Getting Sick During a Pandemic

I have said in many posts that I have been blessed and thankful for my health. I was never joking about that but at a few points in the year, I was a little concerned that in fact, I was sick. 

I’m an asthmatic, a lifelong asthmatic. While many will grow out of their childhood symptoms, I’ll be stuck with mine until I go off into that good sweet night. Now, asthma is no excuse to not workout or not move around and I honestly am very lucky. My asthma is pretty mild and there are only a few moments in my life I can think of where my asthma has never held me back. I was not able to climb an active volcano, I could not make short walk up mountain and every once in a while an exercise was too difficult to do without a rest. 

Being asthmatic does mean I am prone to respiratory infections: one of the reasons I have taken the COVID-19 pandemic so seriously. I am already incredibly prone to bronchitis, pneumonia and upper respiratory infections and I do get sick a decent amount of times per year depending on the year. Con plague is a condition I’m very prone to because you will get sick after being in a room full of sweaty nerds all weekend. I get a chest cold usually in the winter as the weather turns cold. Walking pneumonia isn’t super uncommon for me in the summer but I always manage. I’m lucky. My asthma is usually fairly under control and I can be active if I so choose to be. 

During the start of the pandemic, I maintained physical activity the best I could. I’d go for walks, play Pokemon Go outside, play Just Dance; I moved and had no problem doing so. I think it was during the summer when I lost my job that I also came down with a pretty common summer cold that I just couldn’t shake. I got winded much easier than I normally did and thanks to my depression it got easier and easier to ignore my need to exercise. I got weaker and weaker over the months as my new job allowed me to continue to work from home. That’s when I noticed the shortness of breath. It was harder and harder to talk to my car, go to the grocery store; just to live. But I brushed it off and assumed it was part and parcel of the chest cold. The symptoms ebbed and flowed for honestly, months, but the weakness and lack of stamina was the issue I was most troubled by. I couldn’t work out or move around more if I wanted to. It was like my body just quit on me. If my body was willing to quit, I was happy to let it and I slid further and further into a somehow even more sedentary lifestyle. 

It was in November that I had noticed the swelling in my feet and ankles; I assumed it was an injury but quickly I learned that it was from poor circulation due to a lack of movement. I ordered compression socks online and some desk pedals hoping that I could will myself to move at all. Both worked with some success but not in enough time for my symptoms to be gone by the time I visited home for Christmas. My aunts of course noticed my fat ankles and lack of ability to maintain breath while going through the entire grocery store aisle by aisle. My aunts doted on me and that only added to my distress and discomfort about not being as well as I used to be and that feeling of self-hatred made it much easier to continue to push down the fact that really, I should see a doctor. I did my best to ignore that I wasn’t feeling well and hide that from those closest to me. 

It wasn’t until I got home for Christmas that I realized I was backpedaling further than I already had. By New Year’s Eve I was exhausted and couldn’t breathe. After New Year’s I was having a hard time going room to room without having to take a break or having to stop and catch my breath. Friday night I did a telemedicine appointment which reminded me of all the reasons I hate going to the doctor and was given a pretty inconclusive diagnosis. It was either COVID-19 or Pulmonary Edema; neither answer was great. Saturday I drug myself to a local urgent care to get tested for COVID-19 and figure out what was wrong with me. 

Arriving at the med clinic was less than fun but with my symptoms I was indeed tested for COVID-19 because cough, shortness of breath and being tired all ring the COVID-19 bell. I waited for my test results while another storm brewed (one that may be discussed later). I tested negative; a weight that honestly I could feel leaving me and I was left with a much more reasonable solution: it was either pneumonia or a severe upper respiratory infection; conditions I’ve lived with my whole life as an asthmatic. 

I’m finally on the right combination of medicines that make me feel less like I’m dying and more like I can actually breathe. It took longer than usual to get the right medical help thanks to the pandemic but I’m glad to be on the mend. I’ve been sleeping a lot, watching a ton of reality television and trying to make sure I eat because of the literal brown paper bag full of medication I was sent home with. But that’s the story of how I got sick during the pandemic and I must admit, I do not recommend it. There’s a strange kind of hell that people with pre-existing respiratory illnesses have been in thanks to a pandemic that has made coughing, being short of breath and being tired all the time as small pieces of social shorthand for disaster. Spoiler alert, asthmatics will cough. Asthmatics will be short of breath. Asthmatics will be tired; our lungs don’t work, give us a break. I understand the pandemic is scary and bad but jeez, it is exhausting having to feel like every time I cough due to something completely innocuous and feel an entire store’s set of eyes on me. 

Well, that’s the story of how I got sick during the pandemic and somehow, it wasn’t COVID-19. I hope this little bit of vulnerability is helpful for y’all. 

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Body Positively Shamed

Fashion is made to become unfashionable.Coco Chanel.png

I am a shapely thing and by shapely I mean I have a shape. Round is a shape. I think at my smallest weight post-puberty I was maybe 180 lbs. I’m also only 5’1’’.  But in all of that, I’ve always struggled with finding myself “empowered” by my body. I’ve never felt attractive or pretty in conventional senses and I feel the most “in my skin” when I’m in costume. So with the recent trend of “body positivity” I’ve been caught between a rock in a hard place.  How does one stay true to who they are while also embracing positivity and not shaming anyone and not be shamed themselves?

I’m not one for crop tops. I’m not one for super short shorts. I dislike short skirts and dresses. I don’t like showing off my stomach and if I can hide my imperfections, I’m much happier in a one-piece swimsuit than a bikini: hell, I just recently started swimming in just the suit and not in a full t-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit. But with this lovely trend of “being body positive” and “ignore the haters” it’s been encouraged that women of all body shapes should wear whatever they want. And they should. If it makes them comfortable.

I love seeing big girls in crop tops and skinny girls in oversized t-shirts. I love seeing men in skirts and women in suits. Wear whatever the hell you want. But don’t feel like you have to compromise who you are. At the end of the day, I’m a relatively conservative dresser (even in costume be it male or female). As said before, I’m not comfortable showing off my midriff. So even though I think the girl on the boss rocking a crop top is fierce, it just isn’t my style.  And I will never condone anyone shaming someone who feels comfortable in what they’re wearing. It’s difficult seeing plus-sized models rocking an outfit and being shamed online with some of the most hateful venom I’ve seen online. It’s disappointing. What’s even more disappointing is mentioning that it isn’t exactly my style to wear something so short and being told that I should just “loosen up” or “be more in tune with myself”. I am in tune with myself. And that means I don’t want to show the world my stretch marks.  

Body positivity from what I’ve understood it means accepting who you are and I’m not ready to accept that I have zero torso and wide hips. I’m also getting older. I’m a Southern lady. There’s no excuse outside of a Truman Capote beach party that I as a person pushing 30 to wear a mesh crop top. No shame to the gents and gals at Pride rocking the same look, though. I’m short so that doesn’t mean that I want to wear heels that would make it easier for me to reach the dishes on the top shelf. But it comes from a legitimate place. Women’s bodies are hilariously (and by “hilarious” I mean it’s demeaning, cruel and disgusting that this is still a thing that happens in 2017) policed by mostly men and sometimes other women. Women are told not to wear certain things and they become the targets of criticism if they dress a certain way. And with such a history of being told what and how to wear things I get how bigger girls and guys can bristle at being told simply to lose weight or diet before wearing something. Fun fact, if it was that easy sometimes to lose weight I doubt obesity would be the problem it is in most of the developed world. And there are such a variety of body shapes that occasionally even relatively healthy people can be bigger in clothing sizes then you’d expect. Additionally, telling plus-sized models all the “health problems” that come along with being of size is just tragic at times. I am fully aware that my size puts me at risk for countless things, you know what the number one cause of mortality is? Being alive. If cheesecake shortens my life then viva la cheesecake.

But one thing I keep coming back to is there’s a difference between dressing for your body and dressing as you want. I can’t wear maxi dresses, I’m short, I look like someone threw fabric over me and left me to rot in a cloth coffin. Ill-fitting clothes, shorts that are too short and show me more of your business than you may expect and other moments when fashion fails you are somehow different from “policing bodies” as it is just “fashion knowledge”.  

When I was younger, I loved What Not to Wear and I still love Project Runway. Fashion is important to me and knowing how to dress your body is vastly important: and it’s easy to be a feminist and still desire modesty. I don’t consider myself any less a feminist if I’m showing off my neckline than I do if I’m covered up. And what I wear to mass or a sacred place is vastly different than what I’d wear out with friends or even to convention. There are sometimes that certain pieces of clothing just aren’t appropriate and claiming “body positivity” isn’t helpful when it’s used to excuse inappropriate fashion choices. A flower crown may be great for Coachella but less than ideal for a job interview.

I mentioned cosplay earlier and it’s one I wanted to pick back up briefly. I started cosplaying many years ago and quickly felt uncomfortable as insert generic Japanese school girl costumes. So I found crossplay and made a mark cosplaying as male characters. I felt far more empowered bound and in pants then I ever did in a skimpy miko costume. Suddenly, if I was objectified, it was on my terms. Suddenly, I had control over how much skin I was showing. It wasn’t until I was much older that I felt comfortable cosplaying Fem! or female characters again but I did so my way. I don’t show a ton of skin. I keep my dresses and skirts long. I cover up. I wear tights and usually shorts under dresses. I pick alternate character costumes and the times that I do show off skin it’s for small photo shoots. And it’s my history with cosplay that made me so comfortable at times ignoring or augmenting clothing items. When you’re my height and weight it’s very difficult to buy anything off rack to tailoring, hemming and adjusting colors and seams became second nature.  The additions or subtractions got to be fun signatures to me while also asserting that somewhere under the confused former punk turned prep aesthetic of my current wardrobe that there was something uniquely me in there somewhere.

The moral of the story is stay confident in what you want to wear. I leave the house plenty of times in a graphic t-shirt and a skirt or skinny jeans and I’m damn near 30. Tall girls, wear heels. Short girls, wear flats. Men, continue to slay the makeup game and contour better than me. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. And respect what others are wearing to make them feel comfortable. For so many people fashion and what you wear is so much more than just fabric. It’s an expression of gender identity. Of pride. Of what you love and what you stand for. And whether you’re out and proud or modest, be kind to each other and what their wearing. Each outfit tells a story and each story deserves to be told.