Mark Johnson
3 min readMay 13, 2022

So to say I’d have regrets about the first trip, a pseudo-vacation in years, would be odd, but this event that I attended put me in a questioning state. Admits the pandemic of late September early October of 2021 we all were living becoming numb to the hysteria. I also thought that many people were getting vaxxed or even getting their booster shots, which led to a relaxed feeling.

It would be about a week, maybe more, when I awoke, not feeling my usual self. I was lethargic and had an overall feeling of just not being right. My initial thought was it would pass as the morning progressed. Yet as that happened, I felt worse. I tried contemplating what it was, hoping it wasn’t covid; oh, please don’t be covid.

As I failed to focus on anything for an extended period, I found myself searching Google for the symptoms of covid. Fever, chills, and headache were like every symptom you could have related to covid. I began to panic, like what the… I was still lethargic; I could’ve had a fever, but I wasn’t sure, yet I kept spitting up mucus. Yeah, the symptoms of covid.

I had no appetite and just wanted to curl up in bed. As it was nearly time for my night provider to come in, I messaged them to see if they could bring me some orange juice that sounded so good even the way I was feeling, and hoped it would make me feel better. With half of my dinner eaten as they showed up, I promptly took a couple of swigs of the OJ and went back into my studio to see if I could tie up some loose ends from an unproductive day. Still, in the back of my mind, I hoped this, whatever it was, was not covid.

Not more than 30 minutes went by before I began to labor in my breathing thinking, well, another sign of covid. I made my way back to the living room, where my provider of the night, seeing my condition called 911. I felt I had lost the war. It wasn’t that I was an anti-vaxxer or thought this whole thing was a joke; getting the jab, as they say, just somehow was not that high of a priority. I thought all of these things as I got in the ambulance and then whisked away to the hospital.

They held me in the ICU into the wee hours of the morning. My mind is still wondering what and how this came to be. Was it my trip that put me in that situation around all those strangers in the mountain cold? Was it my Sunday morning visit to a new church where I ended up in the greeting line of handshakes and hugs as people welcomed me to their place of worship? I may never know, but the thoughts raced through my head.

Then when it came to the biggest question of all, it started with a q-tip up my nose. Yes, the covid test. I had seen how those ill with the virus were held in isolation. Treated as highly infectious, I wondered if I could withstand being held like that for some time. I began to prepare myself as I waited for the results in a quiet room, looking up at the dull flickering light on the ceiling as I lay on the gurney.

When the nurse returned claiming to have the results, I braced myself for the reveal. In a matter-of-fact voice, she said that the covid test came back negative. I blinked, and the build-up was over, yet she continued with the remaining tests. It showed I had a UTI and something that I had never had Pneumonia. I was eventually admitted, stationed in an empty room with a window view to realize this is where my journey would begin.

Thanks for reading this piece. Please keep a lookout for the continuation of this story in pt. 3 NOT LIKE NORMAL. Also check out how we got here in pt. 1 IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO GO THIS WAY




Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.