The Coronavirus shelter in place order has been so for Ohio for a couple weeks now, and while I am certainly an introvert this almost complete lack of social contact is hard even for me. In addition, I have been a 5-day-a-week gym visitor since college, and I really miss the routine, the social aspect of it, and the much needed sweat therapy to manage anxiety and depression.
And yet I have plenty of food and resources. I have a secure income. And I have an amazing wife to share evenings with. And I feel a little frustrated with myself, that these things alone aren’t enough to manage my unruly brain chemistry. Because I know so many others don’t have these things. I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve never successfully talked myself out of depression. All I can do is cultivate a habit of counting the things I can be thankful for, and accept my mind is going to do what it does.
Oddly enough I am not terribly worried about getting sick. I think part of if is that I am fortunate enough to not have any additional conditions that make me more vulnerable to it. The other part of it is that I suspect I’ve already had it.
Jeannine got sick in mid January, and she seemed to pass whatever it was on to me. We assumed it was Flu B at the time. I got sicker than she did with it, but the broad brush-strokes of the illness were the same. It started with fever and body fatigue and aches. It’s that feeling that often comes with the flu, where you’ve been hit by a truck and simply cannot get off the couch. That lasted a few days.
Then the coughing started. It sounded as though there was funk in my chest when I was coughing, but nothing really ever came out. The coughing fits happened easily 20 to 30 times every 24 hours day and night. I remember thinking the physical exhaustion could have simply been due to the amount of effort the coughing took. The only thing that held me back from the fits ending in gagging was drinking water. The coughing went on for about 7 to 8 days.
Then I started to feel better. After a few days I tried getting back to the gym. That proved a big mistake. Once I got home I had to spend the rest of the day on the couch. That easily exhausted state lasted for about another 6 days.
The whole illness lasted about 3 weeks. I was never so sick I would have contemplated going to a hospital. But I was certainly uncomfortable enough that holding to my normal routine was out of the question.
I know this time will pass. But I definitely have some worries about what comes next. First, I cannot imagine there won’t be more waves of the illness spiking, and what’s that going to look like? And I am pretty sure lots of small businesses won’t survive this current period of zero revenue while still paying all their fixed expenses like rent and utilities. And I cannot imagine the economic impact of that won’t last years.
To me the clear lesson here is that our society is very brittle. After decades of telling Americans that only the individual matters, the reality that we are only as well as our most vulnerable people becomes apparent. That we have no flexibility in our supply for face masks and gloves is a glittering success of capitalism, or failure depending on how you want to look at it. Those supply chains became so narrow because it was the most profitable. Redundancy is waste, says capitalism.
To me this whole thing reveals massive cracks in the system that need to be addressed. I’m afraid that won’t be the outcome. I’m afraid the outcome will be much like the financial crisis of 2008, yet another massive transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top.