2023 can stop doing this stuff right now

Bryan Alexander 2023-10-29

This past week saw me doing a whirlwind of work. I taught three classes, flew across the country to meet with one client, led a Future Trends Forum session, worked up the next FTTE report, held several virtual meetings, started redesigning FTTE, honed my next book proposal, prepped my spring class, and tried in vain to stem the email tide.

I hate leaving town when my wife is still recovering from heart attacks (first, second). I only do it for professional purposes – and those trips are extra needed now, given medical bills, as we decided to handle health care in America. I actually turned down some trips which took me away too long. Meanwhile, we set up care at home (our two adult children coming in handy).

Then to make things worse, last week Ceredwyn came down with COVID.  You all know the drill: she tested positive, re-tested to make sure, then we confined her to our bedroom. We brought her food and other supplies, leaving them outside the door. I slept in the living room.  She very all too symptomatic: joint pain, headaches, throat pain, fevers, chills.  It was like a bad flu for several days.

This made things worse for her in all kinds of ways.  Being sequestered isolated her from human contact. Ibuprofen interacts badly with some cardio meds, so my wife can’t use “vitamin I” to address pain. Acetaminophen has no effect on her now, so the suffering is wretched.  Plus she can’t do cardio rehab sessions while being infected.  And there’s the general psychological stress piled onto genuine dread.

Several days into this vileness, I left for a work trip.  From the road, I kept checking on her by phone and text.  She was gradually getting better, but was exhausted and in pain. I felt frustrated and sad and could only listen, plus tell her stories and read her poetry.

On Friday I started traveling back east and began feeling poorly myself: coughing, fevers, chills, sore throat. I slept unusually badly on a redeye from Seattles to Dulles. When I arrived home I at once fired up a COVID test for me and sure enough:

COVID test reading positive

The usual time for a COVID test to complete is 15 minutes, but that hard red line appeared in only about 2 minutes.

I don’t know the infection’s source.  Did someone give me COVID from an airport? Did the virus leap from a stranger’s nose and into mine at a restaurant?  Did my wife give it to me before she tested positive and it just lurked in my body, struggling with my full battery of vaccines and boosts, until emerging triumphant a few days later?

This test result occurred right when I got home, before I unpacked, before I said hi to anyone, so I immediately just hauled all my stuff into the bedroom and joined my wife.  I am goofily romantic enough to love that I could hug and kiss my wife again for the first time in a week, even if for a disgusting reason. And I could care for her in person.

So here we are, husband and wife, down with COVID. We occasionally order food and folks bring it to out plague-barrier door.

My symptoms are currently uneven.  Some hours I only feel tired and cranky. Other times my throat tightens up or itches.  Fever comes and goes.  I dropped about six pounds, due mostly to depressed appetite.

Disturbingly, my mental operations vary.  I can read something carefully, then feel very tired and disengage. One minute I’ll be thinking through complex problems or multiple ideas, then the next those thoughts fade and I have to start again.  This scares me worse than the physical aspects.

Based on my previous COVID experience, symptoms should start fading soon.  I’ll take virtual meetings from home and test daily. Classes this week will probably be online, as will one in-person trip.  Hopefully I can maintain concentration enough to keep doing my asynchronous work: research, writing, planning.

Looking back over the past five months, 2023 seems determined to have a dark side.  It can stop now.