Archive for December, 2021

No one who has had it tells you about what it’s really like until after you say you have it, so when you get it, you’re not sure what your path will be. It’s like a secret society of survivors or something. Before you get too sick, you’ll scour the internet, but please know that you can’t do that for too long because it will terrify you. There’s a stigma to having Covid, and by the time you begin to come out the other end of the journey, you’ll feel you won’t have your sea legs at all. Without the sensual aspects of smell or taste being present in your daily life, totally removed from human contact, you don’t even know if you own your body anymore. It’s someone else’s, maybe, or your own that’s possessed by something that feels like a tempest or a tsunami. You have no control…and that’s an illusion anyway. We make ourselves feel better by pretending we’re in control of our lives, but we often aren’t. We just feel less freaked out when we think we’re in control…so having to accept and let go…is a hard thing to do.

It starts with a sniffle and maybe a tickle at the back of your throat. It feels ,at the beginning of it all, like it’s only a regular winter cold from The Before Times. 

Keeping a bit of Richard Wagamese by my side these days…for good measure.

It’s deceptive and manipulative, like one of those bad boys in those old 80s indie films who sort of seduce you with sweet words and then break your heart because you’re always the nerdy shy girl. Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, maybe. Judd Nelson before he’s redeemed himself by the end of the movie. Covid’s a player who just rushes in, takes what he wants–wham, bam, thank you Ma’am–and then leaves you flattened.

It starts with a sniffle but then you feel it root down inside you like a fierce weed. The headache is the thing. It’s Shakespearean. It clamps onto your skull; it hurts to move your eyes from side to side. That part—the headache—will be your constant companion for the entire time you have Covid. Before you even get your test results, you’ll have that headache, a relentless cough, dizziness, and a fever. (The other things—diarrhea, pink eye, nausea, body aches—they all come a bit later, in waves.) Even your eyelids hurt.

You’ll pull the blinds down because you end up walking around your house half dressed, almost naked, randomly turning down the heat and then jerking it up again for a number of days and nights. You’ll sweat buckets sitting still and then you’ll get up to get a glass of water and start to shiver until you shake. You’ll sink to the kitchen floor and put your cheek against a cool cupboard door and wonder if it’ll end. Your head never stops aching. Your collarbones are more sculpted after two and a half weeks, the result of a lack of appetite and nausea combined. You’ll lose weight, but it’s a diet you never want to be on.

You’ll wonder why the woman from Public Health Ontario reassured you that this is all normal when you croaked out your symptoms over the phone. After all, she’s been on the phones through the pandemic, likely, and she must hear thousands of people’s incredulous comments all the time. You’re a ‘mild’ case. Because you’ve been vaccinated, you’ll be okay…but you’ll walk through a bit of hell first.

The doctor who calls you from the hospital to take your medical history thinks you’d already been told you were positive by the local health district. You hadn’t, but you know.  Three days in and your body feels possessed by something you can’t see. 

“You mean they haven’t called to tell you yet?” 

“No. But I kind of figured it out. It’s…different.”

“I’m sorry to tell you this. They should’ve called first. Probably backed up with all the new cases.” 

“Fuck. And I have followed the rules. And I’m double vaxxed.” 

A sigh, then. “Thank you for doing that, for getting vaccinated. You’re sick right now, but you would be much sicker if you hadn’t been vaccinated. You might be in hospital instead.” 

“Fuck. Uh, sorry. I shouldn’t be swearing. You’re trying to help me and I’m swearing on the phone, but I think I’m kind of in shock, you know? I mean, I did it all properly.” You say it with your throat on fire, but she doesn’t know that. She just wants your medical history. You’re wondering how you’ll navigate the next period of time, terrified and uncertain about how the symptoms seem to come in waves, intensify, and then back up to let others arrive. The cycling of symptoms is disconcerting. It throws you off.

“It’s okay. I’d probably say the same thing if I were you, too. This one’s a bastard. Sneaky.”


Loss of taste and smell doesn’t happen quickly. A few days before they disappeared, before I even knew I was positive, I had a lavender salt bath.  Sitting there, feeling sick and achey, letting the heat seep into me, trying to relax a sick body, I took a breath. Something seemed ‘less than’, fainter than normal. Afterwards, I slathered body butter on my skin. Sitting naked on the side of the bed, I leaned down to sniff at the crook of my elbow. Faint, faint scent of coconut. Then, a sick feeling in my chest, I bent my head to sniff at my knee. Same faint, faint scent. Ghosting itself.

I’m a scent grounder; the thing that keeps me calm and centred in life is scent. I love scented candles, essential oil, and I burn incense all the time, too. I also love perfume. Heading back into the bathroom to sniff at perfume bottles in the medicine cabinet, I was coming to the realization that scent was fading fast. And that made it all real.  

A day and a bit after being declared ‘positive,’ I stood in a morning kitchen, shaky and coughing, pulling a mandarin orange out of the fridge. I peeled it into my open palm, noticing that the scent was absent. I bent my head down to the tiny orange, took a deep breath through congestion, and realized all scent was gone. Pulled off a tiny wedge and knew that this was bad. You can have a test result as a positive, but it’s something different to have the effects—to lose all sense of taste or smell. I put that tiny wedge in my mouth, closed my eyes, and said a little prayer. Might’ve been the default of a Hail Mary as my Gram Ennis possessed me for a minute. I bit down. No taste.

An orange, without taste or scent, is only texture: ‘orange’ is now cold, fibrous, and leaves you trying to recall what ‘orange’ tastes and smells like. (A quick Google search tells you that you might get your sense of smell back earlier if you try to remember, to imagine, what a certain thing smelled or tasted like. Imagine carrots in a homemade soup left on your doorstep, or imagine the essential oil you love to burn, or the smell of bread toasting in a toaster. It doesn’t work. You’ll burn things on the stove because you won’t smell them burning. Even soup can burn.)

I started to cry then, trying to remember ‘orange’ and realizing that it wasn’t all a mistake—that this test result was true.  I cried for a little while that day, coughing as I went, worrying that I wouldn’t ever be able to taste or smell food again. Without those senses, and as someone who is a sensual being and poet, the world got much darker and scarier. To say anything else would be a lie. It’s the thing that is most awful through spending time with Covid.

So much of the joy we have in life, whether we think it or not, is about being able to taste and smell things. Try it, just now, and see how often those two senses are part of your day. Imagine not having access to them, and then imagine not knowing when (or if) they’ll return. The notion of eating—these days—is something that revolts and upsets me. I do it, sipping up soup left at the doorstep by a few friends, but it’s something I do to keep up my energy, to fight the virus.


Covid was just a statistic on a graph, until I had it arrive in my life in a tangible way. For the first part of the pandemic, I knew the stats on a daily basis and watched the Prime Minister online every day at 11 a.m. Then, this summer, I had the sense of great relief of having been vaccinated twice. I’ve never wanted something as badly as I wanted that vaccine and waiting for the second dose was painful. After the second dose, it seemed to me that life could almost return to the semblance of normal. And, it did, in a strange way; I could attend concerts safely outdoors, or go to a play at the theatre centre with half capacity seating and masks on. It felt comforting to know that being double vaxxed would be a shield, a suit of armour.

But the point in my writing is that people should know it’s a rough ride, to have Covid even after you’re double vaxxed. The first part of it will seem like a regular cold, but the middle parts will feel like sheer hell. It also picks you up and takes you right out of your regular life. You can’t think to read books or watch any Netflix movies. You can try to write, but things just come in little pockets of ideas and then you need to sleep again. This essay is the result of little paragraphs jotted down over a number of days and then patchworked together. It isn’t smooth. It doesn’t feel like me, but—then again—I don’t feel like me.

The end part is full of fatigue, so much so that you wonder if that part will ever actually end, as one day you’ll feel a bit stronger, but the next you’ll need to sleep for sixteen hours straight and then force yourself to swing your legs over the edge of the bed and stand up.


Fatigue is something I’ve never experienced before. For too many days, I sleep most of the day and night away. I get up to drink water, shower, and eat soup. I make myself do these things. A few people know I’m sick and so they’ve been texting me to check on me and leave me homemade soup on the front step or try and bring food that might seem ‘appetizing.’ Thing is, food isn’t really appetizing when you can’t smell or taste it. It becomes tagged in your head as only either ‘hot’ or ‘cold.’ Food becomes a tasteless texture. Lentil soup is wet sand. Yogurt is cool silk. Tea is just ‘hot.’

Your world gets infinitely smaller when you have Covid. People on social media have active, exciting lives and that just makes you cry a bit more because you feel left out, sort of forgotten. You are replaceable. This is what you learn. And so, you think about just leaving social media entirely, because it hurts to see people living normal lives when yours is so broken at the moment.

I wanted to focus on the physical symptoms in this blog. I did. I might write another entry at a later date about the psychological warfare that this disease serves you up on a platter. It fucks with your head. There’s a brain fog, and there are awful dreams that wake you up. I’m not a big dreamer, but every night brings a new dream that is much too vivid and upsetting. The headache, too, that never seems to leave…is something I can’t fathom. I’ve almost accepted that it’ll be here forever. Or that’s what it feels like anyway. The body aches, too, leave much to be desired.


If you think you’re safe with two vaccine shots, you’re not. If you think you’re going to avoid or escape it, you likely won’t. If you think that vaccines don’t work because I’m sick now with Covid, you’re wrong. I know that my double vaccination means that I won’t be hospitalized or die. The people I talk with on my health care team tell me that. While the system for booking a test didn’t work well for me, online, and while I had to wait three hours to get my call answered to book a test, I am still grateful. I feel like shit these days, and I can’t get out of bed very often, and I miss my regular days and my hikes out into the bush and down near the lake. I miss my yoga, kettlebells, Russian Twists, and planks more than I can say. I can’t think straight and this is terrifying for me. I can’t read for long periods of time, and this is also terrifying for me. I’m training myself to read again, for longer periods of time.


A week and a half in, the man in the space suit came to the side door, introduced himself and set up a wireless unit in my writing and yoga room, and then proceeded to do an intake session. Space helmet, medical gown, big gloves, but a kind voice. Then, every day after, I take my vitals twice a day on the tools he left behind for me, and those numbers go springing off across a wireless space to him, and also to my doctor. The paramedics track my oxygen saturation, pulse, and blood pressure, then check in every day by phone, asking for an update of symptoms and telling me not to be discouraged. Having a history of asthma and a bit of Symbicort in my bag wherever I go is enough to worry the medical people. That makes me nervous, too…  

This isn’t a normal virus, one paramedic tells me, when I whine about how it doesn’t seem to ‘get better’ and only seems to shift shapes. He minds my lungs for me. A half day sitting up is okay, is excellent, he says, but 18 hrs of sleep is also okay, until the deepest part of the fatigue passes. Another week, the paramedic tells me on the phone, and I might be less fatigued. I can’t even imagine it; I can’t get out of bed or off the couch. For now, the paramedics say, sleep will help your body heal. It’s going through a lot. He tells me to lean into that fatigue. (I want to thank, especially, Ryan and Heather from the Community Paramedic Program at the City of Greater Sudbury…for kind words in person and on the phone. They made me feel I was going to improve, when I wasn’t so sure.)


I am well cared for by a few people I have told. If you want to do something good, something important, then get yourselves vaccinated, and get your children vaccinated. Any adult who doesn’t have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, in my mind now, is selfish and not thinking beyond themselves. Anti-vaxxers are selfish idiots who, if faced with cancer, would surely take a regime of chemotherapy and radiation, but will still not go beyond themselves to think of how their inaction has a real ripple in our community, our province, our country.  I used to have a low tolerance for anti-vaxxers…but now I have no tolerance. If you’re an anti-vaxxer and you’re reading this, please unfollow or unfriend or fuck right off.

Science is the thing to follow, and I’m grateful that my double vaccination has kept me at home, rather than in hospital. Despite the struggle of feeling possessed by something foreign and really uncomfortable, I know that my recovery is due solely to those vaccines. And, too, don’t ask someone with Covid if they’re better. Better to just text “How are you feeling?” or “How are you doing?” than “Why aren’t you better yet?” It only makes someone with Covid feel like they’re less strong than they already are, and that’s a hard thing when you can’t leave your body or your house. I’ve learned that it doesn’t work that way, the ‘getting better’ thing. A regular cold, yeah, sure, but with Covid, you might get three hours of ‘I think I feel better now’ and then ten of ‘Nope…guess not.’

It’s a fucker, Covid is. Please mind yourselves over the Christmas break. It’s not done with us yet.

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