I don’t know if this has ever happened to you:
In like end of January 2020, you suddenly feel off while boarding a busy subway car at Union Square (the 4 towards Brooklyn, with the scary, toothed moving platform). Headachy. You wonder if you have a fever. A little blurry-headed. Tired. Time to get home!
And that’s a Thursday and then so Friday you wake up feeling bad and the Coronavirus pandemic is happening in China and you’d been to Chinatown with wet feet a week before to watch the dragon’s dance to celebrate the Lunar New year (Saturday, January 25, 2020) in the pouring rain and Chinese food at a sprawling, tightly-packed, much-clanking and chattering restaurant with a little arching footbridge connecting the large front room to the large back room. The dragons are brightly colored ruffled and feather-boa-y cloth covers attached to cartoonish, goggle-eyed, tongue-extruding dragon masks. Young teenagers inhabit them and shake and bob and jokingly menace storeowners. It requires a great deal of energy, which you guess is why it’s left to the kids. There are different teams of them with T-shirts and jackets. Behind them men in rolling chariots bang on drums. Cymbals chime. People pull confetti poppers that crack and spray the colored paper shreds all over the wet streets. The food is good but you wish they wouldn’t carry the green tea to the table in big rubber pitchers, although it does remind you somehow of ancient church potlucks from a youth now vague, distant, and in this instance within a long basement rec-room /dining hall with cinderblock walls painted lime green and with spray-foam insulation over the ceiling.
And you just feel zonked. Not terrible. Just like floored. So you stay in bed Friday and then Saturday and so on. Then Tuesday morning you go to the convenience-doc and the short woman with an African accent and long braids asks if you’ve been out of the country and if you need an excuse letter for your office. “No, they don’t care what I do!”, at which response she and the tall thin pale guy with the Australian accent laugh.
And you’d go back Tuesday, February 3, 2020, but your boss says skip it, she doesn’t feel great either and doesn’t want you around until you’re 100%
And then you just keep going to work like normal, but pretty soon things are starting to get pretty weird and some people are only coming to the office sometimes and you are going to take off Wednesdays to do pull-ups and dips since everybody else is taking off like two days a week. Well, working from home.
But what about this: You keep waking up with a little complaint in your lungs. A touch of congestion and a distinct papery feeling. It reminds you of being 22 and you’ve had a few too many beers and a half dozen (maybe it was a dozen) cigarettes the night before, and now you are waking up with “paper lungs”, as you put it. Except you’ve not smoked in forever. Anyway, it’s always gone within an hour or so of waking up.
But what about this: On some Wednesday – it must’ve been Wednesday March 18, 2020 – you drank a few beers in the evening. And then on the next Thursday right at the end of the work day, you felt very bad. Exhausted. Stupid. Unclear in head. Like you needed to drop into bed right then and you could not wait another moment and why is your boss talking to you right now!?
But wait: You didn’t have papery lungs every morning from early February through mid-March, did you? Nobody remembers when the paper lungs started. Was it directly after the early-February illness? Or a while after that one?
Suffice it to say: you were waking up with papery lungs for a while before that Thursday when you did not feel well at all.
So then come weeks of working from home, not feeling well, lungs papery not just in the morning but all day. Lungs congested. Weak. Only leaving the house to take out the garbage, which left you a little dizzy and done in. For a couple weeks you have no sense of smell. Although you have no appetite and are only eating about half as many calories as normal, after three or four weeks, your food supply gets a little pathetic. Five weeks after you left, you return to work.
And what about this: Didn’t you have like three or four beers in your apartment when this long illness began? And didn’t you drink them – albeit no more than one a day – all during the first week or two?
Beginning of June 2020 you get the results from the antibody test: DETECTED. OK, so that’s something. It wasn’t all in vain. Granted, they’re not sure exactly how useful those antibodies are, but it seems like they provide at least some protection for at least a while.
Your lungs are still fluidy and papery through May. By June you’re getting all better. And then you help a friend move and are set back for a week. But then you’re all better again. But then you have a week’s vacation early in July and drink a couple to a few drinks most days and by the end, you’re back having papery and congested lungs every day all the time. Which is where you still are as August 2020 begins. You feel fine, except there is this persistent complaint.
You’d gotten away with a few individual beers on a few individual days prior to your vacation, but this several days of several beers/wines/gin-one-day seems to correlate with a recurrence of covid-caused lung flaws.
What does this tell you?
What does it make you think?
I think it makes you think that you need to take a good year off alcohol – regardless of how good you may at some point think you feel.
What you might do is get really into kombucha. Because it’s like a drug, but very mild, especially as you’ll brew it with decaf tea. Since the kombucha process already eliminates a big portion of the caffeine, your kombucha will have such a tiny miniscule insignificant drop of caffeine. There’s also a little little bit of alcohol in kombucha. It’s probably just the right amount for you. And then there’s something else, some secret drug within the overall effect of the concoction.
Also you might double-down on the decaf iced tea between 7AM-11AM and hibiscus iced tea thereafter.
Also what about getting back into meditation?
Also what about getting married and settling down into a quiet life in the country?
Also what about being more consistent with your journalling?
Also what about a little yoga most days?
Also what about how you’re happier not drinking anyway?
Copyright: Andrew Watson
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