It took longer than it should have to recognize it for what it was. Yesterday I woke up with no enthusiasm for anything. I ate half my breakfast. I watched half my news. I quit reading my online newspaper early. But it wasn’t until I got to work and was sitting there in a stupor that I realized: I was sick.
Getting sick in the Time of Corona is far worse than getting sick any other time. It might be every bit as contagious, but I don’t think the guilt factor has ever ranged as high, nor has the anxiety.
It turns out, we’ve been supposed to be taking every employee’s temperature every day and logging this information, keeping it on file for a month. I somehow, despite diligently paying attention to the county website, attending meetings and reading protocols, missed that requirement (and feel quite sure I’m not the only one).
Kara ordered one of those thermometers you point at foreheads, and it arrived yesterday, but not until after I left. As part of a vast shuffling of medical supplies, Kara’s home thermometer went to James, so mine went to Kara, which left me with Lynn’s. [In the world of pill cutters mine went to my friend Julia’s house and Kara’s came to mine until Lynn bought me a new one. But it doesn’t have fun paw prints on it like Kara’s does.]
The first thing I did when I got home was take my temperature: it was 35.7. This is because Lynn’s thermometer, with one lone little button that doesn’t seem to respond to multiple pushes, somehow got set to Celsius. The Miracle of the Internet provided a translation: 96.26. Way below normal, which is where I generally live.
I used my oximeter: oxygen around 95, pulse around 70. No respiratory issues. I was flunking, happily so, the covid symptom checklist, but I was still feeling guilty. Lynn and I have not been to anyone’s house other than my sister’s deck, since March. Until Sunday night.
I didn’t want to have dinner with a friend at the restaurant, which was a good call, because it was completely overrun and no masks anywhere except on staff, so we went to his house. We brought our own plates (a gift from him in the first place) and maintained space, but I’m sure we exchanged airborne germs.
Can I be certain I don’t have covid? Well, here’s the process: I would call the county’s call center, open mornings only, and tell them my symptoms. If they felt a test was warranted, they would schedule one in the hospital parking lot, perhaps that day, perhaps the next. Then we would all wait, probably three days. I assume that I would need to spend those days in quarantine, and presumably so would Lynn, who reports it really is Christmas in July at the Post Office, where packages are piling up at a rate usually only seen during December madness.
Taking a bunch of people out of circulation with me on the off chance that my lone covid symptom, fatigue, means I have the disease is a huge argument for never leaving the house again. It’s also a huge argument for better, more rapid testing, which you’d think the richest country in the world ought to have mastered six months after White House official Peter Navarro first expressed concern to those around him, but we would rather be stupid and ignorant.
So I will remain ignorant, because I imagine the advice from the call center will be to remain at home and continue to monitor my symptom until it worsens or resolves. I would be more inclined to call had I not remembered last evening that I had this exact symptom (and the same worries) back in March. The debilitating fatigue went away after three days.
Here’s my diagnosis, with my vast medical expertise: I think this is how my body deals with stress. I get completely wiped out and spend a day or three (or, as was the case one year in college, most of my winter break) doing nothing but sleeping.
Is that scientific? No. Is it better than making several people miss work for several days on the off-chance I have infected them with something that probably isn’t — but hasn’t been definitively ruled out — covid? I don’t know. It’s a bad system, that’s what I know.
Kara tells me we had two sets of customers refuse to wear masks yesterday and leave in a huff. One of them, after being pointed toward the complimentary masks now sitting by our door, announced to his wife, “Well, I guess they don’t want our business” and went back out the door.
He’s right. I don’t. Kara says that isn’t right: we do want our customers’ business, but we want to be here for them next year. Next month.
But I don’t want that jerk’s business. I am very tempted, though, although I’m sure I’d be the one fined and/or arrested, to hang out in the Pat’s retail area, sans mask, and announce to everyone coming in without one themselves, “I may have covid, but feel free to come on in.”
While I’d like to think it would give at least a few of them pause, I’m guessing the majority of them just don’t care. Either the virus isn’t real, or their god is watching over them, or they’re somehow otherwise impervious.
In the meantime, I have to rethink re-opening my social life (and am now glad after the fact that my sister couldn’t make it for Fourth of July burgers after all). While some moron customers clearly think their civil liberties allow them to trample all over mine, I don’t care for this notion of knowing I might have unwittingly infected friends or relatives or co-workers.
Whether I have it or not, this virus is wearing me down.