Down with the Sickness

Rob Spectre
4 min readMar 22, 2020


“Damn Rob, you’re scaring me,” my ma declared with a nervous chuckle.

Two weeks ago, I’d just given her the business over pulling some cheddar out of the bank and loading up the freezer and pantry. The Midwest was still drowning under a daily deluge of disinformation around the pandemic. Fox News and the White House were months into a delusion concerns were overblown; that this was another politically motivated klaxon from the alarmist left.

Unfortunately, math doesn’t watch cable news.

“Ma, if I’m wrong, you put the money back in the bank and you eat soup further into spring than you planned.”

“Well, I hope you’re wrong,” she replied with her usual optimistic lilt, suggesting she was going to comply but still didn’t completely buy my analysis.

“Me too.”

Last Wednesday, Scott Wapner was fumbling for words. Bouncing between call-ins is what daytime financial anchors do for a living, usually unremarkably buffering their audience of the 1% between hedgies talking up their book, Fortune 100 CEOs rounding out their obligations to their investor relations crew and some power forward on their deep bench of market journalists. This week was not a usual week. This day was not a usual day.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman just spent thirty minutes of CNBC’s air painting a pandemic-induced global economic depression unless the President of the United States shutdown the United States that afternoon for 30 days. “Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown, OK?” he spit out between repetitive audible pauses. “Capitalism can work in a 30 day shutdown.

“I called the CEOs of a number of our companies and told them… stop the buyback programs, husband resources, draw down their credit lines. Because hell is coming.”

Then Ackman hung up, leaving Wapner — and the global financial markets — buffeted by the psychic wake he left behind.

“I’m scared,” stammered Wapner before his executive producer mercifully cut to commercial.

Before the end of the hour, CNBC cut the interview into a promo.

Also before the end of the hour, the stock market halted trading, tripping the S&P’s circuit breaker for losses. The Dow would go on to close under 20,000 for the first time in three years.

What I really wanted was a New Orleans from Blue Bottle. Instead, I was swilling down another French-press monstrosity as I’ve worked to dial in proportions over this quarantine. Walking my dog to get coffee every morning for three years caused my own coffee making ability to atrophy into a kitten’s fumble, adorably weak by any adult’s measure. Now each morning was a habitual grimace from the first cup of coffee while logging into NYC Health and Hospital’s patient portal to see if they had the results of my coronavirus swab.

So washed down with a mouthful of shitty coffee I swallowed the word this Sunday morning that I’m positive for COVID-19.

The rest of the morning was a breakfast of disclosure to the folks I’d been in touch with during the previous two weeks and getting updates on their health. Thus far, it doesn’t look like anyone I was in contact with is symptomatic. All were on lock down during the week.

The fever left a couple days ago. Energy still isn’t 100 percent and I’ve been trying some light exercise in the apartment to see how much gas is in the tank. Chest definitely still feels weird. The cardio I’ve built up over the past six months of training just isn’t there. Multiple oximeter checks per day suggest I’m sitting between 97–99%.

The cabin fever is starting to grow, though the opportunity to catch up on a bunch of video games I’ve wanted to play is welcome respite. I sank an afternoon trying to get my Windows install up after not using it for two years, but some combination of applying / reverting Windows updates sank that hope. I’m revisiting my Steam catalog on Linux, finishing up the Spider-Man downloadable content on the PS4, and kicking off both Final Fantasy XV and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. So far, the latter is the most fun.

Continued gratitude to all the folks who have checked in over the course of the past week, particularly those who are or who have loved ones in a similar situation to compare notes. Hearing about each other’s symptoms and what is working and not working is super useful given how little we know about this disease so far. I hope you feel warmly welcome to continue to reach out while navigating this thing.

Hopefully immunity for those infected will get confirmed soon and I can move from sheltering to serving. Until then, I’m continuing a rigorous regimen of rest and video games, watching New York try to survive from the other side of triple-pane glass.



Rob Spectre

Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.