When I first understood that Covid-19 was real, deadly, and had become a pandemic, I challenged myself to write this blog twice a week. I wanted to keep a record of the reported events in the USA and France and how each county was responding to the information. I also wanted to record my own responses to both the information and how people in general were handling such upsetting news. I got off to a good start. Then, on May 1, my computer broke down. I had to use my iPad to write my blogs and it took me twice as long, sometimes even longer. My blog went to once a week. After two months, my new computer arrived. Then it was July and summer had arrived in France. I took my restful vacations which I have previously described. If I was lucky, the blog came out every other week.
In the beginning of September, every time I sat down to write a blog, whatever idea I had become old news. It takes two or three days to write a blog–first in draft form, finding good photos, revising it and then hitting send. But events happen faster than I can think. Annie Lamott, the great essayist and author from Northern California, advises writers to carry around index cards and write one’s ideas on them. So I have many index cards that say ‘The Postal Service in the US’, ‘Covid cases rising in France’, ‘GOTV (Get Out The Vote)’, ‘Voter suppression’, ‘new rules in France re: Covid’, ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Trump won’t agree to leave White House if he loses’,etc, etc. It feels like things happen so fast and I have no energy to write as I lick my virtual wounds from the incessant bombardment of ‘news’.
Then I got sick. First, I just had aches at the base of my neck. Each day, they grew more painful. A friend, a doctor, suggested I might need a chiropractor, that I might be getting some problem with my spine. After five days of the aches circling my neck, I starting blowing my nose and recognised the signs of what I call my yearly “terrible cold.” I went straight to bed and slept or I curled up on my couch watching old BBC mysteries on YouTube. I woke up in the middle of that first night and thought “this could be Covid-19. It’s not the classic symptoms but they say it can mimic most anything.” So I hauled myself to the computer and e-mailed my doctor’s office telling her how sick I was. I knew that she wouldn’t want me coming in but where and how could I get tested? About three hours later, I received a response with a Google map of laboratories that were screening with the caveat that there might be long lines and possible waits of up to five days for a result. I could barely sit up for ten minutes much less get myself up and out to stand in a long line.
Thus started about 60 hours of feeling incredibly sorry for myself. I wrote some friends and said how sick I was and that it was actually quite scary not knowing if I might have the virus. With two exceptions, they wrote back: “sorry you aren’t feeling well, hope you are better in the morning.” Whaat?? I just told you I’m scared and maybe I have the virus and that’s all you have to say to me. More ammunition for Poor Me. Three days passed. I didn’t hear from my doctor and I still didn’t know anything. I would run down the classic Covid symptoms in my head. I didn’t have a fever, I hadn’t lost my sense of taste or smell, my cough didn’t go into my lungs or chest. If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would have had no doubt that I just had a bad cold. But being the extraordinary times that we live in, I didn’t want to be so arrogant as to be sure of anything.
By the fourth day of being scared, angry, sorry for myself and having no one to really talk to, my friend Barbara started hounding me with calls. “Are you alright? Has your doctor called? Please call me and tell me how you are?” I had stopped looking at e-mails and voice mails cuz it hurt too much. But there was another part of me that wanted to punish people for not caring enough, for not realising how scared I was. I woke up in the middle of the night, realising how childish I was being and texted Barbara with the latest. The latest being that I had gotten the name of another doctor from two women that I respect. I couldn’t get an appointment until the following week.
By the sixth day, I was feeling better. I wasn’t sleeping the entire day but I was staying put in my apartment. I had developed a new respect for this virus. Before I got sick, I was following all the guidelines but I didn’t know anyone who had gotten seriously ill and died. Other than seeing others in masks, the world seemed somewhat ordinary. The virus had become political and that’s how I thought of it. Getting sick, living alone, feeling such fear changed my perspective completely. I still didn’t know if I had the virus but I was definitely on the mend. But could I be around others?
Two weeks after I had first gotten the neck aches, I headed for a laboratory. I had a book with me, a magazine, my journal and was ready to spend hours waiting in line if that was what would happen. About three blocks from my home, I passed three women waiting in a socially distanced line. I looked up and the building said Mozart Laboratoire….I asked one of the women if they were doing the screening and she said yes. So I stood in line with them. Fifty-five minutes later, I walked out having had the screening and been given instructions on how to get the results the next day. It took that long because I had arrived at lunch hour and half the waiting time was for the staff to return from lunch. If I had known that there was a lab three blocks away would I have been able to drudge up the energy to get tested earlier? Probably not but …. those questions that have no answers. My doctor still hadn’t called or written to see how I was. She wasn’t going to hear from me either.
The next day I got a negative test result. The following day, I met my new doctor and, today, almost four weeks since I first started getting sick, I’m feeling human. I’ve been trying to build up energy and I’ve been thinking a lot. Between the guidelines of staying safe and well because of the pandemic, the craziness of the politics and the closeness of the election; between the fears of being sick, living alone and the fears of post-election days, it’s not possible for a body not to be under tremendous stress. Only it’s probably built up slowly and I certainly didn’t think I was any more stressed than usual. The fact that I stayed sick so long is certainly proof otherwise. These are not just strange and extraordinary times, these are vulnerable and dangerous times. Healthwise, it’s incumbent upon us to maintain as good physical health as we possibly can. Mentally and emotionally, it’s a balancing act of paying attention, taking action without getting swept up into the vortex of total insanity that is the United States these days. And the UK isn’t far behind.
If I wasn’t black and blue enough already, RBG had to go and die. It makes one wonder if there is a God and if there is, what is the plan. I heard someone say in a meditation class “Here we are in this thing called Life. How do we do it with kindness and love?” Kindness and love. Those two things seem so far away from the world that is happening. But it’s as good an approach as any that I can think of to approach each day not knowing what zinger the news will bring us. Not knowing if indeed October will bring on a second wave that will be fiercer than the first. Not knowing who will be left standing by the end of November no matter which candidate wins. Kindness and love.
11 thoughts on “A blur of days….that became weeks”
Sara, can you write about how you are going to vote absentee from abroad in the general election? I want to become more educated on how this process works because I get questions about it when I do get out the vote phone banking. If you don’t want to discuss this on your blog, perhaps you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara, can you write about how you are going to vote absentee from abroad in the general election? I want to become more educated on how this process works because I get questions about it when I do GOTV phone banking. If you don’t want to discuss this on your blog, perhaps you can email me at email@example.com
Thank you for this…needless to say, I am so happy that you are okay and feeling better. Another piece of good news: the A’s are in the playoffs starting tomorrow!!
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Sara – I am so sorry that you have been so sick. Fortunately, I have not been sick. BUT, there were 2 employees of the Beauty salon here at trezevant who had tested positive. Since I had gotten my hair cut there, I also was put in quarantine. I have now been tested again & was negative for the virus. Things are very different here (that is at Trezevant) as we try to accommodate for the new normal. My Friend, Barb, who you met when we were in Paris & I are trying to figure out how & where we want to travel. We can’t just simply say “the US”, but there are precious few places where we feel safe to go. She does NOT under any circumstances want to fly until this pandemic is over. However, I and “we” are doing well. I am very glad that we have a very good medical office here. I do hope you continue to feel better!! Love to you, Susan
I am so glad to know you are on the mend now and to know that one may be tested quickly. Who wants to wait 3-5 days? Besides being scary it presents a complicated logistical nightmare if you think you may have been exposed.
How awful for you. I am so glad that you have recovered, AND it was not the virus.
These are indeed trying times, but as a young child who survived World War two in England, I promise that this will end. We finally had fresh food again, and could throw away the cumbersome gas masks. Enjoy all the beauty around you in Paris. Autumn is a lovely time of the year there.
I really enjoy your blogs.
Stay well, and stay positive.
Thanks for your words, Mary. It’s good to have perspective. Paris, right now, is cold and wet 😦 I was just musing how important it’s going to be to practice ‘loving kindness’ if we are told we have to stay inside all winter when it’s dark for so much of the day. This too shall pass!!!
Kindness and love to you, Sara! Sorry to hear you went through all that, but very glad to hear you’re (almost?) back to normal. Take good care of yourself and try to “keep on upward wing…” (that was my mother-in-law’s constant advice, and it has become one of my favorite mantras…)
I’m sorry, I had no idea you had been sick for weeks. I did wonder why you hadn’t answered my email, but just assumed you were busy or still in Normandy. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I appreciate that it’s very frightening to be sick and living alone. Yay, though for not getting the virus. I think this winter is going to be difficult for everyone. I have no idea when I will see my family again in the UK. Let me know if you want to meet up xxxx.
Dear Sarah, I am so sorry that you went through that period of illness, and alone. That seems to make it worse and more frightening
especially if one ruminates on all the what ifs. Thanks for writing about your experiences, getting through them and coming out with the desire to be lovingly kind, to others and TO OURSELVES. Thanks for showing us that one can pass through rough times and come out with the desire to be positive in spite of it all. I’m glad you are now well.
Oh Sara, what an ordeal you have been through. Pleased to hear you are regaining your strength. We will all be living in greater fear, with Flu season near and this deadly virus mutating. Needless to say, we are living in very uncertain times. There are sooo many issues.
Our Pres., is now in Walter Reed, with the Corona virus and Melania is dealing with it at the White House.
Several White House staff are now affected also.
I saw a shirt online which said, “Hallothanksistmas”! That’s about it through the rest of 2020, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Life with Covid is not going to change.
We must do all we can do to keep a positive attitude.
Please stay safe and continue to feel better.