occurrences in his body, he decided to get into exercising and building muscle.

During the summer (prior to his leave) my husband had just had the gastric sleeve surgery and had lost a ton of weight. He wanted to shape up. So, he dove head first into YouTube videos about the subject and body sculpting. He got a gym membership and got so obsessed he would spend hours working out. This was for about a month prior to lockdown. Even in mandatory quarantine he didn’t want to lose his momentum (and surprising love) of exercising that he bought at-home equipment. However during the quarantine he maybe did it once or twice. He felt weird doing it when I was working from home.

Eventually he stopped altogether and it wouldn’t even be until August that we would learn that he had ALS; a disease that destroys your muscles and makes it impossible to heal the ones that are damaged. I shudder at the thought if he had kept going. Would he be worse off than he already is?

That was the biggest miracle of all.

The next was that, because I got to work from home, I got to spend more time with him. Granted I was a rage monster most of it, as I pounded away on the wireless keyboard in our living room. It was nice to be around him. It was also during this time that I watched him more and saw the toll the disease was taking on his body, but not really having the answers to what I was witnessing. I too thought it was stress. I wanted it to be that. Eventually, because Covid had made working from home so accessible, I was able to do jobs on our road trip from California to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to get a second opinion. Sure, it ultimately confirmed what we had already been told, but I got to take a memorable trip with him.

A bizarre side effect was that the man who would eventually become my husbands boyfriend, and a huge factor in our lives, was forced out of going on trip, backpacking across Europe. He had quit his job just weeks before he was going to take his sabbatical and prior to the explosion of this deadly disease. Instead of getting a once-in-a-lifetime trip, he was trapped at home. In his boredom he found other ways to occupy his time. One of which was (months into lockdown) he got on scruff to possibly make new friends, which is where he met my husband. He came over one night and has, since then, been a staple in our lives, holding our little story together. I don’t know where he came from, but he has done so much for the both of us that I don’t think I can ever repay him.

Speaking of boyfriends, it also brought mine closer to my husband. Because we couldn’t go anywhere, we were forced to cohabitate, which was something we really hadn’t done prior to lockdown. For the most part, the lives my husband and I led, apart from our marriage, were separate. Covid absolutely killed that. We started making dinners, watching tv, and spending weekends together. It’s been nice.

A really random side-effect, that turned into a huge factor, was my work-load exploded. My income has grown exponentially since because the role this pandemic has played on the real estate market. I have made more money and therefore can now afford a bigger house that will accommodate a wheel-chair, when the time comes for my husband to reside in one permanently. Up until this past year, the idea of upgrading was fleeting. Yet, here we are.

Don’t get me wrong. Covid has been horrific. It has devastated so many lives. It has made the process of dying that much shittier for my husband. When faced with one’s own definitive end, he wants to travel and see the world while still able. This disease has robbed my husband of that luxury. But then again… Maybe it’s good. We would have spent so much money that getting a bigger, nicer house would have been impossible.

This isn’t shared to brag. By no means. If the reader sees this as such, you’re missing my point. And ultimately, I have failed as a writer. It is posted as a way to try and look at this shit in a rosier light. At the end of the day this entire event has been horrific. It has needlessly killed so many people because of the negligent actions of others. It has revealed the cruelty and selfishness of humankind and for that I loathe it. It has robbed everyone a year of their life, one they will never be able to get back. I really wish it hadn’t happened, but if it hadn’t, where would my road have gone?

Coming up Covid-19

Oh, COVID-19… how I hate it. Not because it has basically destroyed any semblance of an economy, or that it has revealed the true nature of every American over having to wear a mask, or how it has trapped all of us inside our homes with our insufferable families. No. It is because it has killed conversations. I am so over discussing it in passing or at length with anyone I may come into contact with. It’s a worn out topic that, frankly, no one has anything new to offer, and at this point we all sound like broken records. (Emphasis on the all, in that statement.)

The thing that humbles me when I start to feel the rage rising in me, in regards to Covid, is that every person in the world feels my pain. Granted we all experience it at different levels, but each of us has had shared moments.

I had written about that, some months back (the beautiful thing about the “Covid Experience” is it also kills any sense of or concept of lived time), and here I am to continue it. However, since then I, my mother, and my husband have contracted the potentially deadly disease.

Out of the three of us, each experience was very different. Even my own experience was so convoluted and bizarre it was almost like the sickness itself was trying to find out what it wanted to do.

Covid Cell 1: “Should we attack the lungs today?”

Covid Cell 2: “No. I hear the toes are really popping off though.”

My husband had the luxury of sleeping for four straight days. That isn’t hyperbole. He literally slept, morning to night, through his illness. I on the other-hand continued to work from home. Where each day was something entirely different.

The first day was full body aches with a stuffy nose (with no mucus), the next it decided to cause crazy pains at the back of my legs, the following it was just pain in my upper back, and then toward the end I just had a splitting headache that refused to go away. I never once experienced a fever, though one night I had the chills while sleeping, and a cough wasn’t really a factor in my illness that I find it odd we use these two things as bars for whether we have the disease or not.

However, I say that about a cough but it is because of that, that I even assumed my mother had contracted it from me.

I was hoping she hadn’t. It turned out that the day I started to feel some building symptoms, that my mother told me she needed to go to the emergency room. Her stomach was hurting her. As it turned out (like the last time I took her for the same thing) was that she had a UTI. Her urgency was expected but overall irritating because why then? And my husband couldn’t take her because he was for sure sick, and her caretaker couldn’t because I had her insurance information. So, it had to be me. I wore a mask the entire time I was with her and she still got it. And she survived.

The first thing my husband said when I told him she tested positive was, “Your mother is a horse.” And immediately following his statement was her caretaker who opined, “Your mother would have survived the black plague.”

It’s odd to me that my mother’s body is so healthy. She’s been overweight for all of my life, and she doesn’t have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. Nope. Her health is incredible, it’s just her brain that sucks. So it’s fitting that old age or external diseases wouldn’t be the things to potentially take her life; no, it has to be her own mind that ends it all. Strange.

Miraculously, the boyfriend didn’t get it. I don’t know how. He was hanging out in the house the first day the husband was sick. He did get sick, but his test came back negative.

I would think (and hope) that surviving something that could very well have killed me would spark some sort of urgency to finish my novel. Yet, here I am lacking any will to even peruse what I have finished. It sucks.

I have ultimately chocked it up to the belief I now feel, that there is no future. Like, I do believe life will march on. It will. It has for centuries. It will just look so very different once this is all over, if it ever ends. And in this brand new age, will my story even matter?

So, instead of writing about the new route I have decided to take in regards to my book (making it a limited serial audiobook podcast) I spent the entire post talking about Covid-19.

I told you… I hate what it’s done to conversations. And now blog posts.

Fear and Loathing

In usual “look at me, look at me” form I recorded a video to post to Twitter, discussing the “realization” I had had over the people who are reluctantant or refuse to follow any of the COVID-19 rules and restrictions. However, the lighting was bad and I ended up sounding like a loon, so instead I thought I would return to good-ol’ long form. (Plus I need the practice if I intend to use this ample amount of free time to polish up that manuscript.)

Much like everyone in the fucking world, I am grappling with accepting the new reality in which we reside. Coming to terms with this new existence is hard and it’s stressful, but it is necessary. Embracing the present is the only way we can successfully move forward. And regardless of where we are emotionally, life will continue to keep going.

One of the steps I had to take for myself was to try and understand why some people REFUSE to do anything that is required of them. Why these “inconveniences” are seen as taking away their “freedom.”

Setting aside the PLETHORA of misinformation that is infecting websites across the internet, I wanted to know what other factor could be at play. It couldn’t be JUST misinformation. Because for them to seek out these “answers” there had to be some sort of catalyst.

When I examined my own behavior of discomfort and random outbursts of rage the answer came to me. The common factor fueling every one right now is fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of the virus, the fear of watching your entire reality turn on a dime. It is truly terrifying. Human nature wants stability, but external factors refuse that need. That’s why people keep looking for the “light at the end of the tunnel” or this “return to the old way.” But all of that is bullshit. When we go through a journey we are never the same people at the end. It’s true with every step we take. Even if we just walk down a hallway, our heart-rate rises, body temperature changes, we experience new scenery from where we once were. All of these compound in our minds to form a new existence, because at the end of the hallway we have gained even more than what we had at the beginning.

But, walking down the hall isn’t scary for most (taking into consideration fears and life experiences). This is more like we’ve been placed into an unfamiliar hallway, blindfolded, and we’re told that there may be obstacles, but we don’t know what kind or how many.

So, as I begin to seethe with rage at these people breaking stay at home orders, or protesting local governments about restrictions, I have to remind myself that these people are reacting from fear. And that gives me SOME relief. It doesn’t change anything outwardly, but at least it helps minimize the terror I feel in myself.