Friday, May 1, 2020

This isn't the virus you're looking for.

So hot. Sweaty. Can't get enough air into my lungs. Climbing up through sleep knowing one thing is certain: This is it. I have COVID-19. The pit of my stomach fills with panic. I kick one leg out of the blankets, seeking cooler air. The rest of my body feels paralyzed. I have no energy - I'm wading through molasses. I fight to open my eyes. So fucking hot. My chest hurts.


My eyes open.

It's Steve. My cat Steve is on my chest. I'm also having a hot flash. It is NOT COVID-19.

Had I been truly awake I would have employed logic. I have not touched or been within 2 meters of anyone I don't live with for 6 weeks. David is the member of our family who goes out into actual public and whenever he buys groceries/pharmaceuticals he wipes off everything and religiously washes his hands.

But given the current reality you get those random thoughts.

I have a fever. Is it COVID-19?
Are you a woman in menopause? Is this a hot flash? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have shortness of breath. Is it COVID-19?
Do you have a cat on your chest? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have a dry cough. Is it COVID-19?
After you stop cleaning your house fanatically, does the cough stop? It's NOT COVID-19.

I'm achy. My joints are in pain. Is it COVID-19?
Have you been exercising more than you ever have in your entire life? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have a sore throat. It hurts when I swallow. Is it COVID-19?
Have you had any water today? Drink some water. Does it feel better? It's NOT COVID-19.

My head hurts. I have a blinding headache. Is it COVID-19?
Did you drink too much wine/whisky/scotch/vodka/tequila last night? It's NOT COVID-19.


As an empath, my low-grade-dealing-with-a-pandemic anxiety shifts into high gear when I'm stupid enough to read the news before bed.

"Ma? Ma - what is it?" asks Rissa as I flop down on her bed one night in tears.

"So many people are dying. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying. Nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists and PSWs who are trying to HELP the ones who are dying are dying..."

"Okay, no more news for you. Dude."


Nursing students have been asked to take the strain off other medical workers. Rissa now works as a PSW at a Long-Term Care facility for the summer, where, I am thankful, there have been no cases (touch wood).

"Ma? Ma what is it?"

"It's just all the people who live there. They can't socialize. They can't see their families... They can't... hug."

"Oh Ma... Stop. You can't think about it. Yes, it's sad, but you can't think about it."


"No buts. You have too much empathy. Think of it this way. Most people, they get a regular amount of empathy flowing through their bodies. You... you got... 6 times that. You empathize with an ant when you kill it. It makes you a good actor, but it's going to make you crazy."




"Yeah. That too."


So now? Now I don't delve, I don't check stats all the time, I try not to empathize. I... breathe. I place my feet flat on the floor to ground myself. I strike the Superhero pose just like I learned from Grey's Anatomy.  And I thank every deity out there for all the Front-Line workers who  are putting themselves at risk every single day to help us get through all of this.