Monday, March 16, 2020

A Journal of the Plague Year, Part the Third - Knowing

I’m not really sure how I will know if I have coronavirus, at least not at first.  I assume that when I get it – not if, since the majority of people will get this at some point in the next few weeks or months and as I am not particularly special I expect to be one of them – and it progresses a bit then it will be obvious even to one as clueless as myself.  But the initial symptoms? 

Gonna be a challenge.

There are basically four symptoms, for those of you keeping track.  A dry cough.  A fever.  Fatigue.  And difficulty breathing.  Which makes it indistinguishable from a lot of things, at least at first.  Especially for me.

I pretty much always have some kind of minor coughing thing going on.  Have since the Johnson Administration.  It’s practically my calling card.  I’m not sure what I would do with myself otherwise and my boss would never know I had gotten to work without hearing it.  A dozen black-and-turquoise vaporizers didn’t dent that as a child, and nothing else has since, either.  It’s always something of a surprise when it clears up for a bit, actually.

Being tired is my base state, though now that we’re in quarantine I expect that to improve a bit.  It’s the usual too much to do and not enough time to do it that defines American life these days.

And while I rarely ever have an actual fever, I frequently feel like I do.  Sometimes I’ll even go to the trouble of finding a thermometer, only to discover that my body temperature is actually below normal rather than above.  This may be why I rarely feel cold.  I’m already there, so it feels normal to me.  Who knows.

I am pretty good at breathing, though.  I’ve had over half a century of practice.  If that starts to get more difficult than usual then that would definitely be a pretty strong signal that something untoward is going on.

So far, so good, though.

The thing is, I’ve been a classroom teacher for more than thirty years now.  Every summer the students leave for parts unknown and every fall they come back bringing with them all of the new and exciting diseases that they have collected to share with everyone back home.  This is the flaw in the whole “well, did you bring enough for everyone?” argument that teachers have used since time immemorial, by the way, since the obvious answer here is “yes.” 

Beware of what you wish for.

Bottom line, after three decades in the classroom I now have the immune system of a Soviet tank.  Antiquated.  Clunky.  Prone to breakdowns.  But rugged, easily repaired in the field by nonspecialists, and very hard to kill.

So it will be interesting.

I’m trying to postpone this reckoning for as long as possible, since that will generally help the health care system not get overwhelmed all at once, and if everyone pitches in we’ll all be better off.  I realize that there are people out there who feel this is an infringement on their rights, this pitching in, and they’re going to go out barhopping or hold big parties or do whatever it is they do to assert their superiority over us sheeple, but those folks are stupid and Darwin always wins those contests. 

For my part I’m okay with the whole social distancing thing.  It suits me pretty well.  Introverts of the world unite!  You have nothing to lose but social events you weren’t planning to attend anyway!  I’ve got my books and my tea and my family and I’m happy to stay put.  But even if I weren’t happy with it the simple fact is that it has to be done and so I'm doing it.

Maturity is knowing what has to be done and then getting it done whether you want to or not, because it has to be done.

I admit that it is hard to get motivated to grade assignments, with the world on fire and all, so I’m going to need to get over that.  It’s that whole maturity thing again. 

And it’s something to do on a grey March day when I’m not going anywhere else.


Eric said...

If/when you get it, maybe you'll be asymptomatic. One of those things that one feels bad hoping for, because while nobody wants to get sick, at least if you have symptoms you know what you've got and aren't guessing about your carrier status.

What I'm hearing is that Italy and China are reporting a lot of asymptomatic cases and CDC has no idea what they're talking about (you can't even accuse them of deliberately lowballing, they're supposed clueless). Almost as if the current U.S. admin fired everybody competent two years ago and never replaced them.

Regardless, take care of yourself and I hope the family is well.

David said...

And you and yours as well.

Asymptomatic would be the best option for me personally, though I worry that it would just encourage me to spread things that I don't want to spread.

And yes, I hope when things calm down a bit as they will at some point that people remember that the current US president and his henchmen did not cause this epidemic and could not have prevented it no matter what they did, but they did everything in their power to make it worse in the name of short-sighted greed and destructive ideology.

LucyInDisguise said...

You and Eric are being too diplomatic & far too civilized about all of this.

Me - I intend to contract this virus. Then, at the height of contagion, I'm going to figure out a way to drag whatever is left of my carcass tp Washington, D.C. and devote what little strength might remain to kiss every freaking tRump supporter I can find right on the mouth.

It is, after all, merely a hoax. (Just ask my eldest daughter* or any of her friends.)


* Much to my chagrin.

David said...

I get really, really tired of the idiots who insist this is some kind of hoax. You should start with them.

Every one of them.

They are putting my family at risk and I say the hell with them.

Though you can get to them in whatever order you'd like.

LucyInDisguise said...

Hear, here.

Or something like that.