The Power of Covid-Positive Thinking

I’ve carefully eluded the long arm of the law for 4 decades. Mostly by being law-abiding, if I had to venture a theory.

But how about the long arm of Covid? It’s really more of a long, intrusive, insidious tentacle. And I managed to keep its venomous suckers off of my carefully masked face for 20 months. I assiduously followed every protocol passed down by the CDC, federal and state officials, and my own conscience. My family quarantined harder than just about anyone, with the exception of those who banished themselves even from nature itself.

We were on top of each other for 17 straight months, both for better (so much time together!) and for worse (so much time together!), and we all stayed uninfected. More importantly, we helped keep my 70-something parents uninfected, which is rule #1 during a pandemic that disproportionately afflicts those who are older.

(What’s rule #2, you might ask? Try to ease up on the nonstop dad jokes if you’re in the same house as your longsuffering wife 24 hours a day. I was somewhat less successful in following that one.)

Then I went back to work in August for an employer that, God bless ‘em, was rigorously vigilant about public health, mandating both vaccines and masks. And I stayed uninfected for 3 more months.

But eventually, the coronavirus — cue your best Jeff Goldblum voice — found a way. Despite my best-laid plans (and best-laid masks), it somehow laid siege to my airways. I got chills one night. Then I felt fine the next day. But then I got chills again that night. And then I couldn’t taste my frozen waffles the following morning. That was the dead giveaway.

So I got the ‘rona, as the kids say. (Not my kids, mind you, who didn’t even know the word “Covid” until last week. They just call it “the germs.” Or more recently, “the tiger germs.”)

Thus was I generously given my very own personal breakthrough case of the tiger germs to write about while being sequestered in our guest bedroom.

What a gift.

I have many feelings about this surprising, mildly sabotaging development. Many of which are, dare I say, positive. But let’s start out with a few things that suck about having Covid.

I missed a Caspian concert. We had tickets to see the greatest band on the planet last Wednesday, and last Wednesday is when I tested positive. That isn’t just bad timing; it’s maddeningly awful timing. I don’t even want to talk about how stingingly disappointing it is to miss out on an experience as transcendent as a Caspian concert. So let’s not talk about it. I’m done talking about it. Moving on.

I can’t taste anything. This is beyond weird. Food has been reduced to a combination of texture and the way saltiness and sweetness hit my tongue, divorced from all flavor. As a snacky, deeply food-motivated person, this has demotivated me from snacking in the same way. I’m eating less late-night food and I “graze” a lot less throughout the day. My bovine qualities have been noticeably reduced. Heck, I haven’t even been tempted by the box of Oatmeal Crème Pies cereal (that’s right, cereal) that Danielle bought me. Who am I even?

I can’t smell anything.  This one mostly doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But then I realize that if our house was on fire, I would have no idea. So maybe the olfactory sense is pretty important. Violet has twice said “I smell a campfire!” on our walks, and I’ve had to take her at her word. On one of those walks, Greyson got some brown stuff on his shoe. I smelled it when we got home and thought “Well, that can’t be dog poop. It has no smell.” Then I realized that I actually had no way of knowing, and that it was almost certainly dog poop. But I do enjoy not being able to smell Violet’s stinky diapers when I take them out to the trash. Silver linings, right?

I have to wear a mask around my own kids. I don’t like this at all. Hiding my smile and my expressive face from my sweet, goofy kids is frustrating. It runs entirely contrary to my nature. I feel like a burglar in my own house, but the only thing I steal is snacks. (Albeit only the ones with an enjoyable texture).

I have to socially distance from my own kids. This is by far the worst. Holding and hugging and kissing my kids is second nature. Not doing so makes me feel like some aloof, repressed dad from the ‘50s who demands to be called “sir” and calls his wife “mother.” Physical contact with one’s kids is part and parcel of the parenting experience. Even more so for an affectionate guy like me. As Patrick Henry once said, “Give me snuggles or give me death!” Man, that guy really got it. He must have had young kids.

But to their credit, my kids aren’t even mildly traumatized by my mask or my sudden standoffishness. They understand completely. In fact, our 5-year-old and 3-year-old are infinitely more low-key about the mask subject than the 53-year-olds I see angrily protesting school boards. Heck, Violet insisted on wearing a mask the other day during a drive, just for fun.

Maybe the kids of America should run the government during the next pandemic. They’re clearly more matter-of-fact about safety protocols than many of their parents.

So what are the silver linings in my playbook? Is there anything good I can take from this experience? As it turns out, heck yes. I’ll start with the trivial and work toward the significant. A small laundry list of things I am grateful for.

I “made” $40 in gas money. Like I said, I’ll start with the trivial. I’m working remotely for a week, so I’m saving a chunk of money. (I’ll conveniently overlook the $50 I spent on rapid Covid tests.) For that matter, I’m also helping to save the planet! Maybe we should all quarantine again for that very reason. No, wait… on second thought, let’s not. I think 17 months of Covid claustrophobia is enough for one decade, at least. I’ll just buy a Prius instead.

I finally have some time to stream HBO shows. Since Danielle has to put the kids to bed while I retreat to the 1-man leper colony that is our guest bedroom, I have a few hours each night to myself. So I’ve been riveted by The White Lotus and Succession. After all, it’s not TV… it’s HBO.

(Disclaimer: HBO did not pay me anything for this publicity. Although I will gladly take Venmo if they decide to do the right thing.)

I was gifted a bonus week of nature time with the kids. For the last 9 days, I’ve gotten the kids outside for at least an hour a day, and usually closer to two hours. We’ve played in the woods, we’ve walked to a local farm, and we’ve been to the park every single day. There is no better way on earth to spend a lunch break, or the golden hour, than strolling through the woods with wonder-struck children. Especially children who are so impervious to nature that they (usually) don’t even mention the wind or the chilly temperature. I sure wish I lived close enough to my workplace so I could do this every day! But I’m grateful for my remote work day each week, and I’m grateful for this past week of bonus memories.

I apparently now have superhuman immunity. Between the antibodies I got from the vaccine and the antibodies I got from the virus, my body is now antibodied to the max. Maybe I should audition to be part of Marvel’s Eternals for their inevitable sequel. I could be the one who swallows up all the Covid aerosol particles to protect those who are vulnerable (and those who just refuse to get vaccinated). I’d be a superhero for a new virus-conscious era! Just call me Covidman. Or maybe The Antibody. I’m still working out the details.

My vaccine worked like gangbusters. I have virtually no “sick” symptoms, and there’s one primary reason for that fact.I got vaccinated last spring. As we’ve come to learn, the vaccine doesn’t prevent spread. But it does, with breathtaking (and breath-saving) efficacy, prevent hospitalization and death in a preponderance of cases. I should get a T-shirt that says “I survived Covid and all I got were these non-functional taste buds.” I didn’t get sick, or feel any pain. The only other symptom I experienced was some minor chills in my sleep on the first 2 nights. That’s it. Nothing else.

So I offer my warmest thanks to everyone who was involved in the mRNA vaccine research over the past few decades, which led to this miraculous vaccine. A vaccine which saved tens (or more likely hundreds) of thousands of lives, and just as many hospital beds. Those researchers truly did the Lord’s work.

Testing positive for Covid hasn’t been a positive experience exactly. But it could have been so, so much worse. It could have happened, despite my careful efforts, before the vaccine was available. It could have spread to Danielle or the kids. It could have knocked me sideways if I was immunocompromised in some way.

Instead, Covid did exactly one unforgivable thing to me (and Danielle). It mercilessly stole an amazing concert experience from us.

If I can somehow set that aside, despite my lingering bitterness, I think I can find it in my heart to forgive this virus.

I’ll never forgive Covid for the rampant suffering it has wrought in the world.

But on a personal level, I’m glad to let bygones be bygones.

And we’ll all breath a (maskless) sigh of relief when this scourge of the earth be gone.

EPILOGUE: I’m happy to report that I can end this on an unequivocally positive note.

I just tested negative!

Peace out, Covid.

2 thoughts on “The Power of Covid-Positive Thinking

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