During the first few days of the local COVID-19 shutdown in mid-March, I wrote about trying to remain optimistic and about all the activities we then had time to do, like exercise outside, cook and work in our yards.
And then about six weeks later, I wrote another hopeful reflection, thinking that maybe the worst part was behind us, since the Hamilton County case count had not been too bad.
But then when about June came, spikes in cases suddenly started appearing here.
After initially feeling a little alarmed when there were 20 or 30 new cases on certain days back around April or May, I started cringing when 100 or more became the norm once June arrived.
And while this new virus was circulating, a very old affliction – racial disharmony – flared up again over perceived police mistreatment and other issues.
As a result, those first six weeks of wishful thinking that the worst was behind us began to turn into a nightmarish summer of bad daily reports of local case counts and a country that has a long way to go in finding a mental vaccine to cure disunity and intolerance of different views.
To many, the latter cure already exists and is stated in Matthew 22:39, when Jesus says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Others might also think the lives and personal manners of national figures U.S. Rep John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might also be good to emulate and are positive lessons due to the timing of their deaths.
Now that we are into fall, a few hopeful signs can be found regarding the coronavirus. The case counts locally have gone down overall, although it could always go back up again.
Also hopeful is all the news regarding various pharmaceutical companies’ efforts and positive steps to get a vaccine within the next few months and maybe even weeks.
I know I am thankful I have avoided COViD-19 so far, although I realize it is day to day. The relief I get when I wake up knowing I don’t feel feverish or have a sore throat is heartening, although I realize the battle continues every day. And I am dreading the coming colder months, when I usually always get one bout of the seasonal cold and sore throat.
Back in June, after I had written my “six weeks in” column, I started feeling a little rundown and feverish and began to fear the worst. My wife and I went to take the COVID-19 test at Brainerd High School, and luckily they both came back negative.
But a conversation later that day with a “teledoc” made me realize my rundown feelings might have been due to a tick bite. So, I went to a Physician’s Care facility due to the fact my regular doctor would not see me because of the fever, and I learned I had a lower-level trace of Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever.
I unfortunately get bitten by ticks or find ticks on me several times a year due to being outside a lot during the warm season, but this was the first time I had ever had problems.
By the time it was confirmed several days after having the dreaded blood draw done, I was fortunately starting to feel better. Some medicine I started taking immediately made me feel completely back to normal, although about the time the medicine ran out, I started feeling a little dizzy or felt like I had vertigo when I would look from one spot to another.
I am not sure if it was related to the tick bite, but it mostly passed after a few weeks.
At least for a while, I was focused on those ailments and not so much on getting the coronavirus.
Now, I am back worrying about that, however. I try to wear a mask in public places as is required most everywhere and still try to social distance.
I have continued getting the enjoyable opportunity to drive back up to our former hometown of Knoxville twice a week to teach some introductory journalism writing classes at UT-Knoxville, but realize I definitely need to be careful there.
A number of UT students, including some of mine, have had to isolate or have tested positive, but all seem to be recovering OK for the most part. The campus in many ways has looked like a ghost town with classes spread out time wise or many having gone online or offered in a hybrid format.
I teach two classes of about 20 students each, and 10 students or so come on Monday, and the other 10 follow class via Zoom. The roles are switched on Wednesday.
I have realized I am not very good at trying to talk at the same time both to students on Zoom and the students in the class when I give them some introductory information about the day’s writing assignment. Multi-tasking is not my forte, but we are all surviving so far!
And it has been great to converse with students in person again for the first time since mid-March, even if it is behind masks.
I occasionally get students with unusual family connections, and this year I have close relatives of a Hall of Fame baseball player, a former NFL starting quarterback (not Peyton Manning!) and a well-known sports agent.
And just this week I learned two students in the same 10-member class were named after Major League Baseball stadiums -- but not the corporate-related names! What are the odds of that!
Besides being back in class with a mask, I am also enjoying the fact that organized sports have been able to mostly survive so far after being brought back in most realms. I have been getting excited about the Atlanta Braves’ baseball team winning its division, and I have watched in person my high school alma mater of Baylor play football – even if it is from Baylor’s visitors grandstand due to social distancing.
And SEC football begins this weekend!
I now wish I had taken more time during those slow Friday and Saturday nights to watch more famous movies online or maybe the video of the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”
Is it just me, or has it been crazy watching some of the rescheduled sporting events at strange times of the year? Last Sunday, I watched the end of the Tour de France – usually held in July – and then in the afternoon watched some of the U.S. Open golf tournament – which usually takes place in June.
And there was the Kentucky Derby on Labor Day weekend instead of the first Saturday in May.
I am still waiting to see if the Masters golf tournament officials can pull off bringing out some blooming azaleas from a greenhouse when the famed rescheduled tournament is held in November without spectators/patrons.
Watching the sports as a couch potato and the fact I am starting to frequent the drive-throughs of restaurants more than I did for a few months of eating mostly at home has seen me gain about five pounds back of the 18 or 20 I originally lost since March. Of course, some of the weight loss came when I did not have much of an appetite for nearly a week after the tick bite.
But I prefer to be down more than up when it comes to weight, so I hope to work on that and get back where I was about six weeks ago.
That is the only area in which I personally hope 2020 goes out on its continued “low” note.