4 Things I Learned While Being Sick With Covid-19

being sick with Covid gives you a lot of time to think..
Philosophy thrives off free time and adversity, two things I had a surplus of this week while being sick with Covid.

Last weekend, I attended one of my best friend’s weddings. It was a highly social and dynamic event, one that we had circled on our calendars and eagerly awaited for months. However, the week that followed was anything but forgettable in its own right. I and several attendees came down with Covid within several days of the party. We were all highly symptomatic, independent of our vaccination status, which suggests to me a new variant may have been in circulation, or the viral load we were exposed to was simply atomic. Sore throat, chills, congestion, and generalized body weakness were my biggest symptoms. One of my other friends, who is a doctor, had gotten boosted, and worked in a high-risk environment, had a very similar experience after the wedding. Unable to go out, work, or mingle with family, I spent the last several days quarantining in my room. In-between watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams to hone my foreign language skills, I had plenty of time to reflect on the state of the world. Indeed, philosophy is the domain from which I learned the lessons I did during quarantine.

I’m very fortunate I recovered from my bout with Covid in a more or less timely fashion. Many people cannot say the same. In any case, here are the 4 foremost insights I arrived at while being sick with Covid this week and having little much else to do besides think.

1. The Whole World Is Connected

Love it or hate it, it’s not like I didn’t know this beforehand. Globalization has been a recurrent theme since middle school, and I’ve written several articles in the past on the interconnectivity of life on a macro and micro level (E.g. Everything Is Connected). However, being sick with Covid really puts this one in perspective. A virus, which originated halfway across the globe due to human activity (whether in a lab or a wet market) had literally made its way into my body and was wreaking havoc. That’s a scary and humbling thought. However, the interconnectivity of human life isn’t all bad. I’m currently typing on a laptop that I didn’t create (even though I did pay for it) and my life has been enriched by the contributions of many people, past and present, local and afar, known and unbeknown to me.

Maybe the knowledge of interconnectivity should make me more empathetic. Maybe it should prompt me to become more invested in the lives of others. Maybe it should make me more grateful for the positive things I already possess, many of which had nothing or little to do with me. In any case, when you’re sick with Covid, this one really hits differently.

2. Emotional Health Depends On Movement And Socialization

Emotions are a fickle thing, and emotional health is often the first thing to go after getting sick with Covid (or quarantining as a preventative measure). I’m still in my twenties, and I’ve never been incarcerated (even though I have been bedridden in the past due to illness). That said, it’s been a long time since I was forced to physically (and sometimes socially) isolate from people in closed quarters for days on end. This week, it was my turn to do just that, and it was really tough from an emotional standpoint. Emotions are already high while being sick, so it’s hard to isolate the role that a lack of movement and socialization may have played. However, I recall feeling down for much of the week and disconnected from my friends and family. It didn’t help that I couldn’t participate in various social events that happened to be scheduled during those days.

Sometimes we don’t know how much we rely on something until it is taken away. That’s a realization a lot of people have come to during the last few years as it relates to social activity, on one hand, and restrictions on movement and/or physical activity, on the other. The takeaway for me is to cherish these things, because they nurture us. To be grateful for them, and to make them a priority, since the role they play in human wellbeing is foundational.

3. Without A Functional Voice, It Is Very Hard To Connect With People

When I got sick with Covid, my voice was the center of my symptomatology. My throat was extremely sore, and I did not speak for an entire week as a result. The longer you lose your voice, the more you realize just how much words and talking play a role in daily life. (Imagine if I didn’t have a smartphone to text anyone with.) During quarantine, there was really no one to talk to in person, but there were several times I had to forward incoming calls to voicemail. These occasional calls would likely have made some difference in terms of how connected I felt and my overall emotional health had I been able to take them.

Unlike a lion or a dog, whose life would likely not change all that much if they couldn’t make noise for a few days, the life of a human being completely changes in an instance. After losing their voice, most people can’t work, maintain relationships, or function in society (especially if the bout is unexpected, they don’t speak sign language, and know anyone who does). I doubt that Aristotle was sick when he wrote the famous line, “man is a social animal,” but I bet many people who got sick with Covid or otherwise lost their voice can relate.

4. Things Change Fast, For Better Or Worse

Last Friday, I was partying at a wedding with friends. Fast-forward a few days, my whole body was sick with chills and I couldn’t speak. Fast-forward again, and I felt fine. At our highest moments, we are tempted to feel invincible. At our lowest moments, we are tempted to feel hopeless. Reality is that we can’t take things for granted in life. Just as this insight can keep us from becoming overconfident and complacent during good times, it can serve as an antidote to pessimism and catastrophizing during bad ones.

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