Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

A year ago, I got COVID, despite vaccination, from vaccinated relatives who attended a wedding of non-vaxxers a week prior. I was the only one who got sick: my three other compatriots, including my husband, managed to escape the fate. After results of my positive test came through my phone and the words that came out of my mouth were not exactly Christian in nature, I locked myself in my sitting room, to wait out my 10 day quarantine. I slept, ate, rested, sniffled, and only left for bathroom facilities and food, which I brought back to my room. Anytime I leave the confines of my prison, I was masked to protect my husband.

My prison was curated by me, so that was one thing that’s been on my terms.

It’s the only thing that was on my terms.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

This is the rhythm of my day – as it’s always been, I suppose; I’m just usually too busy to notice the seconds ticking away. The clock on the wall, the metronome of my time in here, is one I made in shop class circa 1994. I got a B+ on it. I recently replaced the gearbox with oversized hands and I love it – I can see it better in the dark.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

I have called out THREE times in my 17 year career. I’ve gone to work sick, even with the flu. I always push through the work day. But this time, I couldn’t just throw on a surgical mask and call it good enough. I was out, like it or not. I’m not good at being still or taking care of myself when I’m sick.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

It started off slow, this disease, mild nasal discomfort. Then it progressed into a sinus infection with a large dose of malaise. The nightly headaches were just for fun. NyQuil ensured I slept twelve hours a day. I was miserable – I’m not sure if it was the virus or the fact I couldn’t go to work – but I was breathing on my own.

I counted this as a win.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

I spent the first few days of quarantine angry. When I get angry, I get silent. I did everything right: I haven’t been to church recently or hang out with friends or go out to eat; I mask in all stores and yet I got this. I was seething over it. I barely read, I barely watched shows, I barely moved from my spot on the couch. I was content to glare out the window in silence, mad as hell that I couldn’t go to work because I was sick. I didn’t tell anyone because I know how it would go: “Well, you know, [insert their political leanings + a story of someone who had it/recovered/had issues/had no issues/died + a commentary on their primary sourced research]” and I couldn’t handle it. My powder keg fuse would have been lit and I didn’t want to regret any words.

I barely spoke to my husband.

I abstained from social media.

I isolated emotionally from family and friends as well.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

I lived with the windows open, to keep the air moving, hoping I could at least attempt to protect my high risk husband. I’ve woken up to the wind blowing leaves in the middle of the night; I know my neighbors’ coming and going more than I’d like to. I know what birds frequent the area. It’s been a strange case study.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

I’ve been able to escape without leaving my room: I’ve sailed to Portugal via the English Channel with a privateer, his crew, and the lady he kidnapped; I’ve explored the American twentieth century patchwork quilt on the rise of Christian nationalism; I’ve been behind the scenes on a cable news show in New York; and perhaps worst of all, I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time combing the forests outside Forks, Washington. Of course, I’m always checking into my favorite hotel in Lüneburg, Germany – about the only thing I’ve pulled from my life before the quarantine.

The sunlit room makes up for my stormy disposition.

I don’t do well confined.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

Losings one’s sense of taste and smell has pros and cons.

Con: Enjoying life via a coffee, dessert, tea, cocktail, or a well seasoned roast is no longer something I can do, which sucks so bad that it caused me to call my medical provider of a sister, crying. She assures me my taste/smell will come back – hopefully within the year – but much like getting pregnant, I’m not holding onto hope. I’m just left with this large cavity in life – and I get to look forward to “hot water” (tea) in the morning. My meals are now defined by temperatures and textures. (“Do I want something crunchy or mushy for dinner?”) Refrigerated bananas are among my favorite texture/temperature combinations.

Pro: I don’t care what I eat! I hate mushrooms, but not anymore! I managed to eat a mushroom loaded pizza the other night without batting an eye, something that would have sent me into fits before. This is going to be great for my waistline, I’ll be bikini ready next month at this rate.

I had four decades of great flavors and lots of memories in many different places, I’ll hold onto that until my senses return or I smell the sweet incense of Heaven.

R.I.P my taste and smell receptors
1981-2021
Gone, but never forgotten

I dream about drinking lattes in coffeeshops with strangers – I can taste and smell the coffee there.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

After my 10 days of cutting myself off from the outside world, I worried about lung damage, I decided to do a two mile brisk walk to the Intracoastal Waterway – one of my favorite places. I have full lung capacity and I wasn’t winded. Praise God! My sense memory of clear salty air is so strong, I swear I can smell it, but I know it’s just a memory masquerading as a scent.

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

I learned another family member was also at this wedding — she’s struggling to breathe right now with pneumonia from this stupid virus. A country doctor ensured she was able to get an antibody IV and oxygen at home, as she refuses to go to a hospital, despite the fact she can’t get enough air into her lungs. We’re propping her up in prayer.

The only lasting effects for me appear to be my taste and smell and the possibility I might lose my job over this: FMLA doesn’t apply to those of us with less than 1200 hours of work for the year. And yet, I’d take this any day over my husband having to call my parents up north saying: “They put Sim on a vent today, you need to get down here.”

Tic, toc. Tic, toc.

A fond saying among the medical community in dealing with burnout is “This is a chapter, this is not your story” to give perspective at the bad times.

I’ve taken that to heart during this time of confinement.

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