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Covid-19 assaults every sense but common sense

By Matthew Delaney

Losing your senses both detaches you from reality and clarifies it in a weird way. 

Oh yeah – I got Covid. It looks as if, despite the hopes of Big Pharma and my completely vaccinated friends and family, I’m going to pull through. 

As luck would have it, I seemed to get the mid-Atlantic’s final gasp of the Delta variant. I got the works, too: fever, chills and aches for about three nights, then a big sweat before I rebounded. Now I essentially have a lingering, low-grade sinus infection and, yes, no sensation coming from my nose or mouth. 

When you lose your taste and smell, you go a bit crazy. Not being able to enjoy food is the worst part, but those small things you miss out on add up: the post-teeth-brushing satisfaction of a clean mouth, a loved one’s familiar scent, and, personally, the fumes of gasoline. 

These features of life inform your perception about what’s true in the world and what’s not. Although when those senses get shut off, you start to focus on what you see, hear and can touch more than before. 

It gets a bit freaky acknowledging how much this pandemic has affected the reality only those senses affect. 

Your eyes are the most obvious one. Thanks to the amount of media we’ve all consumed over the past 21 months, we saw a virus that was so serious we had to shut down entire economies. Leaders stood behind podiums and made stern faces about the situation. We were all in this together. Except for beloved big businesses. And rioters. And anyone who was a Democrat politician or had proximity to them. 

Now when your eyes weren’t convinced, your ears could hear the fear in everyone’s voice (particularly if you live in a blue area). From the anxious “sir, do you have a mask?” when entering a restaurant to the exasperated relief of your co-workers’ after receiving a first, second, or booster dose of the vaccine. There must be a baseline quiver in each spoken word on Covid.   

What really drove our divorce from reality home is the lack of touch. Never mind how much this has proven to be theater given the disease doesn’t transmit through contact. You had to do away with sacred connections such as shaking hands, hugs and, in some countries, kissing for the sake of public health. Worst of all, some weren’t even allowed to be near loved ones in their final moments, or their newborns in their first moments. 

Everything about how our senses have been treated over this pandemic has been done in the effort to make you take this virus seriously…or else. 

Witness the next round of hysteria that’s coming from the Omicron variant. Look, hear, and feel how fearful people are. Especially now that it’s affecting the “important” people in northeastern states who have outsized say in the mood of the country. 

But the one “sense” that can’t be pried from you during this pandemic is your own common sense. 

We never saw images of bodies in the street. Nor did we get the urge to tell others to “Be afraid” of a virus with a 99.7% chance of survival. Rarely, if ever, did we touch elbows with someone. Basically, a lot of people never bought what was being sold. Now we’re moving on with our lives like we ought to. 

That line is easier to hold when you can taste and smell. They anchor you to reality in a manner that can’t be challenged socially. But when those vanish – at least, God willing, temporarily – you have to check in with your gut and remind yourself about what you know to be true. 

If I can impart one piece of wisdom from my own experience onto you, it’s to stay mentally strong. Within days of accepting that I was going to get the virus, I got it. And I’m a guy who attended a 100-person house party for New Year’s and traveled all over this country for the past two months. 

Not once was I afraid that I’d get Covid from those events simply because I believed I wouldn’t. I caught it once I signed the silent contract. I embraced the hunch that Omicron is the mild, immunity-building sniffles that will put this pandemic behind us, and that I would be better for getting this variant. 

So, I let my guard down. Like a lion lurking in tall grass, the virus pounced on me right when I made myself vulnerable. There are studies I could point to about how your health is directly linked with your mindset, or others that show your fear weakens your immune system. But that would be missing the point. 

You don’t need me to show you hard science to convince you. You know I got sick because I abandoned my common sense. I’m paying the price for that decision – hopefully, not for much longer (it’s already been 10 days for me). 

I just hope my own moment of weakness will serve as a reminder that you have more control over your health than anything The Science™ or a politician could ever imagine. As long as you don’t lose touch with your most important “sense,” that is.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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