Coronavirus Chronicles: Day 52

Day 52: 4 May 2020, 15:58 EST

52 days broken down:

  • 4,492,800 seconds
  • 74,880 minutes
  • 1248 hours
  • 52 days
  • 7 weeks and 3 days
  • 14.21% of 2020

And that is how much of my life has passed being isolated in my apartment here in Philadelphia. The last ten days have been the worst as I struggle each day to pass the time productively. I arduously clean my kitchen and bathroom every day to the point of overkill. All my clothes drawers are perfectly organized. My carpet is freshly vacuumed every day. I try to do 8-10 hours of work every day, even hijacking work I assigned to my minions just to have something to do. I should just stop looking at the clock but I am trying my best to keep regimented on real time although that seems rather moot lately.

The toughest aspect is my struggle with anxiety and depression, which has been pretty shitty the last 10 days. I haven’t had a haircut since February 25. I wake up every morning and shower, shave, and groom myself even though I haven’t had physical familiarity with any humans other than delivery people since March 12. At night to get exercise I walk around my loft at a brisk pace singing along to pop songs at the top of my lungs. Sometimes I have slept magnificently. Lately I’ve been struggling to get more than 2-3 hours sleep at a time. I may be reeling a bit.

Today I said fuck it, donned a mask, and walked for about 45 minutes. It felt great although I’m so paranoid about catching this fucking virus that I avoid people with an almost ridiculously fearful distance. Maintaining mental and physical health is tantamount to surviving this ordeal, and lately it’s been tough to keep focused. I shall do my best.

 

Completely Fucking Insane

Trump has told a truckload of lies and piles upon piles of insanely and inanely stupid remarks as President, but the following exchange during his Coronavirus Press Conference on 23 April 2020 was the most insane thing a US President has ever said. Just watch this retarded asshole say something so profoundly insane it’s frightening that he’s our President.

He is advocating that people inject disinfectants to eradicate a COVID-19 infection. The man is a fucking lunatic. His insane lackey, Dr. Barbara Bix, MD, she who refuses to quit despite the fact she’s working for this fat fucking lunatic, has the most pained expression possible and actually tries to placate Trump while calmly explaining to him it is an utterly retarded idea.

It turns out a fringe, wacko, anti-vaxx group who peddles a bleach “cure” sent Trump a letter this week explaining their insanely dangerous “cure.” Trump claims he isn’t a doctor, sure, but he should also qualify his remarks that he’s insane and completely stupid.

This fucking idiot is President of the United States of America. This wasn’t an Onion parody, folks; we cannot make this up in these very dark, dangerous, and calamitous days. The worst human being in the world, this laughably ignorant and insane moron, this ridiculously stupid fuckwit, is the supposed leader of the free world.

Don’t Encourage Natural Selection

What astonishes me most during this pandemic is that far too many people out there, even amid the massive evidence proving how devastating and dangerous this virus is to the human population, still refuse to accept, let alone heed to, the constant warnings of our medical scientists. There is something ridiculous about people who reject the tenets and tools of modernity like reason, logic, scientific method, and collective memory. Most do so because their kooky religions or political ideologies cannot accept anything that even remotely contradicts the fragile and often childish beliefs to which they cling as if these beliefs comprise a life vest and they are adrift in a sea satanic evil. Many other people are simply ignorant of science, logic, and reason, moreover they lack the common sense to fact check even the stupidest conspiracy theories that enflame their passions so recklessly. What guides both types, the fanatically religious and inherently stupid, is the misguided paranoia that everyone else is out to get them. They have lost the ability to be rationally and logically reasoned with by facts and evidence, instead relying on their “gut feelings” to determine what is reality and what is not.

Nitwits in North Carolina defying stay-at-home orders and social distancing to protest what, their right to suicide? You have liberty, and you are more than free to endanger yourself, morons. Just don’t endanger me. The only “tyranny” any of you face is the tyranny of your stupidity in the face of reason.

During this crisis, refusing to heed to the guidelines set forth by medical scientists can only lead to suffering and death. People are of course entitled to their own opinions, right or wrong, even the kookiest and most irrational ones, but being on the wrong side of reality today puts you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors in great peril. We don’t live on remote islands that separate us; we live in a collective society, and whether you love or hate your fellow human beings, just because your belief system makes you do self-destructive and even suicidally stupid things doesn’t give you the right to endanger your fellow citizens. Our government does have the right to impose strict guidelines, rules, and restrictions during a crisis, because the fundamental purpose of a government is to protect its people from danger and harm. Or just to protect each other from each other if necessary.

There are numerous examples emerging already of stupid and stubborn people clinging to self-destructive and suicidal beliefs that have imperiled them and their families and neighbors and fellow citizens horribly during this pandemic. I am always saddened to see people cling to ignorant and self-destructive beliefs with zero basis in reality, but I will draw the line when their behavior due to these beliefs could possibly imperil me or people I love. Yes, America is a free country, but not THAT free that you can endanger me by your selfishly insane refusal to accept reality and listen to reason in the face of a crisis of this magnitude. When you cannot grasp the scientific facts that not only protect you, but protect ME from you, then you are a danger to me. And if you die because you failed to heed to reason, logic, science, oh well, bon voyage, idiot.

The religious rejection of science and government laws and rules during a medical crisis can kill far too many of members of your irrational religious cult. Last year these same stubborn and largely ignorant Hasidic Jews were ravaged by the measles, a disease we eradicated in the United Staes back when I was child through a mandated vaccination program that saved countless millions of lives from a host of traditionally lethal childhood illnesses like the measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, whooping cough, polio, and so many more. Being against vaccinations in the Twenty-First Century is madness, pure and simple, moreover you imperil everyone around you by not allowing your children to get vaccinated. These very same idiots are dropping like flies because they refuse to heed to the social distancing rules set forth by their state and local governments.

There is no real scientific evidence proving that vaccinations do any harm to stop allowing your children to be vaccinated. The upside to vaccination has been that tens—hundreds—of millions of children worldwide today and since the advent of mass vaccination are alive and thrive who, even a century ago, would have been horribly afflicted, and even died, by so many of the diseases we now have largely forgotten existed.

When was the last time you saw a child ravaged by polio hobbling around on crutches with both legs in braces? My Mom was afflicted by polio as a child and luckily emerged unscathed, but lots of children from her generation were not so lucky. Not a single kid from my generation suffered this indignity because of Jonah Salk’s amazing vaccine. I had a third grade teacher in her mid-30s, Miss Meyers, who was ravaged by childhood polio and spent the rest of her life confined to leg braces and crutches to get around. It is still clear in my memory. People my age, born after the Salk vaccine, do any of your children or grandchildren have similar memories? No.

Anti-Vaxxers are idiots who lack any reason in their insane stance against this miracle of medical science that has made humanity thrive. My generation was the first to fully thrive because of these brilliant scientific discoveries. Hundreds of thousands of people my age were spared horrible afflictions and early death by diseases that, just in the childhood of my parents generation, destroyed so many lives of their peers. All successive generations don’t have the anecdotal stories of how horrible it used to be that my parents related to me. Because these horrors no longer existed. The most important lesson is we must never forget from where we came historically is that Natural Selection is a demon that thrives on humans forgetting how to survive when we’ve already figured out how to vanquish some of this demon’s most devastating tricks. Reason, logic, scientific method, and our ability to remember keep us thriving and alive. When we refuse these tools due to stubborn beliefs that defy these tools for irrational reasons, we do so at great peril.

So, people, be as stupid and stubborn and suicidal as you see fit, Just stay the fuck away from me and the ones I love. Luckily Natural Selection will weed out many of the really stupid ones. I lament this fact, but since many of these idiots brought it on themselves, I shall not lament with much effort.

 

Biowarfare 2020

Coronavirus Chronicles
Day 40: 21 April 2020, 13:45 EST

This is how I protected myself to walk two blocks to the pharmacy, where I avoided all human contact except with my pharmacist who was masked and safely behind a plexiglass partition. I refuse to get infected by this motherfucking virus. Upon arriving home I did a full decontamination, throwing my clothes in hot water in my washing machine and fully showering in hot water with copious lathering of soap all over. This is what we’ve come to; in my opinion, any containment effort less than my insanely OCD prevention procedure is careless by anyone.

Welcome to the new word order.

Coronavirus Chronicles

Day 36: 17 April 2020, 9:12 A.M. EST

How weird has life become in this unprecedented pandemic crisis? How about the fact that it’s a joyous occasion to score anti-bacterial liquid hand soap, toilet paper, and paper towels given their abject scarcity these days. Yes, I was elated to find these items for sale online, both on Amazon and GoPuff, moreover their arrival was cause to celebrate. Big score!

I order groceries that my Instacart shopper gets for me at the local Acme Supermarket on Front and Girard streets in Philadelphia, then delivers to my door. Once I week I renew my supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat products, coffee and tea, and various dry goods. My freezer and pantry are well stocked and I could last forever even if the food shipments stopped, mainly because I have been a “prepper” for years so I have a large supply of emergency food rations like MREs, Mountain House freeze-dried meals, and other long-lasting emergency foodstuff.

Luckily I can work from home and my company is open and paying me, which keeps me sane and financially solvent, although, luckily, I have always been good with my money and I could survive even if I get furloughed at some point. I could live on credit cards for three years or borrow from my 401k if I truly get strapped for cash. I’m cool right now and into the foreseeable future. Lucky me.

I have regimented my days with strict guidelines where I exercise, work, and rest with very disciplined rules so I don’t end up wallowing in depression and misery, or worse, lose my mind with cabin fever. I’ve been eating much less than normal to get used to the idea I may have to ration food if the future gets bleak and restocking food is difficult. I have found I can fast for long stretches, eat very little, and yet I feel fine. I have lost an incredible 18 pounds since my journey began on March 12.

I rejoined Facebook briefly to check up on my friends and family, then deleted my account about ten days later. Only one close friend has caught COVID-19, and she’s doing well after a brief, tense hospitalization. Fortunately she’s recovering well. Facebook is still poisoned by phony news memes that seem to have gotten even more partisan and batshit crazy than when I quit a few years ago. It’s like wading through a sewer that is chest-deep with shit. I can’t believe how unenlightened, gullible. and angry so many people are out there. They cling to the stupidest and most divisive fake news imaginable. The batshit crazy conspiracy theorists are poisoning the well with great gusto, plus it looks like Facebook is largely allowing this madness to fester like a puss-filled ass abscess.

I look and feel healthy and content, although the first two weeks were rough as my anxiety level was high due to the uncertainty of whether I caught the bug or not on my March 12 flight from Madrid to Philly. The weight loss has been a blessing and I am hoping to lose much more until it’s safe to emerge. The biggest challenge so far is to stay mentally acute and avoid any kind of depressive or morose thinking, but that’s tough when I am isolated and haven’t left my building since mid March. My lack of human contact over these past 36 days is the toughest aspect by far. Online chatting and video conferencing is no substitute.

When this is over I will try to make sense of it all, but while living it I am content to keep a distance from the bad news and depressing mortality and infection statistics that are published every day. Part of my mental survival is tantamount on not worrying too much about that which I cannot control. And all I can really control is staying home and away from other people, eating right, and exercising to keep relatively fit.  I have no idea how much longer I will remain in the suspended state, but honestly I doubt I’ll be outside again until June.

Welcome to the new world in which we live. Adapt and survive, that is the human way to fight natural selection, which is running rampant across the globe and killing hundreds of thousands of souls. I am thriving so far after 36 days. The uncertainty is difficult, but I am strong and tough and built for survival mode. I will see you all on the other side of this pandemic. When that will be is a big mystery.

My 57th birthday is in 13 days. Sadly I will be locked away in my fortress of solitude for that occasion. Such is life in this pandemic.

The Boy in the Bubble

Coronavirus Chronicles
Day 18: Philadelphia, USA, 30 March 2020, 10:30 a.m. EST

The view from my bubble to the streets below.

There was a TV movie in the 70s starring John Travolta about a lonely teenage kid who lived in a hermetically-sealed bubble because his body couldn’t produce antibodies, thus he was isolated and disallowed any human contact out of fear such contact would infect him with something his weak immune system couldn’t fight. Like all TV movies of that era, it was cheesy and silly, but now, after 18 days of complete isolation in my Philadelphia loft, during which I haven’t come in contact with another human being and I clean, scrub, and disinfect every possible inch of the place, I feel lonely and isolated like Travolta’s character in the film. Sadly, 70s teen babe extraordinaire, Glynnis O’Conner, clad in a bikini, is not waiting on the other side of my bubble like it was for Travolta’s character. That lucky, disco-dancing Vinnie Barbarino creep.

It’s Monday, March 30, 2020, and the world is in a place it’s not been in 100 years, paralyzed by a viral pandemic that is spreading like a wildfire and infecting people with such an alarming virulence that governments worldwide have ordered people to create their own bubble like mine and not come in contact with other people for…well, for as long as it takes to stop the spread of COVID-19, the villainous coronavirus. In the USA it’s killing about 1.7% of people who contract it, which is alarming mostly for the simple reason it spreads rather easily and the tally of the afflicted is growing rapidly. Too rapidly. Since I went into isolation the numbers no longer makes sense except to report, as a former medical scientist myself, that it is NOT GOOD.

I’m bearing witness to this unprecedented madness high above in my top-floor loft with its view of Center City Philly below, normally filled noisily with people coming and going in great numbers on foot or bikes or in cars, but now it’s virtually empty. People are bunkered in their homes waiting out this pandemic, and I hope, like me, they are concerned about what kind of world we’ll face when we finally emerge from our self-imposed home incarceration. Our economy is in shambles, our investment portfolios—for those of us fortunate enough to have them in the first place—are decimated, and our futures are ambiguous if only because we’ve no idea when this virus will run its course or scientists will find a vaccine that protects us from its ravages.

I am lucky in that I don’t need to leave my apartment for any reason. Thanks to Amazon and Instacart I can order groceries and home supplies and it all gets delivered to my door. I have provisioned myself the last three weeks with enough food to last months. Secondly, my company is in good financial standing so I work from home every day and the paychecks will keep clearing for the foreseeable future. I also have a decent amount of savings and credit to keep me afloat for a very long time. Moreover, I was always somewhat of a doomsday prepper, so I have an ample stash of emergency rations, medical supplies, and other critical survival must-haves in my supply closet. I have three powerful HEPA air filters that keep my loft free of dust and allergens. I even have solar panels I can mount in my south-facing massive windows where the sun passes for 12-15 hours a day. I have a decent-sized battery storage unit that can keep all of my critical electronics charged if power should ever be cut. I even have solar-charged lamps and lanterns to light my place for the same reason. I prepared for this outcome years ago, honestly never even imagining it would happen, and yet I prepared all the same.

I could bunker in my apartment for a long while like Charlton Heston’s character in the film The Omega Man. How weird to see such a science fiction plot finally come true in my lifetime. As I kid I watched that film and had nightmares. Guess what? I am living in that nightmare right now. COVID-19 won’t kill even a small number of humans, but it will infect a great number, and not knowing its true potency at this time is the cause of so much uncertainty and fear. We just don’t know how deadly and dangerous this virus will be, nor do we know how to combat it medically. Thus we wait.

The first 10 days of isolation had me wallowing in anxiety out of fear I’d caught the virus while flying home from Spain, but as the distance grows between my last human contact and the present, coupled with the fact I feel healthy and virus-free, I’ve calmed down and resigned myself to remaining in isolation until there’s a vaccine. I am an active, fit, and mostly-healthy 56-year-old man, but I do have type-2 diabetes and an aortic aneurysm, so I will not tempt fate. Catching the disease at my age is a crap shoot, and although based on the stats for my age group that I have a 98.2% chance of surviving infection by COVID-19, I do not want to temp fate as the 1.8% who didn’t survive it. Bottom line: I don’t want to catch this bug, and I won’t if I stay isolated.

How strange are these times? It’s difficult to process what’s happening with any kind of sane, rational, and coherent thoughts. All I can do is survive it and hope that I can emerge safe from this in a few months.

Until then I just wait.

Coronavirus Chronicles

Day One: Valencia, Spain, 11 March 2020, 13:16 GMT+1

Proof of life, 11 March 2020, Valencia, Spain

So it’s March 11, 2020 and I am in Spain, which is rapidly becoming the next cluster of ever-increasing coronavirus infections, although in Valencia, where I am living, the rate has been relatively slow. However I have decided to go back to Philadelphia tomorrow as I’m worried if I wait a week or two longer I will be stuck here as I am sure, like Italy, Spain will be barred as a starting point to travel to the USA. Spain has been, as far as I can tell, extremely lackadaisical in handling the containment of the virus’s spread, so it’s no wonder the numbers are bounding upward at such an alarming rate. The US is the same, and I imagine in a week or two both countries will be at the low end of a pandemic.

I’d rather be safe at home in my already well-prepared apartment in Philly than here. I’m not exactly Joe the Survivalist, but I readily admit I have been a prepper for years and my my apartment is well stocked with food and other survival provisions that can keep me comfortably ensconced in my home for a month or two if the need arises. So luckily the window is still open to get my ass back to the USA tomorrow. If I’d have waited another few days I am certain I’d be fucked.

Tonight I am catching a Renfe AVE train to Madrid, where I’ll spend the night at the airport Marriott, and then fly home to Philly tomorrow at noon Spanish time, arriving home at 4 pm EST. Madrid is rapidly becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus infection in Spain, so I’m consciously aware of being highly vigilant in avoiding personal contact or large crowds.

En Route to Madrid, 11 Mar 20 18:30 GMT+1

Moving through Spain at 300 km/hr on the glorious Alta Velocidad aka AVE train from Valencia to Madrid. I’m in Coche 9 and it’s pretty empty. People seem wary and just a little concerned, but no one is running down the streets in a Chicken Little panic. It all feels creepy like a dream after eating spicy food; humanity is reacting to this unprecedented crisis with fear, yes, but also with some curiosity as this is so fucking weird what’s happening, and how astonishingly fast it’s gone into the red worldwide. The World Health Organization has declared it a worldwide pandemic. The zombie apocalypse is upon us. OK, most people who catch this will recover fine, but people are going to die, and that’s shitty. I hope I am one of the lucky ones.

Madrid Atocha Train Station, 20:00 GMT+1
You can sense the growing, “It’s every muchacho for himself” right now as people are avoiding even looking at each other, as if they can mind meld the damn virus with thoughts. I caught the first cab I saw and the driver looked healthy and safe. He told me no one is riding cabs in Madrid. I told him to wash his hands and don’t take on any sick looking fares.

Marriott Near the Airport: 12 March 2020, 04:00 GMT+1

I left my hotel TV on CNN and awoke to the news that Trump has suspended all Euros from coming to America on Friday at midnight. This doesn’t affect my ability to get home so I am pleased. But I praise myself quietly for deciding to go home before it got weird. It’s just gotten weird. I had a mild anxiety attack at the thought of being stuck in Spain, but it passed when CNN clarified that I’d be able to fly home in a few hours.

Day 2: Madrid-Barajas Airport, 10:10 GMT+1

I’m through security and found an isolated seat where I can hide until my flight boards. Lots of Americans are scrambling for flights home even though Trump’s ban is only for Europeans, but everyone, like me, feels the door will be shut in a few days even for us. I’m feeling mild anxiety as I just want to feel safe and at home. If I do get sick I’d rather be in my bed, in my home, so my only goal is to get on this flight and get back to Philly by 4:00 EST today. Once home I’ll at least have my familiar environs. Being stuck in a foreign country during the early stages of this zombie apocalypse has been, to say the least, surreal and a bit scary. My odds of making it home without catching this motherfucking virus are probably 30% yes, 70% no. I trust my hale immune system and my ability to heal, but I am still a bit wary.

Philadelphia, 4:47 PM EST
Eight hours later I made it home. The journey ends where it began. I’m putting myself on a self-induced 14-day quarantine at home. My flight was packed with Americans heading home before Trump’s European flight ban goes into effect, even though technically Americans can still fly home from Europe after Friday. No one was taking chances. I heard lots of coughing and sniffling, so I’m assuming I may experience a COVID-19 infection. I’d say the odds are in favor I don’t, but I want to be safe.

Day 11: Philadelphia, 21 March 2020, 9:10 AM EST

My self-isolated state has encompassed the last ten days since I returned March 12. I’ve had no contact with another human since then, and as of yet I haven’t exhibited any symptoms associated with COVID-19. I was not only lucky to get out of Spain when I did, but even luckier that I probably wasn’t exposed to the virus on the flight home. I will hold off celebrating this fact for another week or so, as I may just be carrying it but I’m asymptomatic. Until next Thursday I will not take any chances infecting others by emerging from my apartment. Even after that date I’ll probably stay isolated for up to another month if necessary.

Philly has handled the crisis well. Restaurants still deliver food even though their dining rooms are essentially closed, moreover through Acme Foods and Whole Foods/Amazon I have been able to order groceries that get delivered to my door. Also, in my “doomsday” closet I stockpiled about 6 months of emergency rations (Army MREs and Mountain House freeze-dried meals) a few years ago when I got all “prepper aware” while recuperating from a broken arm and not having much else to do but prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Smart move; I can literally remain in my apartment for months if necessary. It helps I am wealthy enough to afford such luxuries and that my job is not in jeopardy, and even so, I can live well for quite a while without a paycheck coming in at this point. However, my company is fine, and though things may slow down, we should weather this storm well.

The last week was a difficult and anxiety-ridden period as I saw the world outside going nutty over this virus. I decided after the second day to stop watching or reading the news because it only added to my anxiety about whether I was sick or not. I swear, there was a three-day period where every stomach rumbling or allergy stuffiness episode had me convinced I was ill with COVID-19. The ensuing panic would subside only after I realized, rationally, that I was fine, but in those minutes of frenetic panic I’d hyperventilate myself into a shortness-of-breath episode. Of course I realized I could breath deeply and that I was just in a state of too much oxygen being breathed in and not enough carbon dioxide coming out, which feels differently than the shortness of breath caused by pneumonia; my brain’s breathing mechanism realizes the oxygen to CO² ratio is out of whack, ergo it slows breathing to allow the excess O² to get absorbed and the resulting CO² to exhale, which makes me feel like I cannot breathe, but of course I am, just slowly. I wonder if I am the only fool to hyperventilate himself into thinking I had COVID-19. Of course, after each of these very minor and silly episodes I was fine. No fever, No cough. No weakness or fatigue. I was not ill with COVID-19; I was just being a silly billy running around gasping for the air I was actually breathing in fine. My lungs were not damaged or incapable of fully expanding.

Sleeping was difficult for a few days, mainly from the time change returning from Spain, but now I’m doing fine. Last night’s sleep felt refreshing, the first time I’ve awoken and actually felt like I had restful sleep. Based on what I know about the incubation period for COVID-19, I still have many days to go before I can feel confident I didn’t catch it, but each day without symptoms is a good sign, and the fact 10 days symptom-free have passed since my last human exposure makes me feel less anxiety than each previous day.

My greater concern is more scientific. Is it better we become exposed to the virus and develop immunities, or avoid it altogether? I prefer not to catch it as I am diabetic and also have an aortic aneurysm, and although I have both conditions well under control, and I am physically fit from lots of bicycling and long hikes, I’d rather not test myself by getting sick with this damn virus. However, over the long term it may behoove me to suffer through an infection as having immunity now for this early strain may benefit me if the virus evolves into something deadlier that I’d not have to face if I were immune. I am sure every epidemiologist in the world is positing the same theory. Yes, we do not want to expose those who are vulnerable to the virus to its ravages once infected, but maybe it is, long term, in the best interest of humanity that our young become immune to it. Natural selection is a motherfucker and viruses play the game as well as any piece of genetic material in our world. They are clever, adaptive, and sinister little Darwinistic machines.

This leads to an insane but true thought. Is our compassion for, and protection of, the weakest among us the right strategy? I mean, sure, isolate everyone over 60 or those under 60 with underlying health conditions. But for a vast majority of people it may be better for them to catch this virus and suffer through its infection into their system. Some 80-90% of people who have caught this virus only experienced mild symptoms and seem to have recovered fine. Now their immune systems are prepared to fight any new hybrid of this genetic code that tries to attack them in the future, moreover they will never be carriers, and hence vectors, of it again.

My guess is that scientists feel we are close enough to getting a vaccine that we can absorb the massive cost of isolating humanity in the short term if we are in fact rolling out a vaccine within the next year. I certainly hope that is the case. If not, how long can people be isolated before it’s no longer economically feasible? And since 80-90% of those infected recover fine, then let people catch it, carry on with life, and this thing will die of its own loneliness seeking hosts that don’t exist.

Anyhow. More later.

Philadelphia, 21 March 2020, 23:10 PM EST; Day 11, Part II
It was a good and bad day in isolation. Good in that I ordered groceries that will be delivered tomorrow by Acme Foods, bad in that I was edgy and nervous all day for no apparent reason other than I’m still unsure I won’t get sick. I know I should be more existential and even oblivious to this fact, that even if I get sick it will be mild, but I am so completely fearing getting sick that my squirrelley obsessiveness is starting to get irrationally stupid and panic-laden. What, my neck hurts from working at my desk all day? OMG, COVID-19! Then comes the five-minute check: no fever, no fatigue, no sore throat, no cough…all right, I’m fine. Breathe deeply and get my pulse down. There you go. Crisis over. I’m a nutty motherfucker, I freely admit.

This COVID-19 is a hypochondriac’s nightmare, and as everyone who knows me will attest, I am a wildly neurotic and laughably chronic hypochondriac. I have expended more adrenalin worrying about being sick, infirm, or dying than any ten human beings. What’s even funnier is that when I actually get sick I’m the calmest person in the room. But anticipating getting sick? That sickens me to the point of near paralysis. Seriously, I’m a goof.

I sit here at my desk in a state of calm resignation that I just have to let the chips fall where they may with this whole COVID-19 coronavirus shit. I mean, every day a human being is alive there’s a great risk of getting in a deadly car crash or other unexpected accident, or dying from one disease or other, or a fucking pile of space junk can crash down on one’s  head. Life is a crap shoot.

As my 9th grade Biology teacher, the great Alfreda Buckner, who was also a trained mortician, once told us when we whined about homework, “Children, you don’t have to do anything in life you don’t want, except die. We all have to die.” That, in Mrs. Buckner’s terse words, is the essence of evolution. Mrs. Buckner was a brilliant woman. Like all living beings, we humans exist for a while, then we don’t exist. We can fight to exist longer, or not fight to exist longer, but in the end we all have to cease to exist. There are millions of ways for humans to die, but in the end we all die. C’est la vie. Worrying about this fact doesn’t ever change the ultimate outcome. I only wish I were zen enough to fully comprehend this simple fact; I’m not. I’m a hyperventilating mess right now.

Luckily, we humans have consciousness so I can record my thoughts for posterity during this weird turn of human events and let people understand how I, a nobody and about as anonymous as any other bloke, suffered through this monumentally unprecedented modern human experience. The world has literally shut down and people are bunkered in their homes awaiting salvation from this pandemic. I wonder how many others are suffering from the panic and anxiety that has left me reeling on occasion. When this is all over and we go back to living as we always have—if that is ever possible—then we can all have a laugh about it, or tell a few amusing anecdotes and stories about our experiences.

What keeps lingering in my hypochondriac panic is this rational thought: these past decades we’ve seen one of the largest mass extinctions the planet has ever experienced as countless species have ceased to exist due to environmental changes or simply through natural selection. Is that what humanity is facing? Has nature decided to punish us for our misuse of the planet the last few hundred years? Have we done this to ourselves and sealed our own doom? Crazy question, yes, but one that obviously has to be asked. Maybe this virus is just the first wave. Maybe the shit has hit the proverbial fan and the next wave will be devastating.

But I fucking hope it’s not true. However this fact has haunted me in my isolation and panic the last ten days.