One of the thoughts I’ve had in recent weeks, in better moments is whether it could be one is Patient Zero, living in an unexpected area and rather isolated. It’s not a thought I’ve never felt guilty over. In fact usually I do within seconds, that’s the harsh reality and mortality of covid-19.
But as I myself am in recovery lane, quarantined by corona, sometimes the thought comes up when thinking whether my body could right now still pick a fight with the coronavirus.
Sometimes I even smirk at the ridiculousness of the thought.
It’s a stupid thought, yet also an expression of the health war I am fighting and coming closer to win every day myself. While the pandemic is bringing death upon thousands, wrecking the world’s economies, and putting many otherwise daily workers in a “no job, no food” situation, for me it mostly means a return to an almost normal and almost healthy again life.
A Return to Normal Life
It all started last year, towards the end of October. A small cold had annoyed me for some days, slightly longer than it should have. This being the Philippines and living in an area not too posh, I even recall having looked up the symptoms for pneumonia. Sure enough, everything seemed to match and I whether had a cold or walking pneumonia.
Nothing a body used to fight niggles with paracetamol couldn’t cope with.
Yeah, right. Before I truly realized it my life had turned from few sniffles to weeks and weeks stuck mostly on bed, beaten by a massive fever. And a banging skull.
Nothing compared to when I was hospitalized, and isolated, with viral pneumonia two years ago. No, nothing like that... much worse.
It felt like I was embarking on a fight for life and one I was ready to admit defeat in even. Yes, Stoics can sometimes have a weird outlook on life.
My options were rather simple it felt at that time:
- Take life as it comes, c’est la vie
- Borrow money and get everything checked, looking forward to yet another batch of antibiotics and then a life with debts, and potentially also daily medication for a long time to come
Why was my outlook that dry?
Life has in recent years taught my that I’m probably not Keith Richards nor Ozzy Osborne. I am most likely not superhuman nor invincible.
While I may have beaten multiple mini-strokes almost a decade ago, am highly stress-resilient, and generally a survivor when needs to be... health has taken a beating over the years and the body isn’t necessarily as heavy duty anymore as before.
Which it made sure to constantly remind me of day after day as the weeks, months, and even the year passed. The fight was ongoing and while I seemed resigned to defeat, it was a real battle of the fittest.
May the strongest win!
Except that I wasn’t really winning.
Life had come to a screeching halt. Energy levels... I didn’t know what that meant anymore. Concentration skills... a distant memory I grieved.
I was fighting and the enemies were kidneys who had decided to reschedule my sleep, fever which loved to knock me out, and a banging head which made me feel stupid more often than not. My pillows were covered in hair which seemed to fall out like smog dust covers us every day in metropoles.
Barely anyone knew of my battle. Of my resignation to defeat. Even my parents would only learn about after growing that worried they sent the embassy on my ass. Eventually I had to get them clued in too.
My bed having become my BFF, reading and occasionally chatting were the only noteworthy activities which kept me from going insane. When I say reading, I mean trying to read because usually when I finished a paragraph I had forgotten the previous one already.
Being a daily the Guardian reader, I picked up on the coronavirus evolution as soon as it became news allowed outside of China. As I followed the ever growing coverage, I didn’t see much in it. I was fighting my own health scare and, damn, I wasn’t winning.
Or so I thought.
As the virus scaled and reached more parts of the world, I slowly started to recover. That annoying head started to become tolerable. That fever started to lower until levels where I thought I could beat it with paracetamol. Kidneys were still rebellious though.
As covid-19’s grip on the world became more serious, I started to win my battle and slowly but surely regained concentration focus and even a hint of an energy level again.
By now the Philippines, at least the main isle, had implemented a stay at home lockdown to slow the spread of the pandemic.
And I was starting to feel better every day. “Better” here still being used rather loosely, but feelings that life may be short made place for a snarky “you picked the wrong body, whatever you are” attitude.
It all started after I hit my lowest point. Literally hit the floor fainting in a store.
And then... everything changed.
The World’s Quarantine Life
March had come and changed all levels of expectation. Worldwide due to the pandemic, personally because of my rate of recovery. An almost miraculous recovery. I even had enough energy to escape to the a smaller city when the national government announced the community quarantine. Few days later, the main Philippine isle was locked down.
Today, April 1, after more than 5 months of health struggles I dare say I am back at 70-75% of my normal levels.
I can not say that my brain is already the old multitasker it used to be, but that banging skull seems to be gone and is now replaced by the odd migraine flash. The fever, while still present on many a day, is mostly minimal and only few hours a day only. Energy is still low. I struggle with moments of low blood pressure but that’s something entirely manageable.
Yet, the quarantine has affected me like everyone else too. As a regular external consultant to local internet startups, rebooting the professional life after several months of inactivity has become more difficult. Most companies I would otherwise work with are now in remote staffing mode only, often also with many less active employees. A career reboot right now seems rather impossible.
Since hitting the floor at the store, I haven’t seen any supermarket beyond the typical local convenience store, AKA sari-sari store. I wouldn’t know about the actual state of the stores’ shelves as I haven’t ventured anywhere yet. Your toilet paper is not my issue. My movement has been limited due to still low levels of energy. But daily seemingly increasing levels.
As everyone is doing their best to stay healthy, escape that virus, for me... the quarantine has meant a return to a normal life. Well, sort of normal life.
I don’t know what I have/had. I’m not really bothered either, not beyond finalizing this recovery, no matter how many more months it may take.Whatever I have been, and am still fighting, if I have covid-19 then there’s no doubt I’m Patient Zero.
But that isn’t going to prevent me from tackling the next few years in life.
Stay safe, stay healthy... and wear that damn face mask! And keep your distance because otherwise I need to get a selfie stick to keep you at length!