the smell of my desperation has become a stench

My COVID-19 Experience (with video)

The first thing I’m going to say is that what I am going to describe to you today has nothing to do with any of the news I talked about or teased yesterday while talking to those of you who joined me for Quarantine Book Club (I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED, Y’ALL). Oh, and, yeah. We woke up to an earthquake yesterday, a 5.7. Should I talk about that first? Yeah, I definitely should. Because I experienced, what? A thousand earthquakes when I lived in Los Angeles? Sure, that’s an exaggeration, but an earthquake in LA is like a snowstorm in Utah. It just happens and you fucking GO ON WITH LIFE even if it snows four feet. Like, when you’re at the grocery store in LA and the shelves start shaking, if you freak out people will punch you because you’re a dumbass.

The earthquake in Salt Lake City yesterday was far, far more intense than anything I ever experienced in Los Angeles. And then we endured 24 hours of aftershocks.

Yesterday after two days of Official Quarantine with Children Who Cannot Go To School and Can Often Behave as Total Morons — TANGENT NUMBER ONE: I have instituted a policy in this house that you have to send me a text message if you need me and you know that I am alone in our bedroom. YOU CANNOT JUST WALK IN OR KNOCK. Because I might startle so badly that I will have a heart attack. I know you think I am joking but Pete’s son heard me scream one day when Leta walked into my bedroom with a, “HEY, MOM!” louder than an F-15 and he thought I had died and was genuinely worried he’d find a dead woman prostrate on the floor. Luckily, I was only hiding in the corner scratching sores I don’t actually have.

ALSO? You are also not allowed to sit silently at the top of a staircase, the one where I have to round a landing, only to see you sitting there with the look of those twins from The Shining on your face. Because guess what happened when Marlo did that? I was carrying groceries and dropped all of them including eggs and milk and a very delicate apple pie. Pete heard me scream two stories above me. He was like, yep. Someone walked up behind her and breathed air.

 

BACK TO THE TITLE OF THIS POST. I’ll get to the earthquake at the end. So many amazing things!

Here’s what is happening in Utah because that Jazz player shut down the country! Good job grabbing those mics, Gobert! People weren’t freaking out enough, NOW WE HAVE EARTHQUAKES AND WE BLAME YOU. Not really, but maybe a little.

Gobertquakes.

They finally set up three drive through testing centers in Utah, one conveniently located near our home. Now, why would we need to go get tested? You have asked a very good question! Gather ‘round and I will tell you exactly what this whole fucking experience is like, right down to hearing Pete say, “THEY PIERCED MY BRAIN. THEY TOOK A CHUNK OUT OF MY BRAIN.”

When we went to London there was no travel advisory or indication that London may be a “hotspot”. In fact, I am good friends with a couple in London whom I met in 1996 when I was there on study abroad. The woman is a head nurse at a London hospital. We had dinner with them the second night we were there, and she indicated that night that England had already set up emergency testing and care centers. They were not particularly worried because they were so prepared. And as of today, neither she nor her husband have contracted the virus. SO.

So.

We took public transportation whenever we possibly could, and sometimes that meant two trains, two buses, a 20-minute walk to another train, and then another bus. But it’s London! Public transit for tourists is kind of the whole point. It’s like visiting an art gallery. They have it figured out and it’s phenomenal. The London Underground is better than any Picasso I’ve ever seen and yes, that’s because Picasso was a huge, misogynistic asshole. I hate him. AND I AM NOT SORRY. End of story.

One evening while en route to a concert that IS PART OF FREELANCE WORK I AM DOING, AHEM, IS THAT SECTION OF DIMWITS SITTING IN THEIR PRIVATE SECTION OF THE BALCONY PAYING ATTENTION. LISTEN UP, PUT DOWN THE POPCORN, TAKE YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR NOSE, AND BUTTON UP YOUR SHIRT.

We encountered thousands and thousands of football fans who were heading to a game between Arsenal and Olympiacos, a football club based in Greece. We were shoulder to shoulder, almost nose to nose. We had to hold onto every part of those trains and buses to remain upright, and after the concert was over we encountered all of them again. I actually fell while walking up a staircase on a platform outside a station and scraped a giant swath of skin off of my right hand.

Within 24 hours I was very ill. However, I had not slept since we’d landed in London four days previously. My jet lag never subsided and we saw three concerts the night after we saw the first one — SEE: FREELANCE WORK ABOVE, YOU CERTAIN PERSON TAKING NOTES. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I had been up until almost 5AM, so I thought I felt ill because I had not slept. I was a bit feverish and woozy. I was foggy-headed. I could not get comfortable. Like a baby who hasn’t slept in days and is cranky and can’t sleep because they have not slept in days.

Sleep begets sleep, for those of you who have never had babies. This is the first thing you need to learn after you push an 18-wheeler out of your hoo-ha WHICH BRINGS ME TO.

I was uncomfortable for that one day. That night I thought, holy shit! Jet lag is a dumbass! Because it got really, really bad. Super bad. I never threw up or thought I was dying, but my god. I did not feel well. I thought my headache was going to burst my brain open. But then, I woke up the next day, finally had some calories, and I was fine. I was fine. I walked over two miles in a park and was fine.

Jet lag coming home was not pleasant, but again. I thought it was jet lag. I could not get comfortable for about eight hours when we got to our house and I was writhing around like an insane snake that has been set on fire, but then… I was fine. Symptoms from start to finish? Four days.

F O U R  D A Y S

That was March 3rd. Pete started getting sick on the evening of March 5th. Yes, I deceived you about when we were in London because THAT WHOLE SECTION OF DIMWITS SITTING IN THEIR PRIVATE SECTION OF THE BALCONY IS A LITTLE TOO OBSESSED WITH ME. You have no idea. Honestly. You have no idea. You guys. If you only knew.

Hi, I’m talking to you. You know who you are. Go get a life.

Now, I never really had a bad fever. My biggest symptom was a headache that would not subside, a headache that almost blinded me, and being so uncomfortable in my own skin that I did not know how to sit still. But, four days and it was over.

Pete developed a fever the night of the 5th. Is the timeline straight for you? I woke up early on the 6th to take care of everything with the kids. He stayed home from work because he had started developing aches and pains. His jet lag was almost as bad as mine and we thought, god! We need sleep! Who knew sleep was so important! NOT ME!!!!!

Not me. I did not lose sleep over a certain dog at all. Not one minute.

So we huddled in that weekend and slept as much as we could. From there his illness continued like any normal cold. Like, a cold. A fucking cold.

A cold.

Never did we experience anything close to what we’ve experienced when living through an episode of the flu. I do not want to downplay this in any way, I am just trying to give you the context of how and why and where.

The day after Gobertquakes shut down the NBA and then the entire world and Trump stopped travel from Europe, Pete and I both called our primary care physicians. In case it wasn’t jet lag. BECAUSE WE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE. Because we realized, wait. What if… that train platform. That train platform… what if this isn’t lack of sleep?

Both doctors said they did not have access to the test, or at least… they might be able to find one but they had no idea what it would cost. We should go to the ER where they knew it would cost us at least $1500 on top of any copays and whatever they’d charge us to see us for however long we’d be in there. We’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars.

That was March 12th.

Three drive through testing centers opened in Utah on the 14th. Pete showed up at about 5PM on the 14th and sat there for over two hours while I stayed home with the kids. They had no fucking clue what they were doing at those testing stations. None. Like, they were blindfolded and feeling their way through a maze. Literally fumbling through gear and paperwork like an episode of the Simpsons.

 
He was the only one waiting for a test and finally gave up and drove home. They called him as he was driving home and asked him to come back at 9AM the next morning. And he did.

Here are the details:

They made him stay in his car. He drove up to a “testing station” where a woman dressed in essentially HAZMAT gear approached him. She swabbed his throat and he gagged. He’s a man.

I am not apologizing for that. You want to know why?

They then stuck a swab up his nose and “pierced his brain.” They took a chunk out of his brain. When I asked him if he’d rather have a huge boulder with shoulders tear a giant hole as it comes out of a small orifice or a teeny, tiny swab inserted into a tiny orifice, he was like, “That is not a valid comparison.”

 

Within a day he had results for COVID-19:

DETECTED

So, here’s where things get interesting. And I am not fucking around. Not with this. Not when lives are in danger. Make all the judgments you want to make about me and my porn collection and inappropriate clothing choices I do not give a fuck. Had we any clue that he might be suffering from this virus we’d have never exposed him to anyone. We thought we were jet lagged. My symptoms lasted four days. His symptoms have not even approached anything close to what the normal flu has been like in his past. SO SHUT YOUR FACE, BEATRICE.

So then! The county called him! The Public Health Nurse for Infectious Disease at the Salt Lake County Health Department. Whee! He’s a number now! He’s a super important statistic! HEY, KIDS! YOUR DAD IS GOBERTQUAKING.

And they urged urged urged urged urged me to get tested. All it took was a 55-minute wait on a phone line and when they finally picked up I said, “I am currently copulating with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and—” they told me to drive down immediately. GOD! Sex is so forbidden! It’s just copulating. COP-U-LATE-ING. Forefinger, inserting it into a round shape I’ve made with my other hand, thumb and forefinger. In and out. In and out. I won’t find an animated GIF.

Oh. But, I did.


 

Monday, March 16th

We waited in our car for 15 minutes. Everyone at the testing station changed gear before we drove in. I was crying because I am emotional as fuck and, you know, WE ARE NUMBERS. And that woman who tested me was so lovely. Her name was Linley…

OH MY GOD. WE HAVE VIDEO. I forgot!

And then we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. Probably because we had an earthquake? Maybe that? Maybe it was the locusts. Or the Great Salt Lake turning to blood. Guessing the earthquake, though.

Last night, the email arrived:

NOT DETECTED

I asked my friend in London who is far more informed about this than anyone I know and she said that this result means I am “non-infectious.” Now, before you go armchairing it. YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO ARMCHAIR SO HARD. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GO WATCH PORN TO STOP YOURSELF. Go ahead. I understand the need.

I know you are so tempted. Before you say I didn’t have it. Before you say I can get it again. Before you say I have infected all of Utah WILLINGLY, oh I know you! I did this on purpose! EVIL, EVIL BLOGGER PERSON. Beatrice, you need a therapist and you need one now. And I am certain that she’d be so stunned by your obsession with me that she’d call me up and tell me to show up at your door in lingerie, ring the doorbell, lick my hand, and then wipe it on your face when you answer. Hi!

My friend in London thinks I had it and this test is not detecting antibodies. I have been living with someone who is infected minute by minute since we returned home and I have had no symptoms since my own symptoms stopped on the 3rd of March.

The children are fine. None of them have shown any symptoms whatsoever.

We good there? Jesus.

So. Earthquake. Yesterday morning the house began shaking at 7:09AM.

l will make this brief, y’all, because there are two major, MAJOR points.

Point number one: I thought Pete was jiggling his leg. And as he starting grabbing my shoulders and yelling, “Wake up! Wake up!” I realized the house was swaying. I could hear the pictures on the walls banging and moving side to side. The kids were screaming. We have video but we are not sharing that. I know to stay put while an earthquake is in its active and angry mode, and I had no idea if it was going to get angrier, so I was frozen. I was waiting for it to get worse. His instinct was to run. His instinct when lighting a snowball on fire with gasoline was to run, as well, when it melted on his arm and lit him on fire. So. We need to prep him a bit more for some things.

Because. Point number two: All of us ended up in our bedroom watching the local news at 7:20 AM. Mind you, Pete’s son sleeps in the basement and barely felt anything and was super, super casual while the girls were FLIPPING OUT. We don’t have normal TV. We have subscriptions to most streaming services, but we don’t have a cable box. We do not ever watch local news. And OH MY GOD. I do not want to get myself into trouble with this (I am going to get into so much trouble), but they were doing their best yesterday morning to bring us the news! And it was not comfortable to watch. In fact, Leta had perched herself — no, I will say, she had contorted her body so that it was entirely under a doorjamb — when she said, “What, did they hire all the blondes to do the morning news today?”

Ahem.

Pete knew nothing about doorjambs. He had not been taught this little factoid about earthquakes. And Leta, well. I almost tweeted something to this effect the other day: I like being blonde sometimes because when I walk into a conversation men especially think they are standing next to a pretty dumb blonde thing and say the stupidest shit ever. Like, so fucking dumb and sexist and terrible. Not knowing I’ve studied what they are talking about and know far more about it than they ever will.

And I just nod and grin and plot. And they have no idea. And I don’t say a word.

Because I have plots.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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