Is This Long Covid?(Or Am I Just Sad?)

I’ve been in a bit of a rut, lately. Ever since that bout of Covid a little over a month ago I just haven’t felt, well, normal. There are days when I feel okay. I started to go to the Y a week afterwards and got in two days before I tapped out. Just wasn’t feeling it. I was still feeling pretty tired(weak), I still had body aches, and the malaise of the virus still seemed to want to hang out and chat a bit.

Is it Long Covid?

I don’t know, maybe. It could also be that I’m at full burnout stage and the idea of Long Covid allows me to give into the inner me saying “You don’t feel good, so just go home to the couch and the dog and watch some TV after work instead.” Believe me, I’ve listened to inner me quite a bit these last few weeks. I don’t feel great about it, but there’s something comforting about an ice pack on your back and rewatching The Wire.

I called in on Monday because my back was bothering me. My back botheres me nearly every morning now. Feels like a long muscle spasm on my lower right side(same spot where I had surgery), but no numbness or anything. It’s that feeling you get when you turn or stretch too much and your back goes to Def Con 1 and SCREAMS at you. It’s that sort of pain. It bugged me before Covid, but ever since it seems worse. I have to be careful when I get up out of bed or it’ll SCREAM at me. Once I’m up and moving it’s fine. I really hope it’s not the new mattress we just bought in December. That’d be a bummer.

Anyways, Sunday I was out in the yard doing that initial winter to spring clean up; picking up downed limbs, raking up the small debris, picking up a winter’s worth of dog shit, and then getting up on the roof with the leaf blower and cleaning off pine needles, small limbs, and blowing out the gutters. It was probably 2 1/2 hours of work, so by the time I came inside I was pretty tired. Monday morning I was extra stiff and decided to call into work. Screw it. I’ve got plenty of time and I needed a day of just solitude.

I wish I could say I got the paints out and worked on some art, or played guitar for an hour, or even jumped into a book, but I did none of that. I watched The Deuce on HBO, made pancakes for breakfast, and watched Dead Mall videos on Youtube. I did take the dog for a quick walk. There was that.

The back pain is definitely not completely psychosomatic, but I think it’s a part of it. When you work by yourself five days a week for almost 12 weeks on high alert it takes its toll. I started out as a live wire, frayed ends buzzing and sparking each day wondering what sort of mess I was going to have to deal with. I’ve since been ground down to a fine nub, more of a blunt tool than a precision instrument. I get the job done, but I just don’t care anymore.

“Why don’t you care anymore?”

Remember, this is the company that is closing the doors of our manufacturing facility permanently. How can I completely and fully care anymore about this place, after corporate told us all in October of 2021 under a rented circus tent on the company lawn that we would be losing our jobs and that was that. It was like Tommy in Goodfellas being walked into a room thinking he was going to be a made man, but instead got two in the back of the head.

Everything just feels off kilter. The kids all have their own struggles, we’re trying to get our budget back on track after three months of spending on trips and this and that that weren’t budgeted. There are things I can fix, and there are things I cannot. The budget is my wife’s area. She got us on a budget back in 2012 and pulled us out of debt and put is in the black. There have been times where we got off track with it but she’d sit down, sweat it out, and get it figured out. We’re at one of those moments. I know she’ll get it up and running like a well-oiled machine, but until she does I feel out of sorts.

Our oldest is struggling with living at home without a license, so she has to be driven around. She’s feeling trapped and I get it. But this is something she can fix by getting all of her driving hours in so she can get her driver’s license. Sometimes she seems all in and wanting to drive to and from work(fortunately she works close to my wife’s office.) Once she does that, she can go wherever whenever she wants. She’s also living here rent-free and food paid for, so she’s putting away a ton of money. I don’t feel THAT bad for her, but I understand her frustration. Unfortunately she’s not one to open up about feelings, she just gets quiet and says nothing, leaving us to guess what the problem is. She’s a hard worker, she knows what she wants to do, she just has this mental roadblock she needs to get over.

Our middle child is living on her own, in an apartment with her boyfriend. Working two jobs and going to beauty school at night five days a week. She’s not great at budgeting and tends to buy a bunch of food only for it to go bad since it’s just two of them. Door Dash is their friend. We told her we’d help her out financially while she’s working part-time and going to school, but she tends to wait till the last minute to ask for help. Like when she’s down to $26 in her checking account. I’m happy to help her, but its hard when you get a text out of the blue asking for money for groceries. They want to be on their own and treated like an adult….most of the time.

Our son? Well, he’s the most easygoing. He just got back from a trip to Texas with his girlfriend and her family. We gave him cash for the trip so he could buy himself some things. He bought some shirts for himself, but then he also bought him mom and I some things. He bought the dog a little pendant to put on his collar. He even bought his grandparents a little freezer magnet and treats for their dog. He’s doing good. He just needs to get a job now that band season is over. After graduation his plan is to just work for a year and save money, as opposed to jumping right into university. I think that’s a good plan, especially since he doesn’t know what he’d want to go to college for. And unless you’re going to college with a specialty in mind that Business Administration Bachelors doesn’t really mean much anymore. If someone is paying for it 100%, then you’ve got nothing to lose. But if your financing that degree, well give it a good think before filling out those FAFSA forms.

I don’t know, guys. It’s just been a weird few months for me. I’m not feeling quite rudderless, but I am feeling as if I’m on a lifeboat several yards from shore and paddling with a couple teaspoons. I’m getting there, but it’s taking a hell of a long time. The wife and I are heading up north to New Buffalo Saturday for a couple hours. Going up to stare out into Lake Michigan, get some fresh air, different view, and just unplug for a bit. Get some lunch, then head back home. Despite what that yardwork did to me it felt great to be outside in the sunshine, warm air, and the feeling of getting something done. I’m looking forward to the endless blue horizon of Lake Michigan. There’s always been something very Zen about it for me. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Open road, tunes on the car stereo, and nothing planned but some mental re-calibration. Oh, and an ice pack for my back as well.

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