Slices of Life: Catching the bug

It’s worth repeating. We need each other. Please let us not forget that.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

For the last 14 months I’ve been anticipating it. Waiting. Knowing it was lurking in the corners or behind a large, formidable rock. I figured I was immersed in grief and that would lower my defenses and I’d be overcome eventually by some sort of bug — COVID or otherwise.

It finally got me. For the last week I’ve been officially sick.

Not sick as in cool (like “That’s so sick!”) Not cool at all, not in any sense. Hot was more like it, but not hot as in cool hot. Hot as in feverish. My face throbbed. My eyeballs ached. My breath felt like an overheated radiator spewing unwanted steam with each exhale. The lymph node under my right jaw screamed as if it were about to explode at any second.

My sinuses pounded with the pressure of 100 power washers. My shoulder blades threatened to disconnect from the rest of my body. My chest was more congested than Atlanta during rush hour on a Friday afternoon. It was as though a family of phlegm moved in and brought all their friends. My body broke out in cold sweats at random times, day or night. Every muscle in my being let its existence be known through pain. You take your arms and legs for granted, until they hurt upon the slightest movement.

Swallowing was burdensome; my throat was on fire. I struggled to breathe, but not because my lungs weren’t working. My nostrils were to blame. They took turns being completely clogged. I’ve been breathing out of one nostril for what seems like weeks. It does wonders for a good night’s sleep. I don’t have to tell you that.


I can hear your questions already. Was is COVID? Which variant? Delta? Omicron? Were you vaccinated? Did you get your boosters?

To be honest, I don’t know exactly what I had. It felt like the common cold and influenza met, got married and were now going through a very ugly divorce right within my own body.

I tried to get my hands on a rapid test, but none were available — at stores or online. It appears people were hoarding them, sort of like in the 1990s when we hoarded Beanie Babies. Look how far we’ve come since then.

Don’t wait for your next “big” birthday or life event to live out your own hot air balloon ride. Don’t wait to enjoy. And, whatever the color of your balloon, or experience, it’s going to be spectacular because you can make it so.

I didn’t want to make an appointment to go in for a test because I was surviving at home. I was sick but I was beating it. And what do you not want to do when you are so very, very sick at home? Go out. Go anywhere.

So I stayed stuck to the couch. I didn’t need a specific diagnosis to tell me I was sick. It was my own version of isolation and quarantine.

Sick used to be simple. You were sick; people understood and gave you space to get well. Maybe on a good day they even made you chicken soup.

You didn’t have to explain the details leading up to your illness. When you got the flu, people took it at face value. They didn’t ask which type of influenza you had, if you were vaccinated or whether you’d had your boosters. They didn’t blame you.

Sick has changed during the last two years. We no longer are simply sick. We are fully vaccinated sick or non-vaccinated sick. We are COVID sick or non-COVID sick. And depending on which category you fit into, judgment could very well ensue.


I have been sick. I am getting well. I am doing everything I can to protect myself and others. That is the lifestyle I practice. But I stay steady with a couple key beliefs. We can’t live life in fear of dying or becoming ill. We should practice due diligence in reducing any spread of illness, but life is not meant to be lived in quarantine or isolation. We are a social society. We need each other.

It’s worth repeating. We need each other. Please let us not forget that.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

All the best in 2022. Let’s make it the best year ever.

What To Read Next
Get Local