I’m writing you this morning from the living room floor of my apartment where I’ve been holed up for the past week.
On March 20, my throat started itching and I began coughing. It’s nothing but seasonal allergies, I thought. I didn’t have any aches or feel feverish. Saturday the cough got worse. By Monday night I had a fever of 102 and every symptom of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus spreading around the world.
Tuesday I called my health care provider, who requested I come to the office parking lot immediately for screening. Because I’m fairly young and healthy and wasn’t sick enough to be hospitalized I did not qualify for the coronavirus tests. Because of the testing shortage, only high-risk patients are getting tested.
I’m not upset.
People far more sick and worthy than I need those precious few tests. I knew going in that even if I were diagnosed with COVID-19, the remedy would be to stay a home and call if you get worse.
However, some comfort would come from knowing whether I could have spread the disease to others. No one at my office has come down with the same symptoms, and barring the return of fever between now and Monday, I’ll be back at my desk next week. (I hit the CDC threshold for release from quarantine Saturday.)
Regardless of age, health, race and wealth, COVID-19 can kill. I, however, am at an extremely low risk for developing serious symptoms requiring hospitalization.
Instead of any dose of certainty, I got shots of a mixture of drugs to treat my symptoms. Once I got home, I found that the specific cocktail is in trials in the United Kingdom for use in coronavirus patients.
Unless you’ve tried to call or visit me at the office this week, you’ve likely not noticed that I’m gone. I had the foresight to get the internet turned back on at home, so I’m able to do 90 percent of the work I could do from my office.
I’ve written stories, published news to our website and even laid out our front page from right here in my living room floor. While it may seem convenient, I hate it.
First, news is best produced in a room with other people to bounce ideas off of. While a single reporter might produce a story, the best stories involved in-depth discussion between newsroom staff about the proper ways to handle issues. Being isolated at home makes those discussions much more difficult.
Second, it’s been a major financial drain. Though I’m still working, I find myself in the same place as millions of Americans — flat broke. Between the doctor’s visit, prescriptions and a dispute with my internet company that led to a monstrous hit to my bank account so I could continue to have a job, I have a grand total of $3 in my wallet until this coming Friday.
And while that might sound like complaining, it’s not. I am lucky and count my blessings.
I’m alive while so many people are dying. I’m sick, but I could be much sicker. I’m not stuck in a hospital room by myself on a ventilator. I’ll get a paycheck Friday. Millions of Americans won’t.
I know that this time of crisis, like all things, will end. The world will get better, and we will all be stronger for having endured this storm of coronavirus. I’ll get to return to my office with the people I enjoy seeing every day.
There will be trips out of town in my future to see my friends and family. I’m waiting as patiently as I can for the day I get to visit my grandmother in her nursing home bed, to have those Sunday afternoon lunches with family that I’ve taken for granted so often, to tousle the curly red hair of a friend’s little boy who is like a son to me. I will get to do these things again.
I will live my life to a fuller extent, and hope never to be isolated at home again. But, if I must again, for the good of you and all mankind, I’ll gladly stay inside.