My family recently took a dream cruise to Alaska, home of the amazing Mendenhall Glacier and Endicott Arms, majestic bald eagles, fierce black bears and the cunning COVID calamity.
Whoa there, back up the bus!
You read right. Out of 13 family members who boarded this love boat, about seven of us came home with an unpleasant souvenir. A beast more fierce than any snarling grizzly – COVID.
Surprisingly, most of us had never experienced a bout with the virus.
Now, before you join the legion of social media venters: “I took a cruise and caught the bug!” “The cruise line didn’t protect its passengers,” “People boarded elevators without masks and no one reprimanded them…” I can safely say, when you go on a cruise, there is absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt no way possible you can attach a virus infection to a cruise line.
I thought our cruise company did an admirable job of ensuring the safety of passengers. And, everyone on that ship tested negative to board.
That said, we did travel through crowded, unmasked airports. We did undertake a number of land and boat excursions where maskless folks may have gotten a bit too close for comfort (not placing blame as I was stuffing my open-air face with complimentary donut holes many a time).
On our various stops, I do recall some overcrowded gift stores, including a certain famous tourist attraction in Juneau where about 100 people were crammed into a tiny gift shop. I slapped on my mask once I realized there was a bit too much heavy breathing going on.
Yes, there were far too many opportunities for cunning COVID to infiltrate our well-planned vacation.
It revealed its presence to me in the form of coughing, sneezing and congestion on the day of our return. When we got home, I thought, I should just do a self-test.
Within minutes, both lines faintly appeared, indicating positivity.
I immediately texted our group, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news….”
Suddenly, my mother who had been experiencing congestion onboard and two of my sister-in-law’s who holed up in their cabins for a few afternoons, came to mind.
My brother and sister-in-law home-tested my mom the next morning. Yup, positive. Within the following day, our group text pings rang out with chimes of “positive.” My brother at first said, “I just have a cold,” but eventually got the plus ping himself.
Through the din of this rapid-fire testing, I realized some people don’t necessarily want to know if they’re positive. You know, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
As this was my first verified experience with COVID, I can safely say, It could have been worse.
I felt pretty crappy around day two, but then, things eased quickly.
I told one of my brothers who I’ve nick-named “Alex Keaton” for GOP-related reasons, that I was happy to be vaxxed and double boosted. That this was undoubtedly the reason for the virus’ weak reaction.
He said, “I don’t know if it’s all because of THAT…” (In the past I had been accused by Mr. Keaton of drinking too much of the COVID Kool-Aid.)
That said, I was RELIEVED that COVID found me. I had been wondering when the ball would drop and that I was finally experiencing what millions had survived. In my case, I likened it to a common cold, nothing more.
When those two little test lines first appeared, I immediately recalled the early days of the pandemic – people on respirators, body bags, endless case counts.
Thankfully, that appears to be in the past, and fortunately, all my family was fine. The recurring variant waves and booster upon booster have weakened the virus to something most of us can cure with cold medicine.
I hate to admit that going on that cruise was worth every nose blow, every cough, every sneeze, but it was. And, I would do it again in a second.
What I learned by stepping upon those planks, was a reminder of the importance and frailty of life. The significance of family and of laughing and of loving and being able to experience the miracles of nature and humankind.
The being in the here and now.
And, that, perhaps is the greatest remedy of all.
With that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”