News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Zombie living through COVID

I never got flu shots because I preferred to have my immune system do the work. COVID was different. Too many people in my life were vulnerable. I wanted them to live.

Though I’d been vaccinated, I hadn’t been boosted.

On October 31, yes, Halloween, and barely able to drive to the clinic in Redmond, I was given a rapid test. Moments later I was ushered out the back door, a sheaf of papers tucked under my arm. COVID.

I’m pretty sure it was Delta, with the temperature spike for days, dark dreams, and a lost sense of smell and taste. I fought a feeling of flatness that lasted for weeks, dead inside, no energy, someone just going through motions. The word zombie came to mind. That I got diagnosed on Halloween only made it more ironic. I hated feeling passionless. It was an effort to get up for a drink of water.

I’ve had other illnesses — food poisoning and such — where I secretly wished to die, escape the agony. This was different. After the first few days, it wasn’t about the pain anymore. I struggled with a bleakness of spirit, a lack of desire. It was as if this virus attacked not just my body, but my brightness, my life force. My taste and smell gone, the world dark, I felt cut off from everything rich and beautiful. With still a bit of virus struggling deep in my chest, I stayed away from people through Thanksgiving.

During this time I occasionally talked to friends here in Sisters on the phone. I found it interesting that they also felt numb inside. Maybe not to the same degree, but the dark days of a restricted winter seemed to have everyone in a funk.

Outwardly, I pretended positivity. On the inside I felt dead. After six weeks, I wasn’t contagious anymore. I ventured out, but I still felt flatlined, afraid I’d feel that way forever. People in masks looked like impersonal bugs wandering the supermarket. People without masks seemed indifferent, like they didn’t care about anybody but themselves — at least that was my perspective. Detachment everywhere.

All I knew was that I wanted to feel vibrant again, greet people with enthusiasm over the holidays, so I got boosted. Bam, I was back in bed with more pain than the worst day of COVID. I realize now I still had a bit of virus in my chest. The booster wiped out the last of it, and within a few days I found myself grateful to feel alive again. The brightness had returned.

In the past I took my life force for granted — just went through my days unaware of it. I don’t do that now. I can honestly say that having had the virus has changed my perspective. Over a relatively short period of my life, I didn’t feel, and I learned how precious it is that humans are feeling beings. We rely on our senses and our attitudes to get us through the day. It’s given me empathy for those with mental challenges, those who struggle to feel, or live with detachment and aloneness.

One of our greatest teachers once said, “I came to bring life, and bring it more abundantly.”

Each one of us has a life energy to offer. If only we could look at each other in our community with eyes of vitality, instead of detachment or judgment. Each interaction is an opportunity. Spring is coming. It’s time. I intend to bring life to the day, and bring it more abundantly.


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