Today marks day 36 of quarantine. Fourteen days in I contracted the virus; on a sunny day when I left the confines of my apt and walked to the park, desperate for fresh air on my skin and some semblance of normalcy. I spoke to no one and stayed an anxious, paranoid 6 feet away from anyone who ventured near.
Five days later I developed the infamous dry cough, body aches, fever. It was mild, though, and lasted about 48 hours before it quietly passed. I thought that was it, but a few days later it returned with a vengeance. After a rapid decline in the afternoon, I completely and instantly lost my sense of smell and taste – not a painful symptom, but disturbing, upsetting, unsettling. I spent the next 3 days on the couch, with nothing to do but feel the virus ravaging my body and feel my body fight back. It was an indescribably helpless feeling, bearing witness to a battle over my lungs. Over my life. There was nothing to do but desperately hope my body would win. I monitored the tightness around my chest – like a clamp fitted under skin and breast and bone, squeezing. Heat and a dull ache, which spiked to a sharp lightning pain when I coughed.
Texts started piling up on my phone from people checking in as news spread to my family and coworkers. I felt guilty I couldn’t tell them I was better. I didn’t want to confess that I was getting worse. That I was terrified. That I was trying to determine how the scales were balanced and if I needed to call for an ambulance. I didn’t want to tell them about the diarrhea, the nausea, the despair. With all of this and 2 of my 5 senses gone, it was hard not to feel like my body was simply shutting down. Then there was that haunting, nagging question: is this how it ends?
On day 10 I turned the corner. I have been getting steadily better ever since. Between the illness and the 14 day quarantine post virus, I haven’t left the apartment in 21 days. I have 3 more days before I can go out.
Last night I noticed an emergency crew outside my building. Two ambulances, a fire engine, police. My neighbor, two doors over, had been found unresponsive in her apartment. I watched through the peephole as the police paced outside, listened as they called in their reports, snatching what phrases I could through the door. They said EMS was working on her. I do not know if they revived her.
I want to say I am one of the lucky ones, but that doesn’t seem right to say. It doesn’t seem fair or congruous. Just as it doesn’t seem right that people are staging protests against social distancing while my neighbor’s body is being taken from her home.
All I can say is I’m here.