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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

Sanitize the Sanitizer

COVID makes me feel like I just got off a three-day bender and woke up missing a shoe behind a dumpster at Dollar General, clutching half a pack of Newport menthol cigarettes in one hand and an empty bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 in the other hand.

Three years of dodging a COVID bullet ended on Monday, February 6, 2023. That’s the day it occurred to my feeble brain that the head cold I had might possibly be more than just a head cold. The symptoms started on Saturday, February 4 when I was standing in a very crowded restaurant waiting for a booth. Why was I waiting for a booth? I was waiting because the understaffed restaurant couldn’t keep up with the demand for their services. If I’d had an inkling that I was breathing and talking and eating and spreading my COVID nastiness to others, I obviously would have gone home hungry.

Golden fried shrimp and a buttery baked potato simply isn’t worth the risk of spreading possibly deadly germs far and wide. I had a tired, weird, spaced-out feeling which I attributed to hunger. By the time I swallowed the last bite of dinner and was contemplating dessert, I’d convinced myself that I was possibly getting a head cold. I skipped dessert and headed straight home. That night, the joint pain began. I couldn’t get comfortable in my comfortable bed.

Did you have leg aches when you were a child? I certainly did and I remember it vividly. It felt like I could actually feel my legs growing. I’d whine and carry on dramatically until my mother would give me the coveted orange baby aspirin that she hid from me. She had to hide the aspirin from me for the same reason she hid the Flintstone vitamins from me—I’d eat handfuls of both if left to my own devices. I was a weird kid. I’d insist that she sit next to me on my bed and rub my legs until I fell asleep, and SHE’D ACTUALLY DO IT.

After having my own children, I now realize she did what she did so she didn’t have to continue to suffer my dramatics. No movie star in Hollywood could touch the performance I was capable of giving while in even the slightest amount of pain.

I was in some considerable pain in the middle of the night on Saturday. By mid-day Sunday, I couldn’t breathe in or out of my nose holes. A tired, weird, spaced-out feeling plus joint pain plus inability to breathe didn’t equal COVID in my foggy mind. It probably should have but I think I was in deep denial.

Monday afternoon, after listlessly sitting around my house alone all day and occasionally moaning out loud just to fill the silence, it hit me that I should take a COVID test. It took longer than it should’ve for me to locate the test kit the government sent ages ago. It was as if I’d turned into my own mother and hid the kit from myself. I finally thought to look in the overstuffed cabinet under my bathroom sink. There it was under the foot scrubber I’d bought and never taken out of the package.

I attempted to read the lengthy instructions. I read them once and then twice and then one more time for good measure. Honestly, the test is super easy to take, and the instructions are clearly written and illustrated but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to do it due to COVID brain fog. I also couldn’t find the expiration date on the box. I didn’t want to take an expired test. I don’t even know how much time I wasted hunting for an expiration date that is, in fact, clearly on the box. It perfectly illustrated the thing my mother likes to say to me, “You’re worrying about piss ants when an elephant is charging you.”

FYI: the expiration date is also located on the plastic packaging inside the box. The kit I used didn’t expire until sometime in 2024.

I follow instructions to the letter. That’s just how I am. If a recipe says to use a tablespoon of vanilla then I use a tablespoon—not a tablespoon and a half or half a tablespoon. I use a tablespoon. So, when the instructions said to put three drops of the test solution onto the test strip that’s what I tried to do. Tried is the operative word. When I tried, nothing happened so I squeezed, and more than three drops came out of the test solution. The test strip immediately activated as positive for COVID; however, that didn’t really register with me because I was concerned that I’d used more than three drops.

“You’re worrying about piss ants when an elephant is charging you.”

I decided it would be prudent to retake the test and use the second test kit in the box. To my credit, the second go round went much more smoothly. I figured out not to squeeze but to just be patient and let the solution drip on its own. Three drips—not more, not less.

FYI: don’t squeeze.

The test strip immediately activated as positive. I called my doctor’s office and was told my doctor was unavailable but that I should quarantine for five days, wear a mask for a week after testing negative, and go to urgent care if my symptoms got worse. My symptoms got worse. That night I coughed all night long but, thankfully, I’d moved to the guest bedroom and didn’t cough all over my husband. He’s tested negative.

FYI: don’t cough on others.

The thing I’ve dreaded for three years has happened. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I have COVID but I’m going to be fine. I don’t need to go to urgent care. As I write this tome on Wednesday, February 8, I’m already feeling much better except for the anxiety that I might possibly have unknowingly transmitted this to strangers and people I love dearly.

Two people in my life have underlying conditions which makes the possibility of contracting even a mild COVID case scary for them. My husband is one of those people. I was mean to him when he inadvertently handled my bottle of hand sanitizer that I’ve been using in an effort to protect him from me. I yelled at him about having to sanitize the sanitizer. Am I worrying about piss ants? Possibly, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

The woman who rubbed my legs until I fell asleep as a child is the other person I worry about. No amount of rubbing might possibly save her if she gets COVID; however, I’D ACTUALLY DO IT.

FYI: rubbing does nothing to alleviate COVID.

Alleviating COVID is looking like a thing that’s not ever going to happen. Maybe it will; maybe it won’t but we can at least try and that includes covering our mouth/nose when we cough/sneeze. That not only helps decrease the spread of COVID, but it also helps with the spread of the common cold and such. Many people will argue with me about that and other things, such as wearing a mask, vaccinating, quarantining, properly washing your hands, etc. The only thing I have to say in my defense is:

“You’re worrying about piss ants when an elephant is charging you.”

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