Who Knows?

So yesterday afternoon, I had no idea what the onset of Covid-19 would be like. I may still have no idea. Who knows? But in a span of a few hours I went from doing just fine, if we ignore peculiarly bouncing from room to room, to feeling pains through the right side of my upper chest. Another two hours and the generalized pain was less, but each breath that I would take in an exaggerated way, like one breathes before diving under water, had its own pain, same place except more centered and a little lower. Not crippling painful, but very noticeable while the air of the breathe was going in, but not while it was going to.

As this settled into a pattern, by the time two Tylenol PMs were aiding my sleeping, it was pain toward the bottom center of the neck, non stop, far from intense, inside, top of longs, I guess one might say. And it still escalated and then abated with each deep breath. Which deep breaths I did often, like one pokes one’s tongue at an aching tooth, I guess hoping that the next time it wouldn’t ache again. Or maybe a bit like looking for lost keys, over and over, in the same place, a bit of rationality slipping away each time.

In any case, there was no shortage of air going in and out. No shortness of breath. But there was a little intermittent wheeze. And so as morning comes, I awake to a phone call, and nothing seems different. Still the same.

I should perhaps add, since I have just thought it, I am rarely sick, no idea why, and I typically recover in a day or two. We’ll see. Meanwhile I type, just now, “meanwhile I type.”

I don’t think I have any temperature. Not sure, however, as the thermometer I ordered on line is taking four weeks to arrive and isn’t due for two more weeks. For many weeks I have found the whole isolation thing tiring, but no more so now then last week. So I have no shortness of breathe. No exhaustion. No temperature, I think. But, who knows?

So what have I got? What do I do? Six of one, half a dozen of the other. If I have Covid, that is, I would imagine that reporting and seeking help could prove wise, even essential. Though with no recognized treatment until and unless one isn’t getting enough oxygen, and for folks my age, maybe not even then, who knows? I don’t have a nearby doctor, only a holdover from where I lived before I moved where I now am. I should have gotten a new one. Dumb mistake that, at least in hindsight.

So I guess my option is to call the town “Board of Health.” I looked it up and that’s what it is called, at least in Norwood Massachusetts, where I now am. But if what I have isn’t Covid, then not only would calling the town Board of Heath be wasting their time, but going to any kind of clinic or whatever else to get a test or to get whatever else – who knows what – would invite getting what I didn’t yet have, Covid. So I think I will wait a bit. Maybe I should have an objective standard to make the decision. If I go up and down my little staircase once, and can’t find my wind, it is time to call. Or maybe if a deep breath starts to be ridiculous on the pain front. Those norms seem, perhaps, sensible. Who knows?

And here’s a conceptual tie breaker. I have been well and fully isolated. Living alone, I have been eating food from this diet operation that delivers a month’s boxed meals at a time. I have gotten a few other deliveries as well, but in the last ten days, I think only two or maybe three. I have literally no other contact from outside since before Massachusetts lockdown – I was ahead of that curve. Well, I have taken garbage to the drop off sport, and gone to my mail box, but each carefully. So, did a doorstep delivery of a prescription, a meal, batteries, or my food, with no human contact, transmit a little killer onto a package, which then rubbed off onto me, and which then before I washed off after opening the delivery, slithered into me, and then took hold? Or was it from an envelope? Odds for those avenues better be very very low or – well, we haven’t seen anything yet. Writ large, without deliveries for many desperation and more dangerous shopping trips. But with deliveries, little killers? Who knows?

Why do I write this personal piece as compared to my usual writing about vision and strategy for systemic change? I guess I think maybe someone reading this will take something useful from hearing more precisely the initial attributes as felt in one individual – though this is, I am told, a disease that presents initially in many different ways. Or maybe someone will take something useful in hearing that one can have attributes that imply Covid but that turn out to be, what, stress? We’ll see. Or perhaps hearing that even really effective isolation can be breached will help folks be more cautious? Or maybe hearing a survival will uplift? Or hearing a demise will forearm? We’ll see. Or maybe just hearing that knowing so little leaves me, like you, wondering who knows, will situate and perhaps marginally reduce the stress and stupidity of having to wonder who, if anyone, knows.

Oh yes, carrot top, the narcissist in chief, says that he knows. Well, I sure don’t know. Time waits for no one. And only time will tell.

Meanwhile, perhaps I will order a new iPad, for ten minutes of distracted excitement before I realize: new iPad, just like the old iPad. No, wait. I would have to open the package. Better to forego that escape. Maybe I will watch some TV series that I watched years ago. One I have mostly or perhaps even completely forgotten due to the ravages of in this case the benefits of advanced age affecting not lungs, but mind. Isn’t that odd, forgetting can be a blessing, at least on some fronts. But admittedly, not so much on others. Or maybe I will do a Zoom meeting, or write a more usual article, or work on a longer term project that would otherwise fester like a raisin in the sun. Who knows?

What I would like to do, I must admit – beyond hearing that a vaccine is under development that is going to spare us the fire this time, and that massive social change is under way that is going to spare us the fire next time, and that still deeper fundamental change is being born to birth a new and lasting dawn – is to have a private lunch with carrot top. It wouldn’t be a mutual admiration session.

Who knows?


  1. Elizabeth Marxsen April 17, 2020 12:29 pm 

    Yay! Stinkin’ COVID. Stay well!

  2. Michael Albert April 16, 2020 8:09 pm 

    I am feeling better – thank you. Seems like it may have been some kind of allergic reaction, or maybe food poisoning, that mimicked Covid symptoms. Again, Who Knows? Unless it is on quickly, than pretty much off, and then back for the real thing – I am alright, I think.

  3. Harish Reddy April 16, 2020 2:19 pm 

    Hello Michael – Hope this is not COVID and you’re feeling better already.

  4. Elizabeth Marxsen April 15, 2020 9:49 pm 

    How are you feeling? Do you have any drive-in testing in N.Y. now?

  5. jimdriscoll April 15, 2020 2:56 am 

    Dear Michael,

    I have read ZNet often in its entirety nearly every night before turning off the lights for decades now. May this not be COVID and may you have many decades more to prepare my lullaby.

  6. avatar
    Gabriel April 15, 2020 2:52 am 

    Vision and strategy for systemic change are perpetual concerns, but your health takes now precedence, because we depend on persons like your to keep informed, and more importantly, to keep being inspired. Hope you have a chance to tell Trump something. Gabriel Camara. Mexico

  7. avatar
    Michael April 14, 2020 10:12 pm 

    I value zcomm.org and the blog on participatory socialism, thus, I have come to respect to and all who help you with your work. This, I suppose, is a selfish interest, but my wishing you the best goes well beyond that, you should know.

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