post-COVID diaries - 6/10

Happily, I've been symptom-free for around two weeks now. Altogether I suffered two weeks of sickness and fatigue.

Donald Trump somehow managed to get it on the Friday and be well enough to resume his duties on the Tuesday. Well done, him, eh? [wink emoji]

I just had a call from a journalist from the Luxembourg Times. I'd responded to a social-media post inviting people to discuss their experiences of the Ministry of Health's contact-tracing scheme. I took the opportunity, during the call, to sing the Luxembourg government's praises for its handling of the crisis so far. If I think back to the start of the crisis, the messaging has always been clear, multilingual and accompanied by superb illustrations depicting what is and isn't allowed. These messages were regularly updated and sometimes dropped through people's letter boxes. Some might say: well, Luxembourg is a wealthy country that can afford to do things properly and its size (population just over half a million) makes it easier to govern. What is clear, though, is that the government here has used its money, resources and political acumen wisely and has listened to expert opinion from the outset.

I remember saying to people early on in the crisis that I didn't envy our lawmakers and decision-makers having to face a situation that is unprecedented in our lifetimes (unless anyone remembers Spanish flu). My feeling was that, as much as I find Boris Johnson obnoxious, dishonest and consumed by self-love, and although I would never vote for his party, I wouldn't wish this shit on anyone. When people's lives are at stake it doesn't matter what the political stripe of the government is. If I remember correctly, Keir Starmer — sworn in as opposition leader near the start of the crisis — was reluctant to be too critical of the government, at first.

And yet, the UK government has, to put it kindly, made a whole series of missteps. I won't go through the whole time line, though March 3rd 2020 - when Johnson was going around a hospital shaking hands with all and sundry and saying there was nothing to worry about - stands out; oh and there was the government's chief adviser flouting the rules he himself had helped devise. During a pandemic bad decisions can have grim consequences.

In other words, although they're all in unenviable circumstances, not all governments have approached the matter in the same way.

And here in Luxembourg, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Health Minister Paulette Lenert have so far acquitted themselves admirably in these unusual, trying times, unafraid to make unpopular decisions in the interests of public health.  

Coming back to this morning, the lady from the Luxembourg times got more than she bargained for when she called to ask me a couple of things about the health system, poor thing!

In terms of the substance of what she really wanted to know, minus the tangents, I told her that I was glad the Ministry had called me so promptly after I tested positive. Forty minutes is a long time to be on the phone, especially when you're not feeling well, but I understood completely what they were doing and why they needed to enter into such detail. (See my COVID DIARIES entry on 17th September.)

I'll be interested to see what sort of article she manages to put together on the subject. I wonder if others have had similar experiences or if the system has been working as well for everyone else as it did for me.

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Lost Horizons

I love this.

. The first album by Lost Horizons blurred the boundaries between goth, ambient and soul. This On-U sound remix of new Lost Horizons material suggests that on the forthcoming second album they're embracing dub, which is both welcome and an entirely logical progression:

Gaps in my musical education

1. My Beauty by Kevin Rowland

21 years ago, Kevin Rowland, singular lead singer of spiky soul legends Dexys Midnight Runners released an album of cover versions. Called My Beauty, the album's sleeve art featured Rowland with a half-on half-off dress that he pulls back to reveal some fetching lingerie. As sleeve art goes, it was some statement.

You can read more about the record in this interview with Rowland on the occasion of its re-release this summer.

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COVID diaries - 27/9

Like a mole emerging from its hole, I'm starting to see properly. I'm still tired but that's really the only remaining symptom.

Four more days of isolation after today and I've started to fantasise about where I'm going to go and what I'm going to do when isolation is suddenly over later in the week.

That said, to offer a bit of perspective, we were locked down for 100 days or so back in the spring, including the first few weeks or so, which were very strict (non-essential shops and services closed, no travel, borders closed [an issue here in Luxembourg] and no visits to friends...) with no clear end in sight. So these two weeks have been a breeze by comparison. The kids are a bit older and wiser too, now. Alex did his homework today without complaint and after only a single, short-lived sigh about how impossible it was. I imagine that we will get locked down (as opposed to self-isolated) again soon and my hope is that we'll be better prepared — we will at least know what we're dealing with - and that the kids will have a saner approach to getting schoolwork out of the way.

A friend in Prague told me yesterday that his teenage son got a very bad dose of the virus, involving serious breathing difficulties. He's fine now. Not to mention the death toll around the world, which as I write is approaching 1 million. It really seems as though I got off very lightly. 

COVID diaries 25/9

Good news. Mateja and the kids have tested negative. They can go back to school, she can go to the shops, a general cloud has been lifted. Did they have it last week, when they had cold symptoms, despite Philip getting a negative? Possibly. We'll never know and it no longer matters.

Bad news. I seem to be suffering a bit of a relapse.

COVID diaries - 24/9

You know that feeling that's best summed up by slow, woozy, single-take movies, like Russian Ark, in which the camera — steady, yet flowing — follows scenes from Russian history in a way that never jars [that's how I remember it, at least] and always strikes that middle ground between the comfort of a warm duvet and a a sense of detachment from reality, like an endless Paul Morley sentence that you hope will take you somewhere in the end but you're not entirely sure whether or not to trust it to carry you along its tangent away from the comfort of the narrative, or the stubborn warmth of a bad mood as a kid when you're still inside but not too far from the point where it's safe to emerge and be friendly again, when the memory of a peaceful dream is slowly pieced together across the morning as fragments are drip-fed into your half-awake brain before you've had caffeine, shower, encounter with kids and where the soundtrack is forever Arto Lindsay's O Corpo E Sutil, which is like Caetano Veloso in sweet bossa nova mode but with dense shafts of unease, like watching a tense film noir in front of the fire on a rainy Sunday afternoon, a feeling akin to the brain being lined with soft but strong cotton wool that is pleasant and womb-like but that should not be there, a place where your eyes — puffy, surrounded by marshmallow pillows — are never more than three quarters open and you similarly don't quite hear things properly and you are aware of life around you without quite living it?

COVID diaries 22/9

Turning positives into negatives.

Back in the spring Donald Trump had a COVID test. He was asked by reporters how it had gone and he couldn't bring himself to use the word negative. This despite the fact that negative tests for diseases are universally known to be a good thing.

So when is a negative not a negative in the positive sense? I suggest a bit of background might come in handy. Last Monday, we took our Philip (6) to the paediatrician as he was feeling unwell. Things being as they are, the doctor gave him a throat-swab test for COVID-19 on the spot. It came back negative the next day. Great, we thought — that means that the symptoms the four of us are experiencing are probably not *the* virus. I went for a test on Wednesday. Next day, to everyone's shock, the result came back positive. 

The only thing is, how come Philip was negative and I was positive? Did one of us get a false result? Apparently the chances of getting a false positive are considerably lower than those of getting a false negative. Which may well mean, given our proximity to each other and that everyone had symptoms last week, that Philip is actually COVID + and so are Mateja and Alex. Tests this week will hopefully give us a clearer picture.

(They were supposed to be tested on Tuesday but demand has shot up and they were turned away as there were too many people at testing centre. On Wednesday they got a test after 45 minutes' wait.)

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COVID diaries - 20/9

Symptom update (please feel free to glaze over if medical detail isn't your thing)

Chesty cough *seems to be* dissipating
Lack of sleep
Mild nausea
Lack of sleep
Slight headache (nothing like as severe or constant as four or five days ago)
Did I mention lack of sleep? Fuck, I just can't sleep. I don't think it has anything to do with worry — it's not as though I'm scared that this is all going to end horribly and OMG what about the family, etc. None of that. I just seem to be incapable of getting to sleep for whatever reason (the meds?). In fact if I am stressed about anything, which may be causing my lack of sleep, it's concern about the fact that I can't get to sleep. Hence:
Tiredness. My brain is like a seeping globule of COVID slime. I'm not getting disproportionately annoyed by little things or displaying any other indications that I'm tired. I'm just foggy, forgetful and a bit dim. See you tomor

COVID diaries - 19/9

Symptoms not worsening. These three words might be all this entry needs, but there's a fuller point to make: while I'm feeling humbled by all the kind get-well-soon messages I've been recieving, I feel a bit sheepish since my symptoms are no worse your regular winter cold/flu thing. I haven't posted this news on social media yet, unless you count my colleagues' whatsapp group. I have hundreds of facebook 'friends' and I don't think I'd feel comfortable with getting tons of well-wishing messages from people I'm no longer properly in contact with. Thing is that I'm the first person I know who's got the virus and I don't recall anyone else on my facebook saying they'd got it. The people I've mentioned this to have been very curious and concerned, naturally enough. The reaction so far has been mostly measured but quite a few people have gone 'oh my god oh no!!' And Mateja's friends have in some cases been very shocked. That's not the kind of thing I want to be splashing over social media. So it's worth reiterating that the symptoms are currently no worse than flu (and arguably not as bad as flu — there's no fever for a start).

Long may it continue to be not worse than the previous day, anyway. Hoping for an upturn at some point soon.

I got a letter from the government...
I got a letter from the government...
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COVID DIARIES - 17/9/2020

"At last I know someone who's got coronavirus — you!"

I've just spent an exhausting afternoon fielding whatsapp messages from well-wishing friends, emailing work and the kids' school and spending a lot of time on the phone with my GP and with the Ministry of Health.

I'm supposed to be resting but people are naturally curious. How long is the isolation period? What about the kids? Are you sleeping in the spare room? When did you first get ill? and so on. It feels like I'm a correspondent reporting live from the scene.

I'll get some sleep tonight, chesty cough permitting. But it's tiring. 

A couple of simple points that need to be made.
— I'm not assymptomatic. However, my symptoms are not that bad. It is so far nothing more than a bad virus and the symptoms are not unfamiliar from previous bouts of colds and 'flu'.

— The doctor is not expecting my state of health to spiral downwards. I'm a reasonably healthy fellow and am not in any of the high-risk categories.

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