Dagnabbit – After all this time and diving in and out of isolation, I am convinced that I have discovered the perfect preventive antidote for this dangerous virus, foolishly believing that I have defied all odds – low And behold, it finally caught on with me.
Her antigen test nine days ago glowed proudly with two neon red stripes and I knew my goose was cooked. I can’t help but think I’m being punished for being cocky, because in the past few weeks, ever since the restrictions were eased, I’ve loosened my grip on my own constraints and started living a normal life. Resolve to start all over again (or ‘New-Normal’, whatever that means).
It was my goal to reconnect with some old friends—you could say it was at the top of the pile on my recovery to-do list, but of course, the pandemic put an end to that plan. The restrictions provided a convenient excuse to extend my monk-like existence a few years after the fire, but only recently as health conditions improved I realized I could not live in hiding forever.
Boredom finally provided the best impetus to put my derriere into action (there’s only so much my own company can stomach) and so tired of this life of solitude, I decided to jump into the deep end.
At first, I was a bit like a released prisoner, taking crazy risks like hugging other humans (not everyone bad, only the ones I like) dining without a mask at indoor restaurants, for a long time. To celebrate any small occasion – overdue birthdays or anniversaries.
There were wonderful reunions with friends I hadn’t seen since… in some cases since my wedding day, and these were often emotional affairs. In short, tears were shed, bread was broken and shameful gossip was exposed (my lips are sealed forever).
I was really starting to feel something like my old self. It’s hard to believe these days, but I used to be pretty much a social butterfly before I sang my wings (an unfortunate analogy, but I find it apt as a burn survivor) and for someone who’s loved it until July 2018 The world is far away from I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed these reconnections.
I wish my careless actions would have resulted in me eventually succumbing to the coronavirus. Ironically, until a few weeks ago I was the medical equivalent of a teacher’s pet, following all the rules and health guidelines to the letter, to the extreme level some might say, and as soon as I let my guard down. Gave it, I got it.
In case you’re curious, my over-the-top preventative measures over the years have included the following:
I spent a lot of time obsessively washing my hands until my poorly grafted skin was rubbed raw and my fingers started bleeding. I literally bathed in several hundred gallons of hand sanitizer, applying it liberally and essentially throughout the day—so much so that you’ll often catch a faint whiff of disinfectant in my company, a caustic scent gently waving in the air. In a bygone era, I, like the fabulous Marilyn, were known to pamper myself from head to toe in Chanel No. 5, whereas for the past few years I’ve been wearing mostly Eau de Dettol.
My life savings were spent on buckets of bleach and various other pandemic pulverizing products (scrub-a-dub-dub, no germs in my tub) until my house was cleaned to surgical standards. A mask was put on my face for the better part of twenty-eight months, though it saved me a fortune on facial cosmetics and offset my expensive splurge on household cleansers.
I learned early on that wearing my customary red lipstick behind a mask was an unnecessary indulgence and that covering up the face could lead to embarrassing clown moments. A blurry red mouth doesn’t have to look good! In short, as instructed by his in-charge, I socially distanced (not so difficult when you live alone), avoided crowds, received all vaccinations and boosters with an overwhelming sense of relief and then Also, that tricky little sucker was caught at the eleventh hour. And boy, as many of you will attest, catching this virus has been really pathetic, even for someone who was lucky enough to have a double booster under his belt.
So far I’ve had a full gamut of symptoms for nine days with a persistent cough, breathlessness, fever, painful headache, nose bleeds, sense of smell or taste, and constant tiredness. I hinted earlier that this lady was missing her beauty sleep – well in the past week I’ve been pretty put off for eighteen hours a day (I expect the resulting youthful glow any day now) Will show up, keep it up and I emerge from my illness looking like a teenager).
The loss of smell is irritating, even the sharpest bleach in my collection is odorless and every item of food I taste is like cotton, so food is a tasteless yawning celebration, although I can’t confirm this. It’s a great way to lose a pound or two. Even my dear Camembert has no appeal right now and taste-wise would probably be as tempting as gulping down a pack of plasticine, or marla as it is commonly known on our fair isle.
As lousy as this experience has been, this time around I feel really blessed because I know without all those magical jabs I probably would have been back in the hospital. And let’s face it, they are sick of seeing me at this stage.
Being bed-bound has given me a lot of time to think and I am thinking of friends who are very close to me who have lost loved ones (you know who you are) to this terrible disease. It’s not the first time I’ve remembered how unpredictable and unfair life can be sometimes. We’re all pawns of that big board game of luck – sometimes it just comes down to the roll of the dice, unfortunately the brush and nothing more.
On that note, as soon as I fully recover and no longer germ free, I intend to immediately dive back and enjoy many more reunions. Simply put, these past few days have reminded me that life is too short for solitude – I am ready to embrace many more moments of happiness when I have the chance.
Watch the next installment of Zoe’s Diary on July 25