Roger Marolt: A wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth
A variant throws a curveball in a three-year healthy streak
I bragged that I hadn’t been sick in three years. My wife rolled her eyes. “You just jinxed it.”
I got my Pfizer vaccinations as soon as I was eligible and laminated my card before it was common knowledge that you shouldn’t do that in case they need to add a booster shot. I wrote a column claiming the end was in sight. I proudly declared I had made it through without contracting COVID-19.
I felt bullet proof.
There was a chink in my armor. On Mother’s Day, my nephews were horsing around with the digital thermometer we placed near her front door. They tested each other and got tired of the results and set their sights on uncle Roger. 102 it registered! Try again I said. 102, again! I didn’t believe it because I didn’t feel sick.
Until the middle of that night. I woke in a puddle of sheets soaked with sweat. Later I was shivering. By morning my body ached. That afternoon I had a headache like never before. I coughed the next night away in the guest room. On the third morning I couldn’t taste my coffee, grapefruit or toothpaste.
“You have COVID,” my wife said.
“No. According to Web MD I have meningitis.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because I’m vaccinated and have a bad headache.”
“But, you can’t taste anything.”
“… I know.”
“I think it’s COVID.”
“Because a week ago you were in Texas at a big wedding, without a mask in sight, and you were a fixture on the dance floor singing at the top of your lungs, shaking hands and hugging strangers.”
“Maybe it’s the flu.”
“You were vaccinated against that, too.”
The next day I went to the testing center because we were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles in a couple of days to help move my youngest daughter back from college for the summer. The results came back negative. After ruling out meningitis, the flu and now COVID-19, I figured it was allergies. This sounds stupid in retrospect.
I was boarding my flight when I got a call from the testing center. They wanted to test me again. I told the woman I could come in the day after tomorrow because I was on my way to L.A. There was a long pause followed by a hesitant, “… OK.”
At Denver International I got a text from Pitkin Health. “Please call.” I got an answering machine. I was worried now. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go anywhere from here without getting on a plane. I continued on to LA. At my daughter’s apartment I self-administered a rapid test, which is like aiming a hammer at your own thumb. Negative!
I texted Pitkin Health and informed them. “… Am I good to go?” I got a thumbs-up.
Driving back back from LA I get a call from Pitkin Health wanting to know our flight numbers and seat assignments from the previous day. They were gathering information and leaving me in the dark.
Then I got a text from Colorado Department of Public Health reminding me to enter my ID code in their tracing app. I called because I didn’t get a code. They promised to get right back to me. Still waiting.
I got home and both the private testing center and Pitkin Health asked for more samples. I gave them more blood, spit and snot.
“Two antibody tests are positive, but, that doesn’t tell us if you have it now or maybe months ago.”
“I haven’t been sick in years.”
“You could have been asymptomatic.”
The following Monday I was testing mattresses with my wife in Glenwood. I was in that zone where the salesperson tells you to close your eyes and imagine the best night of sleep since you were an infant. My cellphone startled me.
“We just got your results back from the Colorado Department of Health. You tested positive for COVID. They believe it’s the India (a.k.a. Delta) variant. Take good care of yourself. If you have any problems breathing, treat it as a medical emergency.”
While this is interesting, it is also embarrassing. I am beyond sorry for becoming part of the pandemic problem. I threw a year of vigilance out the window. One more nightmare of this year will be that I was part of the spread. I thought it was over. It’s still the bottom of the ninth.
Roger Marolt will always wonder if he infected anyone with COVID-19 and what happened to them. There is no way to find out or make it right. Email him at email@example.com.
What am I going to do? I’m going to learn a lot about you, us, myself. I’m going to learn about our grit, our character, our very souls as only such tests can reach.
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