The Walking Dead

HIPAA laws be damned. I’m going to break some patient/doctor confidentiality. It’s legal if the patient does it, right? I’m not the one who took the oath.

At the end of September, my annual medical examination was looming large on my calendar with a big red “X”. This past year I’ve had more medical “nuisances” than I’ve had in a long time. The dual threat of the pandemic and old age setting in hit me like a ton of bricks. And no amount of Extra Strength Time-Released Tylenol can ease that pain.

As the day of my doctor appointment approached, I typed a running list of medical maladies into the Evernote app on my phone. I wanted to make sure I mentioned all my ailments to the doctor. I have to write them down ahead of time. I can never remember all of them all when I’m on the exam table in the doctor’s office.

I won’t bore you with the details, mostly a lot of generic aches and pains. When added together, I was afraid they might be a sign of something more ominous. I was concerned about the toll the pandemic has taken on me. I’m not comfortable returning to my workouts at the gym. My exercise program has been severely curtailed. I wasn’t exceptionally active before the pandemic, but I thought fear of Covid-19 was a good excuse to scale back even more. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. According to my doctor, my elevated blood pressure is high enough to warrant a second pill added to my regiment. I need cut out my weekend martinis and stop liberally dusting everything with kosher salt (thanks, Food Network). 

I watched my doctor take notes as I explained a years worth of health problems to him. I told him about the pain and soreness in my left arm since I got vaccinated last April. I noted on certain days I have trouble opening water bottles and food packages. I told him about waking up in the morning with pain in my hands and going to bed at night with pain in my feet. Some days it feels like my legs can’t support the weight of my body. I think his exact words were, “Uh-huh” “Mm-hmm” and “Hmmm…”.

I wasn’t prepared for the results of my exam. Luckily I was sitting down. 

“You are not alive,” the doctor concluded.

When he matter-of-factly told me this, I’m sure I didn’t look very alive as all the color drained from my face. I had an out-of-body experience for a split-second as I tried to digest what I just heard. I may not be alive, doctor, but you certainly have no bedside manner.

The doctor continued. “You need to snap out of this post-pandemic funk and start doing things again. It’s easy to let what is happening in the world bring you down. You have to get back to some kind of normalcy. We all do.”

He was right. Working from home doesn’t give me much of a social outlet. I told him I used to enjoy the adventures of my everyday life. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I met a new person. He told me he sympathized. The only people he sees are his patients and only because they are sick. I started to feel better as I realized the pandemic was affecting my doctor as much as it was affecting me. Misery loves company, as they say. 

I’ve lost a year-and-a-half of my life, like everyone else who has endured this pandemic. I’ve been fortunate not to catch Covid-19, and I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I know I’m not alone. Our entire way of life has changed. This virus, and all that comes with it, has crushed the very soul of our society. We’ve got a long way to go just to get back to square one (if square one even still exists). My doctor was wrong. I am alive. Now I just have to start living.

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