It has been a little over a year since I suffered from the “flu from hell” that drove me to the doctor three times in one week. On my last visit, the doctor said, “I’d test you for that virus going around but I don’t even have tests.” Each time I visited the doctor they gave me a note for three days off from work to give to my employer. Certainly, I’d be better in three days. I continued to think, just a few more days. And days turned into weeks, which turned into months and now, is turning into years. Am I better? I am certainly much better than those three weeks where I’d crawl home from work, disrobe as I walked across the house and crawled into bed at 5 p.m. only to wake the next morning just as exhausted as I did the night before. Those weeks, I lived on Thera-flu and ibuprofen. My coughing fits were so bad, I had to brace myself against a wall. I hallucinated a nice conversation with someone I knew in high school and have not seen in forty-five years. (He’s doing well for himself.) I lost my sense of taste and smell. I lost sense of time and whole chunks of time—days, weeks—are lost forever. The only thing that kept me from throwing myself at some ER doctor was the fact that my regular doctor assured me it was the flu and that I’d be better in a couple of days.
I have no doubt where I got the Corona Virus from. I had a co-worker who was out sick for six weeks just before my bought and hospitalized for the worst case of pneumonia ever. He described being unable to breath and how scary it was. I had a student who was out sick for two weeks. Her friend told me that she had the worst flu ever. The Corona Virus was traveling around long before we even recognized it. I wonder how many people I infected because my doctor told me I was not contagious and continued to go to work as I could. I sat through a parent-teacher night, doped up on Thera-flu, telling parents how their children were doing. To this day, I worry that someone died because I was ignorantly spreading the Corona Virus around Dutchess and Ulster Counties.
Once schools closed in March, I decided that I had to strengthen myself so if I should get it again I wouldn’t die from it. I lost thirty-five pounds. I began exercising every day, doing exercises to strengthen my lungs, eating right, meditating. I’m better, right? No, I’m not.
I have a chronic lung condition called pleurisy. It is an inflammation of the linings of my lungs. Most days, it feels something like just before you get a bought of bronchitis. Other days, it feels like I am breathing in knives. When it get bad, my doctor prescribes anti-biotics and steroids. I have noticed that with each bought the steroids are less and less effective. I now have chronic migraine headaches. Some days that headache, coupled with body aches drive me to bed. They come on without warning. And I am exhausted all the time. By four o’clock, I’m ready to crawl into bed. I worry every day that I will again be exposed to the Corona Virus and this time I won’t be as lucky as I was the first time.
I know you are tired of social distancing, wearing a mask, staying home. I am, too. But I am asking you to do it just a little bit longer—until everyone who wants the vaccination gets it. I have tried to get the vaccination, twice the site I was scheduled at ran out and the third time a snowstorm changed my plans. I am not in a “lottery.” I’ve never been lucky so I am not hopeful I will be getting it soon. In the rare times I go to the grocery store and I see you with all your kids and spouses in tow, I want to grab you and explain what the Corona Virus can do to you and your family. Stay home. Go out only when necessary. When you do have to go out, wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance. It really isn’t that hard.
My school re-opened. I am back in the classroom and just like the last time I got the Corona virus, I know where I will get it a second time. Please keep your children home. I swear it is just a little bit longer. Once the vaccinations are widely available we’ll be able to get back to normal and I want to be alive for that.