I’ve written very little since January 2021. I stopped because of a long commute to full-time work which ate up ten hours of each weekday. Eighteen months on, I’m working less but still not writing. Then, at the start of winter on June 3, I caught COVID.
It was nasty.
Breathing was tricky because I’m a chronic asthmatic. There was a constant wheeze, a small, creaking rattle in my chest after each coughing fit. That made me doubt if I would recover. Worst scenario images played out in my head. Self-help was needed because I had to stay positive that I would get up and active again in a few more days. I needed real belief in wellness when I was grappling with a blinding headache that wouldn’t quit.
My husband looked after me. Staying in another room, he’d deliver anything I needed. It felt like someone shoved a scouring pad deep down my throat, so I wasn’t hungry. He mostly dropped off bowls of cereal, but never visited for long. Keeping his distance, there wasn’t much conversation. Thankfully, I didn’t pass on coronavirus, but I wouldn’t have managed on my own.
Too sick to tolerate daytime TV, I read prolifically, bit by bit. Just a couple of paragraphs or pages between fitful naps. Over eleven days, I delved into a lot of stories. Reading material had piled up under my bedside table for the rainy days that never come, for holidays too crammed with the other stuff of life. But I had time now; I could just reach the books without getting out of bed. Three fat works of fiction, four self-help books, and five old and new magazines. I couldn’t concentrate for long, exhausted by insidious Corona, but reading stopped me from dwelling.
It always has.
Television engages eyes and ears, but books engage every sense, the soul, and the imagination. Even on the first worst days, I didn’t notice the wretchedness of the dry throat when I was reading about someone else somewhere else. And the words led to another time, skewing the hours, stretching them out or speeding them up, so I wasn’t so aware of how uncomfortable it was in the moment.
Books make you disappear.
Regardless of what I read; my mind spun off on a tangent. I had no deep focus, only fleeting moments of attention. I’d read a word, and the meaning would springboard me into…