As of this publish date, we are rounding on one full year of the first traceable COVID-19 (or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)) case in China, 17 Nov 2019.
Considering the world has seen so many millions of confirmed Covid cases by now, nearly everyone on the planet knows somebody who has survived a Covid infection…or has died from it. I was recently texting a friend in India with whom I had not communicated in nearly two years. After a short exchange of pleasantries, he told me he was recovering from Covid. I pressed him to share his experience.
Although he did not want to get into the ugly details, he did have this to say, “I was hospitalized for 8 days. It’s bad, bad shit. We all think ‘I won’t get it’ and that’s the worst part. Not that I got complacent, and yet… Not even the best doctors know what they are addressing. It attacks everyone differently. Different symptoms, different organs. In fact, it touches almost all the vitals. That is how bad and tricky it is. I have been through the crap and don’t know how long I will continue to go through this”.
I let his words sink in. I, like most, have had a Coronacoaster ride with this insane pandemic. This virus is still mysterious to all of us, to scientists, and to medical experts, even a year later. I went through the typical reactions from, “Is this real?” to “Is it really that bad?” to “We really don’t have any cases here, we’re pretty damn safe in our social bubble.” Even with deaths occurring, initially, it seemed so far away. Then it amped up and positive tests popped up within our social bubble. Most of the cases were extremely mild. But one was touch and go for several days. Besides the general mind F*ck of this virus, there are also the mental challenges of various stages of lockdown and financial/political concerns for the future too. Sometimes it’s as if the world is off its axis.
My relationships reach across several international borders and consist of a vast age range. I began an unscientific tally of those Covid cases I knew personally (over 30 and counting). I am not a scientist or a mathematician. However, according to my numbers in this personal “control group”, if I contract this virus, I have a 50% chance of mild/easy symptoms. And a 50% risk of SERIOUS issues with a little gamble of DEATH sprinkled in for good measure. Personally, I don’t like those odds. Here what I know from my positive testing contacts…
- 20% Asymptomatic cases. These people felt completely normal. In fact, they never even would have known or tested, if they weren’t on the receiving end of contact tracing.
- 30% Mild cases with minimal symptoms lasting only a few days or less. Symptoms may have included headache, fatigue, fever, aches, nausea, sore throat, slight cough. The responsible ones in both of these groups quarantined/distanced for 14 days, even though they felt fine much sooner. No lingering side effects of which I am aware.
- 15% Serious cases lasting at least a week, including rougher versions of the symptoms in the mild cases but also others, such nagging cough, breathing issues, Covid toes, chills, sweats, high fever, monitored by healthcare professionals, but not hospitalized. This includes Long Covid issues that may still ebb and flow months later.
- 15% Serious cases lasting longer than 2 weeks, including hospitalization due to (but not exclusive of) breathing issues. Oxygen treatment and some needing intubation. Blood clots. Ongoing side effects have continued with all of them, especially exhaustion. A family friend survived and was released, but is paralyzed from the waist down and is currently in rehab learning to walk again. This also happened to singer Christopher Cross.
- 20% DEAD. Ranging in ages 23 to 89. My first personally known death was in early April — a high school boyfriend in Chicago (he did have pre-existing conditions). However, the 23-year-old orphanage house mother in India did not, and now she is gone.
Every night I look at the numbers indicating thousands of deaths around the world due to this deadly virus. I light a candle in their honor and hope their last breath was pain and anxiety free.
I have been ridiculed (even by friends) a number of times for adhering to safety precautions and wearing a mask regularly. I am astounded that anyone would shame someone for taking care of their health when they are at high risk (which I am). But I suppose that is the climate of humanity at the moment. I saw a tweet from @JohnPavlovitz addressing the mask-wearing shaming and I think it covers the fear factor appropriately.
Deniers: “You wear your mask because you are afraid.”
Us: “Exactly. If there’s anything worth fearing, it’s a pandemic with no vaccine and no treatment, that has killed lots of people and shut down the planet. We wish you were afraid too. Fewer people would die.”
Here’s hoping for peace in a post-Covid world. I know, dream on. Those odds aren’t so great either.