Corona Pays a Visit

Three-quarters of the way into this post yesterday, WordPress once again ate my homework. I’m getting smarter: I took screen shots, so I only had to re-type, not re-create. See that? I can learn things in my old age.

Nothing to do with the post. We’re having an actual winter, for a change, and this was the view a couple weeks back from our friend Sue’s house.

Three years into, and perhaps out of, a pandemic, Corona finally paid a visit to our house. The timing initially seemed awful, like there’s ever a good time for disease, but now that we’re not quite at the point of hindsight it wasn’t as terrible as it could have been.

Lynn, who has had laryngitis since the beginning of November, thought she was experiencing a flare-up of her rheumatology conditions a week ago Tuesday, to add to the phlegm-filled throat that just won’t go away. It wasn’t until Wednesday night, in preparation for her early-Thursday trip to Montrose, where she had been waiting for more than three weeks for an appointment with the ear-nose-throat (ENT) guy who comes to Gunnison but obviously not often enough, that she realized it wasn’t Sjogren’s at all, but covid.

She took a home test, and even though the lines were clearly marked, she took a second one, with the same result. And then, her new (temporary) supervisor being more of a stickler for protocol than her old one, she was instructed to contact an occupational nurse who required a “verified” test on just about the day the Center for Disease Control shut down the last of America’s covid testing sites, suggesting people rely on the same home tests Lynn had.

One drive-by medical visit later, with Lynn still doing her own swabbing from the driver’s seat, she was Officially Positive. By then she’d also already had a tele-visit from our primary care office (they were at great pains to make sure she understood the cost was the same as if she’d come into the office — although when we think about it, they didn’t have to sanitize any equipment or rooms or use any disposables like gloves or paper, so they made more money on the tele-visit) to discuss Paxlovid, the anti-viral that has to be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.

It turns out, while Lynn is a higher-risk covid patient, she’s not a great candidate for the Pax. The nurse practitioner consulted with Lynn’s rheumatology office, which didn’t think the drug would be terrible if symptoms warranted it, but she needed to stop two regular medications, one of them a statin. Paxlovid turns out to be hard on the kidneys.

Lynn never did try it, but she also didn’t develop horrible symptoms. No fever, no lung issues — she said it was like a bad cold.

As for me, I came home from work last Wednesday mad, mad, madder than hell at the Rural Transportation Authority bus driver who damn near ran me off the road, so I was more focused on trying to file a complaint on a website that contained no great contact information (but which told me my friend Jim, a Gunnison city councilor, was on the RTA board, so he bore the brunt of my wrath) than I was paying attention to Lynn’s positive.

[A moment more on the bus driver: he roared up from behind and surged past me beyond where two lanes become one. Fortunately I had been watching him rip up the road in my rearview mirror, and I wasn’t interested in playing chicken with him, but it remains highly disturbing to me that not only was he willing — with a bus full of people — to play but intent on winning at all costs. Jim passed along my complaint and said the RTA would “look into it,” but of course I haven’t heard back. Beware, Gunnison Valley: that driver’s probably still on the road.]

At any rate, I finally started paying attention to the part where Lynn was positive. She put on a mask for all of five minutes, but what was the point? She’d probably been shedding virus for four days, since you’re supposedly most contagious a couple days before symptoms appear. I assumed Corona was coming for me too.

But so far she hasn’t. I’ve conducted five tests over the past seven days (none of them “verified,” but then, I don’t work for the Postal Service) and, like every test I’ve taken since they first became available, I am negative.

It’s a positive thing to be negative, but I don’t want to do any gloating. While I know some people for reasons unknown are less susceptible, those who carry my same characteristics, like siblings and niecphews, have been caught by Corona. My sister Tia’s positive was only a couple days ahead of Lynn’s, although they hadn’t been in proximity.

So I braced. Right before a bus driver nearly took all decisions out of my hands, I had just been musing that I haven’t been sick in over four years, so I’m likely to go down hard when it does happen.

Which would have been bad. Not that getting sick any time is optimal, but January is where all worlds collide for those who keep books for a small business: there are monthly, quarterly and annual deadlines, many of which have to be met in the middle of the month, right where we are.

In a frenzy, then, and still expecting to wake up sick — this has made me realize how congested I am every morning, and when we add changing weather to my barometric sinuses, I was hypochondrically prepared daily for positive tests — I brought my tax obligations home and toiled diligently, opening south-facing windows and yelling at Lynn every time she got too close.

The happy result? (Other than the yelling.) I am only one deadline away from meeting all my January obligations well ahead of the end of the month. As long as I steer literally clear of agro bus drivers, I’m in good shape.

The other happy result? (Other than the covid.) Lynn, who has worked 50-plus hours every week for literal months, was forced to come to a halt and get some rest. Now dealing with an occupational nurse whose playbook is mired in 2021 rather than based on CDC guidelines, she is not allowed back to work until this Friday.

The post office’s loss — yesterday our downtown carrier brought the mail after 4 p.m., when he usually comes by 11 a.m. — has been my gain: in the last couple days Lynn has made cookies, olive bread, bean soup, pizza . . . after being reduced to cleaning the refrigerator out, Lynn stooped even lower in her desperation and did the postal lessons she was supposed to have done last Saturday at work.

Her throat phlegm, which I was hoping would go when Corona took her leave, is still there, and when she attempted to reschedule the ENT appointment that had taken three weeks to get, he is now booked out until March. So we still have that problem, and the on-going issue of too much work and not enough workers that will rapidly take her back to 50-60-hour weeks, but for this brief moment we can find a couple of bright spots in Corona’s appearance: Lynn got some rest, and I, still covidless, am further ahead in my bookwork than I’ve ever been in January.

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