I had assumed that I would age with all my friends growing old around me, dying off very gradually one by one. And here was a plague that cut them off so early.
As some of you have noted, I've been meaner than usual recently.
I'm told it's been noticeable over the last week or so on my various social media feeds.
I don't dispute that. Nor do I apologize for it -- though interestingly enough a number of people wrote to tell me they liked the new meaner Stonekettle, so there's that.
My increased crabbiness comes from the fact that I have COVID.
I've been fighting it for the last week or so.
Now, you might be one of those cheerful sick people, but I'm not. I feel like crap most of the time these days, a legacy of spending most of my life in a profession that tends to beat the hell out of you on a good day. Twenty years of that and, well, yeah, I feel lousy most days now. So anything that makes me feel worse isn't something I handle all that well. I'm not a good sick person. And COVID has been kicking the piss out of me for a week with the primary side effect being that it's making me even more unpleasant than usual.
Anyway, I mention it now because people have noticed and because maybe a narrative of what happened to me will help you, should you be unfortunate enough to get this crap.
First, let me say this: I don't want any advice.
REPEAT: I don't want any advice. None. Thank you.
Second, and I can not stress this enough, I don't want, need, or require any medical advice.
I have a doctor, for the moment, you're not him, thanks (and more on that subject in a minute).
I got it on the last day of my recent photography trip to Navajo lands in the Southwest with my wife. I know exactly where I got it and I know exactly who gave it to me. The relative who infected us in Las Vegas (yes, my wife got it too) didn't know they had it either, until it was too late. So, there wasn't much we could do to avoid it.
Worst part is that over the last few years since this disease first emerged, I've attended two Worldcons and a half dozen smaller cons, and if you know anything about science fiction conventions, it's a miracle I never got it before this.
One fucking day in Vegas though...
Fortunately, we left Las Vegas (not knowing yet that we'd been exposed) and drove pretty much straight home. Two days, almost all of that in the car by ourselves. And when we stopped, we were far away from others (we're not particularly social people). We still wear masks in public when appropriate. We still use hand sanitizer. And we didn't start feeling the first symptoms until we were nearly home -- literally about three hours away. So, the likelihood we may have infected anyone else along the way is fairly low. Hopefully.
We got to our home in Florida late at night. Went to bed and woke up the next morning with sore throats and coughs.
We tested right away. My wife was positive but I wasn't.
We isolated of course. Had groceries delivered, given that we'd been on the road for two weeks and there wasn't any fresh food in the house. Called everyone and told them to stay away.
That first day wasn't too bad. Mild headache. My neck and shoulders ached worse and worse as the day went by. Sneezing. Sore throat. Called my doctor and asked for Paxlovid, only to be told by the receptionist that the practice (three doctors) would not prescribe the antiviral. Beg pardon, I asked? We don't prescribe Paxlovid, she said in a tone dripping with disdain like I'd asked for a big jar of Fentanyl. Like just a blanket won't do it? Not based on patient condition? Just, no? That's right, she said. The doctor eventually called in a prescription for the sore throat, but not pax. Guess I'll be looking for a new doctor then, because that's just bullshit -- but common with conservative doctors in The South since the advent of COVID and politics-based medicine.
The next day was the worst. I slept through most of it. Fever. Body aches. By then I was testing positive. I got up around noon, had some soup, wandered out to my office to see what was going on, and ended up with chills so bad I couldn't stop shaking. I was suddenly so weak I wasn't sure I could get back to the house. I got outside my office, it was about 98F in the shade. I sat down on the pavement in my driveway, which was hot enough to burn my ass in the blazing sun, and I was wearing a huge heavy hoodie, and I was still freezing. I eventually made it back into the house, crawled into bed and buried myself under a bunch of quilts and slept for the rest of the day. And don't think I wasn't still pissed about being denied Paxlovid, because I was. And still am.
Day three was better. Still felt like I had the flu, still had a fever, but no chills. Throat was really sore and I had a persistent cough. But, I got a lot of work done that day, actually. Wrote an essay, processed a bunch of pictures from the trip. Finally ate something. You want to lose weight, I don't recommend COVID, but it does work.
Lost my sense of smell on day five.
That second day, I was ill to death, fever, chills, and the trash was full in the kitchen because we'd cleaned stuff out the fridge when we got home. I pulled the bag out, but I wasn't walking out to the road and trashcans.
So I tossed it into the garage.
And I forgot about it.
It's a 100F here.
I forget about it for a couple of days.
My wife eventually went out to the garage for something and I hear her retching, OMG SOMETHING DIED OUT HERE!
I'm like, really? I don't smell anything.
She looked at me, seriously? You don't smell that? Gag. Something must have gotten in here and died.
I looked at the beagle, the beagle looked at me. And even he was wrinkling up his nose in disgust and it takes a lot to disgust a beagle. Trust me.
That's when I remembered that trash bag from the kitchen.
The one that might have had some raw shrimp in it. And had been sitting in the heat for days.
Ooooh! The light came on.
Hey, I've lost my sense of smell! That's not great, but from your expression it is convenient! I'll get that garbage out to the cans now. Sorry.
It's weird. I can taste certain things, but not others.
I can't really smell much of anything.
Coffee? I can smell that. And taste it too. And it tastes as great as it always does to me. No problem. But fruit juice? Might as well be cold water. I don't know. I had some pizza last night and it tasted fine. I bleached the hell out of the kitchen and the garbage cans. Nothing. Couldn't smell any of it. Which was, again, convenient. So, there's that. But then it's Florida. This place mostly smells like cancer from the paper plant and moldy swamp water. Who wants to smell anything anyway, amiright?
I'm told I'll get taste and smell back in a few weeks or so.
We'll see. I not in any hurry. Especially since I'm the one who has to take out the trash in this horrible heat.
Over the rest of the week, I wrote another essay. Processed more pictures from the trip. Wrote a bunch of social media posts. Rewatched The Mandalorian and the Book of Boba Fett. Watched Trump get indicted again and watched Elon Musk continue to destroy a $40 billion platform with all the finesse of that armed chimp in the movie Nope. I mowed the grass, or an acre of it anyway. The pasture can wait another week. I'm feeling better, still got that cough though. Still isolating. Still testing positive. Still a little tired.
It's the first time I've gotten it.
Hope it's the last, but it probably won't be given that the disease is endemic now.
I'm fully vaccinated and have received all the boosters and, yeah, I still got it. But it was mild, I didn't die, didn't end up in the hospital with a tube shoved down my throat, hopefully won't have any long term complications. That's how vaccines work.
I'm still pissed about not getting the Paxlovid.
But, really, for me, the worst part about having COVID is that I can't see my 8-month-old grandson for a few more weeks.
Though my lovely daughter-in-law is a sending me pictures nearly every day and Facetiming the good stuff.
Getting old sucks, so does COVID. But being a granddad makes up for a lot.