The Apocalypse Will Be Streamed


After 9 months of taking every reasonable precaution and then some  (masks, social distancing, extreme hand washing, crossing the street to avoid people who looked like idiots) I tested positive for COVID-19 a week before Christmas.

Fourteen days later, I found myself climbing out of my bunker. Coughing, blinking, and surveying the New World. 

My case was “moderate.” 

Trust me, in this case, the word “moderate” does not mean what you think it does.

A few observations follow.

(And no, this is *definitely* not what I asked for for Christmas.)

In my case, “moderate” meant 7 days of 101 plus degree fevers, shortness of breath, plunging O2 Sat levels and a bunch of weird ass symptoms. Including – but not limited to – coughing up blood, circulation issues, acid-like changes in taste + perception.

I live in Los Angeles, which turns out to be the not very well made but impossible to escape sequel to COVID in the spring in New York.

I still have no idea how I got it. 

The day before I got sick I went paddleboarding. In an empty harbor. Did a coronavirus float off somebody’s boat and infect me?

Did an aggressive COVID float through the open window of my truck at a red light? 

Damned if I know.

I avoided social gatherings, restaurants, bars etc .. did all the stuff you’re supposed to do. After successfully ducking and covering my way through 9 months of this damn thing, I thought I had it down. I was wrong. When the numbers spike in your area, don’t assume that what worked before will continue to work.

It  probably won’t.

Leaving politics out of it, it’s easy to see why people are getting #COVID19 wrong.

It’s as if somebody opened a box with twenty diseases in it + set them loose on the World.

Some are so mild you barely notice them. Some are more serious. Some are the Plague. 

Which one do you get?

That depends on how lucky you are and a long list of factors we’re only just starting to understand. 

Of the four healthy adults in my home all four tested positive. 

Two had serious cases. Two had mild to moderate cases. 

I was the worst.

The two people who logically should have had the worst cases, two adults in their eighties, had light cases.

The two younger adults were hit much harder. 

The person with the pre-existing conditions was fine. 

One had neurological symptoms. One had respiratory symptoms.

I was fortunate enough to have excellent medical care. When my oxygen sat levels dropped on day seven and I started developing pneumonia-like symptoms, I knew what it meant and I knew what to do.

My doctors treated me with an off label immunosuppressive (I’m not naming it at my doctor’s request) that got things back under control. I was sick for another ten days.

I was lucky.  A lot of people aren’t.

The evidence suggests most people wait too long to get tested and then hope their symptoms will go away. When they don’t, they don’t know what to do. By the time they seek medical attention it’s too late.

That’s a tragedy. And it needs to change. 

For reasons we all get, there’s been too much time spent on winning unwinnable debates (masks, vaccines, lockdowns) and not enough time spent on telling people what they need to do if they get the disease.

Historians spend a lot of time talking about “fighting the last War.” 

Every time I think of COVID, I think of the #AIDs Epidemic.

There’s a lot of evidence we’ve been fighting the wrong war. There’s been so much hysterical coverage of the numbers and cases totals, as if COVID is a death sentence, when it clearly isn’t.  And nowhere near enough solid reporting on the disease itself.

People’s brains are predictably shutting down. 

What they need to hear is:

What do we know? What don’t we know? What should I do if I get it?

Tell people both sides of the story and let them work it out for themselves.

Want to explain COVID to a friend who doesn’t get it?

Try this made-up scenario: 

The AIDs virus has mutated. It’s airborne and it’s everywhere. In every city and in every country in the World. You can catch it anywhere. On a trip to the grocery store. In a park. Or from a friend.

But this time is different. Most cases are minor. 

There are a staggering range of symptoms and potential health problems you can have if you get it. Some are no big deal. Some are fucking horrible.

And oh all of this may change. The virus could mutate at any time. 

That’s basically COVID.

Does that help you think about things differently?

(Apologies to epidemiologists and anybody affected by AIDS offended by the above.) 

Of course COVID isn’t AIDS. COVID is COVID.  

And that’s more than bad enough.

It’s easy to see why people think they get to pick their own reality with this disease. The problem is you don’t get to pick which COVID you get. 

It picks you.

John Irvine is the founder of Deductible Media. Previously, he built the old Health Care Blog (THCB) into a nationally-read alternative medical journal and opinion page and helped launch the Health 2.0 Conference. A refugee from San Francisco, he now lives in Los Angeles. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter at @scripthacker_

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