My back hurts from lying prostrate all day. Each swallow causes sharp pain to shoot down my throat. I can only sleep for the short periods of relief after taking pain medication. I twist and turn the night away like a sick Sam Cooke.

The headache is manageable, and I still do not have a temperature or breathing issues. I coughed a few times but it was more from the mucus drip. Everything you read about the symptoms is conflicting. Some sources state that sore throat and headache are the first signs, other sources including the WHO classify covid by respiratory symptoms only. I wrote yesterday that I hope that this is as bad as it gets, that maybe I didn’t get the coronavirus and that I have a normal flu or cold that I was due for anyway. Could be just a bad case of strep throat.

Either way, the conditions of containment are not any easier. My wife is doing a heroic job of handling the kids and checking on me. I managed to go vertical a few times yesterday to give my youngest son his bottle and eat lunch and dinner with the family. I don’t know if I shouldn’t be touching anyone or if I am fine to help out. I don’t know if I should disinfect every surface I come into contact with or if that would be over-reacting. All I know is that after half an hour I have to lie down.

The lying down is adding a new feeling of helplessness and inactivity to a period already fraught by it. Muscles are weakening. Soreness permeates them. I watch Taylor Tomlinson’s comedy special to laugh and The Platform to get my fill of cannibalism and societal metaphors. Then I try to close my eyes as the kids crawl and bounce their way around the apartment. Seeking distraction I reach for my phone the way and addict reaches for a needle.

It’s official, at least for France, the government announced that it will extend the confinement period to April 15th, another two full weeks. It was hard to see the isolation ending in a few days while the number of cases continues to rise, but the blow to morale is severe. April 15th is as arbitrary of a date as they come. There is no way we are going about anything that resembles a normal life before May at the earliest.

But while bad news abounds, yesterday I experienced something truly magical. Sharing my experience and commiserating has brought people together, friends I hadn’t heard from in years, family from around the world. The quantity of messages I received was heartwarming, the brightness of love and caring sent around the planet. My phone didn’t stop vibrating all day, and the messages of encouragement on Facebook and LinkedIn were stronger than any medicine. We are all living through the same thing now, a world population united against a menace to the way of life that we have built. I am thankful to everyone of you who reads these dispatches and hopeful that everyone comes out on the other side of this with great stories to tell about how we relied on each other.

For now I’m hoping that my confinement within a confinement ends as soon as possible and without a trip to the hospital. My perspective evolves on an hourly basis. Pulling through this sickness would be a badly needed victory. I have my first video consultation with my doctor today. Hopefully there is some other medicine I can take for my symptoms, along with a life-strengthening dose of your continuing encouragement.

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