Given all that’s going on in the world, I figured I should probably document what’s going on in the world in some way/shape/form. Though realistically if a true apocalypse happened, the internet wouldn’t survive and this would be lost anyways (Saturday night ramblings…)
Chester County, PA has been in quarantine since Friday, March 13, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19/SARS-Cov-2 (or something like that). Which means it’s been almost two months since life has seemed somewhat normal.
It began in December for me. News of an outbreak of a deadly outbreak in China started hitting the news, and I was on high alert ever since. So many people travel to and from China on a daily basis, and in this technologically advanced, travel-based world, this was going to spread quickly. As I scrolled through the Daily Mail on Snapchat (I know, not the most reliable news source, but I pride myself in being critical of what I read in the news), I kept seeing “coronavirus” this and “coronavirus” that, with infection and death reports increasing at an alarming rate. It was on my radar for weeks before the US had its first confirmed case in late January. It seemed to be spreading as rapidly as it had in China, which was still battling the outbreak every day.
It became more and more serious; cases in Seattle, California, Chicago, Boston, New York City… Andrew traveled for work to Boston, and I was an anxious mess. We went to visit my parents before all the states started shutting down, and my mom gave us some of her surgical masks she had from when she used to take care of Grandpa so that Andrew could wear a mask for his work trip. He didn’t want to wear one because he felt it was overkill, that he would look silly compared to other travelers. At that time, he was one of the few on his plane that wore a mask.
On the plane to Boston, his coworker started getting sick; he threw up on the plane and when they got to the local (they audit unions). Andrew and I were nervous already, and he had tried to talk to his boss about doing this work trip virtually because Boston seemed to be a hotspot at the time, and planes were typically crowded, but Andrew conceded because this was his client, and his coworker didn’t seem to have any qualms about going to Boston for this client. Andrew didn’t want to seem like a slacker, so he sucked it up and wore his mask on the plane and made it to Boston.
Then Massachusetts declared a state of emergency and started shutting down. Andrew and his coworker knew they needed to get home, so they cancelled their flight, booked a rental car, and started the journey back to PA the next morning. At this point, the coworker wasn’t feeling well; he stopped throwing up, but he had a cough, said his mouth was really dry, and admitted to feeling like he’d had a fever the day before.
Andrew made it home safely, and I was happy to have him back — at a distance. As soon as he came in the door, we disinfected his stuff, threw his dirty clothes in the laundry, and he went upstairs to shower. We slept in different beds for several weeks, me in the master, him in the guest room.
We limited our contact as much as possible. He would set his water cups at the door so I could fill up his water. When he showered, I would retrieve new clothes for him so he didn’t have to go into our bedroom. We called each other if we really wanted to talk. I was the only one taking our dog out, making food, doing laundry, going grocery shopping for weeks. Andrew was coughing, had a sore, throat, headache, and was really fatigued — “totally fucking out of it” as he says.
One night, he called me to wake me up because he said he felt like he couldn’t breathe. I asked him what he wanted to do — if he thought he could sleep it off, or if he felt like he needed to go to the doctor. He has asthma, and we weren’t sure if that put him in more of the at-risk category, so we wanted to play it safe. But what if he didn’t have anything, and now we were exposing him by taking him to a doctor? We later found out that Andrew’s coworker was diagnosed with pneumonia.
He decided he wanted to sleep it off. And that was the first night I prayed. The first time I remember praying since I was 15 years old. I didn’t sleep well. What if I lost him? What if something happened to him? What would I do? Would I stay here? I couldn’t live in this house without him — regardless, I couldn’t afford the mortgage, but I couldn’t handle all the memories we’ve made here. Could I stay with my sister and brother-in-law to get out of this house? Would I stay for my job? Would I even want to? What would I do? So I prayed. For Andrew, and my friends and family. For health care workers. For the world.
And then I started to feel sick. I was fatigued, but I couldn’t tell if it was the usual or if it was the stress of taking care of Andrew and Daisy while navigating the shift in my job as we tried to figure out what the hell we could do as a chamber of commerce. But the only thing I felt was stomach pain, which wasn’t unusual for me, but it was in an unusual area. It happened every time after I ate something. I would shake and shiver, curl into a ball, lay on my stomach, cringe until the pain had passed, which sometimes took hours. It hurt to touch. I threw up once night and had questionable BMs the next two days. But I still had to take care of the household and do my job at work.
Andrew started to feel better. We started having conversations while I was on the couch and he was on our stairs. He was wandering out of his room more often, even though we were still sleeping separately. We made it past the 14-day mark that was allegedly the longest recorded incubation period for this virus, and I didn’t feel any worse (though I am type O and he is likely type AB, if that makes any difference), and he started feeling better. I kept praying. Our Father, begging God to protect my loved ones, thanking him for the time we already had managed. Because praying can’t always be about what you want — sometimes it has to be gratitude for what you’ve got. Otherwise you’ll be begging forever.
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Grocery stores are awful now. There’s no paper products at any of our usual stores, and if there is there’s a one item per household limit. All the produce was picked over and stockpiled. Why someone would hoard 30 packs of perishable spinach and mixed greens, I have no idea — it would all go to waste by the time you made it through week three.
Now the produce section has gotten better, but there are duct-tape arrows on the floors informing people which way to walk down the aisles to aid in social distancing (aka one-way aisles), and there are squares on the floor marking what 6 feet apart looks like. They wave you to an open cash register, and the cashier wipes down the conveyor belt between each customer.
Everyone is wearing masks now. And gloves, if they have them. Hand sanitizer has been scarce since the beginning of March. I remember going to the Rite Aid around the corner from work, and I bought the last three travel-size bottles. I haven’t seen any available in stores since then. First it was the hand sanitizer (and spinach), then it was the toilet paper, and then the Lysol products. Then the alcohol, as PA deemed liquor stores non-essential/non-life-sustaining. What a load of shit. Thank god we can still get it at grocery stores here.
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Then we all started to get used to it. We were sleeping in later than usual, adjusting to new routines, starting to enjoy the working from home. Still missing our friends and families, but for Andrew and I, it wasn’t that bad. We are introverts anyway, so a weekend at home isn’t unusual for us. And my sister started a weekly Zoom call with the Anderson’s so we could all see each other and catch up (and apparently play drinking games). And Andrew’s mom also suggested a Robertshaw family Zoom, which we don’t do quite as often but is equally as fun.
I started laying out in the sun on our deck after taking Daisy on her afternoon walks, because when would I get the time to do this again in the middle of a work day? To take a breath? To do yoga when my limbs are feeling especially tight? To walk upstairs and kiss my soon-to-be husband at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday? I stopped stressing so much about getting to bed by 9:45 because I would be up at 5:45. The schedules aren’t so tight anymore, and I can’t help but be appreciative of that. As much as I love schedule, structure, and routine, it’s nice to play Call of Duty with Andrew and his friends until 10 pm on a weeknight and know that I can sleep in until 7 am and still get a workout in before logging on to do work.
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Recently I posted this on Facebook:
“Just did a little Yoga with Adriene (my fav YouTube yogi) and completed Home Day 19: Balance, and Adriene said something that really rung true for me:
“Sometimes the path to balance is not in doing all the things that we’re told to do for our well being, but in the listening — or the undoing.”
I don’t think anyone will disagree that this pandemic and subsequent quarantining has drastically undone your daily life. And while I see lots of fear and anxiety about when life will return to normal, I’ve noticed lately how this “new normal” has made me feel… pretty good!
I’m working out consistently, getting outside to walk our dog and bathe in the sun on our deck (something I would never normally be able to do at 1pm on a Wednesday!), do daily yoga, read more often, and actually get restful sleep. I know it’s weird because our world is in chaos, but I actually feel less stressed!
So maybe instead of focusing on the bleak outlook or wanting this all to be over and done with tomorrow, why don’t you take a second to think about the opportunities this isolation provides you that you may never (hopefully) have the chance to take again?
Just my two cents 🤷🏽♀️”
I really love it. Despite all the horrible shit going on in the world, I can’t help but feel grateful. The slowdown is helping our world heal. It has helped me connect to a spiritual being again. It has helped me connect to my own spiritual center again through yoga.
I am one of the lucky few that does not have to worry about being laid off/furloughed, at this time anyway. I think my work can afford to pay us for another month or so before we are in dire straits, but I don’t want to focus on that. So I am choosing to focus on the bright side — which I feel is something I haven’t been able to do for a long time.
Thank you, quarantine.