I have learned three facts since the 31st of March, 2021:
Fact One: I would not have survived the Covid-19 infection.
Fact Two: I felt safe that Nick was with us when a Sasquatch terrorized our cabin.
Fact Three: My family survived when my lungs were shut down; thus, I can stop worrying.
On March 31st, I received, gladly, my second vaccination for Covid-19. I was warned of side effects, but it didn’t matter to me since I was getting the second dose no matter what -- AND importantly, the side effects were downplayed by the qualifier: 'it is rare, but....'. Regardless, a rare walk through Hell was worth the protection from the evil things that this virus can do. I want to reach the point when I’m no longer worrying about getting infected and when I considerably reduce the chance of spreading it. I want to get to the time when my family and I can travel freely, and when we can invite friends over. A time when the only thing to worry about is all the other things that I normally worry about!
Almost exactly four hours later, I could not pick up heavy objects such as a pitcher of water for the K-cup machine, and my knees suddenly gave out from under me as I reached up into a cabinet. Two hours later on, the muscle pain arrived in my legs and both arms -- a kind of numbing pain like when you’ve hiked all day, but much worse. The rest of the night, I experienced chills, hot sweats, severe muscle pain (especially the back of my legs), and most interesting of all… strange and vivid dreams.
Here is where Fact Two ‘factors’ in. Sorry that it is not in order.
My family and my friends Nick and Heather were staying at a cabin surrounded by dark evergreens way up in the mountains and right up to the shore of a sepia-colored and frigid, still lake (I remember wondering if the oxygen content was too low for this sub-alpine lake). I had the job of unpacking our food and, for some odd reason before putting the items away in the small kitchen, to count them… out loud. However, not too long after I had unpacked everything, we understood, by either instinct or by deduction, that a Sasquatch was scoping our cabin and stalking just beyond the perimeter of sight. I started to pack up the food and (again), count the items out loud. Out loud in real life, too, for I woke up from this dream a couple of times at this point and told myself to stop counting -- it was OCD and it was driving me crazy!
I had no trouble reentering the dream after my scolding, returning to my now unpacking and -- ugh -- counting the food items again, for Nick had convinced us to not panic over the beast and said he’d get dinner going -- he would be setting up the campfire just beyond the porch. So, we all felt safe with Nick around. We played board games in the sitting area and drank and snacked and teased and laughed though large rocks would surely be tossed into the lake to scare us off and thick branches were sure to be tossed at the cabin walls. We felt safe because of Nick’s clarity in logic and his --vast-- experience in the Outdoors. We knew that Nick would be more than sufficient in common sense and strength to convince a Sasquatch to back off and find another cabin… if it had to come to that. And, it didn’t come to that. Thus, Fact Two.
Facts One and Three need setup.
The statement that follows is not entirely true. I had some reprieve from the episodes in the morning and felt strong enough to go into work for a few hours. The truth is that I went into work in the afternoon for a few hours, but I was very weak*. Ah -- very weak is not extremely weak, so I went in to continue my experiments for, if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have any data for an entire week**. My post-doc helped with the -80C freezer door a couple of times (it’s a tight locking device), and he and the rest of the lab were extremely good at sending me home soon after I had completed my tasks. So, once I did get home, another wave of the rare vaccine side effects had come ashore to send me to a restless bed of chills and sweats and massive headaches throughout the night.
The next morning (yesterday), I talked myself into going into work again. Why? Look for the * and ** above. So, I went in and got my work done and, by the end of my day, discovered an annoying, dry cough.
This cough would give rise to Fact One, and Fact Three will soon follow.
By last night, my muscle pain had gone away completely. However, I began to struggle for air. My dry cough had turned into a deeper, more consuming fit. My analogy is like trying to breathe through wet concrete. I had to prop myself up on pillows like I do with an asthma attack, and then wrestle with a heating pad during the 'chills' phase whilst another migraine-like headache took residence. More restless sleep.
This morning, I went into work, because * and **, yet, being early Saturday, no one was around to hear, see, or imagine my struggles... or scold me. I hit the hay when I got home and laid there on the pillows with my worried dog sniffing my nose and mouth and curling up next to me. The sun was brilliant and pouring in as the blinds were partly opened. I examined the big soft maple in my front yard. I felt the rough bark in my memory, and I wondered how much time my tree had remaining on Earth; wondered if I would live here long enough to really know. I closed my eyes, tried to quash coughing fits… rubbed my dog’s neck… listened in on my roommates who were busy at work grooming dogs downstairs; their home business a valuable source of stability to them and to our family… listened to their voices that were incredibly clear, meaningful, and distinct… heard my partner come and go into the room, felt his hand on my forehead, heard him start to ask a question but then stop and open the door… and close it. I heard a wheeze escape from me.
So… Asthma, too.
Fact One. No, I would not have survived a Covid-19 infection. Not me. Not these lungs. Not with my asthma. Here’s my reasoning. The vaccine is not the Coronavirus, but my body’s reaction to the mRNA vaccine would have, one might suppose, mimicked how my body would have reacted to a very real, general viral infection. In other words, a large percentage of the damage done would have been my own body’s fault. Add to that a nearly perpetual infection/propagating machine that is a virus, and then asthmatic fits and childhood scarring…? Again: Fact One. Wet concrete x 96+ hrs = bye-bye.
Actually, Fact Three had shown itself to me on many previous occasions if wearing different skins and by other means. Today, it was in the form of stillness.
I told myself to do it. I held my breath. No. More like, I prevented air from entering my lungs. I laid still. No air. I surprised myself how long I could go without any discomfort.
I look over at my tree and it is firmly planted. I feel the sun on my right leg as the star still conducts nuclear fusion. I lay my hand on my dog’s back. She still snores. I hear Chris calling out over the roar of an industrial air dryer. I hear Jose responding. I hear a dog bark from outside. No air. I hear the squeak of the hall floor as Scotty leaves for the garage to get on the treadmill. I am still. I have no air. I am both angry and relieved. I am finite; I can be put to memory, even by the ones who love me. I can be both missed, yet survived. I will be gone; they will manage. No air. Still. No air. It is fine, you know, to need air... to want air... to fight for air. Breathe. Peace of mind. Exhale. No worries. Breathe. It's true, even if extrapolated on the thinnest of experimental evidence (exhale): Fact Three.