Post #52 — Dispatch From New York: Freed From Fear

Intro from me: Glynnis O'Connor, who has written in this space about socially distancing in Manhattan, suddenly came down with symptoms two weeks ago. Glynnis is one of my oldest friends and the news that she might be sick with covid was devastating. What follows are some of the notes she sent me over her last days in quarantine, all of them reflecting her warm heart and optimistic spirit.

Jeff (4/13): Hey, been a few days, just wanted to check in to see how you two were doing. Hope you're ok.


April 14: So I went to my doc this morning because I have experienced mild symptoms since last Sunday. He first tested for regular flu.That was negative. Then he tested for Covid-19. We will know those results in 5 days.

Who knew it could be so simple to get a test?

He gave me a prescription for Zithromax. Duane Reade was nearly empty. I went armed with two face masks. Felt like facial bullet proof vest. Fifth and 96th, normally really crowded was so quiet.

So my oxygen is fine. I have a slight fever, dizziness, cough, mild sense of "brain freeze" in my upper chest and lower throat. But I am not having chills or high fever or sweats, just feeling sick. And I am able to breathe deeply, which I do regularly because I heard that that is a good thing when dealing with this stupid virus to any degree.

If I am positive, I go back in for a blood antibody test. This will tell if antibodies are IGM, meaning infection is still there, or IGG, meaning infection is gone and I have good antibodies. This would be great, since then I could give plasma to help someone out.

So coming out of this, I'll still be contagious for 14 days after fever, and seven days post symptoms.

I'm isolating in Lindsay's room. This is nice. Plenty of books. Doug is fine. I hope and trust that you all are well!!

April 14: I believe if this continues, I will be one of the lucky ones who get away with continued mild symptoms. Quarantine sure does give one a keen appreciation for fresh air, physical freedom, and hugs. But, as we all know, only life and death is life and death. Nothing like a brush with a killer pathogen to give one perspective.

April 15: I just look out the window now but can't complain about the view. Newly green trees, pale pink and magenta bulbs opening along the reservoir running path, compact trucks hauling tall steel canisters of oxygen deliver new supplies to the field hospital, their sleek, shiny black semi heavy hauler parked beside a sign exclaiming "In Jesus' Name."

[She is opposite the field hospital run by the anti-LBGQ group, Samaritan's Purse]

Sheeeesh! I mean, great, and whatever god exists should shower praise on these well meaning generous people, but when I get better, I'm going to head down there and play Klezmer music.

April 15: No change. with each day it stays this way, I’ll likely get out of this a very lucky New Yorker.

April 16: Definitely feeling better than the first five days. Look forward to your newsletter as always!

[Jeff: a gratuitous plug from me: the latest nightly "Virus Report" can be found by clicking the "Nightly Newsletter link on the homepage of this site. Sign-up info is at the bottom of the newsletter]

April 17: NEGATIVE!!!!

Still getting used to this. Hard to shake the nerves out of my system. Still hyper-aware as we all are, but whew! Nothing like a brush with a killer virus to make one appreciate each moment.

So onward. Foraging into the morass of the daily news from DC and everywhere.

April 18: So it is a relief. No covid-19 for me. (apparently). I'm wary though. A friend's husband across town was really sick and was diagnosed positive, however her test was negative. She had similar symptoms, extreme fatigue, dehydration, chills. She behaved as though she were positive. They are both on the mend. And another friend's daughter returned from Italy and isolated at a cottage in the Catskills, and on the 13th day of isolation, she came down with crashing symptoms, chills, back pain, fever, etc. She drove to Bear Mountain for a test. And her test came back negative. Sheeesh.

[Jeff: story about inaccurate test results here]

But I'm heartened by the fact that 14 days after my mild symptoms presented, I'm now feeling pretty much myself. I will tread carefully around Doug for a while. My comfort level prevents me from getting back to normal around him for another week or two. I've grown suspicious with this sneaky virus all around. Hard to break out of the rigid pattern of remove I'd restricted myself to.

Today I went outside! 7:00 am. My first walk after emerging from seclusion. Central Park. Cloudy, drizzle, a Seattle day. I walk off the loop road uphill past rock outcroppings. A mound of bedding and a thin mat nestled between the rock. Someone's bedroom. A pumpkin sized raccoon lumbers slowly across the path five feet ahead. The familiar urge to distance vanishes and I almost reach out to her - this animal is non-human, no covid. A woman in a parka walks two black labs. I wait off the path for her to pass. We exchange hellos. Another spread of blankets and pillow under a tree at the far edge of a clearing near the Meer and Conservancy Garden. I breathe in the cool moist air through my paper face mask. I examine buds, and daffodils.

I head down the hill to Fifth. An oil truck barrels down the avenue. Then nothing. No cars. Clear sidewalk. No one to avoid. I walk down past Mt. Sinai Hospital. A wide sign reading "We ❤️ NY Samaritan's Purse. Thank you for welcoming us!" spreads across the back of the huge black Billy Graham semi-tractor truck parked along the curb beside the tents there for patient overflow. Signatures run along the sign. Nurses? Doctors? "Samaritan's Purse - In Jesus' Name" in huge block lettering on the truck's side.

Further down Fifth, on the far side of the white field hospital tents, multi-colored hand made posters line a fence protecting a huge old pine tree: SCREEN FOR KINDNESS" "HATE IS NOT A HELP" "LET QUEERS HELP NYC" "HEALTH NOT HATE" on four-foot-square posterboard and a sheet.

Apparently, while Samaritan's Purse has committed to not turning away any NYC patients due to orientation, they do refuse the involvement of any doctors who are LGBT. It is beyond sad, that the organization deliberately rejects a huge portion of the population.

In war, one aligns with whoever can help.

No doubt there would be a much more pronounced objection if there weren't so many people dying every day from this pandemic.

So Doug and I are going to drive down to Jacksonville,Fla., and go to the now open and inviting beach.....kidding. (The little covid-19 red circles with the corona of spikes are waving at all the happy beachgoers.)

We'll persevere, here at the center of the plague.


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