Covid-19 Sucks. I Should Know.
By Paul James
Back in February, I got sick. Really sick. There were nights when I closed my eyes and wondered if I would see the light of day. I spent three weeks in bed, gasping for air and unable to take more than a few steps at a time. My wife kept insisting that I go to the hospital, but I stubbornly refused, convinced that in time I’d get through whatever was ravaging my body. Turns out, it was Covid-19.
It was another three weeks before I began to get my strength back and feel some semblance of normal. In the interim one of my biggest concerns (other than dying) was whether I’d be able to plant potatoes. After all, in 41 years I’d never not planted potatoes (more on that later).
Yes, I went to the doctor. Twice. I was so weak I needed a wheelchair just to go down the hall for a chest x-ray. I tested negative for flu and positive for pneumonia, but I’d had pneumonia more than once before and this was different. At the time there wasn’t a doctor within 500 miles who was thinking about Covid, and there weren’t any tests for it anyway. I was asked if I’d traveled out of the country recently, and I jokingly mentioned “that weekend in Wuhan.” (I may have lost my sense of taste and smell temporarily, but not my sense of humor.)
So just how did I get infected? I can’t say with certainty. However, in February my wife, Carrie, traveled to New York City on business, and to visit our daughter in Queens, which would within a week or so become the nation’s coronavirus epicenter. I got sick five days after she returned home. Coincidence? Perhaps. Who knows?
Now back to the taters. In early March, Carrie knew I needed something to boost my spirits, so she put a lawn chair in the veggie garden, and after taking more than 10 minutes to walk less than 50 feet, I sat down, utterly exhausted. She then looked straight at me, and with shovel in hand asked, “Just where and how do I plant these potatoes?”
I told her which beds to plant, how deep to plant each potato, and how far apart to space them. Within an hour, she’d planted 45 tubers, impressive given that it was her first time. Later in July we began the harvest, and only this week did we finally eat the last of what I’m convinced were the best-tasting potatoes ever.
I still have a few health issues that may or may not be related to Covid, although by and large I’m okay. But having been through such an awful — and at times, frightening — experience, I have one small and simple favor to ask all of you reading this: Please, wear a mask!
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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