Yesterday morning, the fourteenth in my corona life, I had no voice. None at all. I could only whisper. Mrs SC was very worried, but not me. It’s happened before. My vocal chords are my weak link after years of teaching. I lost my voice the first time when I was doing my teaching practice in Birmingham in 1982. With excellent timing, my vocal chords stopped working just before the mid-term holidays in the spring. They started working again directly after the holidays were over. I didn’t miss a (classroom) beat.
Ever since, though, when I’ve had a bad cold or a bout of the flu, it ends up in my throat and sometimes that means I lose my voice.
Covid-19: disease au jour
Fortunately, whatever infection I’ve got, I’m recovering from it. Under the circumstances, it seems likely I’ve had a dose of Covid-19. It’s the disease au jour. (If that’s not being insensitive in light of the body bags.) It’s not reached down below my larynx, for which I’m very grateful. Nor have I had a fever, chills or headache. I’ve been able to think, read and write.
(Symptoms I have had: the cough, explosive sneezing, blocked nose, dry nose, diarrhoea, dizziness, loss of taste, sore throat. None of them, except the cough, seem to have gone on very long – 24 hours at most. The loss of taste was most fleeting; loss of taste and dizziness were most disturbing.)
Being ill does mean I’ve been able to skip my morning exercises with a clear conscience. Though now I’ve written that, I’m feeling guilty and tomorrow morning I may find it necessary to start again. Mrs SC has bullied me out for walks in the park most days. The weather has been bright and sunny, though cold with a biting wind. The cold has put a break on spring. A good thing in it’s way as I know, once the first warmth returns for a few days, there’s going to be an explosion of pollen. I’ve added antihistamines to my morning cocktail of pills. I hope that will give me some protection.
Hot tea with honey loosens up my vocal chords and a hot shower helps some more. Disgustingly and with a bit of retching I cough up the clump of phlegm that’s been half blocking my throat and I’m almost back to normal.
While Mrs SC works at one end of the flat, I’m at the other, tapping away at my keyboard. We take a coffee break together around eleven, and she updates me on whatever arcane feature of her job is occupying her attention. I’m legally bound to forget all the details, so I do not necessarily give her words the fullness of my attention. As I certainly would otherwise.
After that, if I’m strong, I go back to work. If I’m weak I open my tablet and look at the news alerts. For four years now I’ve been too easily distracted by the reality shows running in Britain and the USA. First it was the Brexit slow-motion car crash, then it was Trumpington. Then it was Brexit and Trumpington. Then de Piffle Johnson proved once again how broken the British electoral system is. And now (tadaa!) corona life.
While I was in the UK and the coronavirus was advancing, I added an app for Swedish news. Now, whether I’m infected with it or not IRL, I have Covid-19 on my phone and tablet in two languages and from (at least) three different sources. I follow the stats from the WHO, the USA, the UK and Sweden. Then I open YouTube “just” to check on the BBC, and before you know it I’ve visited all the American late night shows, plus whatever’s new from my current favourite YouTube channels (that would be Medlife Crisis, Tom Scott, Rare Earth, Ask a Mortician, 3Blue1Brown, Translator Fails and Randy Rainbow).
Some hours later…
Outdoors and in
I have alarms on my phone that sound and ask me: “RU Writing?” “YU not Writing?” And similar. But I turned them off when I was in England because they were too intrusive. I should probably switch them back on again now.
Mrs SC and I eat lunch and that’s when she usually insists I put on my coat and join her in a constitutional up the hill and round the park. Sometimes I take the camera. Sometimes I get a decent photo to share on social media. It’s one way of keeping in touch.
Yesterday I suddenly remembered another way is to write text messages. For two weeks the only texting I’ve been doing is with my Mum. Checking on her state of health to make sure I didn’t infect her while I was over. I didn’t, so that’s good.
Sitting in my living room, phone in hand, I started to write one message and ended up writing about a dozen. Some to people I’ve not been in touch with since an exchange of texts at New Year. A few not since the previous New Year. Several replied and two replies developed into long telephone conversations. There are a lot of us sitting in isolation, even if not sick. A huge number of Swedes are, like Mrs SC, working from home now. Nearly a third of the working population, says Svenska Dagbladet.
Two weeks after the policy was introduced, some are developing not Covid fever but cabin fever. It’s nice to talk and to catch up. One friend describes working out at her gym when she’s the only person there. The other talks about her father, a three hour drive away. He’s 80+ and coping alone in the deep south (Skåne) without the internet. She worries that he doesn’t take social distancing seriously enough. If the local meals on wheels doesn’t deliver something he likes, he walks to the centre of town and buys a ready-made meal somewhere.
When I can stop distracting myself with YouTube and break off socialising at a distance, I write. I’ve been much better about writing daily all this year till now. I’ll publish a writing diary update next week maybe. But corona life has disrupted things and I fear I may fall back into old and lazy habits.
One saving grace is my membership in Writers Abroad. I’m taking on their April challenge and aiming to write a poem a day the month out. We’ll see how that goes. I was up until late to write my first. At the end of the month, maybe I’ll post a couple of the better ones here at Articulations.
Writers Abroad is celebrating their – our I should say – tenth anniversary. I’ve volunteered to make a collage of members’ portraits. So I’m in the process of collecting portraits for that. Lots of e-mails going back and forth. At present I have about 9 useable pictures (from 20+ members). Not quite as easy as I thought, and corona life makes it more difficult. Lots of members are not able to ask for help from their usual photo nerd friends. There’s a lot of DIY photography going on, not always very successfully.
There’s a also a lot of cooking going on, at least in this household. Especially cooking that takes more time. We’ve tried our hands at making sour dough bread. (Not a great success.) And at cakes from cookbooks. But the best things are the full meals. Mung bean curry, lamb meatballs with feta cheese centres, smoked salmon pasta in a cream sauce…
And then TV. After the news there is (usually) nothing on, so we’ve been revisiting our DVD collection and for me that means the chronicles of Jed Bartlett, the greatest President the USA never had. And written by Aaron Sorkin, the greatest speech-writer an American President never had.
And then comes the tail of the day as I start coughing more and more. I feel increasingly worried that I’ll not be able to sleep and that I’ll keep Mrs SC awake. So I sit up till late, writing at the computer. Maybe translating for one of my clients, maybe planning a story, maybe replying to an e-mail. At one or two in the morning, when I feel I can’t stay awake any more, then I can go to bed and lie down and eventually, eventually, it catches me unawares and I sleep.
So that’s my corona life. How are you doing?