‘My body is betraying me’
This was the thought that flitted across my mind the first day the post-Covid fatigue took me down. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, actually betraying me, but I was upset and felt helpless and needed to be melodramatic for a moment.
I’ve had an autoimmune disorder for 26 years, and my body has always needed extra time and rest to recuperate; it makes sense that getting over a case of Covid with pneumonia would really knock me out. I can be logical about it, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel betrayed.
I’ve been feeling betrayed by a lot of entities lately.
I was two years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, so it’s not like my dad didn’t know the risks of giving me Covid. In fact, there was a big argument about his Covid denialism soon after I moved back in with my parents due to a lack of safe job opportunities. He essentially told me he would rather me die of Covid than ask people to wear masks around him.
So in November, while my dad barely had a cough, I got to ride in my first ambulance when my oxygen saturation dropped to 72%. I was released from the hospital after three nights with oxygen, and on my third day back home, I got to hear my dad say “Covid’s just a flu” while I was lying in bed next to my oxygen concentrator.
I told my mom I feared for my life the next day, because I know I won’t survive my inevitable COVID reinfection.
I feel betrayed by acquaintances – most of the people I consider close friends are taking social distancing seriously, but those people I’ve talked to a few times, the ones who watch my stories on Instagram and I watch theirs? They aren’t.
I know this problem is multifaceted – these people are being forced to work customer service roles, interacting with people every day, so what’s the difference with hanging out with their friends unmasked? – but it’s hard to not assume they will put my life at risk in the future.
Everything is bleak right now, so of course I’m being pessimistic, but my opinion of these people has been forever changed.
We’ve all been betrayed by our government. The very last class I took for my master’s degree was called, “How to be a Neoliberal Artist,” taught by my thesis advisor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Seth Kim-Cohen.
The last week we met in person, March 5th (a week before the pandemic panic really began in Chicago), I said something to the effect of “Neoliberals don’t care about our health,” which seems so obvious to me, who has more medical debt than I’ve ever tried to add up.
Seth replied that some neoliberal theorists would disagree with that statement. Given all of the government officials, economists, and op-ed writers that have stated that we should sacrifice the lives of the elderly and disabled to the pandemic for the sake of the economy, I think we can all agree that neoliberals only really care about profits.
Additionally, the US government has provided little financial aid during the past nine months to the people that live here. $1,200 doesn’t do much – it helped me move from Chicago to Indianapolis, which isn’t a big move. Unemployment benefits are about to end, for me and who knows how many other Americans. Rent hasn’t been cancelled or forgiven, and a lot of people are about to lose their homes due to eviction. People are starving.
But the companies that exposed their workers to unsafe conditions are working hard to make sure they can’t be blamed for their employees catching, spreading, and dying of COVID, and has caused a stalemate between the Republicans and Democrats working on the next stimulus. These politicians don’t care about us, and they never did. They’ve betrayed their constituents.
The closest to broken I’ve been since March was the day the post-COVID fatigue really hit me, because it showed me that one of my favorite activities, cooking, could have a negative impact. I’m learning to accept that an hour of cooking can lead to two days of recovery, but it still feels like a betrayal.
Sitting with this betrayal fuelled rage is uncomfortable for me. I’m glad it is – I try not to be an angry person, but this year has been rough.
I’m glad I feel angry and betrayed, because it means I’m still fighting, that the things I’ve experienced this year haven’t broken me.