COVID-19

The snake finally bit me

Frustratingly for me, and for everyone in my house, I got COVID this week.

Monday evening I started to have a scratchy throat. Tuesday I had a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headache. Wednesday the headache was worse, I was moderately fatigued, I felt some chest congestion, and I coughed a little here and there. I thought surely it must be a cold.

Thursday morning it struck me that in these pandemic times one can’t ever assume a cold is a cold. We had a couple COVID tests in the closet, so I took one. Both lines lit up immediately — positive.

I’m staying separated from my family until this passes. Because I was symptomatic for a few days before I sequestered myself, Margaret tested last night. Negative, thank goodness. She had COVID in January, and it lasted upwards of two weeks and laid her out good.

By Friday evening I had only a little lingering sinus and chest congestion. Today, Saturday, I feel 95% normal.

I worked every day through this, from home. I just didn’t feel that sick. I’m incredulous that this is COVID. It has felt for all the world like a mild cold, quickly forgotten after it passed.

I am double vaxxed and double boostered.

Standard
COVID-19

This is probably my last COVID-19 message

Since the pandemic started, I’ve written occasional bonus posts about my experience. This is the 61st. At first, I wrote frequently, at least twice a month. But since last fall the pace has slowed considerably. There just hasn’t been much new to say.

Recent mask guidance from the CDC suggest that 70 percent of Americans can now stop wearing masks, and no longer need to social distance or avoid crowded indoor spaces. In red-state Indiana, that took down the final barrier. Almost nobody wears masks anymore, anywhere. I’m relieved, but I hope the CDC has its guidance right.

The Omicron surge has passed here in Indiana, and I suspect in most of the United States. The thought seems to be that because Omicron didn’t make people as ill as previous variants, that we are past the worst of the pandemic, and that COVID-19 is now becoming endemic. I’m not so sure the emergence of one less-impactful variant proves that. But I think people are ready for this to be over, and that will surely convert pandemic to endemic. I just hope that we don’t have another variant that has high risk of serious illness and long-term effects.

Source: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm, February 28, 2022

Like most, I’ve all but given up wearing a mask. I carry one in case I walk into a place that still requires it.

I’m still working from home most days, and I still go back and forth about whether I prefer it to being in the office. I miss what the office was, when everyone was there. When I go now, only a handful of others are ever there. It’s hardly worth the hour-plus commute — especially since the people there aren’t ones I need to meet with. I spend my whole day on Zoom, whether or not I spend the hour plus round trip in the car. So most days I just stay home. But I’m frankly sick of being in this house all the time.

If that’s my biggest pandemic-related problem now, I must have it pretty good.

Standard
COVID-19

Losing my voice during the pandemic

Driving

Since the pandemic began I’ve worked from home the vast majority of the time. I normally drive about 20,000 miles a year, but in the last two years I’ve put only about 3,000 miles on my car.

I’m a car singer. When I’m driving, I’ve got my music on and I sing along. I can carry a tune, and I can really project my voice.

Or at least I used to be able to project my voice. I didn’t realize how much my ability to do that depended on the daily practice I got while commuting.

I am working at my company’s headquarters today, for the first time since before Christmas. I asked Siri to play my “singalong” playlist. I quickly found that I could barely raise my voice above normal speech volume without it hurting my throat.

I’m not a terribly physical guy. I don’t play sports. I don’t enjoy working out, so you will be hard pressed to find me in the gym. The things a fellow normally does to wring out tough emotions, I don’t do.

Singing does that for me. It’s a very physical activity and when I’m feeling rough, belting out a bunch of songs I know well very often vents the emotional pressure.

Wow, has there ever been a lot of emotional pressure during this pandemic. And I haven’t had my primary way of physically working through my feelings.

I wonder if I should go for a thirty minute drive every day after work, just to have that time to sing.

Standard
COVID-19

I’m boosted

I got my booster shot of the Moderna vaccine yesterday. There’s so little demand for the booster here that I was able to schedule it at will at the CVS Pharmacy within walking distance of my house. When I got the initial two doses, demand was so high that in order for me to wait only a couple weeks, rather than a couple months, I had to schedule them at a Walmart 15 miles away.

I feel pretty good today. The area around the vaccination site (my upper left arm) is sore, and I’m a little more fatigued than normal. I’m taking it easy today, but if I had to I could put in a full day and be fine.

As I’ve written before, I’ve returned to more or less a normal life, going to events and restaurants and such. I live in a red state with no government mask requirement. Among the places I’ve gone in Indianapolis and Zionsville, most stores strongly recommending masks and a small number require them. Some event venues require proof of vaccination and some don’t; some require masks and some merely recommend them. Bars and restaurants here neither require nor recommend masks.

I wavered briefly on masking, in large part because of poor mask compliance in the places I go. It felt pointless to mask up when hardly anybody else was doing it. But after rethinking it, I’m back to following recommendations and requirements in the places I go.

COVID-19 isn’t done with Indiana yet. Here’s the latest positive cases graph.

Source: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm, November 27, 2021

New vaccinations have stalled in Indiana. When I last wrote about it in early September, just over 3 million Hoosiers were fully vaccinated. Now it’s 3.4 million fully vaccinated against a state population of 6.7 million.

Source: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine/2680.htm, November 27, 2021

I’m still working from home most days. I average about one day a week in the office, usually Tuesday. I thought surely by now I would have added more in-office days to my schedule. But on a normal day in the office, I encounter five or six other people in a company of about 150 employees. As a result, I spend my whole day on Zoom no matter where I work from. Might as well skip the commute!

Standard
COVID-19

Trusting my vaccination

I hardly know whether to bother wearing a mask anymore. The places I go, no less than half of people aren’t wearing theirs. Last time I went grocery shopping, my estimate is that four out of five bared their faces.

I know that the point of wearing the mask is for me not to spread COVID if I happen to be carrying it. But if most people aren’t wearing masks, it makes the whole thing seem ineffective. Masking works best when we all cooperate and do it.

Beers with some co-workers

I had a surprisingly severe cold in October. It drove me to take a couple days off work to rest, but to be fair I have also been suffering from very real exhaustion thanks to extreme work stress. My symptoms were more consistent with a cold than with COVID. But on the chance it was COVID, I didn’t go into places unless it was critically necessary, and when I did, I masked up and didn’t linger.

Otherwise, I’m going out and doing things that I want to do. In places where masks are required, I mask. In places where they’re optional, I mask only if most other people are masking.

I still work from home most days. It’s no longer about COVID, but about not commuting. I suppose that if more people were in the office every day I might go in more often to enjoy the office buzz. On a normal day in the office I encounter three or four people. I still spend most of my day on Zoom; I just do it from a different place. I don’t see the point in spending so much time in the car just for that.

The major upside of this pandemic is that my car is going to last a good long time – I hardly use it!

Standard
COVID-19

What I lack in smarts I make up for in luck

I’ve done two things recently I’m not so sure were all that smart during this pandemic. Let’s just say I tested the limits of my vaccination.

First, I went to the Indianapolis Colts season opener — with 68,000 of my closest friends. It was a sellout crowd. The Colts lost, of course.

My wife’s boss has season tickets in about 10 rows back on the 15 yard line. He was otherwise occupied this day, and gave his tickets to my wife. I was so excited about doing this that it didn’t hit me until we had parked and were walking toward the stadium: holy frijoles, there’s a global pandemic on! I decided not to turn back.

A week later, our youngest son and I saw Megadeth and three other heavy-metal bands at an outdoor ampitheater. It looked like a sellout crowd to me, and the place holds 25,000 people. Here’s a snippet of the band performing. I can’t believe my iPhone’s microphone picked up this extremely loud music with such clarity.

Our youngest is a major metalhead, as was I back in the day. I’ve tried to bond with him by taking him to see the Big Four thrash metal bands of my time: Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. We had seen all but Megadeth, and what a journey it was to be able to see them. We had tickets to see the band in 2019 when founder Dave Mustaine was diagnosed with throat cancer and canceled the tour. He recovered, and the band tried again to tour only to be stymied by the coronavirus. They rescheduled our show either two or three times over more than a year trying to outrun the pandemic. They decided to press on with this date despite the Delta variant being in full swing.

Despite being so close to so many people, some of which had to be carrying the coronavirus, I came through untouched.

That I’ve done these things is not a declaration that I’m done being cautious. Let’s call them temporary pauses in my caution. I have no more pauses planned. But good God, were these pauses fun.

Standard