Ailin Quinlan: Post-Covid, stitches out... but I’ve a nagging fear for future

Covid sure does to hoover up your mojo, so says Ailin Quinlan who has thankfully recovered from the virus
Ailin Quinlan: Post-Covid, stitches out... but I’ve a nagging fear for future

A NEW NORMAL: Clubbers at Tramline Nightclub in Dublin, after the easing of coronavirus restrictions last weekend

“WHAT are you going to dress up as for Hallowe’en,” my husband asked faux-innocently. “Oh no, I forgot,” he continued, “you had me there – all you have to do is throw a few slashes in a black garbage bag and stick a plastic bolt to your face and you’re done, Frankenstein.”

Oh, ho, ho, ho, I said mirthlessly.

I knew better than to expect the empathy to last forever, but I could have done with another day of it.

I was returning to the real world, post-isolation, to get the stitches out (read my column here for the full, sorry saga).

Beforehand, I googled the estimated level of pain involved in having stitches removed. The internet was reassuring; it shouldn’t hurt that much at all, apparently. All I should expect to experience was a twinge and then a slight ‘pulling’ sensation.

But no. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. “Arrggh,” I shrieked and grabbed at the doctor’s sleeve.

Had I thought to take some Panadol beforehand, she inquired patiently. 

“No,” I said crossly. “Why on earth would I think of that?” 

I’d never had stitches out before, I told her. And I’d googled stitch-removal. The website had said it wouldn’t hurt.

Ah, though, see, she said patiently, I was getting six or seven of the things taken out of my forehead. I was lucky the stitches weren’t tight. The forehead, she informed me, was pretty sensitive territory. It certainly was.

“God,” I howled, “that hurt.”

“You could have taken Panadol,” she reminded me.

“God, would you stop about the Panadol,” I whined. “How many more?”

“Just about two or three more to go,” she lied brightly.

Finally, it was over. But I was in no form to go home and get the dinner. 

Covid sure does tend to hoover up your mojo. And after several days of having to cook while I slumped pathetically in the corner, my husband wanted to eat out somewhere because he was experiencing the onset of cheffing-fatigue.

“You made that up,” I accused him as we crossed the road towards the nearest restaurant, which was Indian. “There’s actually no such thing as cheffing-fatigue.” “And,” I added ungratefully, “what you were doing hardly amounted to cheffing.”

He’d made at least three good dinners he protested. I snorted.

“Let’s celebrate your recovery and your escape from isolation, and our return to normal post-Covid life,” he said cheerfully. 

Yeah right, I said. “Let’s be festive.” It was festive alright.

We were shown to a corner table in the otherwise completely empty restaurant by a socially-distancing waiter, who immediately requested us to present our digital Covid Vaccination Certificates. We left our masks on until the food was served. The staff remained masked.

The restaurant was silent because there were no other diners around to make chatter. The guy behind the reception desk didn’t turn on any music, probably because of rising electricity costs.

We sat and looked on glumly as a series of masked individuals hurried in and out to collect takeaways. 

“We should just have got takeaways. Maybe let’s skip the starter,” I said. “It’s a bit quiet here alright,” my husband said.

We gave the masked, silent waiter our orders, skipping the starters. But look, my husband added, at least life was back to some semblance of normality. At least, the restaurant was open. And, for example the night clubs had reopened, not that we ever went to one.

“Life is not back to any semblance of normality. When did a nightclub ever signify any kind of normality?” I said.

We munched for a while on those big cracker things Indian restaurants give you before the meal with pots of some kind of spiced yoghurt dip and chopped-up onion and stuff. “What are these things called again,” I said. “I’m still a bit slow remembering some words thanks to that bang on the head.”

“I think they’re called pappadums,” my husband said.

“I can’t believe I couldn’t remember that,” I said worriedly.

The masked waiter approached with our meals. We put on our masks quickly. We took them off again once he had hurried away. 

“This is all very unnerving. I can’t keep up with what’s happening,” I said. “None of it makes sense. I don’t understand it.”

Thanks to the easing of restrictions, there was now this hugely increased level of social contact and a lot of indoor socialising. People weren’t being that careful any more.

We’ve had a rapid increase in cases of the virus both nationally and across all age groups. And yet the government said people didn’t have to wear face masks while eating, drinking or dancing in nightclubs.

High numbers of young un-vaccinated people are socialising and interacting. They appear to be oblivious to the devastating effects of Delta on those who either don’t have the protection of the vaccine ‘fire blanket’ or on those who have the vaccine but also have severe underlying health conditions.”

Stop worrying,” my husband said.”You’ve had Covid now.”

Meanwhile, I added, we’re heading into winter, which is always a time when infections accelerate. The pressure on our under-equipped and poorly resourced health service is escalating. Doctors are expressing growing concern at the pressure the latest wave of infection is putting on intensive care units and causing a vast cancellation of surgeries.

“This celebration is way too much fun. You should rest more and read less news,” my husband observed.

“Did you know,” I said, “that a new variant known as ‘delta-plus’ is becoming a cause for concern in Britain? Known as AY.4.2, it’s believed to be up to 10% more transmissible than the original version of delta, which is already highly contagious. Could this potentially cause a new rampage? What do I know? What do any of us know,” I pondered. “Did you hear that the HSE will be abandoning non-Covid services again this winter?”

“You know what” my husband said, “let’s just finish up here and go home.”

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