Living with Covid’s Aftershocks

Yesterday, my father helped me to articulate what it feels like to live with the after-effects of Covid for weeks after I have supposedly recovered. It feels like languishing. It’s like that word was made for people like me, who can’t quite get out from under the rug of this thing.

There’s that meme of Count Rugen from The Princess Bride, where he has just tortured Westley on his Machine, and he says, “I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. Tell me, how do you feel?” Covid has been my Count Rugen. I always assumed that the year of life was taken away from the far end, that when people say, “It took a year off my life!” they mean that year 99 is now gone. After Covid, I feel like I’ve lost a year or three from my life, but they’ve been taken from right here, like I’ve gone from 53 to 55 or 57 in six weeks.

Here’s the part where I sit with the folks in the Nursing Home and enumerate my aches and pains, so feel free to skip down to gratitude and inspiring quotes here. Since this blog is also my personal archive and chronicle, I feel like I need to set it all down here.
* I am definitely regaining my energy, but I still crash. I can’t push myself or overdo it, and expect to rest for an hour or two and bounce back. If I push myself too hard, I crash hard, and end up on the recliner for the rest of the day, my body exhausted and my brain foggy. This is definitely improving as time goes by–fewer crashes.
* I have always been forgetful. I prefer to think of it as engagingly flaky. It just feels like I’m more forgetful now, like my brain enters fogs and mists more regularly. I need to really slow down and breathe in order to focus. This is also less intense six weeks out.
* Before Covid, my body had been sort of toying with the idea of menopause for several years. I’d have periods of time when I would have a hot flash very morning at 3 am, or months of unbearable insomnia. I’d skip a period once in a while, or be late or early, or have really intense and heavy periods for a while and then really light ones. But my body would always re-regulate. In the time since I have had Covid, I’ve skipped two periods in a row.
* About two weeks ago, I developed pain in my shoulder and upper arm. I figured I had just slept on it wrong, but it persisted and worsened, and I realized it wasn’t actually all muscle pain, but mostly nerve pain in my brachial nerves. The pain became excruciating at night, and has been manageable during the day. I did some research, and discovered that brachial neuritis occurs after injury, virus, or vaccine. The primary treatment is painkillers, yoga, and breathing exercises until it subsides. Several nights in the past week and a half, I have gotten very little sleep because of the pain, but the last three night are getting much better, and last night, I only woke up twice, and was able to get back to sleep almost immediately after doing some yoga stretches on the arm.
* The other day when I was eating, I noticed that a piece of enamel had chipped off the back of one of my front teeth. Later in the day, as I was exploring the spot with my tongue, the top edge of the tooth just crumbled away. My brother is a dentist, and he didn’t think I should be too alarmed, that it’s not uncommon as people age. I have also heard that one side effect people are noticing after Covid is that their teeth crack or fall out. I’m getting it fixed this week.


Gratitude List:
1. The fiercely creative students at my school. This is school play weekend, and I am the head usher for plays, so I go to every show (which means I need to especially guard my energy this weekend), and this play offers them the perfect chance to collaborate in ensemble acting, and to sing and dance and do comedy and drama.
2. The little beans of Tanzanian Peaberry are such cute little peas, and it’s just the perfect coffee.
3. Every little noticeable bit of ground regained in my recovery. I slept most of last night, with very little nerve pain in my arm. This is huge.
4. Hugging people again. Carefully and with full consent, but hugging.
5. These cat-folx and their varied personalities. Interspecies communication.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The only time incorrectly is not spelled incorrectly is when it is spelled incorrectly.”


“There is no such thing as one-sided generosity. Like one ecosystem, we are each at different times receiving or purging, growing or pruning. In those moments when you believe you aren’t receiving enough, consider what you most want to receive might be the thing you need to give away.” —Toko-pa Turner


“Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.” —Henry David Thoreau


“Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.” —Joanna Macy


“What if the Creator is like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s God: “like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence”?
What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?
What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to change the ways you think about everything?
What if, as Rusty Morrison speculates in “Poetry Flash,” “the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear’s boundary, beyond one’s previous conceptions of the beautiful”?
Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.” —Rob Brezsny

Shapeshifting and Foolery

April POETRY PROMPTS:
Day One–

The Fool, of course!
Today is about shapeshifting, foolery, jesting.

Write a three-line poem (call it haiku, if you need to) that seems like one thing in the first two lines, but shifts to something else in the third line. Bring in a surprise.

Maybe March goes out like a lamb, and the third line brings the lion roaring in.
Maybe you step in the door of the first lines only to step out the door in the third.
Maybe you show your masked self in the first two lines and take off the mask (metaphorically, of course) in the third.

You don’t have to go for a big surprise. It can be a dawning, a quiet wave of change, a whisper, the unfurling of a leaf in the wasteland.

Here’s one I wrote a couple weeks ago:

feathers by the trail
cardinal takes flight
in the belly of the hawk


Gratitude List:
1. Blue carpet of Speedwell
2. Purple carpet of Deadnettle
3. Green carpets of Chickweed and other spring friends
4. Feeling better every day
5. A long weekend to recover in

May we walk in Beauty!


“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.” —Julian of Norwich


“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.” —Carl Jung


“The historical Jesus probably looked like an average Syrian refugee. You know…the ones we turn away.” —Rebecca James Hecking


“Poems are maps to the place where you already are.”
—Jane Hirshfield


“Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you. Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation. The choice is to draw the blinds and shut it all out, or believe.” —Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson


“When you do not know you need mercy and forgiveness yourself, you invariably become stingy in sharing it with others. So make sure you are always waiting with hands widely cupped under the waterfall of mercy.” —Richard Rohr


“All four gospels insist that when all the other disciples are fleeing, Mary Magdalene does not run. She stands firm. She does not betray or lie about her commitment to Jesus—she witnesses. Hers is clearly a demonstration of either the deepest human love or the highest spiritual understanding of what Jesus was teaching—perhaps both. But why—one wonders–do Holy Week liturgies tell and re-tell the story of Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus, while the steady and unwavering witness of Magdalene is passed over—not even noticed? How would our understanding of the paschal story change if instead of reflecting upon Jesus dying alone and rejected if we were to reinforce the fact that one person stood by him and did not leave? For this story of Mary Magdalene is as firmly stated in scripture as the denial story. How would this change the emotional timbre of the day? How would it affect our feeling of ourselves? How would it reflect upon how we have viewed, and still view, women in the church? About the nature of redemptive love?” —Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal Priest


“When I feel this fog rolling in on me, I light fires of affection in the hearts of others. I tell them in tangible ways how the life they live makes me live mine differently, how precious and important they are to the rest of us. That fire then becomes like a beacon which burns through the grey and which I can sail towards.” –Toko-pa Turner


It’s good to leave each day behind,
like flowing water, free of sadness.
Yesterday is gone and its tale told.
Today new seeds are growing.
—Rumi