Here we go again. I’m writing this a couple days ahead, feeling cruddy but with no idea what it is or how long it will last. All I know is that if I do have COVID-19 for a second time, I’m better off preparing ahead of time.
Why do I think I might have it again? 1. I feel tired and ill; 2. There are cases popping up in the news of reinfections, as well as people feeling better and then relapsing weeks later; 3. People don’t become immune to other members of the coronavirus family, so why assume we would from this one?
If I’m wrong, then I’ll have extra supplies. I can either use them for some other respiratory bug or share them with someone else. I can laugh at myself for being a worrywart. If I’m right... well, so far I have failed to over-prepare for a single thing during this pandemic.
The first thing I did was to take inventory of our medicine cabinet. I would not want to go through this the natural way, without modern pharmaceuticals, like some medieval person in a hut. I want Mucinex and Tylenol. Assuming it’s just me, I need enough supplies for 2x/day for at least three weeks. Last time, we ran out and there were shipping delays, but we got lucky and I managed not to miss any doses.
Next, I decided to order a pulse ox, a finger pulse oximeter. During my second week, I was gulping air and having a lot of trouble breathing. If that happens again, I’m not waiting, I’m going to try to get myself admitted to the hospital for at least a few hours with an oxygen mask. I figure I have a better chance advocating for myself if I have metrics.
The last time we went through all this, back in April, all this stuff was sold out. You couldn’t get a pulse ox - they were all marked up in price and back-ordered - in the same way that you couldn’t get masks or face shields or cleaning wipes or hand sanitizer. You could find Tylenol and Mucinex if you looked hard, just like paper towels and toilet paper. In some ways, it’s less scary to buy something like this and see a ship time of under a week.
These are the easy steps. Retail therapy. Let’s buy a consumer item and then everything will be all better, right?
The harder parts are playing through my memories of this illness and thinking back to what I need to do. Three months ago, I was deathly ill and pretty sure I would not live to see my birthday. Still not there yet. This is not fun to think about.
I should probably re-pack my hospital bag and leave it packed.
I should probably re-think my advance care directive. I was pretty adamant about the “do not resuscitate” part when I filled it out ten years ago. Now it seems fairly ordinary for a COVID patient to be in a coma for days or weeks, and then walk themselves out of the hospital. I’ll be 45 this week (*hope*) and I have as reasonable a chance as anyone else my age.
Last time, one of the many little annoyances was that I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t follow a plot, either in a novel or a movie. I’m prepared for this now. I realized I could have been listening to music and looking at streaming nature cams. I have a folder of those just in case.
I know a lot more this time around, because I’ve already been through this illness and because I’ve been avidly reading everything I could find about it for the last four months. I quit checking the daily statistics. I don’t feel like I need to read every single article about symptoms or transmission anymore.
I know I need to set alarms to remind me to take my pills on time, because last time, every time I slipped up by a couple hours, my symptoms would be worse for days.
I know I need to spend as much time as I can lying on my stomach, even though it makes my back stiff.
I also understand that if I do have COVID-19 again, I probably won’t skip through it in a few days. I’m psychologically preparing myself for a minimum of six weeks. I’m going to assume that I won’t be able to exercise for the rest of the year, or at least until Halloween.
Few things in my life have been as depressing, frustrating, and boring as having COVID-19. Trying to avoid lying on my back for at least twelve hours a day was really hard, exhausting, and demoralizing. I am not thrilled AT ALL to be facing this thing again.
Not thrilled to have to contemplate dying young either.
Worst of all is knowing that roughly 40% of my fellow Americans don’t think this thing is real. Either it’s a hoax or it’s no big deal. Even the person who originally infected me thinks it’s no big deal. I guess if I have three wishes right now, one of them would be that someone (who knows who she is) would go to her and say, “You really need to start taking this seriously now.” It’s not that I blame her for getting me sick; she couldn’t have known. It’s just important to me that if I die young, around my birthday, and pointlessly from this catastrophically managed pandemic... it’s important that it mattered to someone.
My other two wishes would be that everyone in my family is careful and stays safe, and that my husband finds love again and remarries. I hope he can use the life insurance money to buy a nice house and eventually be happy there, with a smiling woman by his side.
Of course I’d rather it be me, but what do you do?
I’m trying to be a good Stoic about this. There’s no reason for me to be untouched by plague when millions of other humans throughout history have died in this manner. I have no right to complain about it. Once I’ve made my preparations, it’s time to get on with life, patiently, pacing myself for the next three years or more that this thing will be with us.
Shortly after this posts, I have a phone appointment with a doctor. I’m definitely sick and my lungs are burning. Wish me luck.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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