Maynard James Keenan was out to dinner with mates in Australia, the place he was touring together with his band Software. This was again in early 2020 when each actions had been attainable, and COVID-19 was a little-known and little-feared illness.
He ordered a pleasant bottle of Barbaresco, however Keenan, who has his personal winery and vineyard in Arizona, questioned whether or not he ought to ship it again.
“I used to be asking in the event that they had been OK with this wine,” Keenan mentioned. “It appeared off.”
His mates assured him the wine was phenomenal.
“That was my style buds and sense of scent doing backflips,” Keenan mentioned.
It was solely in hindsight the place Keenan would understand he had contracted COVID-19, the illness brought on by the novel coronavirus. This was again earlier than there was dependable testing and little thought on how you can deal with it.
When he caught COVID once more in December, the testing and coverings had been in place. However, the caseloads had been so excessive that Keenan was denied admittance to the hospital in rural Arizona, the place he lives. Had his oxygen stage dropped a number of extra factors, medical doctors would have advisable placing him on a ventilator, he mentioned, although none of these had been obtainable both.
In between these two bouts with COVID, Keenan had to determine how you can handle working his Merkin Vineyards restaurant and his Caduceus and 4 Eight WineWorks tasting rooms in Arizona. These companies that concerned face-to-face interplay and, within the case of the tasting rooms, spitting.
In the meantime, his different technique of creating a dwelling — performing music earlier than a reside viewers — would disappear as live performance venues would stay shuttered all year long.
Certainly one of Keenan’s bands, Puscifer, launched a pay-per-view live performance filmed on the famed Arizona architectural marvel, Arcosanti. That band, this yr, additionally filmed a prequel of kinds, a live performance movie that may embrace a full efficiency of the 2015 album “Cash Shot.” That pay-per-view, introduced Wednesday, will stream on April 17, Keenan’s birthday.
That, ostensibly, was the explanation for a telephone interview with Keenan, to generate publicity for that video launch. However The Republic took the chance to ask extra a couple of yr of coping with COVID-19, as a two-time affected person and a enterprise proprietor who weathered the financial storm.
Keenan admitted reluctance to speak in-depth in regards to the illness, primarily as a result of he is aware of that something associated to coronavirus will get politicized.
“It is so politically divided, so politically charged that individuals aren’t taking a step again and listening to what their neighbors are saying about their experiences with it,” he mentioned. Merely saying he had the illness causes some to suppose he is making it as much as rating factors for one facet, he mentioned.
“I say what occurred with me,” he mentioned, “and I get yelled at for being on the payroll.”
The start of 2020 noticed the return of Keenan’s band, Software, to Australia for the primary time since 2013.
Then, got here the dinner and the bottle of wine that appeared off and what later could be often known as some of the tell-tale indicators of COVID-19 an infection.
Keenan then flew to New Zealand, the place the band was scheduled for extra exhibits after a break of some days. Nonetheless feeling a congested head and restricted respiration, he went to a physician.
Keenan mentioned he requested the physician whether or not he may need “this corona factor.” The physician mentioned that as a result of he did not have a fever, he doubtless did not.
However Keenan mentioned he knew this wasn’t an atypical sickness.
“I’ve had the flu. I’ve had a chilly. I’ve had chickenpox,” he mentioned. “There was a distinction in what I used to be feeling.”
He felt higher mendacity on his abdomen. So, he mentioned, he listened to his physique and slept that means. Trying again, he mentioned, which may have helped him keep away from a deadly consequence.
Keenan recovered sufficient to carry out a pair of two-hour exhibits on the sold-out Spark Enviornment in Auckland, New Zealand.
Then he flew again to the USA, stopping off in Maui. Not for leisure, however for martial arts coaching. Keenan practices jiu-jitsu and, just lately took a mode of Thai boxing known as Muay Thai.
And that is when his wrists began performing up.
“I couldn’t hit something,” he mentioned.
His wrists turned swollen and sore, a situation that will final, he mentioned, for at the least one other 4 months.
Keenan returned to Arizona with a choice to make: Hold his tasting rooms open, or shut them down.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had issued a stay-at-home order, but it surely did not have a blanket restriction throughout the state. The mandates for shutting down bars, because the tasting rooms had been licensed, had been solely triggered when a county had a confirmed case.
For a number of days in March, Yavapai County had no confirmed instances, leaving the choice to open with Keenan.
For one weekend, he stayed open for bottle gross sales solely. However then determined that also drew too massive a crowd.
The tasting rooms within the Verde Valley area of Arizona reliably draw a crowd of Phoenicians on weekends. Keenan’s comparatively small Caduceus tasting room additionally fills up with followers of his music, one thing the musician has understood, however all the time discovered curious.
“From a enterprise perspective, so long as you’ve folks coming in, you keep open,” he advised The Republic on the time. “However I really feel chargeable for that motion.”
Trying again at it, Keenan mentioned his determination to shut his tasting rooms all through March was mainly involved about holding his staff protected.
He wasn’t essentially motivated by his personal doubtless bout with COVID because it hadn’t fairly sunk in that he had had it.
He simply knew that, if there was a facet to be picked, he was on the facet of science. That the illness may very well be managed if folks stayed aside, wore masks and washed their palms.
Someday in Could, Keenan took an antibody check. It got here again detrimental.
That made Keenan query whether or not what he contracted again in Australia was certainly COVID. However, he mentioned, extra on-line analysis confirmed him antibody checks weren’t very dependable.
A research by the Infectious Illnesses Society of America launched in August gave steerage on particular circumstances of how antibody checks ought to be used. Diagnosing a months-ago sickness wasn’t considered one of them.
A health care provider who labored on the research, Angela Caliendo, of Brown College, advised the New York Instances that individuals who had been sick months and even weeks in the past “most likely should not trouble” with an antibody check.
Different folks on the Software tour did get COVID, confirmed by means of nasal swabs. And Keenan appeared to have the tell-tale signal of dropping his sense of style and scent.
“Was it COVID? Was it just a few bizarre flu?” Keenan mentioned. No matter it was, he was previous it.
However there was nonetheless that pesky wrist drawback.
Keenan mentioned he stored pondering the ache would go away. In the meantime, he stored working at his vineyard and tending to the vines, each within the Verde Valley and in Willcox.
“The vines do not give a (care) about your COVID,” he mentioned, substituting a cruder phrase.
He labored with sore wrists up by means of harvest. Then, he determined to see one other physician.
Keenan mentioned that physician identified rheumatoid arthritis. If he did have COVID, the physician speculated, his physique’s response to it was to overstimulate his immune system, particularly after he resumed martial arts coaching so shortly.
“He advised that COVID is such a bizarre factor, the physique would not know how you can course of it,” Keenan mentioned. “My autoimmune system freaked out.”
The physician gave him a robust antimetabolite. The drug stopped the ache, but additionally served to puff Keenan’s physique up a bit. The drug labored by suppressing Keenan’s immune system.
He was nonetheless taking the drug in late November when his daughter had a fever that lasted a couple of day. Then his spouse was bedridden for 2 days with a confirmed case of COVID.
When Keenan got here down with it, he figured it will come and go identical to it had the final time. It did not.
“It stored escalating,” he mentioned, “worse and worse daily.”
He felt he could not breathe and, on Dec. 1, had his spouse drop him off on the emergency room.
The check confirmed COVID, with a bout of pneumonia on high of it.
The workers was explaining the state of affairs to him. Keenan mentioned he responded in two-word bursts between coughing matches.
They advised him his oxygen ranges had been borderline. They might admit him if there was an obtainable mattress. However, there was not and there have been a dozen folks forward of him.
And, ought to his oxygen stage drop additional, he was advised, there was no respirator obtainable for him, both.
Keenan would discover out later that his supervisor was working the telephones looking for an obtainable hospital mattress in Arizona the place Keenan may very well be airlifted. He did not discover one.
Statistics stored by the Arizona Division of Well being Companies confirmed that hospital beds statewide had been at 90 to 92% capability in the course of the first weeks of December. It was a part of a rising pattern in instances that will not subside till early February.
Keenan was despatched dwelling with antibiotics to fight pneumonia, an inhaler that might assist open his lungs and cough syrup with what Keenan known as a “superb” ingredient to assist him sleep.
The subsequent few days, Keenan mentioned, he was largely worn out. The power he had was put into assembling Star Wars-themed Lego units.
On Dec. 10, he placed on a pair of pants for the primary time that month and texted that information to mates.
“It was terrible,” he mentioned.
Keenan nonetheless feels diminished lung capability. He makes use of a volumetric exerciser — that gadget that challenges you to maintain a ball floating within the air together with your breath — to check and increase it.
Keenan is not positive how he contracted the virus in November. He and his household had been taking what they thought had been all of the precautions.
And anytime he felt like slacking, he mentioned he would get information of a good friend contracting the illness and never doing effectively. One good friend in his early 30s and in good condition, he mentioned, spent a number of days on a respirator.
Then once more, he is aware of of a good friend who ran a martial arts studio despite authorities restrictions in opposition to doing so. That particular person has been effective. And reported no instances from these working on the market.
“It appears so chaotic,” he mentioned. “There is no rhyme or motive who it assaults hardest and lightest.”
He did what he hoped could be his half in ending the chaos this week. On Wednesday, Keenan acquired his vaccine in a grocery retailer pharmacy within the Verde Valley.
Keenan’s band Puscifer launched a video in Could for the track “Apocalypitcal” that confirmed a man in an orange hazmat go well with motoring on a one-wheeled skateboard by means of abandoned Los Angeles streets, seemingly on an essential mission. The video ends with the person approaching a black-suited and sunglass-wearing Keenan who palms the person a single roll of bathroom paper.
Keenan mentioned the previous yr has introduced, together with tragedy and financial wreck, its fair proportion of absurdity and perception into human nature.
“If I used to be a novel author,” he mentioned, “to me, it is a dry run.”