The Virus Hi-Jacked My Brain: Fear & Loathing In The Land Of Covid–or, How to Become A Zombie in One Small Step

Sage advice, from Hunter S. Thompson, one of the best

So, the Feel Like A Stranger portion of the Covid Trip began last night when the virus hi-jacked my brain.

In a matter of moments, I went from savoring a couple tablespoons of Jalapeño Pimento cheese, to not being able to smell Vick’s Vap-O-Rub. At. All. Recognizing this, I popped a Goldfish cracker in my mouth, and damn if taste hadn’t bounced too. They just ran off together.

”So what?” you may ask. Well, here’s what: I still have both a tongue and a nose; so, it’s safe to assume all my olfactory equipment is still in place. Yet, even with the physical pieces still there, the big interpreter between my ears is AWOL. 

You don’t smell with your nose, or taste with your tongue. You smell  and taste with your brain. And this Covid virus hi-jacked my brain.

It’s not just smell and taste that are on the fritz

This morning, I’m f o g g g g y y y . I mean noticeably – s l o o o o w. The virus is affecting my brain, and I know it.  Knowing it is a curse; the curse of knowing too much, because, I cannot simply retreat into a pleasant cocoon of blissful ignorance.

It’s possible some of my fog is self-induced, because fear and stress definitely impair cognitive function. But look, I’ve had self-induced paranoia before, and plenty of stress, but these have never impeded my sense of taste, or smell. And…in the absence of congested sinuses, neither has a common cold. You?

Because of all this, I’m freaked in the way you freak when the acid kicks in, and it gets a little too weird, and you have those first indications that someone else is in the control room pulling the levers and fiddling with the reception; and if it gets too strange, you have that horrifying question in back of everything, ”What have I done this time, will I ever be right again?” You feel like a stranger in your own head. And you are. Like I am.

This morning, there’s no good answer to the question, ”Will I ever be right again?”

Covid has hi-jacked my brain, or kidnapped it, or whatever, and I don’t know what the ransom might be. But, I’d sure as hell pay it. There are no reliable estimates for how long people go without smell and taste. It varies. For that unknown amount of time, a virus is running amok in that portion of your brain…at least.

So yeah, I’m afraid now. Fear and Loathing in the Land of Covid. Talk about the going getting weird…Sheesh!

Anything that can burrow into my brain and shut down the command-control for smell and taste could be doing God knows what else(!) in there. Which means anyone who is not a practicing neurophysiologist (with large side of biochemistry) can save the, ”you know this is nothing to be afraid of,” crap. That statement belongs in the large plastic bin of Unknowns

Can I get the old me back please?

What I do know, is that the Greg sitting here typing this morning, isn’t the same Greg that was sitting here typing yesterday.

For now, He’s Gone. This stranger, sitting in his seat, is w-a-a-a-y-y slower-on-the-draw mentally. I suppose I’ll get used to having to actually think my way through my morning coffee ritual, but I sure don’t relish having to stop every few minutes with my jaw agape, searching for the right word to plug into a sentence. I’m not used to conjuring words. In fact, they usually appear to my mind effortlessly, at the speed of legal-speak in a bad commercial. I’m used to suppressing them and weeding them out. So, I sure don’t like this… faltering… hesitant… impairment!

More great advice from a true American hero

I’d compare it to that eerily similar, artificially-self-aware-deliberateness you affect when you’re half-drunk and trying your hardest not to slur. Which is closely related to that feeling of “should I drive or not?” Maybe after a few too many drinks? A toss-up question, because you probably could, but on the other hand, you also probably shouldn’t. You know that feeling? With uncanny similarity, I’ve got the very weird, very real feeling that maybe I shouldn’t. I mean, I could…Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could. But I would be Driver’s Ed me; thinking of every. single. thing.

It’s unnerving to be stone sober at 9 a.m., and yet, I’m uncertain about whether I should drive to the office to get a check, then on to the bank to deposit it. On one hand, it’s only an eight minute drive which I’ve done thousand times. On the other hand, I’ve never attempted it with steel wool buffing my thoughts and a foot gently pressing down on the back of my head. And finally, never with a virus hi-jacked brain, ya know? Especially one that makes me feel like maybe I’m leaning slightly to the right.

The unpredictable future got a little more so

I don’t want to write about this anymore. This is too personal. Covid is not about me. I’m trying to make it a little funny because I’m more than a little scared. I really hope this doesn’t happen to you.

When I used to take psychedelics, I think some encrypted, temporarily-far-away part of me knew it would metabolize eventually. I knew I could more than likely find my way home from the far side of the Cosmos. That helped me ride out some long, strange trips. I don’t have that same assurance with this. This thing realizes it’s not going to kill me, so now…it what (?); A virus hi-jacked my brain ’cause it wants to BE me? That’s weird! I’m not a Zombie fan, at all! Right now though, I feel like a stranger, just about weird enough to turn pro!

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