Back when it was just a foreign concept whose name was limited to public health journals and the occasional horror movie, my sister and I used to joke about Ebola. Every time we got the flu and felt like garbage we would text each other “Ugh, I have Ebola.” It was shorthand for “I feel very under the weather at the moment.”
But now that it’s finally happened, this snaking into the global population that public health experts have warned of for many years, we stopped joking about having Ebola because now we might ACTUALLY HAVE EBOLA.
I know the risks are low. They are, for now, still very low, and I am grateful for that. But it’s hard not to panic unless you turn off the TV, because all we see are bridal shops being bleached and entire school districts shutting down because someone rode on a plane with someone who might have at one point been symptomatic. My own school district just sent out an email assuring us that they have an Ebola plan in place, and we’re in San Diego, with not an exposed person to be found. Preparation is key, though, so I’m glad they are thinking of it.
I was at the doctor yesterday, for a routine sort of thing, and when they took my temperature the doctor noted it was 99.5.
“Are you feeling sick?” she asked.
“Well, I do have the tiniest bit of a sore throat, now that you mention it,” I said. “I’ve been travelling all week, and you know how that goes. I mean, I lysol that plane seat down and…” My voice trailed off as I noticed her giving me the side eye.
“Not to Dallas,” I said. “New York. No one I met had Ebola.”
“Oh, thank goodness for that,” she said. “How about West Africa?”
“No,” I said. “Do you get that a lot?”
“No,” she said.
“So you don’t think I have Ebola?” I asked, being serious.
“No,” she said.
So she gave me a flu shot instead. I had totally forgotten about the flu in the midst of this Ebolademic, to be honest. Fortunately for me, she hadn’t.
As I stood in line at the pharmacy behind an elderly emphysematics on oxygen, a guy picking up Lipitor and a diabetic purchasing insulin, I looked down at her discharge notes: take Vitamin D. Wash your hands. Get some sleep. But just to be safe, and because I want to protect my spin buddies, I decided on a self-imposed quarantine from the gym for the next 24 hours. Can’t be too careful.