Reluctant Covid Believers

So its 10 weeks of Covid for me now. The last few days have been pretty bad and I am feeling angry and frustrated. Last night, in a fit of desperation, I broke down and doubled my Topamax dosage. Think about that, in order to hope for any sort of relief from my lingering Covid-19 symptoms, I had to double the dose of a seizure medication. I woke up this morning so conflicted. My symptoms are so much better. My head is not burning and throbbing. I am not nauseated and dizzy. But what this also tells me is that I am not really better either – I needed double the medication.

Another weird circumstance has recently occurred. I guess I should breathe a sigh of relief. I have family in up state New York. They have always been a more conservative side of the family which has created rich debates during the holidays and family vacations. We have always enjoyed these conversations, and have been able to coexist peacefully – until 2016. At that time, a part of that side of the family became ardent supporters of the current President. Another part of the family remained steadfast Republicans but refused to vote. As the last four years dragged on, and the nation became more polarized, our relationship with this part of our family started to shift as well. I guess I never really noticed it. I knew they were more conservative, so their Facebook posts didn’t surprise me much – in fact I didn’t think much of them at all.

And then the novel coronavirus happened. In March, when New York City was literally dying, my up state relatives were not convinced. While we in Chicagoland listened to the incessant sirens of ambulances bringing the sick to area hospitals, they didn’t hear the emergency. Understandably, they were worried about their livelihood. Of course they were! I work for a small, women owned business in Chicago – I understand the worry of the small business owner. I am the daughter of a small business owner. Urban areas were hit hard by the virus in the spring, and it was difficult to express to the rest of the country how it looked and how it felt. Even many people in our urban areas didn’t directly feel the health ramifications. Many just watched their savings dwindle and their jobs disappear. It is not as though we didn’t know this was happening – we are not that myopic.

Fast forward to August as Covid-19 ravaged my family. My mother tried, in vain, to explain to our New York family how this was impacting us. They refused to believe it was that bad and wrote it all off to the fact my daughter and I both have autoimmune diseases. In later days, they used the President’s speedy recovery as a great, shining example of the wonderful therapeutics available and how we are “rounding the curve” to eradicate the virus. My mom and her sister, two women in their 70s and 80s, ended up in the same horrible, polarized, political fight that is dividing our nation in 2020. My mom wept at what had become of her country and her family.

Now it is November 1, 2020. Covid is surging through the country, again. My aunt and uncle in upstate New York recently learned a nursing home 8 miles from them has 77 Covid cases all resulting from community spread. Suddenly, the virus has come home. Suddenly, they are willing to listen to the fact that after ten weeks I can still not smell or taste. Suddenly, they are open to hearing about the seizure medication I take daily to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. Suddenly, the virus is real.

I am so saddened that this what it takes to soften people. The citizens of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles all sounded the warning bells. Mayors and governors cried and pleaded. We said and did everything we could to make middle America and small town America understand. We didn’t want to see people airlifted out of small towns that are not equipped for this level of hospital activity. Our cries for masks, testing, contact tracing and social distancing were not liberal rally cries to take your constitutional rights. We know how hard this virus can hit. We know how fast it can spread. We were not the horrible, liberal cities we are portrayed to be – we are fellow Americans who were here all along trying to save your lives.

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