On Getting Covid
Contracting COVID in 2022 was, well, embarrassing.
Our son made that comment last May when he likely got it from a student at his school. I felt the same way in early October when my number finally came up.
I guess the feeling of embarrassment comes from the fact that it has been running rampant for over 2-1/2 years and I avoided it for soooo long, even when there weren’t vaccines available.
In the fall of 2020 my wife, Jenni, and I made a trip in our half-completed van, Wanda, to Boston. We used the tools we had been told to use and masked everywhere, washed our hands frequently, wore gloves at gas stations, and practiced extreme social distancing. It worked. No Covid on that trip.
Then in the fall of 2021 we drove 8,000 miles through about 23 states on our big trip west. We used the advantage of our campervan to keep ourselves somewhat isolated from the public and again we returned home healthy. There were also a couple trips to Texas during the first two years of the pandemic. This summer we cruised on a river ship along the Rhine River in Europe. We know we were exposed to people on the boat who tested positive and yet we completed the cruise without issue.
And then this fall we clicked off 4,000 miles on our trip to Maine. I would say we were much less diligent against the virus on this trip. We braved huge Labor Day crowds at Niagara Falls. We stood shoulder to shoulder with ice cream aficionados at Ben & Jerry’s first creamery. (For the record, Blue Bell is still better.) And we even got Second Breakfast at what we called the Covid Bakery in Ellsworth, Maine! (named so because the owner recounted her symptoms to us amidst a few coughs.) Yet, we returned healthy (other than exacerbating my blood sugar levels with all the bakeries we visited.)
By this point, I thought I had perfected my tricks of Covid avoidance. For example, if I was walking towards a stranger, I would begin a slow exhale and even turn my head to avoid breathing what they had just exhaled! What makes that even funnier is my lack of lung capacity--I’m only good for a few seconds of air in my lungs before I start to turn blue! I always use my knuckles to press buttons that are public germ cesspools. And I keep my distance when talking to people in stores.
But sometime in early October, after we returned home, I missed a key step in my defense plan. Maybe it was at the home improvement box store or maybe it was at the doctor’s office during my annual exam where my doc said he had just gotten over it. Or maybe it was from my wife since she tested positive before I did, but we had gone to almost all the same places.
It made me think of the kid in high school who had achieved Perfect Attendance from Kindergarten into his Senior year, only to get sick a couple weeks before graduation. Ever how it happened, we were both sick for about 3-4 days before the test finally showed positive. During that time I probably exhaled on hundreds of strangers and pushed a few buttons as well--my apologies to all patrons of Wal-Mart and the City of Travelers Rest.
We were miserable at the time but looking back it wasn’t nearly as bad as others who had it. It delayed our leaf-peeping trips a couple weeks but we adjusted our expectations and still found great fall foliage—and closer to home.
I think avoiding COVID is like playing the lottery. The odds are NOT in your favor but I hope you’ll be diligent and practice exhaling as you meet people on the sidewalk.