Nachmo with Catsup

Wait, no.

Make that catch-up.

I know, I know. Terrible pun. I’m genuinely sorry, and yet I know I’ll just do it again. Such is the nature of puns.

Okay, so I’ve basically been incognito for two months. November and December are, erm, a little busy in the ballet world and we had a bunch of house projects that became urgently important (and thus got done, but also ate up my unscheduled time).

Then I caught COVID (spoiler alert: thank G-d for vaccines & boosters) and, even after recovering, wasn’t sure what to say about it.

So! Let’s get that one out of the way first.

I can only assume, based on the timeline, that I probably caught COVID while on our miniature tour. Given the timing, the fact that we[1] performed without masks only to later find out the audience was also unmasked, and the fact that almost nobody in the town where we performed seemed to wear masks anywhere at all (and that my masks are all the protect-other-people kind that do little to protect the wearer), it’s deeply probable.

  1. “We” being a group of vaccinated dancers (with the exception of a few who were too young) and very careful about masking. As far as I know, the decision to have us dance unmasked came down to our artistic staff being given the impression that the audience would be masked, because they’ve been extremely careful throughout the pandemic.

That said, it’s hard to say with certainty, because even though I still basically wear a mask whenever I’m around people who aren’t in my pandemic pod, I don’t usually wear an N95 or KN95 mask. Initially, that was because supplies of those were limited for quite a while and people working in healthcare really need them; more recently, it’s been partly because I already own about a million ordinary masks, because I’m mostly around other people who wear masks, and because N95s are an absolute beast to dance in.

As a result, I could’ve picked up the virus literally anywhere, since enormous numbers of Kentuckians, particularly outside of Louisville and Lexington, simply won’t wear masks.

Anyway, because I teach students in the K-12 bracket (who, until recently, weren’t eligible for vaccination) and because as someone with asthma and a history of serious respiratory illness I’m at higher risk of severe complications of COVID-19, I got both initial vaccine doses pretty early and received my booster the day I left for the beginning of our Nutcracker run.

It’s impossible, of course, to say how things would’ve played out if I wasn’t vaccinated, but given my risk profile and medical history (I’ve had pneumonia five hecking times, y’all–my lungs don’t play), it’s pretty likely that the outcome would’ve been poor.

Instead, I had:

  • a fever for two day or so
  • the worst sinus headache I’ve ever had (which is saying something, because fren, I’ve had some wicked sinus headaches in my time)
  • sore throat (though not as bad as the worst strep I’ve ever had, which, to be fair, I totally allowed to get out of control)
  • nosebleeds
  • scabs inside my nose (next to the headache, this was the most miserable thing–blowing my nose was horribly painful for a bit)
  • more than the usual post-nasal drip which occasionally made me cough
  • two days with no appetite
  • a near-complete loss of the ability to taste or smell anything but salt (that happened first, oddly enough, and persisted the longest except for some lingering fatigue, which I’d expect after any significant illness)

Oh, and I basically slept for a solid week, which was great, since it meant I basically only experienced the rest of the symptoms in brief snatches, including that truly egregious headache.

I spent a few extra days in bed with pretty intense fatigue, and then one day I experienced the familiar sensation of being bored as heck and unable to lie down for even thirty more seconds and knew I was going to be fine.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention any lower-respiratory symptoms at all. In fact, as miserable as it was (at least when I was awake, anyway), and as much as it made me miss the rest of our Nutcracker run, my case of COVID-19 would be classified as mild-to-moderate. I emphasize that because, frankly, I think a lot of people don’t understand that basically, no matter how miserable you feel, if it doesn’t send you to the hospital, your COVID-19 isn’t severe.

Not to say that it’s not serious–especially given the potential for Long COVID and its unknowns, and the fact that a couple weeks out of work can decimate a family’s finances–but it can be much, much worse, and that’s a really important point when we’re talking about vaccine efficacy with regard to an illness that can easily kill young, healthy people and that is killing people at staggering rates.

I did take a ton of meds, all of them over-the-counter except for benzonatate, which is a prescription medication that kills the urge to cough. That was important for me since post-nasal drop and/or throat irritation can kick off coughing jags that in turn kick off an inflammation cascade that leads, at minimum, to severe asthma attacks, but which has in numerous instances created a fast track-to-pneumonia situation for me (did I mention that my lungs don’t play?).

I wasn’t willing to take that risk when a simple telehealth appointment could prevent it.

At this point, I’m mostly back to normal: I can make it through a pretty decent ballet class (even with a mask), though I still get tired more easily than usual.

Compared to the average sedentary person, I’m back to being hella fit, though I’m definitely not back to typical mid-season professional dancer fitness.

My best metric is sleep: at typical mid-season fitness level, even after six to eight hours of class and rehearsal, plus whatever happens in the evening, it takes me a couple of hours to fall asleep when I go to bed. Right now, one class and some housework makes me tired enough that it’s a struggle to read for half an hour (which, a bit foolishly, I keep doing because I’m afraid I won’t be able to fall asleep ^-^’).

My second-best metric is fatigue. The form of EDS I have does this weird fatigue thing: I can work my way up to professional-dancer stamina incrementally, but if I seriously overdo it, I get hit with a wave of literally debilitating fatigue and have to spend a day or two in bed. Right now, the threshold for that response is way lower than usual.

But, still, overall? I feel like I dodged a bullet thanks to medical science and Dolly Parton[2].

  1. Simply by chance, I wound up getting the Moderna booster even though my first two doses were Pfizer–I think that was a good thing, too, since anecdotal accounts suggest that particular combination is a little more effective in preventing serious COVID-19 illness.

So, in short, I’m not mad that I got vaxxed and still got sick.

Rather, I’m glad the vaccine did its job and curtailed the severity and, probably, the duration of the illness.

While I really didn’t mind not being able to smell the catbox even while cleaning it, I’m happy to report that I’ve mostly regained my senses[3]. I lost an somewhat alarming amount of weight[4] as a result of just not being interested in food.

  1. Which isn’t to say I’ve become sensible–let’s not be hasty, here!
  2. I want to write about how this intersected with the part of my brain that still lives in Anorexia World, but I think that might need its own post. Suffice it to say that a significant part of me was far from alarmed about the weight loss, and has been struggling with regaining any of it, and I’ve realized I need to do some work, there.

That was a fairly bizarre experience, to be honest. Because I actually did completely lose my appetite for a couple of days, I discovered that, for me anyway, there’s a major difference between being unable to eat and just … not being interested in eating, but being at least somewhat able to eat if I could find something that wasn’t too salty (as much as I like salt, when it’s literally the only thing you can taste, a lot of things are suddenly too salty).

Like, normally, I try to eat with a kind of relaxed mindfulness–actually giving attention to the experience of eating, but also to participating in conversations and being aware of what’s going on around me in general. I had no idea how important the ability to taste was to me, in that process.

When I couldn’t taste my food, actually eating enough was really hard.

First, my interest in food pretty much evaporated, and since I’m bad at recognizing hunger signals until they get really intense, I kept forgetting to eat.

Second, actually finishing even a fairly small meal required pretty intense concentration, because if I got distracted, I just wouldn’t come back to my food. I wouldn’t have predicted that.

Also, there’s a specific kind of cognitive dissonance involved in possessing a powerful sense memory of the taste of spiced chai, but being utterly unable to taste it in real life o.O’

I’ve since gained back what I assume is most of the weight I lost, though I haven’t been weighing myself because I’m apparently constitutionally unable to remember to put new batteries in our scale ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At any rate, I no longer have to crank my belt way down to keep my trousers on.

So that’s my experience with COVID thus far (could’ve been worse, but still: 0/10, do not recommend).

In other news, it’s National Choreography Month again, and I’m actually managing to keep up to some extent, so here’s my response to Prompt 2, Master Work, in which one re-creates an iconic dance pic:

I’ll have more Nachmo stuff coming.

Til then, keep dancing.

About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Neuro-atypical. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2022/01/09, in #dancerlife, adventures, attempted humor, balllet, choreography, ehlers-danlos, health, life, reflections, weight, WTF and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. mandertoncharternet

    OMG what a horrid story, the COVID part. Glad you are back on the floor and at the barre. Happy New Year! It can only get better, yes? Best, Matt

    • All told, the COVID part really could’ve been a lot worse. The thing that upsets me most is that all the people going around without masks have apparently never learned a couple of basic lessons that my kindergarten teacher managed to teach a group of 5-year-olds–first, that sometimes you do things you don’t really want to do, because it makes things better for everyone (INCLUDING you); second, that we look out for those who are smaller or weaker or whatever than us, partly in hopes that others will do the same *for* us -.-

      On the upside, having made it through COVID pretty smoothly, I’m incredibly grateful for the vaccine and much less anxious that my not-so-great immune system still won’t be enough even with it (and masks), which honestly kind of lets me breathe easier?

      Happy New Year to you as well! BTW, for some reason, a bunch of your contact info was attached to your comment initially, so I edited your post so the entire world won’t have your phone number o.O’ It looked like somehow your email sig file got appended to the comment, so that might be something to look out for!

      • In this case, btw, when I think of “those who are smaller or weaker or whatever,” I mean those who are immunocompromised in one way or another or truly, legitimately can’t wear masks or have faces that masks don’t fit well and thus who aren’t protected well.

        Not all of them are literally smaller and weaker that me, of course, but in this case it’s my duty to protect them, just like some of them might help me if we had to run away from a fire or something and my asthma was acting up.

        Words are hard ^-^’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: