What I’m reading


I’ve was finally getting around to reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig, and was really enjoying it but then a couple of things happened.

First, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Not full-on at first for us here in North America, as we all know, but it was clearly spreading farther and farther from its (initial) epicentre. And, rather quickly, it seemed, it was suddenly on Canadian shores and the response from various levels of government was quick and decisive: Everyone go home and stay there.

No more work, no school for a least two weeks past March Break (that’s since been extended)… just go isolate yourself from others as much as possible and keep an eye on yourselves for these specific signs.

Suddenly, as I was staying in the house full-time with my wife and daughter, the pandemic that Wanderers talks about (an even more devastating story for humanity than the extreme scenario portrayed in the excellent Station Eleven) seemed a bit less escapism and a bit close to home.

Paired with that were our numerous hospital visits in our first week of that isolation. Normally we’re pretty good when our daughter gets a fever–par for the course for any parent–but when it kept staying high for over a day straight even with Advil and Tylenol and it was joined by a cough, we decided it was time for action.

Our normally amazing telephone health service TeleHealth Ontario was of course slammed with people calling in over coronavirus concerns and questions. So while we’re used to being able to call the service and usually have someone answer right away, or on very rare occasions finding we have to leave a message and wait for a call back within about an hour, this time we had to leave a message and didn’t get a call back after an hour. Or two. Or four. That clearly wasn’t happening.

We were sure the hospitals and clinics would be jammed with people as well, but with the kiddo’s fever now at 40.5C (105F for those old enough or south of the border), we didn’t have time to keep waiting. I called our nearest hospital and was told it sounded like we were justified in bringing her into Emergency.

Happily, it wound up being the opposite of what I’d expected: There was one patient in Emergency. The triage and registration teams were professional, polite, efficient and quick. We literally barely sat down from one station to be called to the other. And, short story shorter, we were out of there within an hour and a half with a diagnosis of the fever being nasty but just a seasonal flu issue that should pass shortly. Definitely no coronavirus, given our profiles.

The fever finally disappeared the next day, but then a persistent–nay, worsening–cough brought us back there again a couple of days later. And then again the day after that. (’twas croup, of all things, which paired with our daughter’s asthma to be a vicious one-two punch to her already fever-weakened system.)

They got her on new medication, which finally did the trick, and we’re recovering nicely, thank you very much.

But suffice to say, with the pandemic running rampant and everyone keeping away from each other–grocery stores couldn’t keep certain items in stock and the lineups to get in or out were unheard of because of some peoples’ panic that they may close completely–plus then my daughter also lying in bed with a dangerously high fever and concerning cough (which I was getting a touch of and my wife was hoping to not get while taking care of us plus the household), Wanderers was a bit… on-the-nose for me to really enjoy it as much.

So while I was edging closer to the end of it and had already put in all that time with it because I read so slowly, and I wanted to see how it ended–I’d called an earlier big twist in advance, and have a suspicion about how it may wrap up, and I hope not because it would be hugely disappointing–it was also proving not nearly as enjoyable a read as it had been.

That’s changed in the last couple of days, mind you. The girlchild is well over her fever and the cough seems to be dwindling (and while my wife and I both had our own doses of fever and cough, we’re largely over those as well), so I’m back into Wanderers and am quickly closing in on the end of it. Here’s hoping it’s not going to end the way I think it may and I’ll be able to sincerely recommend it.

If so, you’ll hear back about it, because it’s been quite a ride so far.

Fingers crossed.

(Incidentally, I was finally called back by TeleHealth the following Thursday, something in the range of four and a half days after my initial call to them. No comment on them, as this caught all of us badly off-guard and they were no exception. They do amazing work and should only be thanked for their service to the province.)