I got covid. Possibly. It’s surprisingly difficult to say.
I know what you’re thinking: “Please tell me you’re not going to try to write a humor piece about covid! Because that is the very definition of ‘too soon.’”
Yes, this is the 487th time I’ve thought I had covid this year.
It’s not unreasonable that I keep thinking I have covid because I, much like the rest of you, am insane.
It’s basically impossible in our current climate to remember that other diseases exist, let alone other reasons for coughing that don’t even involve disease. I once choked on a piece of cereal. That made me cough quite a bit.
And I need to point out that it was Life cereal.
While eating Life cereal, I almost died.
At least, when I’m telling the story, that’s the way it goes. Other witnesses may recall it more that I coughed several times and then went on with my Life (in every sense of the word).
My point is that for the better part of 2020, anytime I sense anything out of the ordinary, my brain immediately jumps to “I have covid!” Everything from an itchy pinkie finger to abnormally slow internet leads my well-read, college-educated brain to immediately conclude that I have covid. I’m starting to question my brain’s ability to lead. If my brain isn’t careful, my appendix will start a mutiny and take over. My brain should have taken out my appendix when it had the chance.
We’ve gotten off topic.
I had a headache, so I took my temperature and discovered I was running a fever of 99 degrees. After a moment of panic, I took my temperature again and discovered that in just those few minutes, my temperature had dropped to 94 degrees.
That’s when I realized I had never actually read the instructions for this fancy laser-guided thermometer I had bought after the itchy finger episode. It was meant to put my mind at ease. I didn’t realize I needed some sort of NASA training in order to operate it.
I pulled out the manual, which turned out to be about 37,000 pages long.
After a little light reading, I took my temperature again and I was back at 99 degrees. I immediately shut myself in my room and would have boarded up the windows except it turns out rustic barn wood is super expensive and if I’ve learned anything from movies, it’s that you shouldn’t use new wood to board up windows. I don’t know why, but they never do.
I got myself an appointment for a covid test, but then I had to wait for the results.
Like the stages of grief, it turns out there are several stages you go thru when you have a serious covid scare:
- Guilt: Asking yourself “What did I do wrong that I got covid?” After taking time to carefully contemplate all of your actions since March 2020, you transition to stage 2…
- Justified Rage: Upon examining the facts, you realize that you hardly did anything wrong and the things you did do wrong were MONTHS ago and so THAT’S when you should have gotten covid. Not now, when you’ve got not one, but THREE back-up masks in your car, you’ve improved your diet to near perfection as a help to your immune system, and if anything, you’re washing your hands TOO often! Where’s the JUSTICE?! I followed ALL the rules! I demand to speak to a referee! Seriously! What the hell…(This stage can last quiet a while, but eventually you move on to stage 3…)
- Bargaining: Unfortunately, bargaining almost immediately devolves into rage arguing, which is particularly sad because you’re quarantining, so you are having this shouting argument with yourself. “What should I have done to avoid this? Huh? Always wear a mask? I DID THAT! Stay away from people? I’m an introvert! I can literally sink into a wall to avoid other humans! I’ve barely touched another human in six months! Why do you think I’m so ANGRY? AND DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE SUNG THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONG THIS YEAR TO MAKE SURE I WASH MY HANDS FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS?! AND YOU DON’T JUST SING IT ONCE! THAT’S NOT LONG ENOUGH! YOU HAVE TO SING IT TWICE!! EVERY!!! SINGLE!!!!!!!!! TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Which loudly transitions us into stage 4…)
- Acceptance: When you finally reach this stage, you take a deep breath, and accept how incredibly unfair it is that you have covid. That’s when the real rage starts. (But then comes stage 5…)
- Invincibility: At a certain point, in the midst of all the rage, it dawns on you that if you actually have covid then, after your proper quarantine, you’ll probably be immune for an indeterminate amount of time (according to the internet: somewhere between “not at all” and “until the sun burns out.” According to the CDC (at time of publication): 90 days) That means you could engage in all kinds of crazy, thrill-seeking behavior, like going INSIDE the grocery store to get the brand of cookies you have tried to order all year, but their curbside shoppers keep giving you the wrong ones. You could go somewhere completely unnecessary, like to the movies, without feeling like you’re risking everyone’s lives just to see the reboot of a sequel of a remake! You could get on an actual airplane, assuming they still exist! In fact, why stop at one? With your newly developed powers, you could circumnavigate the globe, which should only take 80 days, according to that Jackie Chan movie you didn’t actually see based on a book you didn’t read. And if somebody starts coughing on any of your many flights, while everyone else tries to subtly move further away, you could stand up, announce to the other passengers, “Behold! I am invincible!” and then lick the coughing person’s face (Side note: the CDC has not ruled on if that is in fact a good idea, but it may be outside their jurisdiction.) It’s like diplomatic immunity, only better! It’s actual immunity!
And just as you start to feel on top of the world, that’s when you get the call to tell you that you DON’T have covid.
That’s why my phone call with the doctor went like this (and this is true):
Doctor: Your results came back negative. You don’t have covid.
Doctor:(Surprised) So…you do NOT have covid. (Pause) Yaaaay. (That was not an actual excited or happy “Yay.” It was a monotone, unemotional “Yay” meant to inform an obvious alien disguised as a human as to the emotion a real human being would express at such a moment.)
Me: Yeah. That’s………………………….great?
Doctor: Yes. Yes it is. That’s correct.
But it really wasn’t that great. For one thing, they had interrupted me just as I was hitting my high, imagining unlimited airplanes and licking unsuspecting strangers over international waters. But a negative test resulted presented another problem, too.
Did I REALLY not have covid?
I googled how accurate the tests results are while waiting for the results (in between bouts of rage at the injustice of getting covid NOT before I knew about the little markers on the grocery store floors that tell you where to stand, and so I stood too close to someone and had literally zero idea why they kept glaring at me. But instead I got covid after I had become a world-class floor-marker-stander-onner. What sense does that make, universe?!?)
It turns out, there’s a 38% chance of getting a false negative. That’s kind of a lot. If it was just a little bit higher, we wouldn’t need testing centers, because everyone could just flip a coin at home: heads, you have it; tails you don’t.
To be fair, 38% is better than flipping a coin (although I don’t know if my insurance is covering the test yet, so I may change my mind when I get the bill).
But now I’m stuck in a weird covid-limbo. When I thought I had covid, not leaving my room for 10 days straight sounded heroic. Now that I PROBABLY don’t have covid, staying in a room for 10 days sounds like evidence brought against you at a hearing to decide if you’re legally insane:
Neighbor: I’d see her sitting at her bedroom window and she’d just stay in there for like 8, maybe 9 days, straight!
Prosecution: But not 10 days?
Neighbor: 10 days? No! Even a crazy person wouldn’t do that!
On the other hand, it’s my unspoken life goal to not directly cause any one else’s death. And I have to say, for the most part, I’ve done okay at that goal so far (at time of publication).
Frankly coming up with a NEW life goal just sounds like WAY too much work.
And I do own a TON of books, which I like to admire during the ads on all the Youtube videos I’ve been watching.
So I’ll definitely stay in my room. But my odds of getting an Emmy for this hard-hitting piece of journalism are down to 38%.
I feel like Schrodigner’s cat: for the next several days, I will both have and not have covid.
Granted, it’s not super similar. For example, unlike Schrodinger’s cat, I WASHED MY STUPID HANDS FOR MORE THAN 20 SECONDS, COVID!!!! WHAT MORE DID YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!?!?