I’ve tested positive. It was bound to happen, and yet, somehow it still caught me off guard. Even with two vaccinations and the follow up booster the virus managed to worm its way into my system. Blinding headache, but I’ve been getting migraines for over a year now, so thought this was some new horrible post menopausal progression that was the new normal. Took migraine meds. Nothing. Doubled the dose and finally had some relief. People who have chronic migraines talk about being in so much pain they’re nauseous and even vomit. I stopped just short of that. The feeling of exhaustion I attributed to my mother’s memorial service, losing her, missing her or some combination of all of the above.
But in the end, I’m a New Yorker. We’ve been through some pretty horrendous times when it comes to covid so when there’s any sign of fatigue, sniffle, anything out of the ordinary, get tested.
Negative. Whew. Dodged the bullet. Again.
Then the feeling of being chilled, even though it was a beautiful spring day. Sunny, in the 70’s. We haven’t started using our air-conditioning yet. I check the thermostat. 75 degrees inside. I’m happiest when it’s 70 or maybe 71, so this was odd as normally I’d be warm. Decide to test myself again, just to be safe. And there they were, those dreaded two lines. Grab a mask, start texting everyone I’ve come in contact with, cancel any appointments that can be postponed.
Instinctively reach for my husband’s hand, sense his reluctance and draw back. Right. I’m a walking viral infected vessel for the foreseeable future.
Still I was able to conduct my Patron’s Ask Me Anything Zoom meeting. I did a demonstration of how, with photos, and in real time, I evaluate a piece, the things I look for to help me decide what my next step might be by looking at value, composition, mark making, etc to give me ideas and direction. I use lots of photographs and annotate them. I even have one piece that isn’t quite right yet, this is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
Afterwards another call, immediately after my Patron’s Zoom, but I’m still well enough and the distraction is nice. Besides it’s always great to see other’s work evolve and take shape.
New meds, Paxlovid, are delivered, the young man delivering this new medication door to door is maskless. I restrain myself from scolding him. He’s a grown man, after all, surely he knows the risks. He’s delivering medication to people with covid…. it’s impossible for me to understand the thinking. Everything’s political now, taking precedence over common sense and our collective well being. Still I worry about him. I fall asleep at 7:30 with his face in my mind.
It’s morning now, I’ve taken my 2nd dose of Paxlovid. Am I any better? Is it working? Did I wait too long to start the medication? Who knows. I think I’m feeling a little better, maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to say.
I go to gratitude. Because this life is so fleeting and then we’re gone. Laughter, kindness, random acts of care and thoughtfulness is always the way to go. There’s so much pain and suffering out there, am I part of the problem or part of the solution? These are my go-to thoughts, especially when I don’t feel great.
My brutal, brutal migraines are Covid and not the new norm. Yay!
I was able to get this new medicine quickly from our GP (who also has Covid). We compared notes on symptoms and next course of action.
My husband, who is recovering from surgery is testing negative. So far so good.
My children are both negative.
I’m upright and able to type this and even maybe have put a few coherent sentences together.
It could be so much worse.
Thinking of all of you and hoping you are safe and well.
Me: What is that? It looks like a boar. Runs to find someone who can accurately identify said boar. Told it’s a warthog.
Second time seeing boar-like creature:
Me: Oh look! It’s a warthog. Confidentlylists several features of the warthog; it’s preferred vegetation, which animals prey upon it, etc.
First day seeing a Bushback:
Me: oh look!!! It’s a bushback! This is SO exciting. Spends next 20 minutes filming bushback while exclaiming over ever single detail of their unusual markings.
Second time seeing a Bushback:
Me: Looks around for other animals, sees there are none, begrudgingly films bushback for a few seconds before turning the camera to a large bird which has landed on a tree branch nearby.
Third time seeing a bushback:
Me: doesn’t bother turning around, Oh look! A whole family of warthogs. Aren’t they funny?
Fourth time seeing a bushback:
Me: No reaction.
When on safari each new sighting is met with feverish anticipation and curiosity. Then, after a few more sightings, inevitably one is on to the next thing. For me it began with pretty much anything that moved, followed by awe at the enormity and beauty, and a desire to see whatever it was up close. Then, over the course of a few days, I noticed that I wasn’t even bothering to film the bushbacks and their beautiful markings. In an effort to combat “the jaded tourist”, I tried hard to pay attention to and marvel at the markings of the impala, antelope and others.
Still the thrill of seeing what are referred to as the big 5 couldn’t be shrugged off. The big five: Rhino, Elephant, African Buffalo, Lion and Leopard are the most sought after sightings, but in the beginning, anything was exciting, even the bushbacks (which I still love for their exquisite markings). But it’s easy to ignore yet another baboon or vervet monkey or Ibis or Spoon billed stork or the amazingly colorful Lilac Breasted Roller. In fairness, I never did tire of seeing those monkeys and birds, however I admit I did begin to view the impala and bushback, so plentiful and in such massive numbers, as the “deer” of Africa.
If you are interested in travel and specifically in traveling in Africa, I have been releasing a new video every day on my YouTube playlist: An African Adventure.
Today’s video covers a river safari we took in Zambia where we sighted countless hippos. I was not frightened by any of the animals we saw except for those hippos. They are enormous, fast and fierce and when you’re in a smallish boat, they can be terrifying!
Off we go on our grand adventure to Africa tomorrow!
Here is a little recap of the last 24 hours…
Yesterday: Wake up to find we have been sent a notification from the airlines that our flight has been cancelled. Wait, what?!???
My heart skips a beat, a precursor to the flood of panic that immediately follows. Time for some deep breathing. Logic kicks in. We will get another flight out, it’s going to be fine. I quickly send off emails to the travel agency and leave voice messages for them as well, just in case they don’t get the email, even though it’s 6am and they’re on Central time and won’t be open for at least four hours, you can never be too careful or thorough.
I practiced my french – j’ai pratiqué mon français. Still feeling some trepidation and panic, but attempting to speak another language helps. Meanwhile Richard has been experiencing heart palpitations and has an appointment with the doctor to make sure he’s in tiptop shape for our trip. I remind him that it’s important that he wear his hiking boots, since they’re new, at least once before our trip, to ensure he doesn’t get blisters while we are away. He nods distractedly.
The travel agency gets back to me, we laugh about traveling and how anything that can go awry, often does, but it won’t be a problem, she’s got this and will call me back when she’s figured out our new airline and flight.
I decide this is a good time to get some stitching done to calm my frayed nerves.
Several hours pass and I get the news that we are rebooked on a different airline departing out of a different airport, but we will make our connecting flight and all is well. Knowing that we are all set to go as originally planned I go out to get my Covid test as required by the airline and Africa.
I throw on an old pair of sandals and walk briskly over to the CityMD nearest us only to be told that they’re swamped and test results will take 3-5 days. Yikes! They suggest a different place that is about a half a mile away. A true New Yorker, I walk over to this new place, which is actually a folding table set up on the sidewalk on 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. It feels as though I have pebbles in my sandals, which I cannot find or get rid of. Never mind, there’s no line and so I fill out the various online forms to register and they assure me test results will be delivered within 24 hours. Perfect! “Go easy on me,” I plead to the young man, who I swear couldn’t be older than 22. He assures me that he’s known for his gentle touch and before I know it the deep nasal swab has been deftly done and is over. “That’s it?!” I exclaim. “Yup, you’re good to go,” he says.
I have a brief moment when I consider whether it would be worth purchasing another airline ticket for this young man so that we can bring him with us and have him perform the 9-10 Covid tests we will have to get throughout our trip. I voice this thought in a joking tone. He laughs and says something like, “I wish.”
He has no idea how serious I am…
The pebbles in my sandals are now really quite painful and I’m having a difficult time walking. I stop at a random pharmacy, purchase some bandaids only to realize that there are no pebbles; I’ve developed large quarter-sized blisters on the bottoms of both feet. How does that even happen?
I hobble home grateful that I can stay put and not go anywhere else.
Upon arrival back home I am confronted with more forms that need to be filled out no more than 48 hours before leaving. I can feel my anxiety rising. Oh and weren’t we supposed to start taking our malaria tablets? Oh no, that can wait until Friday.
New email comes in from the travel agency reminding me to print out our Rwanda visas. Wait, what?Rwanda visas???? I did that, didn’t I? I’m sure I did, but never received confirmation that our applications were approved. I search for and eventually find the email saying that our visa applications are “pending.” I forward all of this to the travel agency with the subject line: HELP!
I have a Zoom call with my “Ask Me Anything” Patrons, which is really more like a party, very boisterous and lots of fun. I show off my latest stitching project and we discuss stitching, techniques, different ways of doing things, piecing backgrounds, and other things, including my next two workshops coming up end of September. The Zoom party is lots of fun and distracts me momentarily from all that’s going on travel-wise.
The Zoom party ends and I see another email from the travel agency. I call them instead of emailing back. She’s taking care of the whole visa debacle and assures me it will all get sorted out. I check my credit card and see that the money has been removed for our travel visas. She tells me there’s one more form to be filled out, but she’s having her assistant do it because while I was on the Zoom call she spoke to my husband who, it turns out, is having heart palpitations due to stress and she doesn’t want him to get any more stressed out.
Richard tells me he loves his new hiking boots, wore them all day and guess what? Not a single blister. I admit that I wore sandals that I’ve never had issues with and now can barely walk.
We laugh. Because seriously, what else are you going to do? We haven’t even left yet and this trip is feeling epic!
Today: I wake to see that my Covid test has been emailed back to me and I’m negative, thankfully.
After I finish writing this post I am double checking that all our various documents are printed out multiple times. I swear we have added at least a pound to our baggage weight with all the documents. We are only allowed a small duffel bag and cannot bring more than 33 pounds including carry-on each. I will be weighing my various tech equipment & computer, finish packing and will try to remember to breath.
Breathing is important. Wish us luck!
And remember in five days we will be hiking with these guys.
When COVID hit New York City over a year ago now, death was no longer an abstract idea. People we knew were getting really, really sick, a few of them died, a few are still not 100%. When the mobil morgue parked just blocks away from our building to handle the overflow of dead bodies, it marked a turning point for me. This wasn’t some bit of horrifying news that I read or heard about, this was happening and it was happening all around me. At the time I was just starting my YouTube Channel and it hadn’t occurred to me to video tape the empty streets, void of cars and humans. I wish I had, but I didn’t.
Once we had a vaccine and my entire family had been vaccinated, I decided it would be a good time to visit my mother and sister, neither of whom I’d seen in almost two years. It was wonderful to see them after so long. And of course there was the added benefit of being surrounded by dogs…
with lots of great places to take a little walk…
Death brings perspective. None of us are getting out of here alive. Our time is short and it seems to get shorter the closer to the end we get. All the more reason to enjoy things like this bee.
I was having coffee with a friend the other day when he began a sentence with, “What I’ve learned from the pandemic…” Now this is a dear friend who also became very, very ill when the pandemic hit New York City, so much so that there were a few nights when it didn’t seem likely he would pull through. This was before any of us realized just how bad it was going to be here in New York City. Before we realized that all of us would know at least a few people who barely survived and a few who did not. He is still not 100%.
What I’ve learned from the pandemic…
I’ll start with the easy ones.
Travel! My husband and I love traveling. So much so that when we first got together we talked about traveling the world with kids in tow, mind you this was before the reality of having actual children had hit us (Oh how young and foolish we were!) but we did fantasize a lot about the places we wanted to go and see. So in the next 6 months we have planned a couple big trips that we’ve been thinking about doing for years, but now are actually going to do.
I’m not a foodie. Actually that’s an understatement. I don’t care about that hot new restaurant that requires a 3 months in advance reservation. In fact I don’t care about eating out period. It turns out I can happily exist on a very boring diet of sameness for months and months at a time without ever varying it. The ice cream situation is a case in point. Did I tell you about the ice cream situation? No? It’s okay, I did a video about it that will be posting in another day or two. The same can be said about clothing. Comfort is everything at this point.
Masks. Here’s the thing about masks, I hate wearing them, I just have to say it, but I won’t be throwing them out any time soon. And while I’m at it I also hate wearing high heels, a bra and non stretchy clothing. In fact, underwear in general is annoying. However I do, on occasion, wear any and all of those things and even all at once. Okay, maybe not the high heels any more, but I am a woman of a certain age and I think that gives me the leeway to say, “No More!” Having said that, I would also like to take this moment to point out that I have not gotten sick, not even a cold, in over a year. That mask? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll be putting that thing on again when I’m in the subway or massive crowds. And since I live in New York City the likelihood of finding myself in either of those situations is pretty good.
Germs are everywhere. This probably isn’t news to most of you, but I grew up in the country, making mud cakes, shoveling manure, picking berries and eating figs right off the tree. It was all considered very healthy and it was. Basically I’m one of the Beverly Hillbillies only moved to New York City. And now that I live in a thriving metropolis, washing fruit and vegetables is a given, along with my hands, to a degree that would make a germaphobe proud. Cities are basically massive petri dishes over flowing with germs eager to attack. Where did I put my mask? Did I mention the whole mask thing? Oh and also, hand sanitizer. Those are going right into my must-have-at-all-times along with some Kleenex, regardless of how many people get vaccinated.
Laughter. Any situation, no matter how awful, is better if I can find the humor in it. The Irish seem to have some sort of humor DNA that they’re born with, but as I don’t have Irish ancestry, just an Irish husband, which helps, but isn’t the same thing; mostly I’m left to my own devices on this one. Sometimes it’s hard and I have to dig deep, but that tiny kernel of humor is always there waiting to be discovered. Of course now, while I’m trying to think of something funny to say, I’m coming up empty. Humor’s like that. It creeps up and hits you in the face unexpectedly.
Family. This isn’t something I learned because of the pandemic, it’s more that the pandemic confirmed what I already knew. Family is everything.
Kindness. Again, not a big discovery moment because of the pandemic, but more a validation that when in doubt, kindness is the way to go. That and the art of not saying anything. This one is a big learning curve for me, but one of these days… Of course at that point, I’ll have to stop blogging and doing videos as well, because really, what else is there to say?