For the past three months, I’ve been working on a book, the biography of a local entrepreneur who made good. He came from Europe in the early 70s with his family and over time opened a number of stores that proved very successful and have made him wealthy.
We meet once or twice a week and I interview him. I listen to the details of his life in Europe, his first jobs in New York, and the slow ascent to success. I like him. I’ve known him many years and have been privileged to enjoy his friendship, so this project is special.
Our meetings usually are held at a local restaurant where we sit, maskless, across from each other. I order tea, he has coffee and a bear claw pastry. I record his remembrances on my phone, and then send the audio files out for transcription.
We were supposed to meet this past Monday and he didn’t show up. This has never happened before. I called him and he apologized profusely. He was sick in bed with a serious fever.
To make a long story short, my friend has contracted Covid-19. He texted me the next day to say the test had been positive.
Ten minutes later, I was on my healthcare provider’s website, feeling slightly foolish. How many days since I’d seen my friend? Had he appeared normal? I couldn’t remember whether he’d been coughing or not, but it seemed likely. And he did appear sort of pale, but that could have been the diner’s fluorescent lighting.
I made an appointment online to be tested the next day. That night, I felt a tickle in my throat. Was that a symptom? What about the sneezing? I’d been sneezing in the morning for a couple of weeks and thinking it was allergies. In the dark and from the safety of my bed, I tried to analyze every discomfort, no matter how small. I obsessed over the fact that I am more likely to succumb to Covid than are many others. I have cancer and am going through immunotherapy. I am older, diabetic, overweight, and my immune system has been compromised.
The next morning it snowed and I slipped and slid to the Tyson’s Kaiser Permanente clinic. Q-tips were rammed up my nostrils. On the drive back home, I sneezed constantly and depleted my car’s supply of napkins stolen from Panera.
Test results would come within 48 hours. I checked my email every ten minutes.
At 7 a.m., the next mornhing, a message from Kaiser appeared but I couldn’t download it. I signed in and out of their site three times before an email titled Test Results appeared. My stomach did a somersault. I took a deep breath, held it, clicked on the message.
I printed out the mail and read it again. Moments later, a nurse called me to tell me my test were negative, but that I should be wary and report any symptoms.
I celebrated the verdict by eating a large, salted pretzel and drinking too-sweet coffee. It stopped snowing.
The next day, my friend texted me to say he felt much better and his temperature was normal. I spent several hours working on his book.
I’ll have to write a Covid chapter.