On February 14, 2020 I was wrapping up things at work and feeling sorry for myself. My husband was out of town and I knew I would be all alone for Valentine’s Day weekend. To top it off, I could tell I was coming down with something.
I don’t remember anything else about that evening and yet last February 14th is a date I will now remember for the rest of my life.
What seemed like a run of the mill, you-catch-it-at-work sort of ailment was still going strong on March 12th when most schools and places of work shut down due to the coronavirus. By this time I had already been on antibiotics, and was soon to move to oral steroids. In a way I considered myself fortunate to have some additional time to recuperate.
Since that time I have had sinus scans, chest x-rays, numerous blood draws, a dizzying variety of antibiotics and courses of steroids, multiple inhalers, and sinus surgery. I’ll be having a chest CT scan on Monday.
I’m still sick. Since February 14, 2020, there has not been one day when I have been well.
Some things have gotten better while other things have gotten worse. I’m now dealing with uncontrolled asthma. Some days I can’t even walk upstairs while carrying a hamper of laundry. Other days I’m so full of medication that I’m awake at 2:45 am eating a bag of pita chips and looking for conversation on Twitter. On my best days I can look after myself and do light housework. That’s it.
I have great doctors and they are doing their best and I am making progress. Maybe. I think I am. After a year of this I don’t really know. I do know that, in the age of COVID, my particular health issues have rendered me effectively disabled. There’s absolutely no way I could return to any kind of work now. Right at this very moment I don’t have to, but I have a kind of deep sadness when I think I may never work again. As time passes I feel less confident in my abilities.
The truth is, people become chronically ill and it changes their lives. These things happen. With the profound suffering all over the world brought about by the pandemic, my challenges are small in comparison. I have a home, a family, food to eat, health care, a community of friends. I am very fortunate and I know it.
One of the things I’ve learned over the last year, what with all the medical poking and prodding, is that my immune system isn’t what it ought to be. So the prospect of my husband being returned to in-person teaching when neither of us has been vaccinated is daunting.
Yes, I care about all of the teachers and school staff, students, and their families that I write about. I also look at my spiral notebook listing all my daily medications, my multiple inhalers and my pulse oximeter and I worry about myself, too.
My blog is meant for local issues and mostly I keep to that. I realize that this post is uncomfortably personal. But today I am marking a milestone that I’m still unable to fully process: what if you were going to be sick for an entire year? Or longer?
What if you didn’t really see a light at the end of the tunnel? This is new territory for me.
I’ve been carrying this around inside of me for a while now and I guess that today is the finally the day to put it out there. Perhaps I’m waving the white flag or finally admitting that I can’t pretend everything is fine. Or maybe I’m hoping this is the last time I’ll ever need to acknowledge it, as if naming it could make it disappear.
Every single person very likely has their own unspoken story of struggle over the last year. Many are far worse than my own. It’s possible to want to keep it all under wraps so as not to burden others and yet still wish to pour out one’s heart at the same time.
We all do the best we can. On Monday we’ll wake up and try it all again.
Thanks for being a reader.