A life between normalcy and aberration.
I live on Long Island. Outside of the city, but not far enough outside to escape the horrifying number of COVID-19 cases.
As an essential employee who is also an introverted work-a-holic, my routine has remained relatively unchanged. I’ve still been going to work—a lot. Especially on nights and weekends when others might be out congregating in large crowds.
But work hasn’t been exactly the same. No humans but us are allowed in the building. We adapted; FaceTiming people or doing exams in the lobby so a pet’s family could watch through the window. It was different…but not.
Everything was different…but not.
And I felt lucky. Because I still had a job—more work than I wanted perhaps. And an emergency fund in case I had to take time off. I had focus, and purpose. But everywhere around me others were losing their jobs, or getting their hours cut when they were already living paycheck to paycheck. Business owners I knew were at risk for losing the businesses they’d built and nurtured from the ground up.
But I was okay. And a part of me felt lucky. And a part of me felt guilty. Why should I be okay when so many others weren’t? I felt conflicted.
And as the week wore on and the number of confirmed COVID cases rose as I continued to work, I became resigned to the fact that I would eventually contract the virus. But I was sure I’d be okay. I’m young, and healthy. I have type O blood. I live alone. The risk factors were in my favor.
But who would I infect? Would the risk factors be in their favor? Would they get sick? Would they die? I felt lucky…but scared.
And now, as I sit writing this, I am in limbo once again
Not quite sick, but not quite well.
I have a cough—but just barely. Is it really a “cough” or just a mild increase in the need to clear my throat?
I feel tired and flushed, but I’ve got no fever…and I worked 80 hours last week so tired is not unexpected.
My chest feels a little tight but not painful.
“Stay home if you feel sick” they say. But what is “feeling sick?” Is it a headache? A slightly stuffy nose? A tickle in the back of your throat? Normally no. But now—now those not-quite-symptoms could mean so much more. And so, though I am essential, I’m not essential enough to not stay home.
Do I get a test? My symptoms are mild, at best. And we need to reserve medical resources for those who need them most. But I’ve been in contact with a known COVID positive person. And there are sick pets counting on me.
It could be so much worse, I know. Things could be decisively bad. But this waiting for the other shoe to drop…of wondering if and when it will all fall apart; this sense of everything being fine, but one step away from total disaster…it’s not so great either.