First off, thanks very much to all who left kind notes in the comments of my last weekly update, where I mentioned I was dealing with an ongoing issue. Things seem to be steadily improving and I’ve found it helpful to read about others’ experiences so I’m going to share a bit about mine. CW: Covid-19; feel free to skip down to the picture section of this post if that’s a stressor you don’t want to read about at the moment.
So the thing is, I live very near my family and work with them on our family farm (for now). Since we’re very rural and working together frequently, it made sense last March for us to start isolation together. Unfortunately, over time the rest of my family has become less concerned about the virus and more careless about following health guidelines, and though they knew I was still being cautious they chose to deny what was going on to keep from upsetting me instead of giving me a chance to change their minds or at least keep myself healthy. So a couple of weeks ago, two of my family members got sick, and they continued exposing me (and others, to a lesser extent) for a full week before one of them had worsened enough to call in to our local clinic and take it seriously. I’d already been around them unknowingly for a week before they tested positive for Covid and decided to take it more seriously.
I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about my family and their actions and symptoms because it’s personal, complicated, and not entirely mine to share. I’ll say that one of my family members has now been diagnosed with long-haul covid, talked over the phone with the clinic about being hospitalized if their symptoms got any worse, and has been unable to do much of anything other than sleep for the last two weeks. The rest of my family (including a sibling who got sick independently at college at the same time and came home to recover) has already or seems to be making full recoveries, at varying speeds.
As for me, I was only actually sick for one day this time. I had a low fever, a mild headache, was sore around the ribs (probably my lungs), and really tired. No cough, no sore throat, no loss of taste or smell, no nausea or digestive issues. But the lingering fatigue has wiped me out so much more than that one day of illness did, and this has made me realize something: I think I’ve had a mild version of this fatigue for the entire past year. I thought I had been careful on my trip to New York last March right before the lockdowns, but I was suspiciously sick about ten days after I came back home, and that felt a lot like my one day of illness this month, so I’m pretty confident now both bouts were Covid. Last year, I was sick for about three days, and tests were not really available in my area, nor did I want to go in to the clinic and potentially expose anyone, nor was I sick enough to need medical attention in the first place, so I was not tested and recovered alone in quarantine at home and mostly kept it to myself. I thought I was fully recovered. But feeling this deeper fatigue for the last week or so, I’ve realized that all of my out-of-character book slumps and difficulty concentrating and keeping up with things that are usually enjoyable for me has probably not only been 2020/pandemic stress like I thought but mild lingering fatigue and/or brain fog. How I’ve felt this month just feels like a more concentrated dose of the same thing I’ve been feeling on and off for the last twelve months.
It comes and goes, I have days where I feel perfectly fine, and others where I feel like my mental wheels are spinning and spinning and not getting any traction, and until I get up in the morning I have no idea which way each day will go. For me, it’s felt like an absence more than a negative presence (like a fog), if that makes sense. I’m not feeling any need to sleep more than usual, and I’m not having difficulty accessing my thoughts and memories. They’re just not meaningful thoughts, more often than usual. It feels more like I’ve been mentally drained of substance, left empty, and whatever energy or excitement or spark of activity is usually going on in my brain is just silent and still more often than not over the last several months. This symptom is mild and sporadic enough that I thought it was just pandemic stress and reading slumps, but on my good days I feel just as much energy and excitement for my normal interests/activities as I always used to, so now it makes to me sense to me that this might be Covid-related and if it goes away in time I’ll feel like my usual self again. Since this is slightly different than the cognitive aftereffects I generally see come up in medical info about Covid or even in personal anecdotes about the illness, and because finding and reading those personal anecdotes has helped me make sense of what’s going on with me and feel less alone in it, I wanted to share here what my experience has been in case this might help someone else. And to point out that I’m 26 years old, have been in great health most of my life, and even though I was only mildly sick this has still all been a significant disruption spanning more than a year of my life, so like… isolate. Get vaccinated as soon as you can. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you, and do what you can to keep from spreading it to anyone else.
The good news is that the fatigue from this latest bout has been lessening over the last few days and today I’m feeling back to normal (at least for now). No idea if that will continue tomorrow, but I’m feeling optimistic about things trending in the right direction. I think the worst of it is over, this time. And I’ve seen some reports of the vaccine actually helping alleviate long-haul Covid symptoms, so I’m feeling hopeful for myself and for everyone else who’s been dealing with aftereffects.
Unfortunately, the kittens that have been helping me cope this week have also turned out to be a sad wild card- the batch of five is down to four. Unfortunately this seems to happen occasionally with farm/outdoor cats. They don’t seem to be sick but sometimes newborn outdoor kittens just… don’t make it. Since one of these didn’t, I’m worried about the rest. But the other four do seem to be doing well so far, and I’ve gotten a few pictures of them into The 365 to celebrate! Sorry no faces made it into the pictures, but their eyes aren’t open yet anyway. The kittens are in a new box now with a soft clean blanket and the mother cat seems to be taking diligent care of them. That’s Mama Cheesecake resting her head on my knees while I sat with one of the kittens during the box transfer!
And because I wasn’t sure if/when I’d get kitten pictures to share here, I also grabbed an earlier photo of Mitts as Cat of the Week- she’s the tuxedo cat in the first picture (and there’s no interesting naming story here, Mitts or Boots and such are pretty common names for cats with white feet. We’d already had a Boots). At five years old, she’s one of the oldest cats on the farm right now; before we adopted her as a half-grown kitten along with her mama, we had only a couple of old toms left (one of them is still here, over 10 years old now!). Of course, with a couple of new female cats around, our cat population exploded very quickly after that. Mitts seemed to hate motherhood and we needed fewer kittens so we got her fixed and now she’s happier than ever. Her favorite thing is to go through doors, every time you open them. She’ll literally go back and forth between the same two rooms for minutes at a time if you just keep opening and closing the door for her.
As for books, it’s necessarily been a slow reading week while I’ve rested my brain. And I’m sorry to say I didn’t manage to read a single blog post, either. I thought I’d be able to catch up on a good day, but it just wasn’t in the cards this week. Next week, I hope! My scant reading these last few days has been:
- Luster by Raven Leilani – 3 stars. The second half of this book took me most of the week to finish. It’s a worthwhile addition to the Messy (Millennial) Women category, I think, but even so I didn’t always enjoy the read. It’s a character study with a tendency to feel very plotless, and while a lack of direction is suitable for this character it’s just not a reading experience that tends to work well for me, even if Leilani’s prose and social observations are delightfully acerbic. Not a top Women’s Prize contender for me, but I’m glad to have read it, would recommend it to those whom the premise appeals, and will be keeping an eye out for future work from this author.
- Made in China by Amelia Pang – ongoing. This is a nonfiction book about the forced labor camps in China that make for cheap imported goods at the cost of human rights. I’m only about twenty pages in but this is a topic I’ve been wanting to learn more about for a while and I think I will appreciate the rest of the read.
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan – ongoing. My next Women’s Prize longlist read, though I’ve only read a couple of pages so far. The writing is off to a good start but at this point I don’t really have anything more to say.
Though it’s been a slow week of page turning, I am gearing up for better reading days to come. I’ve acquired a few more Women’s Prize books and worked them into my 5-book April TBR, which is as follows:
- Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. Three women in a complicated relationship (including a breakup on one side and a pregnancy on the other) each try to find their way forward after one of them decides to detransition and live as a man. A Women’s Prize longlister I’m very eager to pick up!
- Consent by Annabel Lyon. This Women’s Prize book features two sets of sisters- one of those being twins- whose relationships to each other are built on disproportionate dependence. Two of these sisters meet and unite under grief and a desire for revenge. I’ve heard good things!
- Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. A feature writer in 1957 meets with a family who claims their daughter is the product of a virgin birth. As the journalist investigates the situation, she becomes personally invested and entangled with the family, even as her work creates turbulence in their lives. This sounds like another very promising Women’s Prize title!
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. A YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which I picked up from BOTM to round off a post I’ve been working on about YA retellings (and added to my TBR to keep some momentum going in my quest to catch up with my BOTM backlist). This one’s historical fantasy set in Shanghai, and it sounds incredible!
- Passing by Nella Larsen. I recently ordered a copy of this classic to read alongside Brit Bennett’s Women’s Prize longlisted The Vanishing Half; it looks fairly short and I’m eager to compare and contrast, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to wrap up with both books next month!
Since I’ve finished reading Luster and want to stay on top of my Women’s Prize reviews, I’m hoping to get a post up about it this next week. Aside from that small goal, my only other plan is to keep reading as much as I can, and maybe catch up on blog hopping within the next few days as well. I’m not sure whether I’ll finish my two current reads before the end of the month or complete any other posts this week, but in my next weekly update I’ll share a few stats to wrap up my reading from March, as usual upon The Changing of The Months.
I want to close with another thank you, to everyone who’s been patiently sticking with me even in times when I need to read or post or comment less than I’d like to. Even if I can’t keep up all the time, blogging and participating in this community is a major highlight for me and I very much appreciate being able to share and chat with you all, and being met with kindness at every turn. You’re wonderful people. Thank you.
The Literary Elephant