Tuesday night was odd. My head felt wooshy when I turned it all the way left or right, but not when I did it just a bit. My shoulders ached. I found myself gazing at the kitchen sink, its stack of glasses and plates and the bits of food I’d scraped off them, the green ruffled heads of strawberries and a few olive pits, with zero will to clean, though, thinking of my future self, the one who will wake up to prepare yet another meal in this same kitchen, I almost always do. But Tuesday night I was too tired. I lay on the couch, eyes closed, and told my kiddo to read her book, mama needed to rest.
Wednesday morning’s workout was rough, my body feeling leaden and brittle as I swung a kettlebell around my head and then lowered into a squat for the battle ropes. I drained my water in the first fifteen minutes. I ran a towel over my face with the annoyed desperation that comes from being winded and fatigued and irritated by one’s own sweat. I told my trainer I might not have eaten enough breakfast.
But by Wednesday afternoon, when walking to the bathroom sent waves of pain through my body, and when my nose began to run and my throat began to ache, I finally thought to myself: oh, this might be Covid. I swirled the long swap inside my nostrils, counting to five and trying to ignore the electric tickle. I set the timer to fifteen minutes. Two red lines. Covid.
The first thing I did was text my trainer that she’d been exposed. The second thing I did was call my doctor. I wanted to know if I should take Paxlovid, the antiviral sometimes prescribed to people whose underlying medical conditions put them at higher risk of serious Covid.
It was a difficult phone call to make. My “underlying condition” is that I’m fat. (I, like many in the fat liberation and body neutrality communities, use that word simply as an even-handed and open-minded descriptor of my body, without moral, cosmetic, or medical judgment attached.) I use the air quotes because I do not view my fatness as a condition, a disease, an aberration, or a problem; this is a hard-won victory, a very hard-won victory. I have worked incredibly hard (and had the help of incredible teachers) to de-pathologize my body for myself, to uncover the body-trust to which I’m entitled, to embrace my genetic…