March 25th, 2020
I came upstairs exhausted tonight and went to bed before 9 PM. I did not even ride my bike today, and I’m a daily cyclist that rarely misses a day on my bike.
I did go get the Covid-19 test at the drive thru testing in a garage at the local hospital. It’s now 11 PM and I woke up with chest pain and soreness on my both sides of my neck and weird muscle spasms in my right arm. I got up to pee. Just two hours ago, I watched Oprah chat with a DJ who had posted virtual night club on Instagram and had over 100,000 followers join in.
Sadly, a 36 year old, African American, female school principal from Brooklyn passed away from Covid yesterday. The Times said she knew every student, their families, and how to motivate each one of them. I can’t tell if I’m getting better from my illness or if I’m getting worse. The news doesn’t help my heart feel any better, yet I want to stay informed.
I spoke to my son Aidan today. I felt horrible to be the one to have to tell him that his school is closed until May 1. The newspapers just announced it today in San Francisco and six others California counties, but apparently Aidan didn’t know yet. he said he was really excited to do something at school for his birthday and it broke my heart further. Can a heart become courageous? Rising from its ashes like the Phoenix and learn to accept this suffering and still pump a body forward? We are watching the tragedies of a war here unfold in real time. We see the politicians, the doctors, CEOs, musicians, actors, grocers, and people singing from their windows from Italy to San Francisco.
I had called Aidan to remind him to get his dad to go pick up an albuterol I called in to his doctor’s office for him in case he gets sick. I don’t want my sons to be in pain like I am right now. I suggested he and his twin brother have an online Twitch concert for their Birthday and share it with friends. Aidan on drums, Blake on synth. The dynamic duo they’ve always been, celebrating together. At least they have each other.
I’m so sorry this pandemic is killing people and affecting so many families. I know a lot of us are in shock. When I drove into the garage of the hospital, just below the ER, I waited in line behind 4 or five cars. A makeshift white tent on my left where two workers came out in full. protective gear and a clipboard. The woman spoke to me from behind a surgical mask and a plastic face shield covering her entire face. When it was my turn in line to get tested, I pulled up to two more tents. A woman in what looked like a space suit came out with a nasal swab and told me to roll down my window. I looked through her plastic mask that only showed her eyes. I believe she was an African American woman because I could just barely make out that she had dark skin. We caught each other’s eyes for just a second. I feel like we both sensed fear of the unknown that moment our eyes connected. She told me to roll down my window, stick my head out and tip my head back. Then I felt the swab go into my nose and way back into my throat. It didn’t feel great but it was over fast. It made me cough. She handed me paperwork and three tissues to blow my nose. That was it.
I drove out of the garage and pulled over to take a photo of the signs for my brother who wanted to see what it was like. I didn’t feel like taking any photos because I felt too sick-My chest, neck hurt. My breathing was somewhat labored. I didn’t want to do anything except go back home and rest. I wanted to ride my bike but I didn’t have the energy. They closed the beach and all local parks on Sunday so you can not even bike around the point. Regardless, I only wanted to rest.
Now it’s 11:28pm and I still hurt. I’ve gotten up to pee twice. This is crazy scary. I want to be strong for my sons. I wish they didn’t have to be home alone for their 18th Birthdays. It’s so sad how the world has come to a full stop- Olympics being cancelled, everything being closed. Only virtual concerts are happening, but despite it all, lots of prople are coming together to share their music and art online for free. Jewel and other artists have raised money online for children and families in need. Companies are coming together to build ventilators from 3-D printing and come up with inventions they’ve never made before to solve problems with supply shortages. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has used his supply chain people to source additional facemasks and equipment for hospitals.
Marc Benioff of Salesforce too has ordered masks and equipment for UCSF. The cases of coronavirus have exploded in New York City where they didn’t shut down schools soon enough because they were afraid of what would happen to 114,000 homeless children. San Francisco closed schools faster than New York City and so far they’ve had less of a problem, but the rest of the state is now starting to see the pandemic escalate as well.
I am listening to Bartók and reminded of Philip Glass’s childhood (from his memoir); how his father owned a record store and taught his entire family the business of music sales. At night his father would put on records of Bartok and other classical artists. Philip would sneak out of his room and sit at the top of the stairs and listen quietly.
When I woke up just before 11 PM, it felt like I’d been asleep all night. I expected it to be morning but I‘d only been asleep for two hours.
I suddenly remembered how when my hip osteoarthritis was at its most painful and I had to have a cortisone injection, I went to Saint Helena to get my favorite food and a glass of wine at Clif family and take a bike ride through the vineyards to help the pain. (Riding a road bike relieves my hip pain, while walking, even with a hiking pole is super painful). Resting 2 to 3 nights there would be the perfect place to heal and ice my hip. My parents paid for the room so I could heal in a space other than my car, where I had been sleeping for most of five months.
I wanted my sons to take the train out to stay with me, but their Dad wouldn’t let them. What I remember most was how a single glass of wine, biking and listening to the music of native American flute and song really helped calm me while I was going through intense pain. The artist’s name is R. Carlos Nakai and the Canyon Trilogy is a gorgeous album.
I want to get up and go ride my bike to get rid of my pain, but it’s midnight. I’m worried the police will stop me or I’ll pass out.
I am listening to New Sounds radio from NY. The music is very peaceful. Choral music now. I sneeze. My throat is irritated and my chest pain now radiates from the center of my chest between my breast bones. The dry cough tickles my nose and throat. On May 13th, I had called a local doctor’s office to report my chest pain after having two weeks of other symptoms, including diarrhea, fever and chills, a headache for two days, followed by weird watery eyes. My eyes didn’t feel right, and they watered even more when I went outside. Just strange symptoms Id never had before. Then, the intense chest pain that’s never quite the same.
The Brief and Never Ending Blur by Bang on a Can All Stars plays. Music by Steve Reich plays too…
Then lively Fiddles stir up a dance.
Brian Eno paints an image of a boat floating on the water without going anywhere… “Some times you just want to cut the engines, sit, coast, float and be calm for a while. State of tranquility and peacefulness.” Says the host, John Schaefer. He continues to speak of an
Italian singer, Transcendent, tranquility, peace.. An age old prayer not to be abandoned. Franco Batiato(sp?)
Poppy Ackroyd -The Calm Before
I listen to a Fluttering ostinato of deep woodwinds while melody of clarinets or oboes(?) plays over this, trickling sparkles of piano. This reminds me of the clusters of butterflies hanging from trees by the beach in Santa Cruz and the children and families descending the boardwalk path to marvel at this miracle of life.
Moving through pain successfully is the art of distraction. Writing what is going on I feel less pain. Writing, cycling, guitar… Tea, meds… Food. Healing quotes on a Yogi teabag seem more powerful now than they’ve ever been amongst the avalanche of bad news.
I look up Amy’s organic drive thru and learn they are closed but still serving people thru the take out window. I post this on Twitter and write:
“I like Amy’s drive thru a billion times more than the Covid-19 drive thru.”
I pray we all get through this safely.
I wish you all well and dedicate this article to Dez-Ann Romain, 36, the Principal at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, who died from complications of the coronavirus. My Yogi tea bag quotes lay on the counter, but shout at me, “Look!” “Kindness is the light of life” and “Love is the ultimate law of life”. Take care of each other. Help each other. We will only get through a pandemic with kindness and love. I add to this music, food, medicine and writing. Sending virtual hugs. Please stay home and don’t get sick. If you do, “eat when hungry, sleep when tired”. Clean and get outside only if and when you have the energy to do so. Take care of yourselves!