Guesswork in the Time of COVID-19

Sitting here in bed, after an online meeting with my kind coworker, feeling out of breath and a bit overly-anxious. I just finished wiping a blob of Manuka honey off the Otterbox protective cover on my Samsung-10 smartphone, thinking I wish my body had an Otterbox case. It’s day twenty-three (23) of being ‘sheltered in place.’

My youngest son–a modern day superhero serving as a grocery store shelf stocker and bagger–is stopping by to grab our grocery list. A list that David sealed in an envelope with exact cash required. I can’t remember what I added to the list, beyond bananas and avocados. But David made sure to look up every food item and to assign an exact price to each listing; and to then add up the exact total of cash required. David, like many of us, has a lot of time on his hands and is putting his nervous energy into tasks which a month ago would have seen obsolete.

Fair warning, the sun is hiding once again in the Pacific Northwest, and I am in a poophead mindset. I jolted awake somewhere around 7 a.m., gasping for air. I’d been in another nightmare. A dark one. I’d found myself in a cramped, dimly lit hospital room. There was a rampant state of panic. People hustling and bustling about, thoroughly exhausted. There were too many beds cramped into a narrow, small room, not made for patients, particularly not patients in need of critical care. David and I were amongst the room inhabitants. With no beds left, we were made to stretch out, first on our backs, and then on our bellies, on this makeshift bench, set underneath a row of windows. There was no way to see out. They drugged me up. I was loopy, on my stomach, mostly naked, with a door open, so any passerby might glance my ass. I remember feeling odd that I would care about my nakedness, when I was so very ill. There was a stern, obtuse nurse. And she was using this white, square-shaped scanner item. It admitted a blue light laser beam, as she ran it up and down my backside. My bare rump up and enormous.

Admittedly, I’ve been scanning multiple virus articles and viewing far too much Australian Love Island and Star Trek episodes. This freakish dream seemed a naked-high-tech-deadly combo. Either that, or some out-of-body visit to a bleak situation in any number of medical facilities stretching the U.S.A.

If there were to be any form of  ‘good’ news this day–I’d venture to say ‘decent’ news–it would be that my prediction was correct. I’d stated to David, four or five days ago, that I clearly saw the state of Washington’s number of fatalities dropping significantly in comparison to other states. I guess that’s not ‘decent’ news after all. Now is it? Sigh.

Yesterday, I was relieved to have more energy than I’ve had in three weeks. Celebration!!! Wait. I can’t do a happy dance without panting. Yesterday, I was able to make my own dinner, do dishes, and even wash the dog. In total I was standing upright for over 30 minutes!!! Still, David warned to take it easy. Thusly, more Love Island.

I need reprieve from my brain. For I’ve suffered an illness phobia, specifically a virus-pandemic phobia, since I was young and first learned about rabies. All things considered, I am managing okay. I owe tons of my ability to rest in my own company to David. David and Candy Crush Soda Saga. I am approaching level 1000.

I don’t feel like I am turning into mush-brain, as: 1) a pattern game is essential for lowering my chances for dementia and 2) David reassured that a recent study came out actually recommending we play video games to relieve anxiety, during these times of being able to do little-to-nothing to alter the world health crisis. Still, as I observe my neighbor, a new daddy across the street, build a deer-proof garden bed with his toddler daughter, and listen to another (military) neighbor, a new daddy as well, lifting heavy weights and bouncing them on the garage concrete like thunder, I feel a bit guilty. Breathless. Exhausted. But, nonetheless guilty.

Yesterday, I wanted to believe that I was all better. I keep thinking that mind over matter shall triumph or that Marcelle of Carmel has a nice ring to it for a pain-afflicted saint. Side note: I was born in Carmel community hospital. Nice to see my warped sense of humor still prevails during the end days. With barometric pressure changes, e.g., mist, sprinkles, storm clouds, almost raining, now it’s raining, now it’s sunny, now it’s cloudy, oops more rain, here comes the sun, false alarm, storm coming . . .  my medical conditions all seem to be acting up. I truly can’t tell POTS from asthma from could-be reaction to COVID-19.

This morning, I am shaking my head at misleading and false information circulating the Web. I wonder how much ‘fact’ is backed up by actual data and how much info. is mere second-guessing. Feeling thankful for my penchant for instinctual observation and analysis of data  I knew that the early reports coming out about COVID-19 were questionable. For instance, if this virus mimics the common cold or similar ailment, it makes sense that said virus would respond in the host (human) differently, depending on the individual. Therefore, in the last weeks of being ill, as my digestion was majorly affected, I wondered, if digestion issues couldn’t be a symptom of the Coronavirus. It wasn’t long until the ‘new’ symptom was revealed in Web writings. Yep, digestion mishaps can be a symptom, as can about anything else, such as thigh pain, sinus pain, etc., according to victims of the ailment.

Same thing with the odd suggestion/warning to not wear face masks. Of course fabric-masks or standard blue-ear loop masks wouldn’t stop microbe droplets of virus. But it makes no sense that citizens shouldn’t take precautionary measures from the larger droplets that splatter out in all directions from coughing and sneezing (some 27-feet travel span) by wearing something (anything) over their nose and mouth. My hunch for the misdirection is a dire need to save much-needed supplies for medical workers. Now, as the pandemic unfolds, articles are starting to pop up on newsfeeds that debunk the initial advisement to not wear a face mask. Delicate hints: Perhaps we ought to reconsider the whole covering your mouth and nose in public thing during a pandemic.

I suggest to you all to wear those cute, fabric masks that some kindly people are making around the U.S.A.. If nothing else, at least tear up a T-shirt and tie it around the face, or do that twisted Fruit of the Loom underwear upside down act, circulating Facebook.

For weeks, I’ve been telling David that grocery store workers should be wearing face masks! After all, they are the majority of the only contact most of us have outside our homes. And they sneeze. It’s allergy season.

Also, I’ve been wondering for weeks about the transference of virus from paper to human. I was an elementary school teacher and am well aware of germ transmission.  I developed quite the immunity to the common cold, after sickness after sickness. I’ve not had the flu or common cold in over four years! Actually, no flu in over 8 years! (Know on wood.) I’d read decades ago about how paper–like classroom worksheets–were one of the main carriers of germs! There was/is scientific proof. It makes absolutely no sense to me, that today, this recently-unknown virus wouldn’t also be able to take harbor on an array of any given paper products. Why aren’t we vulnerable citizens warned to wash down our Amazon packages, cereal boxes, and receipts? On a similar note, upon entering our ‘safe’ homes, at least recommend we remove our shoes, wash our clothes in hot water, and shower. How about changing bedding? Basic, basic preventers of the spread of any type of germ. What makes us think this one doesn’t highjack on our hair and clothes? And given the non-living ‘bug’s’ capacity to stick to metals and plastics, and so forth, why wouldn’t we want to be concerned with the asymptomatic store workers’ unintentional sneeze onto the Gatorade bottle?

Statistician I am not. Regardless doesn’t take much effort to conclude that if the positive tests for COVID-19 is much higher than we know (inability to test everyone and overlooking those asymptomatic folks needing testing, and faulty tests), then the death toll is actually much lower statistically speaking.

Virus outbreak stats are guesswork.

The data being blasted across the media networks is insignificant and pure speculation.

Example: Let’s assume 25% are asymptomatic (now stating upwards of 50%!) and another 30% have COVID-19 (with symptoms) and were never tested . . . and another . . .

We are seeing numbers change daily. The predictors of how many of us will die in the U.S.A. Somewhere between 80,000 and 140,000, at last early morning announcement. Thank goodness for the University of Washington!

I have avoided the news for nineteen years. I raised our three sons primarily with no cable channels or basic television. We survived off a Blockbuster membership, followed by Netflix home delivery, which provided ample Wiggles and Dora the Explorer. My now eighteen-year old never knew of commercials or reality shows, unless we were in a hotel on vacation flipping through the channels. Even then, I was typically sighing heavily.

Perhaps I should have stuck to my past ways and avoided all news. Thing is, with a world pandemic, and a deadly-virus lurching about, I do need some form of information to assist in making an educated choice. Problem is it’s cumbersome to decipher fact from fiction, coverup from truth, hype from warning, advisement from trickery.

My COVID-19 test was negative in early-March. David and I don’t trust the test. Based on my symptoms we think my test result was a false-negative, likely caused by an inexperienced, near-panic doctor or faulty test/procedure. We cannot definitely say someone is not infected with COVID-19. I read late last night that a local ferry worker, who died from complications of COVID-19, first tested negative, before testing positive. And there’s been ample evidence that the COVID-19 test results can be inaccurate.

I’d had a fever, at one point, of 99.7 degrees Fahrenheit, that didn’t officially count as a fever, despite the fact that my normal temperature hovers around 97 degrees. Like most medical ‘rules,’ I wonder who invents and decides on what is the normal. Since my test, medical researchers now estimate some 25% of citizens (one study states 50%) would test positive who are presenting with very mild symptoms to no symptoms. Articles are starting to list a 20% to 30% fail rate for some tests.

The facts of feasible-virus-contact (me be assimilated as host) and exposure are as follows:

  • We flew to Los Angeles (L.A.) on March 6, 2020. After ample research, I uncovered we were actually at LAX airport the exact same day another person had COVID-19 and later died from the virus.
  • At a fundraiser, while in Southern Cal., I shook hands with at least 20 doctors.

Needless to spell out: risk factors were there.

But still, we can’t be certain. I could have contracted another bug, and coincidentally had the exact same symptoms that are caused by COVID-19. Less likely, but feasible.

In closing, this rambling blog post was going to be a list of things I’ve done to help myself feel better/heal better during the last three weeks. Apologies. Much like the prednisone that I am currently detoxing from my body I had stuff to leach out of me. I’ve since read accounts on prednisone compromising the immune system or not helping at all with this virus. In retrospect, I ought not have heeded the expert advise.

2 thoughts on “Guesswork in the Time of COVID-19

  1. Ordered masks yesterday. My husband is going to work and they are taking their temperatures and giving them masks and gloves. Hope you continue to feel better day by day.

    Like

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