A Letter From The Infected

I swear I didn’t start this substack up again so I could write about COVID stuff every day.

So, you may or may not know that I tested positive for COVID-19. I’ve felt sick since Monday, assumed it was a cold, lost my sense of smell, got worried, and then we found out someone’s - a babysitter we had grown to trust - husband tested positive. Nobody else had a symptom to speak of, but we all got tested, and I am the only one that tested positive, so away I go. Out you go Dave. I am lucky that it is just me, and not my wife or child. The person in question tested positive, and is asymptomatic.

We foolishly had let them be unmasked, and were unmasked around them. I have been incredibly careful since March 15 or so, and have left the house approximately 7 times (yesterday included) since. I have been fully masked at all times except at home, I have washed my hands and sanitized my hands and kept guests from visiting. I have sprayed packages with disinfectant. I have kept distanced at all times. If I sound frustrated, if not outright angry, it’s because I am.

I feel exhausted, my head hurts, I feel nauseous. Worse than all that is that I can’t see my wonderful wife and child for 11 days, and leave her without my support, which is the absolute worst thing I can do. I am lucky because we have a space where I was able to isolate immediately completely removed from everyone, and thus I can limit exposing others completely. But I am furious - I know it’s petulant to feel this way, but I have watched friends of mine have parties with 30 people unmasked, go to bars, get on planes, go to restaurants, and I’m the one who gets it? Me? I’m not wishing it on anyone, I’m just annoyed that my careful planning and effort didn’t stop me getting it.

I also recognize, and want to address, people who see this and say “oh well, that means that being careful is stupid, you’ll get it anyway.”

If you are thinking that you are a complete and utter moron.

I am the person who is sick, so I get to make the judgment call here: I only got sick in November. Had I not been careful, I could very well have had to deal with this while I was moving. Had I not been careful, I could have been asymptomatic and passed it to my elderly grandparents. Had I not been careful, I could live my entire life thinking I did nothing wrong and end up asymptomatically passing it to someone and killing them. This happening is only a sign that bubbles can be broken, and that mistakes can be made, and that you should wear a mask.

Up until today I’ve almost been rolling my eyes at people tweeting “wear a mask” to people on Twitter who are wearing a mask, but I want to actually add a few layers to it. Please wear a mask, even around people that you think are “smart” and “wouldn’t get it” because “they were careful.” The person in question was extremely careful, as have I been, as has everyone in my orbit. Wear a mask, and if the person in question you’re asking to wear one gets pissed off, please have them reach out to me so that I can tell them they’re an asshole.

I have been lax - I have had maybe 4 friends visit me since May, all driving, no flying, and relaxed mask rules around the house because I trusted them. This was catastrophically, irresponsibly stupid, despite feeling like it was “fine” because they were “fine” and had been “fine.” I am disgusted with myself - I was afraid to push the issue because I didn’t want my friend to think I was an asshole. Well, I’m the asshole now, aren’t I? I am. I have been saying things to myself like “it’ll be fine, as long as they haven’t been anywhere.” The person who infected me had been two places - including my home - and had otherwise been isolated. Her husband had been to work, and then her home.

I am not saying this to make you feel bad, because I am guilty of the very same magical thinking hypocrisy I’ve made fun of previously - the belief that if someone follows all the rules and seems fine, they’re actually fine. Because it was far more convenient to think like that and deal with the yearning for contact with people I love that live outside of my bubble rather than being patient.

I currently feel like I have a hangover without the drinking, with my brain bouncing around in my skull. I feel nauseous, exhausted and frustrated. I can’t smell, but I can taste. I am grateful that I do not feel worse and terrified I will. I am on day 6 of 14, and I have been resting constantly, and hope that will speed my recovery. I am obviously able to think clearly enough to write a ton of words about not feeling good, so I am very lucky to be that way, and pray I can stay that way.

I am immensely grateful to the people who have been lovely and shot me messages wishing me well. It’s extremely isolating (literally and figuratively) being in this situation, and I’ve had people reaching out with support and people who I had no idea even got COVID giving me advice. I am trying to drink as much pedialyte as my body will accept and sleep as much as possible.

If you take away one thing from this, please just wear a mask all the time, any damn time you go somewhere or see someone new or have someone visit you. I don’t care if you’ve seen them 8 different times, if they don’t live with you, mask up. I don’t care if you’re eating together. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to eat with someone outside of your bubble unless you literally can’t avoid it. It isn’t worth it.

Also, having been there, I know you want your family member to feel comfortable in your home, but make them wear a mask, and make them cover their nose. Make them wash their hands. If you’re eating with them, make them eat seven feet or more away from you. I know you think you’re being rude, and you may get accused of that, because you’re potentially suggesting they “have” the virus.

Let me be crystal clear: if you have this virus and do not get symptoms you are a very lucky person. I don’t care if you have known this person for 40 years, and they’re visiting for the first time in a year. Mask. Wash hands. All the time. Sorry. If they can’t breathe, well, maybe they should stay home.

I am writing this with the full knowledge that our government(s) do not make this shit easy. They do not make it possible to just stay home for everyone, so everyone’s spreading the virus. Their guidelines are opaque and ever-changing, with confusing changes in rules based on counties let alone states. They are truly in the wrong, and they are truly failing all of us. They should be paying everyone to stay home until we have 600 million vials of the damn vaccine ready. I am not moralizing this as if the real villain is anyone other than the governments that have failed to support their people, and failed to create any kind of real support system, let alone a robust testing system.

Yes, people can wear masks and do what I say and they should do so, and it’s good to do so, and if they don’t do so it’s bad. But ultimately an inconsistent and ghoulish evaluation of human life has led to and will lead to hundreds of thousands of dead people and millions of people getting sick. The suggestions I make are ones that are aimed at mitigating the damage that is being done to us by a total lack of empathetic governance and social support. Any frustrations I have about the way in which people are dealing with this, or are being informed about it, are borne of a governmental strategy that has sided with death.

And yes, I apologize for milking this situation for a newsletter and some tweets. I am going stir crazy and want to put my thoughts somewhere in the hopes they’re entertaining and informative to someone.

Going to be listening to this experimental noise therapy for the rest of the day.