Before Covid-19 Ruled the World
In the days before covid-19 ruled the world, Christmas Day 2019 was a day I wasn’t looking forward to. To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I was looking forward to going out for Christmas lunch with the family, but as I was still recovering from breaking seven ribs in October, I wasn’t looking forward to sitting down for a long time. Especially on the tiny wooden framed chairs with whicker seats favoured by most Cyprus restaurants. These chairs were designed for small-bottomed Cypriots, not big framed six-foot two-inch men like me. Picture a T-Rex on a child’s training potty and you will get my drift. But it was booked, and I didn’t want to disappoint, so off we went for a Merry Christmas lunch. Little did I know there was a lovely present awaiting me, a Secret Santa with teeth.
At the restaurant it was laid out for a buffet, with a few individual tables but most, like us, were herded into an area that wouldn’t look amiss in a movie about eating in a crowded canteen. But the food was good, the company was excellent, the entertainment fine and the seat I perched on didn’t do any lasting damage to my delicate derriere, so I was a happy dinosaur.
Christmas proceeded with the usual flurry of moving between family households, at the time my stepdaughter and her family lived next door. Little did I, or anyone in the rest of the world know that there were already signs of something wicked coming our way and there would be nothing we could do to stop it. But on we went with the celebrations and Christmas and New Year was a laugh, a joyous time, and something we should all now look back on and cherish.
All too soon, Christmas was done, New Year wasn’t new anymore and it was time for loved ones to depart.
A New Year, a New Reality
It was early morning and a miserable start to the day on the 3rd January 2020. It was still dark, bitterly cold and a fine drizzle gave the whole street the look of a soggy old sponge in need of a good squeeze to dry it out. My stepdaughter and her family were piling into a taxi to head to the airport, their Christmas visit over they were heading back to their teaching jobs in Jordan, only an hour’s flight from our home in Cyprus.
As the taxi pulled away and we gave our final waves, I turned to my wife.
“I feel like crap. I’m going back to bed.”
That was so unlike me. Early mornings are my oxygen, I wake up early to get to my computer and do some undisturbed writing, just like I am now, a year later. Looking back, that morning was a portent for what was to come; 2020 the year of lockdown, the year of covid-19, the year fear and heartbreak.
My Secret Santa gift at the Christmas lunch we attended was a dose of swine flu and I was in for a rough ride. This was to be the gift that kept giving. A week in bed followed with a complete loss of appetite, which was a good thing because I couldn’t taste or smell food at all. It took me weeks, if not months to get rid of the cough, and I had no energy to do anything for weeks. The coughing was the worst part because I had recently broken seven ribs and every cough was agony. I still don’t eat as well as I used to, a year later. Even now, though I have fully recovered, I feel sick when I think of scrambled eggs.
It was as I was recovering, unable to walk across a room without having to sit down, that news was filtering through of a flu epidemic in China. Within weeks it had spread across Asia and was on the shores of Europe. Before long, as I was feeling a lot better, we were suddenly in the middle of a Pandemic. So, within a few weeks of my recovery, we were in full lockdown because of Covid-19. Since that time, I like so many others, have taken note of what my body is telling me.
According to Murphy’s Law, if it can happen it will happen. By that law, if you can catch covid-19, you will catch covid-19. But I’m not a great believer in Murphy’s Law as applied to medical or any other scientific discipline. Having said that, if I start to cough, I begin to wonder, how long have I had the cough. Do I feel hot? Have I got aches in my joints and a myriad of other complaints come to mind? Some of the less common symptoms of covid-19 are aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin, and discolouration of fingers or toes. I have four of these symptoms and a cough. But I feel fine. No fever or any of the other main symptoms of covid-19.
So now, in these lockdown days, I’ve started to wonder, when did I start examining myself in such intimate detail? Am I turning into a hypochondriac? No, I’m not that far gone but what I am becoming is more self-aware of what my body is telling me. The problem here is if you have a cough, then a skin rash, followed by aching joints and a headache it is possible I may have covid-19. But here’s the thing. I am beginning to wonder if at the beginning of 2020 I had covid-19 and not swine flu. Because evidence has emerged that as far away as Los Angeles, in California, there is a growing belief in medical circles that covid-19 was there at the beginning of December 2019. LA has a large contingent of expat Chinese, as does Cyprus. Who knows the truth of it, and we may never find the underlying cause of this pandemic, given that the country of origin is one of the most repressive and secretive regimes in the world.
What we do know is that covid-19 is going to be around a long time and even after we’re all vaccinated, the entire world that is, it’s believed covid-19 will still be around, lurking in the background. I have a feeling that when covid-19 is finally defeated, I may well have dropped dead from a simple chill or some other obscure illness. That’s life.
But at least by that time, I shall know more about myself and the human body. It’s true what they say, you learn something new every day.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2021
During lockdown, try a few books if you have Kindle Unlimited, or, if you don’t, buy a few for a poor starving author who needs a bowl of soup and some dried bread… and a coffee, some beans, a glass of wine would be nice…