I was awakened by the fluttering of wings. Bat wings. I had fallen asleep on the futon in our TV room, having dosed myself with two double bourbons, two ibuprofen tablets and a sleeping pill. You see, I was battling COVID and desperate for a good night’s sleep after two consecutive sleepless nights. Startled by this odd, intrusive sound, I sat bolt upright. A small, gray, shadowy creature was flitting around the ceiling, as if looking for a way out. I blinked. Was this really happening? Or was I having a COVID hallucination? We’d never had a bat in our house before.

Before I could make sense of it, the bat was gone. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Nope, either we had a bat in the house, or I had a bat in my belfry. In other words, I was going nuts. Virus-induced insanity.

My wife and I had, until this point, dodged the COVID bullet for all of three years. We had all the COVID vaccinations and boosters and were beginning to feel reasonably safe from the disease, maybe even invulnerable. We had both stopped wearing masks, even in crowded environments. Little did we realize we were tempting fate.

My wife tested positive on a Monday, and me the following day. Our symptoms were much like a very bad cold, with congestion, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fuzzy head and a general lack of energy. Getting out of bed for a trip to the bathroom was exhausting. This was the worst part for me, as the disease hit me when I was particularly busy with a big deadline project. Just writing a letter to my granddaughter completely wore me out. So did making a bowl of cereal, let alone eating it.

Of course, life is all about energy. Einstein educated us to E=mc²: Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Ergo, everything in the universe is a form of energy. So, there’s a whole lot of it out there, just waiting to be tapped. The problem is that this abundant supply of energy is not distributed equally, and being under the weather, I was underenergized. Like the Energizer Bunny in reverse, I had become the Enervated Bunny. Too pooped to whoop.

I’m complaining, but I know I’m lucky. I didn’t end up in the hospital or on a ventilator. I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell, so I could still enjoy my chili cheese Fritos and morning coffee. I didn’t develop long COVID, which could mess up my life in innumerable ways far into the future. I’m turning 70 soon, so I’m hoping for a few more years without significant health problems. If you live long enough, something will eventually bring you down. I’m hoping for the take-you-out heart attack you never see coming. Preferably during a pleasant walk by the ocean on a beautiful fall day. But few of us are the absolute masters of our fate.

I suppose COVID is just part of our medical lives now, like seasonal colds and the flu. Something we just have to learn to live with. It could be so much worse – outbreaks of polio, measles, smallpox, ebola. Thank God for modern medicine. And good bourbon.

Now, if I could just stop hallucinating bats, I’d be just fine.

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