So, what happened is that one afternoon I began to feel warm. Well, it was a warm day, so that seemed all right. But after it had cooled off outside, I began to feel hot. That didn’t seem right. So, I took my temperature. 100.6, but it felt hotter.
By morning my fever was gone. But I was coughing some. I called the doctor, who was on vacation, but his nurse said right off, “Don’t come here. You’ve got symptoms. You need a COVID test. Stay on the line and I’ll get you an appointment.” The first available appointment was two days later at one o’clock in the afternoon. I said I would be there.
That night my fever came back, though not as high as the night before. But I was worn out, fatigued, and this after having slept or dozed most of the day. I began to wonder about having COVID. I’d heard that at my age it goes bad if you get it, and a good percentage of us geezers don’t survive. That’s a troubling thing to go to sleep with, but I did go to sleep, only to wake up feeling unrested. In fact, I didn’t feel good at all.
I had been no place since March except to a medical facility a week earlier to have my sore knee x-rayed. The waiting room was small, a bit crowded, and not everyone wore a mask. I wore both mask and latex gloves and edged away from people as they came and went.
I was there no more than ten minutes before being called in to the x-ray room, and I was done in about fifteen minutes. It’s the only place I’d been in months, and I wasn’t there long. Was that enough to get this virus? It seemed not, but I had a day and a half to think about it. Even when I tried not to think about it, I thought about it. That’s the trouble with trying not to think about something.
And my thoughts ranged across many discouraging things. This is not the way I envisioned leaving this world, I thought. And I thought of how I don’t want to leave this world the way it is. I want to live long enough to see some improvement.
I want to live in a world where I can visit our kids and grandkids again, a world where we can be with each other on birthdays and holidays and just any old day we want to. I want to live in a world that is moving toward care of the environment and fairness for the poor and justice for people of color. I want to live in a country that is more together, able to get things done that need to be done instead of all this wrangling and calling people names.
And the more I thought, the more discouraged I became. Piling all these thoughts together like I was doing made it seem like the problems facing humankind are greater than humankind’s capacity for solving them. Now that’s a discouraging thought. And that’s where I wallowed while waiting for my COVID test. The day and hour finally came, and a kindly woman gently put a cotton swab up my nostrils. Nothing to it, except for being told it would take 24 to 48 hours to get the results.
It was then I heard of Michelle Obama’s “low grade” depression. As she waited out a COVID test, she became burdened with many of the discouraging things I had been thinking about. And it came to me: Hey, if you’re not at least mildly depressed these days, you’re not aware of the situation. That’s not a particularly encouraging thought either, but it felt like a start in the right direction.
Next day the report came back that my COVID test was negative. And guess what? I immediately felt better. At least I was no longer wallowing in a swamp of despondence. And then I learned that my knee is bone-on-bone and the only way to fix it is to get a new knee. It’s not something I like to hear, but hey, I can live with that.