Saturday, May 28, 2022

Wilmette notes: My Corona

     When I heard that our Northern Suburban Chief Caren Jeskey had come down with COVID, my first thought was: "Great! I can't wait to read her take!" But I suppressed that thought, and came up with a better one: "Oh no! I hope you're okay." Then slyly hinted: "At least you know what your topic will be for Saturday." She did not disappoint. Me, I'm jamming into subway cars and packed delis in New York City. So my COVID diary is no doubt next (And yes, the title is meant to be an echo of "My Sharona.")

By Caren Jeskey

     That dreaded moment when you know you have it. 
     Monday night, you're laying in bed, and your throat feels funny in a way never experienced before. It seemed that the mucus was especially clingy. Droopy Dog tired.
    You’ve been running away for over two years, successfully evading the evil beast, yet it turns out your days were numbered. (I am a big fan of talking about myself in the second person when I want to deny reality. It isn't me this horrible thing is happening to; it's this other person).
     When I woke up in the morning I tested myself using the cheek, throat, and nose swab method I learned from this smart Canuck video. As I squeezed four drops of the sample into the little hole on the testing strip, the pink liquid made its way from the solid control line towards to the T line. I was accustomed to the liquid permeating the rest of the strip without a 2nd line, but not this time. The second line was as dark as the first. I was positive for COVID-19. After 15 minutes it was still as clear as day. Same went for the 2nd test I took.
     Well, shit.
     I made the first available appointment at Physicians Immediate Care on Golf, my whole family’s go-to place for rapid antigens and PCRs. The first test, the antigen, came back negative. I asked the nurse to please do it again, using the 3 step process, and she balked. How odd. Even though it’s best practice, seems our medical system is not there yet.
     Hey Canada, you’re looking better and better and better. If I could only find a way there. Forever. (Editor's note: for a stinging rebuke to this line of thinking, see Neil Steinberg's column this Monday).
     She said they’d do a rapid PCR, which was fine by me. The PA came in with my official “You’ve Got COVID” paper. I felt I had failed in a huge way.
     I’d gone to a concert at SPACE on Evanston Thursday evening. I kept my mask on and was not close to others, except my friend, but I had a long conversation with a group of people outside after the show. I’ve learned that Coachella became a super spreader event. We are not safe, even outdoors, and especially the way I was behaving. I’m sorry. I stood too close and felt too comfortable with fellow humans, knowing that the surge was here. I’m not sure why I did that. I’m embarrassed. It may be the biggest mistake I've ever made.
     Or maybe it was this? I went to a family gathering on Saturday night, the first once since last summer when things were safer. I masked the whole time, with the exception of three or four quick photos. No one else was masked, except the family members I’d driven there with, and they stayed outdoors the whole time. My first thought was “did I give it to them” in the car to and from the party? That is, if I'd been exposed Thursday. That thought was just too much. So far they are in the clear, and if you pray please pray for them. If you hope, please hope for them. Let's all wish each other well.
     As I type this, the continual coughing segment of the adventure has begun. Folks I know have gotten pneumonia and lengthy bronchial coughs post-virus. A friend sent me a YouTube video about how to use certain stretches to keep the lungs in better shape while trying to force mucus up and out. There are variations that can be done without getting down on the floor, and Adrienne is my favorite YouTube yogini for floor work.
     I have followed public health guidelines and have not left my property since I was diagnosed. (Burns me up to think about the people I know who have been as reckless as flying just a few days after being diagnosed and are not following recommended quarantine and isolation guidelines in general.
     It occurred to me that I have the disgusting thing that has killed at least 1 million people in the U.S., including my former landlord Angelo back in April of 2020. A sobering, yet surreal, thought.
     I spent Tuesday sobbing on and off about the children in Uvalde. As the facts present, all I can think is “many so called ‘good people’ with guns could not stop one 18 year old with guns.” The Good Guys With Guns myth makes me want to vomit. And scream. And we have to be very careful. Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz have eyes on the Oval Office. God help us all.


  1. Its nothing you did that was wrong or dangerous. Its nothing you didn't do. Its a virus. Even if we are double double jabbed we are likely to get infected. Thankfully unlikely to die. Hopefully you dont get too sick. I've had it twice now , struggled with the long coevid for several months in between. It sucks. Good luck

  2. I saw Kraftwerk last evening in St Louis. Perhaps the only musical group I risk going to see. People jammed in the venue, most of them without masks. It was superb, but I'm second guessing myself after reading your piece. Sigh.

    There was a news article in this mornings paper about vinyl wrapped picture caskets for children. It noted that the leading cause of death for children in America is gun shot wounds. As Colonel Kurtz would say, "the horror". The response to the murders in Texas confirm that the modern GOP isn't a political party but rather a death cult for the mentally ill.

    I hope your illness is mild and brief. Thanks for the wonderful column every Saturday.

    1. My first reaction to "leading cause of death for children in America is gun shot wounds" was, "Naww, can't be. A stretch perhaps or a well-meaning exaggeration..." But it happens to be all too true. But pointing that out to unbelievers does absolutely no good. Now that a whole generation of Republicans and Libertarians believes that the 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct and trumps all other rights and human concerns, we're least for the foreseeable future. Certainly, our kids are. They can cower in fear behind impregnable fortress schools or they can join the death cult and preemptively arm themselves. God help us!


  3. There are multiple news articles stating that the Uvalde cops have sent out a request to all Texas law enforcement that they need cops to protect the Uvalde cops from the public, now that we know they are incompetent & abject cowards!
    The papers from their training on situations like the school shooting stated they are to go in & save the hostages without regard to officer safety, which the Uvalde cowards ignored!

  4. Good time to add my thanks for your thoughtful and personal offerings. I always enjoy your self-reflection and insight. I too wish for your illness to be beaten back post haste.

  5. I’ve been fairly diligent and lucky so far. I’ve been dropping my guard a little lately so thanks for the wake up call. Very sorry it was at your expense.
    If (when maybe) I do get it I’ll be upset with myself. It’s like I’m pitching and so far, no hits through seven innings.
    The problem is I don’t know how many more innings there are in this game.

  6. As one with lung cancer I have probably been taking a lot of chances. I have gone to hockey and baseball games, but wear a mask. Have gone out to dinner before the hockey games but have worn a mask until my food came, but wore a mask until then. No doubt that seems pretty stupid. My wife some how caught covid, because she forgot to bring a mask to one of the hockey games. She then probabably gave it to her friend. I am really lucky not to have gotten it myself. I have been pretty lucky.

  7. Caren, don't be so hard on yourself. Don't blame yourself for getting sick.You tried your best to avoid Covid like the plague (sorry!) for so long...probably harder than most people. In the pre-vaccine days, I insisted on working at the Habitat ReStore, even though I was advised not to. Sitting around at home drove me nuts, especially in the worst election year in our lifetime. Even working in a closed and empty store didn't prevent me from getting sick last year.

    I didn't blame myself, or anybody else. I just tried to breathe, and prayed I wouldn't be taken away in an ambulance and left to wheeze to death, alone. I survived despite lung damage from too many years as a smoker (from 13 to 45), and Covid hasn't helped. Can't smell or taste food like I used to, either. But I'm alive, and grateful not to be dead.

    And you also need to relax and lighten up a bit. Don't be embarrassed.You're not a failure.It's not leprosy, it's Covid...and not some incurable illness. Calling it an evil beast, a horrible thing, and a disgusting thing will help neither your physical nor your mental well-being. You did all the right things. Masking up. Social distancing. Avoiding crowds. But, as I found out the hard way, it only takes walking into one cloud of sneeze droplets. Or one jerk who comes to work sick, and who infects a whole business.

    Hopefully, you won't get too sick, or have too many after-effects. Be gentle with yourself. Try to rest as much as possible. Eat jello and pudding. Drink tea. And here's another heads-up: Don't watch the news, especially the network news. If you miss a day or a week or even a month, you won't miss a thing. My Covid experience coincided with the Great Texas Freeze, and I kept my TV off for weeks. Hearing about the latest massacre or the atrocities in Ukraine or the antics of the Gee-Oh-Pee will only make you sicker. Don't touch that remote.

    Get well soon. All the best.

  8. Caren, you don't include your vaccination status? I attended a mini superspreader two days after my first booster and I was one of nine who tested positive within three days. 50 percent of the attendees. The testing process was much more annoying than the disease, hope your experience was similar. Texican politicos are equivocating and outright lying these days, evading reporters questions. One question I have not heard and would surely ask given the chance, "Was the Framers 'original intent' in the Second Amendment that children would be ruthlessly murdered by automatic weapons?"


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