The Disturbing Effects of Surviving…

Hardly a day goes by now without three or four prominent human interest stories making the rounds, in which coronavirus “survivors” detail their ordeals, usually featuring before and after shots meant to alarm the universe with how terrible they looked while sick — which perhaps wouldn’t be so alarming if we were all in the habit of photographing ourselves while lying in bed with the flu — or how out of shape they look after “surviving.” From the governor’s brother and Blonde Bimbo #17 at CNN, to the suspiciously pumped-up bodybuilder I read about yesterday, who, lo and behold, looked a lot different after going off his “weight-training” program for several weeks while sedated and unable to eat solid food, the desire of the pathetically famous and infamously pathetic alike to exploit themselves as propaganda puppets for the pandemic hype machine would be truly disturbing, were it not so laughable.

It also dawns on me how many opportunities I have missed to score vanity points with the weak-minded by moaning about how awful I looked when I was sick. I get migraine headaches, for example. I am quite sure that if I showed you a picture of myself at the height of one of those, you would think you were looking at a plague victim moments before death.

Yes, when we are sick, we tend to look…sick. And when the illness lasts a few weeks, as with a bad flu, we are likely to come out of the episode looking a little worse for wear. And if we have spent those weeks lying unconscious on a ventilator, i.e., being almost killed by medical misdiagnosis and mistreatment, like those COVID-19 sufferers unfortunate enough to have been tended to in a modern hospital according to “standard protocols” for a different kind of respiratory illness, we will probably look and feel like something considerably less than ourselves for quite a while indeed.

“So what?” you ask. So everything, of course, when the goal is not to prove anything, nor to inform anyone, but rather to create a general, vague, tyranny-justifying feeling of apprehension and discomfort about the monstrous Unknown that is COVID-19, the not-nearly-as-deadly-as-the-media-would-like-it-to-be-but-still-don’t-think-it-couldn’t-strike-you-dead-at-any-moment-or-at-least-make-you-look-kind-of-ugly-in-a-selfie pandemic. 

In January, 2019, I was an avid walker without a care in the world. I thought I was young enough to walk without worries, and that no little roadside curb or worn-out shoe could do any damage to someone like me.

Then one day, while innocently stepping awkwardly and rolling my foot over at a busy intersection, as I had done a thousand times before, I suddenly felt a distinct “cracking” sensation in my foot. This was no normal twisted ankle or hyperextended such-and-such. My fifth metatarsal wasn’t responding as it had in the past. I had swelling such as I had never experienced before. After a few days, when I realized the symptoms weren’t just clearing up on their own, as they had with every normal twisted foot in the past, I went to the hospital, where the next thing I knew I was in surgery having my bone screwed back together.

From healthy, daily peripatetic to bed-ridden, painkiller-injected near-invalid in a matter of days. With my foot in a cast for months, I found myself unable to stride confidently along rocky trails as usual, and hopelessly inept at running across the street during the last five seconds of a flashing crossing signal.

And if that wasn’t bizarre and terrifying enough, there was yet another shock in store for me. When I did finally get that big hard green thing removed from my foot, I found that after months of immobility, my leg couldn’t support any weight, let alone run across any streets. The muscles in my right leg were completely useless — after only four months of disuse! Who could have imagined it!

I’m here to tell all of you who dare to walk freely through the streets of your town or city without a government strolling permit that you are living in a fantasy of indestructibility, and that the next curbside might be the one with your name on it. It happened to me. It can happen to you. And that’s the point: no one is safe from this nightmare of a broken fifth metatarsal. You’re fooling yourself if you think that at your age, rolling over on your foot is all fun and games. Learn the risks. Don’t wait until it’s too late, as I did.

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