Day six of covid infection…
Finally beginning to feel human again after five horrendous days of illness this past week.
My experience with this illness has been very educational and directly responsible for an environment where my basic brain functionality suffered a major impairment of unprecedented character in my nearly seven decades of life. In my life, I’ve been knocked unconscious, suffered a fairly serious concussion in a car accident, and as a young man, occasionally overindulged in libations of one sort or another, but this condition was unlike any previously encountered. I seemed reasonably awake and self-aware in a general sense, but throughout, utterly incapable of focusing longer than a few continuous seconds before a wave of confusion and mental chaos would ensue, making any mental effort almost pointless.
Generally described as a kind of “brain fog,” the condition was not only extremely unpleasant physically, but debilitating to my typically lively and intense pursuit of a passionate curiosity. I found myself oddly incapable of even beginning to form a description of my experience while enduring it, and yet fully aware of the severity of my condition. To say it unsettled me hardly even approaches an accurate accounting of the feelings it stirred within me. This was, by far, the most daunting of the many typical symptoms for me to endure. Even as I write, the effort to simply recall how it affected me is worrisome. The illness, as unpleasant as it all was, was described by the healthcare experts as “mild,” considering that I was fully vaccinated and did not require hospitalization or a breathing tube. I recognize how fortunate I have been in this regard and am enormously grateful for the science which provided the preventative protection from severe illness. Several members of my extended social community and others I know have perished as a result of covid, and the suffering of millions of my fellow humans puts my own predicament in clear perspective. It could have been much worse.
Our brains are nothing short of miraculous as survival tools go, and fortunately, many of our most valuable processes and brain functions operate autonomously without our conscious intervention. I doubt our species would have long survived were it otherwise. There is, however, an extremely important part of the story of brain physiology which we must acknowledge does fall within the purview of our conscious awareness. “Using one’s head,” as it were, “keeping our wits about us,” are partly within our range of responsibility, and exercising our capacities through conscientious application of mental effort is the least we can do when challenged by life’s uncertainties and ambiguities. It’s not all just instinctive for Homo sapiens!
I continue to gradually improve this week and hope to post shortly with a clearer mind and perspective before long.