It all began, Bob Devin Jones says, with an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, a bone-weariness he could not shake. And then he lost his sense of taste. “I hadn’t read up on Covid,” the 65-year-old founder of thestudio@620 explains. “I just thought, ‘This doesn’t pertain to me.’”
Unfortunately, it did.
Jones spent just shy of 10 days in the Covid-isolation ICU at Palms of Pasadena Hospital, missing half of July on a journey he describes as “like Alice, through the looking glass.” He soon developed pneumonia, and while under the watchful eyes of doctors and the influence of remdesivir (shout out to New York Governor Mario Cuomo), his body dealt with the Covid virus – and his brain tried to make sense of it all. Delirium, it was later explained to him, is a coping mechanism:
I initially thought that I was in Cedars-Sanai, which is in Los Angeles. I also very vividly remember an entire program, with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, talking about Christmas. So when I was queried about what date it is, I said ‘It’s sometime in December.’ Not the right answer.
One other doctor said I talked about the Supremes a lot. Everybody knows I love Diana Ross. She’s my favorite performer. So I sorta get that.
They had a TV mounted on the wall. The people in the films – these were a lot of classic films – would be asked a question, the femme fatale would be asked a question, and she’d start talking normally. And then start talking (in a) whisper. And then she would sit down. And she’d sit right in the right place. There was some kind of odd apparatus under the TV, and it would then bleed into the TV … I know, ‘what were you smoking?’
And then there was this tribunal, and it was adjudicated that I was not well-liked in this reality in which I was living. Subsequent to this, I had this sensation of all the sounds leaving the world. They were diminishing. All the ambient sound.
I had a bed, that if I stepped one foot out of it, an alarm would ring. So I had this feeling that the nurses had overtaken the ‘asylum,’ and they were just handing out meds, giving MRIs, I had a spinal tap … and they would also burn the food. So this acrid smell would come in.
Now, none of this happened. But this is what I believed.
I also had an episode where three UCLA medical students did some sort of procedure. And if I saw the color yellow, after the procedure I could go home. And so I saw various colors, and then I saw yellow for about a second. And then, nothing. And then, stuck yet again.
Jones later told his doctor about this bizarre alterna-reality, and mentioned “I wouldn’t go back.” To which she replied, “Oh yes you would. Because that got you better.”
The isolation was tough, he says, because with no visitors, he had no reference points.
On July 28, Jones had another Covid test, the first since his diagnosis, his adventure in Wonderland and his discharge. Negative.
An actor, director and playwright, he’s giving serious thought to writing – something – about those extraordinary delirious days. “When Jamie, my partner, came to the hospital and collected me, I thought I had been gone two to three days,” Jones recalls. “When he said ‘No, you’ve been gone nine and a half days,’ I burst into tears.”