Underneath my yellow skin

Sickness in the time of COVID-19

I don’t get a temperature. I have to start out by stating that so the rest of this post will make sense. Let me be clearer–I have a base temperature of 97.5, and I have never had a temp higher than 99.5. This is important because one of the main symptoms of the COVID-19 (I always want to call it ‘the COVID-19’ for whatever reason, and I’m never quite sure if it’s COVID-19, covid-19, or Covid-19) is a fever. When this started to become a world-wide concern, I tried to figure out what a temperature for me would be. Since I started a base of 1 degree lower than most people, was a fever for me 1 degree lower than it would be for others or would it be the same? I’ve seen arguments on both side, but very sparingly because it isn’t something that scientists seem to care about. In addition, I read denigrating comments about ‘those people who claim to never have a fever’ and it was really disheartening. I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to know if I have a fever if I don’t know the definition of a fever for me?

To me, the fact that I start 1 degree lower should mean that my fever is 1 degree lower than other people’s, but the (slight) consensus is that there’s a hard line as to what a fever is. It seems to be over a hundred? I don’t know it’s also difficult to find what exactly is a fever. Apparently, 100.4 is a low-grade fever, but anything over 103 is cause for concern. On the Minnesota Department of Health website, they say that 100.4 is considered a fever for COVID-19. And a fever is a big marker of COVID-19, though not everyone with COVID-19 gets a fever. I jokingly asked if I wasn’t able to get a fever of 100.4, did that mean I couldn’t get the COVID-19? I know that’s not how it works, but it’s my way of dealing with the frustration of not knowing what a fever means for me.

I woke up with my sinuses bristling. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that, but I’ll do my best. It feels as if there are a thousand little needles pricking my nose and theĀ  area around it. It’s very minimal at this point, so it’s the start of something. I do not have a dry cough, but I am fatigued. I’m always fatigued, however. But it’s been even more than usual. Also, the fever thing is baked into recovery of COVID-19 as well. What I mean is that if you’re three days free of fever, you’re considered well enough to go out again (if you’re also free of respiratory problems). It’s frustrating that yet again, I don’t have the easy touchstone.

In addition, I have plenty of sinus issues. I’m having a problem with it at the moment. I don’t have a dry cough or shortness of breath. I do have a headache, but I always have a low-grade headache. I have diarrhea on and off, but that’s a food sensitivity issue.

Side Note: I was watching an episode of Docter Mike, whom I had been enjoying for the first few episodes I watched. The third or fourth one I chose was about food allergies, and he had an expert on. The guy was affable, but it was soon clear that he was disdainful of anything other than true allergies. He said sensitivities were not a thing and that everyone had to deal with some unpleasantness. Doctor Mike joked about everyone having a leaky gut, and they both had a hearty laugh. I had a visceral negative reaction to the video because it summed up how doctors can be so incredibly callous. Neither of them were sneering openly, but they made it very clear what they thought of people who complained about food issues that weren’t allergies.

I’ve spent years dealing with food issues. I’ll call them intolerances because that’s what they are. They are not allergies. I don’t have Celiac, and I am not going to die when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me. I will, however, have to sit on a toilet for an hour, feeling my asshole getting progressively rawer and rawer. I get dehydrated and exhausted, and I don’t feel like moving for the next hour or so. Is it life-threatening? No. Is it debilitating? Yes, even if it’s brief. No, it’s not a life-and-death matter, but it definitely is a quality of life thing. Oh, and I would say I’m allergic to alcohol because I get a shortness of breath when I drink it. But, again, I probably won’t die from a single gin and tonic, so the good doctors probably wouldn’t classify it as an allergy, anyway. In addition, it’s strange to me that allergies related to foods are deadly whereas allergies related to, say, nature aren’t necessarily.

Veering wildly, I’m flat out of patience. I don’t have much to begin with, but I can usually muster up the appearance. Now, I have a hard time doing that, especially with family. To be fair, my relationship with my family is bumpy already. Add a pandemic to it, and it makes it even harder. My mom recently had shoulder surgery on top of having back surgery six months ago. It’s been rough for her. Really rough. But, she’s driving me fucking nuts. First with her obsession with masks and me not having them. I don’t go out. I don’t know how many times I have to tell her that. I literally have only been to the pharmacy in the last month. The only other person I’ve interacted with in real life is my brother. So, yeah, if I get the virus, it’ll probably be from him. It’s doubly ironic that the thing that’s supposed to protect me–masks–was delivered in a way that made it decidedly not protective. And the reasoning for not sending it to me was that the masks might get stolen. PUT IT IN A PACKAGE AND DON’T WRITE ‘THERE BE MASKS IN HERE’ ON IT.

I really think it’s because I’m a woman and in the old country, I can’t take care of myself supposedly. The triple irony is that I’m the one of the four of us (mom, dad, brother, me) who is least-likely to get this goddamn fucking coronavirus. At least my brother acknowledged this is true, but it pisses me the fuck off that I’m the one treated by my parents as if I’m going to catch it today. I know I’m the family fuck up, but I am all over this self-isolation.

Side Note II: The good thing about expecting nothing from my father is that I can go through the motions when I’m talking to him. He’s not really interested in what I have to say, and he’s always on his own thought-track. He’s a raging narcissist who cannot comprehend that anyone would think, feel, say, or do anything that he wouldn’t. I don’t like it, obviously, but I know it’s not going to change. Still, it’s hard not to get snappish when he asks me about mask for the millionth time. I. Am. Not. Going. Anywhere. Do you even know what the fuck the mask is for? I mean, my momĀ  kept pushing about the mask but then said washing my hands three times a day was enough.

I snapped and told her she had her priorities fucking backwards. I put it more diplomatically than that, but I was tired of being treated like a child. One of the problems with family dysfunction is that the cycle is vicious. They treat me like a child, so I finally react like one. Which only reinforces their belief that I *am* a child. Rinse, lather, repeat. Yes, I know it should be lather, rinse, repeat, but that that’s one of my own weird quirks.

My family is bad at boundaries. It’s not just cultural differences, which is part of it, but it’s a dysfunction. My mom has always been the type to complain and whine to get what she wants, but she’s really put it in high gear in the past few years since my father was forced to retire from his job*. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll do what she wants just to get her to shut the fuck up. Yes, I know I am enabling her bad behavior, but I’m just so fucking tired. And I do have sympathy because of the pain she’s in. But it’s all she wants to talk about. The last time she called, she didn’t ask how I was or show any evidence that she was aware that I’m a human being outside of what she wanted from me and as a repository for her complaints. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a harder time dealing with her brand of narcissism than my father’s because it took me much longer to recognize it and it’s more insidious. My father is upfront about it as it’s just who he is. My mother is a psychologist and can use the jargon to disguise her narcissism, and after decades of butting heads with her, I finally had to shift my view of her to understand what was happening.

Our relationship, which has never been good despite what she will tell you, has deteriorated during the pandemic. The whole mask fiasco made it really clear that she doesn’t see me as me and never will. I’d accepted that about my father years ago, but I hadn’t fully accepted it about my mother. It’s time to do that and maybe I can get the blessed relief from detachment once again.


*I believe there is a correlation, but that’s another post for another day.

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