Napping. Coughing. Napping. Sneezing. Napping.
As I opened my fourth box of tissues today after three full weeks of testing positive — the initial infection rebounded 11 days after it was Almost Gone — I decided to assess my time away from the larger world.
As symptoms waned during Week Three, I live-streamed a Jerry Orbach tribute show from 54 Below, a supper club in New York City. I’ve been a fan of his since the mid-‘60s, when I bought the original cast album for “The Fantasticks.” After Orbach ended his memorable Broadway career, his acting lured me to “Law and Order.” He's gone; I'm still watching.
Also this week, I whined at a nurse on Kaiser’s Advice Line about how long it’s taking to recover. He informed me that it may be two or three more weeks; not to fret just yet. Heartened somewhat, I streamed a show from SFJazz, which offers a “Jazz at Home” show every Friday night for just $50 a year.
I composed and shot “Still Life with Bananas and Fingertip Pulse Oximeter.” As Birthday Card Manager for my building’s Residents’ Association, I addressed cards to the 10 people here born in February. I sent out my laundry, ordered in groceries and occasionally had food delivered. For the most part, I’ve kept up with my physical therapy exercises, and at 9:30 one evening, I vigorously vacuumed the ceiling vent in the bathroom.
One afternoon I listened to dynamic tenor Jonathan Tetelman’s new album “The Great Puccini” and then boldly bought a ticket to The Met’s production of “Madama Butterfly” in May, when the opera will stream to a local theater. (Tetelman is Pinkerton.) Plus, I made future plans for drinks with one friend and dinner with another. (That ticket and the two dates are my Faith in the Future ploys — eventually I WILL test negative and go out again.)
An unexpected freelance opportunity came my way with no hard deadline, and I turned in a big piece for Next Avenue on a new exhibit that opens in April at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. That article required several phone interviews, which I was able to complete during Week Two in between coughing spells. Full Disclosure: I’m so excited to be working again that I splurged on four new fancy bath towels, on sale online for half price!
Week Two also brought a flurry of Apartment Therapy, which is how I view spring cleaning and decluttering as long as it does not require the elaborate folding of underwear. Randomly, slowly and only when in the mood, I cleaned out the pantry, tidied up desk cabinet drawers and culled some raggedy cloth napkins. I replenished the barren freezer with new options: fig and walnut bread, grilled salmon fillets and currant scones! I shredded December's paper receipts. I even sewed up a tiny hole in a baggy sweater that serves as a warm layer over my pajama top.
One friend insisted Pringles had eased her path through COVID, so I experimented with that. She later delivered a wonderful meal to complement my snacking. When another friend picked up and delivered a needed birthday gift, she also brought me delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. Neighbors fetched my mail and delivered packages to my door, bags and boxes that held new face masks, extra COVID tests and more Kleenex. On chatty phone calls, I learned about friends’ bouts with the virus, which I caught after three years and 10 months of avoiding it. Eventually, I’ll even forgive the one who told me after a positive test result, her nose ran for two days — and then she tested negative.
Week One was the hardest. Fatigue was the worst side effect for me, and I slept — a lot. “Obey The Body,” I always say, a lesson learned a long time ago while navigating an entirely different disease. The fatigue wiped me out completely for about four days and then demanded multiple naps in the days to come. When awake, I read. I also watched TV (some good, such as "The Holdovers" and "Maestro;" some silly, such as "House Hunters International," where people moving to exotic locales expect American-style amenities with authentic local "charm").
Now and then I pondered how I may have caught COVID. My Best Guess is in the hot tub at my gym. The virus may have been lurking in the vapor I inhaled as I relaxed in the glorious bubbly water — and then it invaded, in spite of the seven COVID shots I've had and my judicious masking all this time. One friend reminded me her doctor had predicted every one of us eventually will get the illness.
What have I missed since embarking on this unwanted “staycation?” Plenty.
Seeing a play put on by The Boy’s class, exercising in the pool, enjoying a facial, attending a Pilates demo to determine if it's for me, spending time with the family and settling in on the table for a weekly therapeutic massage. I also had to miss a long-awaited group outing for monologist Josh Kornbluth's performance at Club Fugazi, a birthday party in my building, a dentist appointment, a haircut and a residents' meeting. (Hard to feel too bad about missing a meeting…)
Through it all, I’ve had to enlighten concerned friends who worry that after so much time at home, I am climbing the walls. I’m not. I love my nest. I love my routine of playing complex word games each morning. I love sitting on my 13th floor balcony, where I talk to the hummingbirds and my ginkgo tree, tune in to the sounds of the city and try to sort out whether the cactus plants on the table are dying or are already dead.
A little perspective is in order here. Six months ago, the Centers for Disease Control told U.S. News and World Report that “while a little more than half of American adults think they've had COVID-19," the reality, according to new government data, is that "about 77.5 percent have been infected at least once.”
More recently, the World Health Organization reports that from Dec. 11, 2023 through Jan. 7 of this year, new hospitalizations and admissions to an intensive care unit both recorded an overall increase of 40 percent and 13 percent with over 173,000 and 1,900 admissions, respectively.
Hey, at least I’m not one of them, so I will endeavor to be a patient patient. You — stay well!