December 1, 2021
Dear Hope Nation,
I have COVID-19. It sucks.
Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from getting it, unless you like losing your sense of taste and smell, feeling sore all over, coughing, being chilled and needing to sleep 18 hours a day. If you’re not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. If you’re not wearing a mask indoors in areas where community transmission is high, please start. If you don’t wash your hands regularly, please do so. I don’t want you or anyone else to feel the way I do right now.
Monday morning, I drove into work feeling tired. After meeting with a co-worker for an hour or so, I went into my office and started writing. I put a piece of candy into my mouth and realized it had no taste. Alarmed, I went to the Hope kitchen and held a bottle of dishwashing liquid under my nose. A small squeeze with no smell led to calling the Veterans Administration, where I get my medical care. Within 45 minutes, I was at the VA having a swab inserted up my nose. By the time I got home, I’d been notified I was positive for the Rona.
Following medical advice, I notified everyone I’d been in contact with for the previous 72 hours. Luckily, my weekend contacts were a poker game with three buddies I see regularly and a book club with three other guys from the same large pool. Friday, I’d met with a few Hope staff members and that was it. There is no suggestion that any of the folks I was with are positive, for which I am incredibly grateful. Hope has a director with COVID, but is otherwise safe. I’ll be out for 10 days, and hope no one else tests positive.
Now that I’ve outlined the official “news” piece, I want to talk about gratitude. Not just talk about it, but express it from the mountaintops. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to have a lengthy conversation with me knows gratitude is my Higher Power. Here is a short gratitude list, followed by a call to action:
- If I’ve got to have COVID, I’m grateful it’s today and not last December 1. Back then, there was no vaccine and smokers over the age of 60 were absolutely in a risk category. I was lucky enough to be vaccinated back in January and February, making my current sickness a “breakthrough” event. My need for hospitalization, ventilation or cremation are way lower than they would have been last year. COVID sucks, but I’m not worried about dying.
- I don’t believe I’ve passed on the disease to anyone else. If I had reason to believe I’d spread this, I’d have guilt on top of the other symptoms.
- Elena, my partner, who’s also vaccinated, is not showing any evidence of infection. She is, however, showing signs of modeling herself after Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, by forcing me to drink water and eat food and rest.
- I have people who care about me, who check in on me, who love me.
- I have access to the food and drink I don’t want. I have a warm house and a bed to lie down in. On this last matter, I am incredibly lucky, compared to my life 15 years ago. Homelessness stinks no matter what time of year, but especially now when it’s always cold outside.
I’m not much at preaching, at telling you how you should live your life. Still, I want to repeat:
- Get vaccinated and boosted
- Wear a mask
- Practice social distancing
- Wash your hands
You matter. I matter. We matter.