The Well Aging Fiddler - And (drum roll) thump. I've got COVID.

April 10, 2022, 9:33 AM · I’m vaccinated and boosted, so subsequently, It’s a mild case. A few coughs, some sniffles, my head feels rather plugged, and I’m a bit sluggish, but that’s it. I’m now in isolation for a few days. I send out emails letting people know I’ve got covid, with the hope of gaining loads of self-indulgent empathy and sympathy, but I just get polite “be well soon” responses. It seems COVID-19 has become too common to raise people to respond with shock.

mountain volcano

I called my son in Bozeman, Montana, and told him. “Well, dad,” he said. “I think at some point, everyone is going to get it.” He’s probably right.

My wife has COVID.
So does my stepdaughter.
And my grandson.
My teacher has COVID for the second time. She’s been in Australia for three months to play in a couple of concerts and a visit with her family. Well, now she has it again, and we don’t know when she’ll be able to get back to Portland.

Life is on hold.

I don’t feel like practicing. I try, but after fifteen or twenty minutes, I’m exhausted, and I stop.

My attention span is reduced to watching YouTube videos of people stealing packages off porches, and immediately getting caught. They always get caught. Nobody gets away. It’s great. I like that. These videos are oddly entertaining.

Let me tell you a story that may clarify my attitude about this whole experience, because I don’t mean to sound so casual about Covid-19, now that it has landed in my world. Life and death are serious subjects, and this pandemic has underscored that reality.

Here’s where I’m coming from with this entire situation.

Twenty-two years ago, when I was 50 years old, I almost died. I was deep in a forest in northern Wisconsin, and developed an infection in my right knee. What had started out as an enjoyable weekend of attending a photography workshop with half a dozen interesting photographers, turned into a nightmare of pain. My leg swelled so much I couldn’t bend my leg. I was over 100 miles from a hospital.

I was helped into the backseat of a small car, and a colleague graciously drove me to the hospital.

As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I knew there was an excellent chance that I was going to die that day. My leg had taken on an aggressive, bacteria through an open wound in my knee, and the bacteria was rushing through and multiplying in my blood stream. Blood clots were also forming. At any moment, these could become unattached, move to my heart, and kill me. I’d be lucky to get to the hospital.

What surprised me was how calm I felt. It’s not that I wanted to die, but I realized I wasn’t afraid of the experience, should it come to pass. I was 50 years old, and up until that moment, I’d done everything I wanted to do. Whether it succeeded or failed was secondary. I’d never hesitated to try new experiences, and I was at peace.

Long story short - I didn’t die. Four knee operations, a long time in a hospital, an atrophied leg, a wheelchair, crutches, physical therapy, on and on, and I’m fine. Now and then, I get a little pain in my knee, but beyond that I’m up and around.

That was almost 23 years ago.

It was rough, I'm grateful it happened. Every day since then, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. A day hasn't gone by that I don't think - indeed realize - I'm always on borrowed time. Indeed, for all of us, we make assumptions about time and age. Well, the answer is simple. We have today, and that's it. Don't count the years, live the day. Don't buy into "you are such and such an age, therefore, you have to act in such and such a way." Nonsense. You feel 22? Great. Also allow yourself to feel 10 and 40 and 50. You've got a lot of experience, so use it to explore life and your imagination. Don't worry about how much "time" you have left. Focus on your health, focus on your imagination, your family, and don't wait to do whatever you can do, whatever you want to learn, and silence the critics.

If you’re not vaccinated, that’s your decision, but I think you’re making a poor choice. COVID-19 is still here. While the new strains appear weaker, they also appear to be easier to catch. Go get your shots. The odds of getting COVID are big, but with your shots, the odds of dying are low. Again, eat well, exercise, and stay positive. Also, if you do get covid, and you’re too tired to practice your instrument, watch those dumb videos on YouTube. They always get the bad guys.

You’ve got today. Leap in.


April 11, 2022 at 10:20 PM · Glad you're still with us Michael -- and that you're vaxxed and boosted.

April 11, 2022 at 10:47 PM · I was moved by your article out of sympathy for some parallel experiences. In 2017 at age 59, I thought my number was up due to an illness (details unimportant) that is known to have about a 40% mortality rate. I was also surprisingly very calm then, and struck by how my world contracted to respond to the immediate challenges, and longer term concerns just evaporated. On recovery I experienced a major re-alignment in life outlook, including a new dedication to seek accomplishment on the violin - my very first outing on recovery was to buy a new bow.

Fast forward to late 2020, I was in the vanguard of health care workers to get the new vaccine, but also unfortunately was exposed to COVID 24 hours after my first dose. Being very sick with this stange new disease seemed like a reprise of the earlier challenges, to be calm, hope to survive it and pick up the pieces later. I still remember the joy I felt when I picked up my violin again after recovering from that!

If we only could feel that comprehensive embrace of life, undiminished, waking up every day!

April 12, 2022 at 03:20 AM ·

Sometimes, life can be tenuous.

Being aware of COVID around us, my wife and I have been extremely careful. Before any kind of vaccine was available, we wore respirators in stores and such the entire year. Through careful conduct, and being up to date on vaccinations, we've been lucky. We've not yet caught this detrimental disease.

But, one wonders. What will the future bring? The precautions in which we've engaged come at a cost to quality of life. At what point can we begin to relax and visit with family and friends?

However, I think that we must eventually proceed in this direction, even if it brings greater risk.

Best of luck in your full recovery. Hopefully, you won't end up with any long term effects.

April 12, 2022 at 09:21 PM · Thank you, Paul, Charles, and Neil. I appreciate your support. I'm on Day 6, and technically out of isolation, I'm feeling better, but still keeping everything low-key. I practiced for about 45 minutes this morning, and thought, "I'm back!". Then the exhaustion hit me and I went back to bed. That's how this seems to be going. Normal for a little while, then exhausted. Be well.

April 12, 2022 at 10:07 PM · Well put Michael!

You got a painful lesson that cost you quite a bit, and everyone gets various lessons throughout life that come at a cost. The real skill is being able to learn the lessons that others' experiences taught them without needing to go through that pain, so I hope others can take the easy route and learn from your hard won wisdom without having to gamble on their own health.

I'm glad you're feeling better!

April 13, 2022 at 11:14 AM · Oh, man - an unwelcome setback, indeed. But it sounds like you're making progress in your recovery. Keep us posted.

I see some inspirational ideas here - e.g.: "I've learned not to take anything for granted.…We have today, and that's it.…Don't worry about how much 'time' you have left.…Don't wait to do whatever you can do, whatever you want to learn…."

One item, though, that I take issue with: "If you're not vaccinated, that's your decision, but I think you're making a poor choice.…"

Check out

April 13, 2022 at 11:22 AM · Oh, man - an unwelcome setback, indeed. But it sounds like you're making progress in your recovery. Keep us posted.

I see some inspirational ideas here - e.g.: "I've learned not to take anything for granted.…We have today, and that's it.…Don't worry about how much 'time' you have left.…Don't wait to do whatever you can do, whatever you want to learn…."

One item, though, that I take issue with: "If you're not vaccinated, that's your decision, but I think you're making a poor choice.…"

Check out what these healthcare workers had to say on the subject of vaccines. For the record: I am not anti-vax.

April 13, 2022 at 05:16 PM · I'd hazard a guess, Jim, that all those healthcare workers are by now vaccinated or out of jobs. A small subset of people working in the healthcare field can still be functionally illiterate on epidemiology, public health, and immunology - It's just not their area of training and expertise.

You may not be "anti-vax", but being pro "just-sayin'" is not adding any useful information. Your little focus group is 9 months old, and just goes to show that people are scared of things they don't understand.

April 14, 2022 at 11:29 AM · "…people are scared of things they don't understand." And, sometimes, scared of things they do understand. Christian, I'm quite sure these four healthcare workers understood the matter, even 9 months ago, far better than you or I do.

I've heard from people firsthand of some adverse vaccine side-effects - more than enough to give me pause. I don't doubt that these workers have by now actually witnessed, not just heard about, such side-effects.

Hats off to these four. I especially admire what this lady said at 1:20 in the dialogue: "If and when I am ready to get the vaccine, I will get it of my own accord. I won't be forced."

April 14, 2022 at 03:17 PM · No one is running around stabbing people with vaccines against their will.

If someone is scared of something they understand, then they are scared with reason. I know someone that had a severe reaction to one of the vaccines, and I still understand what a statistical anomaly is - I know far more people that have had covid and who have had the vaccine, and they were spared death and hospitalization. Your logic here is incoherent.

Maybe you can find a one-off video about some goofballs that shunned the polio vaccine, since you like sharing old news for some reason?

April 15, 2022 at 11:11 AM · "No one is running around stabbing people with vaccines against their will." True; but vaccine mandates - "get the jab or get fired" - amount to the same thing.

"I know far more people that have had covid and who have had the vaccine, and they were spared death and hospitalization." I don't personally know the individuals you're referring to; so I can't help wondering whether the vaccine is what spared them from death and hospitalization - or whether they would have survived anyway.

Then there's the factor of co-morbidities. I don't know what other conditions these patients did or didn't have. A lot of people have died with the virus, not directly because of it.

April 15, 2022 at 01:26 PM · Thank's guys for reminding me of something I should have done before submitting this blog.

Prior to posting on here, writers are asked, "Do you wish to allow readers to submit public comments to your blogs? Yes or No?"

From now on, for what seems to be exceedingly obvious reasons, I will check "no". I apologize to the readers for not doing that in the first place.


April 16, 2022 at 03:48 PM · Regarding "something I should have done before submitting this blog.…From now on…I will check 'no'" - i.e., for whether or not to allow readers' comments.

I wonder if you might reconsider this. As a blogger myself, I know the value of reader response to gauge what resonates with the audience - or, maybe, what turns them off. Then, too, after 7 days, blogs get archived and no longer accept new comments. So the odds are that the comments section wouldn't get too full to deal with.

When authors don't allow comments, I can't help wondering if they're ill prepared or just too thin-skinned to deal with legitimate dissent. I'm not saying this is true of you - I don't know you.

I'm fine with writers offering opinions I disagree with - e.g., "If you're not vaccinated…I think you're making a poor choice." I can deal with that; but it's nice when we, the readers, have a way to respond. I am a published freelance writer and have done some op-eds in the past. One thing I learned early from professional editors is that, among "Letters to the Editor" submissions, the ones that actually add something to the discussion - i.e., by extending or balancing it, or even challenging the narrative - are the ones that have the best shot at getting published.

If one of my online readers takes the discussion off the rails, I would rather deal directly with that person than deprive the whole audience of any discussion.

Even the poster who challenged me - see above - stayed within the writer guidelines, as far as I can tell, even if he did get a bit snarky at times. If he had offered more pushback, I would have invited him to continue the dialogue off site by email. Any audience will get weary of the same two voices firing back and forth at each other.

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