food and health, humor, reflections, relationships

Popsicles, Sick Days, Cherokee Marriage Customs and the Novel Coronavirus

Day 10 Day 11 of COVID-19 infection is just as bad as day 5 when your immune system is already compromised, in case you were wondering. I worked some in the past few days since I work from home and – to be fair – I didn’t know it was COVID for the first five days and just kept telling myself it was bronchitis arising from the ear infection and pneumonia I had actually been diagnosed with back at the beginning of September, because that’s mostly how life has gone for me: initial infection, treatment with antibiotics that kick my rear end just as much as the initial infection, treatment with antifungals and probiotics because antibiotics throw my system’s balance out the window of a fast-moving train and over a cliff, then bronchitis arising from whatever upper respiratory infection I was originally being treated for when it all started early in the cycle. Rinse, repeat.

But in this case, while my system was distracted by the ear infection, pneumonia, and overgrowth of fungal organisms, it wasn’t bronchitis that took root, it was COVID. Which I guess is technically within the realm of believability and does 100% match the cycle since SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus. So, score one for me for consistency, I guess?

Anyhow, I should have been tipped off to this when the symptoms got progressively worse and I suddenly started thinking naps were mandatory to my happiness, which is not how I normally operate. I’m not a napper. I love sleep, but if I sleep during the day I usually can’t sleep at all at night. At. All. Insomnia is my homie. But not with COVID. COVID came in, routed insomnia out of every corner, and kicked it out the door along with all its possessions, not unlike 17th- and 18th-century days when a Cherokee woman wanted to divorce her husband. (Did you know that was how you divorced someone in the old Cherokee culture? I find this fascinating – my great-grandmother was Cherokee. My grandfather recalls getting into trouble when he was younger and seeing her “beady little black eyes squinting at him” before he ran for cover since “she had our War Women’s temper,” whatever that means, but outside of that frequent recollection we don’t get a lot of stories about her, so I decided to learn more about the culture over the past several years and this bit about divorcing your spouse by putting all their belongings outside the home on a deerskin intrigues me. So many women get mad at their significant other and toss all their crap into the front yard as the universal signal that you done messed up, son, and society labels the woman as “crazy.” There are entire Country songs written about the act of tossing one’s ish out into the yard. But it turns out, she’s just exercising her tribal right to publicly declare her relationship status as “no longer complicated” – sans deerskin, of course – and it’s not crazy at all. It is all very civilized. This is a gross over-simplification of the marriage custom – divorce custom? – but you get the gist of it. My only question about this is how vertically challenged women like myself then continued to reach things off the top shelf in the cabin when ill and incapable of remaining upright without swaying dangerously from side to side like a drunken windsock. Granted, it is an egregious sweeping assumption that all husbands are taller than their wives – I know that’s not true – but it’s helpful to have someone around the house who is at least a few inches taller so that when your child who is over a foot taller than you decides to passive-aggressively put all your favorite coffee cups on the top shelf of the cabinet as payback for making his chore to empty the dishwasher, your husband can still reach them and help you get them down. Is it true that he wouldn’t have to get them down for you if he hadn’t made you promise to stop climbing the cabinets like a spider monkey the last time he caught you standing on top of the counter with your hand in the back of the top shelf of the cabinet above the stove? Yes. But these are the things I’m willing to do for love, Will, so I will continue to keep my promise as long as you continue to get the things from the high places down for me so I don’t have to climb the cabinets that are probably not anchored to the wall because this house isn’t the most structurally sound I’ve ever seen.)

I have distracted myself. What was I talking about?

COVID. Right.

I could sleep for days and still feel like it isn’t enough. I have slept for days, in fact, and it isn’t enough. And the thought of moving is unappealing. I don’t have the energy for that. I barely have the energy to twist the cap off this Gatorade or my water and lift the bottle to my mouth. I don’t even want to lift it.

I have people asking how I’m doing and the answer is, “Pretty much the same.” COVID is only supposed to last a couple weeks but the problem with a compromised immune system is that no one has figured out how to tell it that we’re done with this, now, so it keeps on fighting and that means breathing is just as hard, coughing is just as frequent, and exhaustion is just as bad.

On the up side, because I lost my sense of smell a few days ago, I can’t tell when the dog is flatulent. So there’s that. I’ve been told the past few days have been especially bad.

On the down side of that, I just lost more of my sense of taste as of this morning, so now everything I drink tastes like water. And that sucks, because I hate water. But our bodies are 70% water or some such nonsense so I need fluids. Ugh.

The irony of all this is that I waited to get vaccinated to make sure it would be safe as I had been medically advised to “be part of the control group for now – we don’t know what the vaccines will do to you – you’re allergic to everything including the ingredients.” Hubby got fully vaccinated along with his youngest last month and it was FINALLY time for me to go and I got stinking pneumonia.

And you can’t get the vaccine with a respiratory infection.

And then I got actual COVID.

And now I can’t get the vaccine for at least 90 days after the symptoms go away because my overactive immune system is likely to respond so strongly that I end up needing to be hospitalized or worse, and the symptoms aren’t improving so who knows how long it will take for them to disappear? What fresh circle of Hell is this?

On top of it all, Hubby woke up this morning with symptoms even though he has been fully vaxxed for several weeks, so he has to go get tested, because we can’t be like normal people. No, we have to try to one-up everyone else and have at least one breakthrough case. We have to be anomolies. I have made jokes about his sympathetic immune response because every time I’m sick and take a day off work, he is sick and takes a day off work. I am not exaggerating. I have had one sick day in 15 years that he hasn’t been home for, and it was recent and only because I badgered him about always being magically sick on my sick days so on principle, he went to work. In hindsight, that was mean of me and probably dumb on his part if he was really sick. Everyone knows you should stay home and binge watch Netflix if you’re sick. (In my defense, because I don’t feel like being mature about this right now – I’m too sick for that – when he is sick on the same days, it is not helpful because then no one is taking care of me and I’m trying to take care of him even though he didn’t ask me to do that – it’s just some strange, pervasive wife guilt/shame – and really sometimes I just want to be sick in the silence, by myself, and have him occasionally bring me a popsicle, which he would totally do if I asked but if you have to ask for your own popsicle when you’re sick, are you really even sick or are you just milking it for the attention? Exactly. Plus, who wants a sick person to bring them a popsicle? That’s gross. What if he coughs on it and then you end up with a phlegmy, booger popsicle? Ew.) In this case, though, he is legitimately showing the same symptoms and it is not good. This is the worst. If we both have this at the same time I don’t really know how we will survive it.

Someone has to walk the dog. He won’t poop in his own yard. (True story.)

And since I am still trying to use the force to get this Gatorade to my face and unscrew the cap off of it but I don’t even have enough energy for that, it could get very weird around here.

Well… weirder.

And I can feel another rambling thought process coming so I’ll end this now and go get another popsicle before I take another nap. Because I can’t keep my eyes open (not in an emergent situation sort of way – it’s just the fatigue).

Next time, maybe I’ll tell you about the strange pack of automatic pencils that were delivered to Will the other day and about “brushing” and anthrax conspiracy theories running amuck. Get excited!

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