It All Started Out So Well
It’s not often you get to introduce someone to America for the very first time, and in the beginning I thought it all went rather well. Our teenaged goddaughter Ana arrived from Europe after an East Coast stopover, and she seemed gobsmacked to discover the West Coast is so . . . Western.
We took her to Nicasio, an old rancher’s roadhouse among the dairy farms and cattle pastures, where a live band belted out rhythm & blues. We had to explain everything from the jackalope head above the bar to what Billie Joe MacAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Her eyes were like saucers.
Doubling down on the Western theme, we went to Rich’s sister’s ranch, where Ana saw longhorn cattle, met the family horses, and rode the ranch cart around wide open spaces. There was even a brief encounter with a cowboy — Stetson, spurs, silver belt buckle, the whole megillah. You’d have thought we’d introduced her to a Martian. “A real cowboy,” she said in awe. “I didn’t think they existed.”
It was about this time that I began to get just a teeny bit concerned about my tickly throat. I always assume it’s just allergies, and it usually is, but just to be on the safe side, I’d taken a Covid home test before heading to Rich’s sister’s ranch. Negative. Whew! And yet after we got home, I started to feel kind of funky. Next morning I tested again. I think you can all guess where this is heading.
After two years and two months of keeping this particular wolf at bay, it finally bit me. Damn. Of course, testing positive now, after double vaxxing and double boosting, doesn’t hold the same terrors it would have two years ago, or even last summer. I counted myself lucky. Yes, I was sick, but it was no worse than many a respiratory infection from my past, with the addition of the muzzy-headedness known as Covid fog.
I decided to reconfirm with an official test, available at the pop-up hut around the corner. All I had to do was make an appointment online. Easier said than done! The form took forever: symptoms, insurance, credit card, photos of Medicare card, how many of my library books were currently overdue … OK, maybe not that last one, but just about everything else they could imagine. I filled it out five times, and it kept kicking back, insisting I couldn’t pay for the rapid test I wanted because I had Medicare.
“This makes no sense. Must be my Covid fog,” I told Rich.
“Let me try.” Two minutes later he was back. “You have an appointment in two hours.”
“How did you do it?”
“I lied. I told them you didn’t have Medicare.” The man’s a genius.
I masked up, shuffled around the corner, and presented myself at the hut. I was coughing and sneezing so badly I could tell the medical technician was thinking, “Why bother, honey? I can tell from here how this is going to come out.” But we went through the ritual and reconfirmed my positive status.
My husband and house guest sensibly decided it was time for a road trip. In an excess of caution they wore masks and kept the car windows open as they rolled across the Golden Gate Bridge and meandered around San Francisco, giving Ana her first glimpse of the city. Rich navigated Lombard Street, “the crookedest street in the world,” and showed off such famous landmarks as Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and Alcatraz before stopping at a taco truck for lunch.
“What did Ana think of San Francisco?” I asked him later.
“She was excited and enthusiastic about everything. Kept shouting ‘Wahoo!’”
Ana may have loved her San Francisco tour, but she wasn’t keen to spend more time at our place — or as we were beginning to refer to it, the Plague House. By a stroke of enormous good fortune, she had friends in the area who, learning of her plight, offered her safe haven. She took off, and who could blame her?
Meanwhile, I began taking the antiviral Paxlovid, said to reduce Covid’s severity and duration. Did it help? Who can really tell? All I know is I’m getting better. The main side effect is a strange, persistent, metallic taste in my mouth. After rigorous yet totally unscientific testing, I’ve determined that that the best way to offset the yucky taste, if only briefly, is by eating graham crackers. I pass it along for what it’s worth.
And then Rich tested positive.
As deeply sorry as I was to hear it, my life perked up considerably. Rich and I no longer had to mask up around each other or sleep in separate rooms, and instead of being banished to the bedroom, I now had free run of the house and garden. My germs could do no further harm to him or anyone else. As we’d notified everyone in our orbit of my illness, nobody was coming within a mile of us.
After a few miserable days, Rich felt somewhat better. His biggest complaints? A sore throat, for which he is taking copious amounts of lemon sorbet, and the metallic taste caused by the Paxlovid, for which he takes yet more lemon sorbet. It’s a tough regimen, but he’s bearing up manfully.
Rich also had some Covid fog, which is why I was a bit worried when he decided we ought to use this time productively and fill out our absentee ballots for the upcoming election. They’d just arrived by email, and we opened them up and did our best to make sense of them.
It took us hours to study the list of candidates, find the candidate statements online, read them, read them again because we’d already lost the thread, and then go over them once more. We studied the photos, made snarky remarks, read the candidate statements a final time, and picked someone. Then we’d move on to the candidates for the next public office. At the end I said, “So, we’ve voted for Obama for president and Nixon for dog catcher. I think that went rather well.”
Two days ago we started feeling strong enough to go for short, slow walks around the neighborhood, heavily masked and taking good care not to get within thirty feet of anyone.
“Shouldn’t we be ringing a bell and shouting, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ — you know, like medieval lepers?” I asked.
“Not with my sore throat.”
Rich and I are slowly getting better, but this morning’s home tests confirmed that neither of us is out of the woods yet. Ana is off on her next adventure — an internship on an organic farm. It’s not far away, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing her or anyone else any time soon. For now, we’re puttering around the house and garden, reading, trying to find something on Netflix we haven’t seen three times, and waiting it out.
So that’s the story of my week. How was yours?
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5/24/2022 04:06:28 pm
So sorry to read this, even if I smiled while reading. Mike and I are ok so far. I supposedly am reactive + with covid antibodies. So we will see. We're supposed to go to Amsterdam on 11 June for a bicycle trip. Fingers crossed all goes well. Hope you both are better soon.
5/25/2022 03:38:25 am
Glad to hear you and Mike are staying healthy, Kay! The Amsterdam trip sounds wonderful; bicycles are the best way to see that part of the world. You guys will have a great time. Thanks for your good wishes and safe travels!
5/24/2022 04:47:41 pm
Oh Karen, you made me giggle, even when the situation is dire, you still manage to frame it into a funny occasion ;)
5/25/2022 03:42:09 am
I'm staggered to learn there is a good show on Netflix that I haven't seen. Thanks so much for the tip, Sandra. I will check it out. Right now we're watching a British mystery called Paranoia. The mystery is very clever and quite puzzling. But the cops investigating the case seem certifiable; they all have such complicated mental issues that it makes me wonder of the department forgot to do the psych evals on them before hiring. But the case is intriguing, so we're sticking with for now. Looking forward to 7 Lives of Lea!
DENISE SANANTONIO ZEMAN
5/24/2022 05:09:11 pm
Sadly the same here. Since March, 2020 we survived traveling home from Dubai; to and from California (Doug twice, although once was on a motorcycle;) to and from Greece; and to and from Antarctica with not as much as a cold. Doug attended his outdoor class reunion picnic double vaxxed and double boosted, and that's where we believe our train wreck started. He's about 3 days ahead of me, but now I'm more symptomatic. The metallic taste from Plaxovid doesn't respond to wine, but I'll keep trying. In the meantime, I hope you're both feeling better very soon.
5/25/2022 03:47:41 am
Yes, I've tried a fair amount of wine to fight the Paxlovid taste too, Denise. It doesn't remove the taste but it can provide a bit of cheer and fortitude. This Covid is a tricky beast, and doesn't always conform to the same pattern, but I know you two are doing all the right things. Despite the taste, God bless Paxlovid and the other medications they're coming up with to keep us safer. Let me know how you and Doug are feeling in the days ahead. I will add a bit more parsley in front of San Pancracio on your behalf. Maybe it's just superstition but hey, it can't hurt.
5/24/2022 06:06:52 pm
So sorry to hear you have both succumbed but glad it isn’t too bad. Will certainly remember Rick’s way of dealing with the metallic taste.
5/25/2022 03:48:54 am
Thanks for your good wishes, Michelle! I'm glad you and Pete have dodged the bullet, and hope your luck holds. Better stock up on ice cream just in case. Hugs to Pete and the kids!
5/24/2022 06:57:41 pm
Sorry you got the plague. After two years symptom free, it must be a real downer--as psychological as physical. My Rich and I keep knocking on wood. Our knuckles are sore but so far it's worked.
5/25/2022 03:51:00 am
It is a bummer, Nancy. It's like that old line from Jaws: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ... Oh well, it hasn't been that bad, and Rich and I are muddling through together which helps. Keep knocking on that wood, and here's hoping your luck holds forever.
Julie and Deborah
5/24/2022 08:00:33 pm
Oy vey. So sorry you guys got it. Glad it’s on the way out. So far we are ok.
5/25/2022 03:52:41 am
Thanks for your good wishes. This too shall pass! Glad you guys have kept healthy, and we'll set up a Zoom call soon to catch up. In the meantime, stay well, amigos!
5/24/2022 08:23:28 pm
Oh no! So sorry you both succumbed to The Plague. I do like Rich's approach. I haven't succumbed yet, but maybe I should get the freezer stocked with sorbetto...just in case...
5/24/2022 08:25:12 pm
I should also mention...I had the same problem as you did with testing only in my case it was getting appointments for boosters. I finally lied and said I didn't have insurance. Voila! Got my appointment right away.
5/25/2022 03:59:17 am
Seriously, who sets up this appointment software? Do they offer special classes in how to make it as difficult as possible to use? I went online to order groceries and my two choices were: A) Have you already ordered and are ready to schedule delivery? or B) Do you want to order now and do curb-side pickup? What about neither? Apparently ordering now and then scheduling delivery was asking too much. For a while I thought it was Covid fog, but now I realize ... they're the ones who aren't thinking clearly. Anyway, stay well, Shéa, and stock up on ice cream. These days, you never know when you're going to need it.
5/25/2022 04:56:59 am
😳 OMG! I’m so glad you guys are on the mend! Bonne santé to you both!
5/25/2022 04:01:51 pm
We all have a lot to be thankful for, Faye. Not being in Ukraine and not having monkey pox are heading the list right now. And I am so grateful to all the scientists and doctors and researchers who have made the vaccines and boosters available. I am using every defense possible with this tricky disease. I have friends who are talking about getting some Paxlovid to have on hand for a trip; they are finding some doctors are OK doing a just-in-case prescription, others are trying to keep the meds (still on the scarce side) for those in urgent need. They only work if you take them early on, so I can understand you wanting to take them along. This is a good conversation to have with your doctor. Let me know what you find out.
5/29/2022 09:10:00 pm
Wow! sorry to her of your tussle with the virus! We, on the other hand, just returned from 9 weeks on the road (Italy, Portugal, Spain) and so far . . . so good. Luckily, our trip was mostly hassle free. Spain was getting back to normal quickly, although most facilities required masks to enter. I world is certainly ready to get back to traveling! Our week in Seville was outstanding, as usual!
6/1/2022 05:23:18 pm
Duane, I'm very glad to hear you've dodged the bullet so far! This quirky bug seems to have its own ideas about who, when, and how to strike. I feel lucky to have had such a (relatively) light case. Stay safe, amigo, and keep on enjoying your travels. It is so wonderful to be able to get about again!
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