Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler.
“Your insurance doesn’t cover it, so it’ll be $90 if you want it,” said the kind young woman who would be present as a tooth was ripped from my jaw for the first time since I was a tween, back before “tween” was even a word.
It had been a hellish 10 days. Longhaul COVID is a funny thing … “funny” in the sense that if you don’t sometimes laugh you’ll find yourself crying — again. I’m coming up on four months since my symptom onset, and I’m quickly learning to avoid thinking, “Well at least this is as bad as it’s going to get.” Because I thought that once and then insomnia kicked in. And I thought that again and then my teeth started to hurt. And hurt bad.
The previous week had been a nightmare journey through the dental and insurance worlds, which I am now convinced were two of the levels of hell that slipped Dante’s mind.
This dentist sent me to that endodontist who sent me back to this dentist who referred me to that oral surgeon who, despite me saying I was in a state approximating Tom Hanks on that island when he was talking to a volleyball, told me the first appointment was in a month — for a consultation only, which led me to go all Karen in a tagged Facebook post, which led this dentist to find that other oral surgeon who could get me in for an appointment yesterday, which was decidedly sooner than a month.
So there I sat, the question lingering in the ether: “Did I want it?” The “It” was laughing gas, and hell yes I wanted it. I deserved it. So screw the insurance company, I was spending the money.
The kind woman put a mask over my nose and lit me up and the oral surgeon came in and numbed me up and then they left me for a few minutes that I don’t quite remember and then they returned and ripped my tooth out and then it was done and then I paid and then I was in my car, texting my wife to tell her it was done and I was about to head home.
That’s when I found this on my text string to her, texts I only now vaguely remember sending while the “It” flowed through me and relaxed me completely:
It has been a long few months for the two of us. She got COVID and I got COVID and she recovered and I didn’t. Her dad had heart trouble and had major surgery and two days later tested positive for COVID and never recovered and passed away in early January after a heartbreaking month-plus where at first no one could go see him and then only she could go see him because she is amazeballs and was tabbed as the one who could best emotionally support him while at the same time be the best at handling all the medical decisions and the flow of information from the various doctors and nurses.
Because, well, she is the best. At a lot of things.
And we all need a best right now, Longhaulers. Am I right? We need a best something, be it a spouse or a parent or a friend or a co-worker or some combination of all and more. We need a best who is going to take care of us when we have fallen down and kick us in the butt when we don’t want to get back up. We need a best who is going to support us after the latest doctor’s appointment ends with yet another shoulder shrug. We need a best who is going to help us figure out what to do next when our brain is fogged and we can’t quite come up with a plan to manage all the symptoms and get to the end of the day as anything other than a bowl of mush.
The problem is that the world isn’t so full of bests these days. There seems to be an overabundance of “pretty goods” and “okays” and “conveniently absent when things are focused on anything but thems.” It’s ripe with loved ones who, when things are at there worst, focus on their own selfishness and their own petty personality issues and say mean and hurtful things and then re-enforce their disturbing trend for never being able to say “I’m sorry.”
So if you’ve got a best, hold on to her. Appreciate her. Honor her. Love her back in whatever way you can when Longhaul COVID gives you moments of clarity and energy. Let her know she is the best.
Bests have to deal with a lot of shit sometimes, and they often put aside their shit to deal with your shit. And then they do it again the next day. And the next.
If you’ve got a best, stop what you’re doing. Find her (or him). Hug her. Thank her. Hold on to her just a little bit longer.
You’re lucky to have her. Make sure she knows that. Now.
(Oh. And by the way… she said “yes” to my marriage question. *Blush*)