This afternoon, out of nowhere, I started experiencing abdominal cramping, which prompted a series of quick trips to the bathroom. I also felt vaguely nauseated. I went from feeling fine to feeling bad in about ten minutes. I knew I hadn’t eaten anything unusual so I could rule that out as a cause. I lay down on the couch and settled in to rest. Ray put his hand on my forehead to see if I felt warm. I didn’t, though I felt clammy. Normally, I’d just take it easy for the rest of the day and accept that I had a mild tummy bug. But that was before Covid-19 entered our lives.
Instead, I retraced my steps over the last several days, replaying where I might have failed to take proper precautions. What about that pen I used when I gave blood at the UCLA blood center? The man who was getting my information just took it out of a cup filled with many others and handed it to me. Or was I not careful enough when I went to the public bathroom there? Yes, I washed my hands thoroughly and used Purell, but was it possible that I touched something else like a contaminated handrail on the stairs as I was going out of the building? I didn’t think so but it was possible. I also went over my trip yesterday to Verizon for a hotspot. I didn’t think I touched anything, but maybe I did. Of course, I wore my mask but was it possible that I touched a surface or the chair where I was sitting and the Coronavirus was still present from the person before me? Yes, I know this sounds neurotic, but, you see, the consequences of somehow inadvertently becoming infected don’t just affect me. I will surely infect my husband Ray who has had respiratory problems all of his life and for whom COVID-19 could be a death sentence.
I realized for the first time today just how terrifying it could be to find myself infected with Covid-19. Not so much for me (although I realize that’s false bravado after reading how vicious this virus is) but primarily for Ray. If I get sick, then the chances are high that he too will be infected. If something happened to Ray and I thought it was from my lack of paying close attention to potential contaminants, then I would have a very hard time forgiving myself. And, of course, Rachael lives with us so I could infect her as well.
What I understood today was that coming down with Covid-19 is a double-edged sword. First, you are worried about the possibility of having the really “bad” kind of COVID that sends you to the hospital and onto a respirator, and then you also have the guilt over the very real potential that you have infected others inadvertently along the way. This, of course, adds a great deal more weight to the idea of simply getting over a serious virus.
And just in case you’re thinking I am hysterical over here and being overly-dramatic about the chance of contracting COVID, let me remind you that I live in Los Angeles County, which has averaged 2,594 new cases and 47.6 new deaths per day just in this past week. So, being cautious seems appropriate at the moment from my perspective.
The good news is that I feel better and probably did just have a mild bug. But I will be exercising extra caution in the days to come. I definitely do not want COVID personally, and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for giving this virus to someone else.
Which brings me to our beloved teachers and school administrators, many of whom are being mandated to return to classrooms in the next week or so in parts of the country where there are COVID hotspots. What kind of anxiety are they going through right now in anticipation of working in schools with hundreds of kids? I have several very close friends who are teachers and I can tell you they are worried sick about it. And, no, they’re not being hysterical either.
My point? That nobody wants to get sick with this awful virus, that the results of getting sick extend far beyond oneself and that it is patently unfair to require our educators to return to school in parts of the country where COVID-19 is highly prevalent. We need to understand this isn’t the average flu that people get and then get over in a few days. This is a highly contagious virus that is unpredictable at best and devastating at worst.
We are moving into the exponential growth of the virus and this does not bode well for our country in the weeks to come. Wear your masks. Wash your hands and remember that this isn’t just about you, but many others as well.
I’m glad I’m feeling better. I pray I continue to feel better. Presuming all is well, you’ll be hearing from me again tomorrow.
Until then, stay safe.