Welcome To Exile Island
As it has been said:
"Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love."
~Anne Sexton (1928-1974)
Anne Sexton - American poet known for her personal & confessional verse, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book, 'Live or Die'.
"Human history offers an endless list of several types of exile, which have been interpreted in many different ways."
In the story of Romeo and Juliet, exile is a personal matter that becomes political...For these two young people, death and exile are synonymous because they cannot bear to live apart.
So what is the symbolic function of exile in the current world crisis of COVID-19? And furthermore, what exactly does that mean for those currently infected?
Human history offers an endless list of several types of exile, which have been interpreted in many different ways.
Certainly being separated from friends and family, not to mention feeling like a leper, has emotional consequences. So how does one restore peace of mind when they feel banished from society?
Sure, this is all done in an effort to protect everyone...from YOU...the infected. But our sense of 'belongingness' is threatened. And we may very well feel abandoned by those we love.
"My symptoms began with the sudden onset of body aches, fever/chills which quickly elevated to a crushing headache and overwhelming fatigue."
I would like to briefly share my personal experience with this virus in the hope that it may help to ease some fears and misconceptions. I am no infectious disease expert, but I am one of the infected, and would like to offer some perspective on the impact of this issue.
I was initially infected back in late June, Father's day weekend to be exact. My symptoms began with the sudden onset of body aches, fever/chills which quickly elevated to a crushing headache, overwhelming fatigue and a sore throat. After a few days I leveled out with a lingering dry cough, nasal congestion and mild chest/upper back discomfort.
My first thought was I had mild heat exhaustion and dehydration. The weekend was particularly warm and we spent the entire time at the beach. The only escape from the sweltering temperature was to jump in the lake! Absolutely lovely mind you, but it was covered with pollen, and I am extremely allergic to tree mold. So my senses told me 'allergy attack'.
Unfortunately, the following week I received a call from the friend I had spent the weekend with that both she and her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. At this point, the worst of my symptoms had abated, but I did notice I had lost my sense of smell (a big red flag) so I got tested. That first (rapid) test was negative, but I quarantined anyway as a precaution.
Fast forward to July 27th when I was tested again in preparation for pending knee surgery. I received the deeper, 48 hour version of the nasal swab and tested positive for the virus. However, this time I was relatively symptom-free.
Regardless of being free of symptoms, my surgery was immediately canceled and I was punted to primary care. Apparently specialists don't deal with COVID patients unless they are working in an ER.
This virus levels the playing field. Your money and social status doesn't matter here. What matters is who is in worse shape than you are... And that is how it should be. Mother Nature is a great triage nurse. She knows what she's doing.
Once you have a positive test, or contact with someone who has tested positive, a COVID team will be assigned to your case. These people are a life-line in a time of feeling isolated. Answer the call, ask questions and be respectful. Some people may feel pestered by the daily check-ins. But remember, these folks are doing their job...to be there for you when others cannot.
In my case, it seems the virus is still lingering in my system (hence my A-symptomatic positive test) as a result of my initial infection in June. Should I test positive again, and remain 'symptom-free', I will be considered a non-infectious post-viral positive and not be required to quarantine again. However, having antibodies does not give me a licence to run around without a mask. Besides, they only last about three months.
"The danger of this virus is very real, but to fear it is a choice."
The difficulty in this situation is in our lack of understanding the path of this unknown assailant...and who it will target next. In order to effectively address something, we need to understand it. And at this point, we are all just theorizing on it. The danger is very real, but to fear it is a choice.
The smoldering embers of the Novel Coronavirus are likely to burn for decades to come. At some point, we are all bound to experience the long term physiological and psychological effects of having been infected and/or quarantined and the feelings of exile that result.
"The good news is, preliminary studies have shown the plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients appears to raise the survival rate of the hospitalized."
One of the goals here is to protect as many people as possible until there is an effective vaccine available. However, to what degree of immunity we can expect to experience is completely theoretical at this point. We simply have no idea.
The good news is, preliminary studies have shown the plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients appears to raise the survival rate of those hospitalized with the disease by boosting their immune systems ability to fight off the virus.
This puts all of us who have been infected and subsequently recovered in a unique position to help save the lives of others. Hopefully, with all the world's infectious disease experts working together to develop a vaccine, we can do our part to help raise the survival rate among the infected and lower the number of deaths due to complications.
So until then, please...WEAR THE DAMNED MASK!
As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. I'd love to hear from others who have gone a few rounds with COVID-19. I encourage everyone to share their story....even if it is privately. Talking about it with someone you trust helps to process those feelings of isolation and helplessness.
And remember, we are not helpless. We are strong when we stick together and help each other. We are all ONE.