So, about that …

Please to be noticing the date on the following Tweet:

Fascinatingly, I am not sick. But my wife is! My wife, who never ever gets sick, who comes from a family where living to 120 is considered underachieving, tested Covid-positive last night. And I, who sleep in the same bed as this woman, remain, as of this morning, almost annoyingly negative. I don’t know how to explain this feeling I have right now. I don’t want to be sick, and I don’t want to have Covid. But my wife has it, and based on all the knowledge I currently have about this disease and its level of transmissibility, spending several days unmasked in the same room with someone who is infectious should practically guarantee that I catch it. And yet I have not caught it, nor has my son, so the possibility of doing so in the near future gets to continue to dangle frustratingly over my head.

I did not go to work today, as I had a slight sore throat (which I have had for several days) and I already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled this morning. I woke up, took a second test– negative again– then went to my doctor’s office, where they redirected me to the back of the building and into a “respiration room,” which was more or less the same as a normal room except with an enormous air filter in it running at high speed. They gave me a third test, which was negative again, then confirmed my plan to stay home as a good one. I went through my checkup, had a blood draw and a pneumonia shot (I replied “I will take all the shots” when asked if I wanted the vaccine) and went home. I spoke with someone from HR who also confirmed that staying home had been the right move because of the sore throat and told me that my Official Instructions from Downtown were to take a fourth test tomorrow morning. If I remain negative, I go to work; if I’m positive, I stay home. Friday is an inservice day, so no kids, and Monday is MLK day, so this would actually be a pretty good weekend to be sick in terms of not missing a lot of school.

Also, if I’m positive, I have to take a selfie of myself with the positive test and send that to the HR lady I talked to, which I find kind of hilarious.

Also possible: that sore throat has been with me for a minute now. It’s not exactly an unexpected thing for a teacher in January to have a sore throat for pretty obvious reasons, but it might be that I actually had covid last week and was so asymptomatic that I didn’t realize it, or at least my symptoms fell so in line with what I was expecting anyway that it never occurred to me to take a test. It’s not entirely unreasonable to theorize that I might have infected her. Another fun possibility that I didn’t think about until after the pneumonia shot was that that could also have side effects, and I do tend to get a day of gross out of vaccines, so it’ll be fun to try and sort those out from potential covid symptoms.

I have been instructed to monitor myself for headaches and diarrhea. Both of those are known symptoms of Omicron and not symptoms of a pneumonia vaccine.

One way or another, it’s gonna be a fun few days around here.

In which I am falling apart

I had my first dentist appointment since before the pandemic started yesterday morning, and while I don’t have any new cavities or anything worth talking about– it was just a cleaning, after all– it was a cleaning after about a year and a half when normally my hygienist likes to see me every three months so that she can keep an eye on my gums. She did not quite resort to a circular saw to clean my teeth, but it bloody well felt like it, and then I fucked around and had a chicken sandwich for lunch that ripped up the roof of my mouth, so I spent all day yesterday with my teeth and the inside of my mouth aching in a way that wasn’t necessarily bad— like, on that 1-10 scale they like, it’d have been a one or a two– but in terms of sheer persistence was making me absolutely nuts. I had cottage cheese and some loose deli meat last night for dinner last night because the notion of eating anything I’d have to spend much time chewing just seemed entirely unacceptable.

Today I had an eye appointment; those I’ve stayed current on, since they don’t require people to stick their hands in my mouth, which seems safer, but I’m starting to think that I need to go back in time and prevent myself from getting LASIK. The punch line is, at least according to my eye doctor, who was the person who did the LASIK, this was probably coming anyway, and at best might have been faintly aggravated by the LASIK, but I’m having annoying issues with keeping my tear films properly hydrated, despite the fact that I spend half my day every day pouring liquids into my eyes. She flat-out admitted that she doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with me right now, because my vision is varying widely depending on, well, something, but we don’t know what. Like, on one visit I’ll be corrected to 20/10, and then on this one I was at 20/40, and I was at 20/30 on the last one, and the only things that seem to be consistently different are the tear film thicknesses. Today ended with me walking out with two new sets of eyedrops (one medicinal in a fashion that I’m not 100% clear on, another simply an upgrade to the artificial tears I was already using) along with a heat mask that I’m supposed to wear for 15 minutes before bed every night and tiny little plastic plugs inserted into my tear ducts, which were supposed to help me in some way that she explained perfectly clearly at the time and I can no longer repeat. So all day today my eyes have been bugging me.

She was also horrified that my insurance company turned down the sleep study, which … yeah, that’s a whole separate other thing. I feel like I’ve got enough medical issues going on right now without tossing sleep apnea on top. (And suddenly I’m wondering if you can just buy a CPAP, and how expensive such a thing is.)

Anyway, my point is that my everything aches right now and maybe spending all day staring at screens isn’t the smartest move I could be making with my life right now, but, well. We all know how good I am at making decisions.

Maybe don’t Google this

Here’s a sentence not many people can say: my eye doctor diagnosed me with sleep apnea. That’s completely true, although I don’t think I have it and I have no diagnosis yet from someone whose diagnosis might count. I had an eye appointment a couple of weeks ago, as I’m less happy with the long-term results of my LASIK than I feel like I ought to be and requested a consult. My eye doc then proceeded to confuse the crap out of me by asking repeatedly if I’d ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or if I had experienced various and sundry symptoms of sleep apnea, or if I’d ever had a sleep study done.

The answer to all of these questions was no. I absolutely utterly completely can not fall asleep on my back, and am an occasional mild snorer according to my wife, but that’s it. It turns out, though, that I have a severe case of something called “floppy eyelid syndrome,” which I did a GIS for to grab an image for this post and which you should absolutely not do a GIS for. Basically what this means is that my eyelids stretch way more than a normal person’s, which sounds like it shouldn’t be a thing, but it is. I can basically expose the entire orb of my eye if I want to, which I don’t, but it’s possible. And it turns out that you’re not supposed to be able to do that, and it’s not just a party trick, it’s a syndrome.

That’s not the weird thing, though. The weird thing is that floppy eyelid syndrome is very highly correlated with sleep apnea. Nearly 100%, in fact: in other words, nearly 100% of people with floppy eyelid syndrome also have sleep apnea, to the point where it’s actually used as a diagnostic marker for sleep apnea. So my eye doctor suggested I talk to my GP, and as it turned out I had already scheduled a doctor’s appointment a few days later, and my GP shrugged and went ahead and scheduled me for the study, which insurance then denied.

Like, I would like to be able to sleep on my back, but not at the expense of having to strap a CPAP machine to my face while I’m sleeping. My stomach or my side work just fine, thanks. But at the same time I feel like I ought to take this seriously in case it becomes a Thing later on, right? So if they tell me to do a home sleep study, whatever that is, I’ll do it. And in the meantime, I guess I’ll refrain from pulling my eyelids back any further than I need to to put my eyedrops in.

In which my eyes are still there

In case any of you were wondering if it was reasonable for me to expect to be able to come home from my surgery and sleep for fourteen hours, the answer is yes, that is perfectly reasonable, and frankly if my wife didn’t regularly get up at ass o’clock in the morning, it could have been a few hours longer.

I have had my one-day follow-up appointment already and have had my eyes proclaimed “perfect,” by which I assume they mean “perfect for twenty hours after the surgery,” because as of right now my vision is still blurrier than I want, although there’s no real pain or discomfort to speak of. I’ve been cleared for screens and reading, but I’m going to try to stay mostly away from both until later today, at which point I will give y’all a fuller report. For now, I’m going to use the day to rewatch Season One of The Mandalorian, just for the hell of it.

In which I go out in public

I had what I had been told was an appointment for “measurements” for my LASIK surgery this afternoon, and it turned out to be a full-blown eye appointment in addition to the supplementary measurements, so this is what I looked like when I left the place– fully masked up, glasses fogged to hell, and my special wraparound plastic shades that made it possible to make it back home again. It’s about five hours later now and I’ve only just gotten to the point where I can see well enough to be able to read what I type; that said, I’m not as likely to notice typos as usual so don’t hold them against me, please.

The informed consent paperwork for this surgery is a trip, y’all. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I tell you that it declares that 1) the surgery will not work, 2) that it will also stop being effective in a couple of weeks, 3) that I will lose my vision altogether, and that also 4) I may lose both eyes and 5) it is entirely possible that the laser gun doing my actual surgery will explode during the procedure, immediately after it loses power due to a localized outage and a meteor strikes the building. It is the most comprehensive informed consent form I have ever signed, and I’m a little surprised that I’m still doing this after having every single thing that could possibly go wrong explained so clearly to me. I think I can still sue if the surgeon literally gouges my eyes out with a spoon, but I think forks are in the fine print somewhere.

That said, I got a nice drawstring bag and a t-shirt out of the deal, and the t-shirt is not only made from nice thick fabric but it looks like it’s going to fit comfortably, which is rarely the case from free t-shirts. I am trying to decide if actually wearing it to my surgery is the equivalent of showing up to a concert in a shirt from the band you’re seeing. I think probably it is.

In other news, let’s talk masks. I wasn’t aware that I was looking at a potentially two-hour visit when I walked in; I was expecting maybe half an hour of pushing my face into various devices and then to be done. The good news is I managed to make it through the entire two hours without a panic attack becoming a serious concern– which I would not have wagered was a thing I could do going into the appointment. Now, my glasses are a big part of what triggers the problem, and I didn’t have them on for most of the appointment, so that’s probably part of it.

That mask up there is my “best” mask. I got it for $12 at a medical supply place, and I’m considering heading back for a couple more so I can rotate through them. It’s treated with something antibacterial, supposedly; it looks okay, and it fits better than several others I’ve tried. But it folds in the middle and gets in my mouth when I talk– you can see the crease in the picture– and my beard constantly pushes the bottom of it up, so I’m always tugging it back down. As you can see, it folds up as well.

I’m considering doing some surgery on the thing with a paperclip or piece of wire to see if I can give that center vertical seam some more rigidity and structure so that it pushes out from my mouth more reliably, but it’s probably worth asking: does anyone have any particular kind of mask they want to recommend? I don’t want one of the kinds with a vent on them because they don’t work as well, and something washable is great, too. An N95 would do the job just fine but we are apparently still having a PPE shortage so I don’t want to use those, plus they’re not reusable. Something vaguely in the department of that one in terms of looks would be a good thing, too. I’ll need to wear it at work, so solid black is probably my best choice.

(It is also possible that I may need to give up on the idea of not having a close-cropped beard while we are on Mask Planet. I am not happy about that idea, but it may become necessary.)

Any suggestions?