It’s time for my new hobby, hurling verbal abuse at our little uninvited guest.
Hey Covid! Get away from my husband, you inhuman stain, you cosmic mistake, I’d stomp you flat but I wouldn’t want you getting my shoes dirty.
Mockery and disdain are a big part of my spiritual arsenal, that’s how I beat my thyroid nodule over 20 years ago. You see, this isn’t my first time being freaked out by a body invader. Had my first cancer scare as a young woman, thyroid nodule so big it caused a tickle in my throat. Couldn’t talk when I was lying on my back, goiter pressing on my larynx. Yep, an actual goiter in the 20th century.
I sure didn’t want to get cancer, not at age 23. I would ride my bike all around Portland, screaming at it, YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME! HOW DARE YOU! F*** YOU THYROID!
I was on the gurney in a hospital gown, literally waiting to be wheeled into surgery for a needle biopsy, when the ultrasound technician told me the nodule was gone. All that was left of it was basically the size of the biopsy they would have taken. Cancer doesn’t shrink. They told me to go put my clothes on and go home. Just stop by and see the phlebotomist for a blood sample, be on the safe side.
Remember when they used to test everything, just in case??
Good luck with that. Highly contagious pandemic and you can’t beg, borrow, or steal a coronavirus swab.
I’m feeling better today, by which I mean, slouching into the couch all day and texting people complete sentences. No vertigo! I can walk across the room without leaning on anything! If you didn’t know better I would just look like a tired, unfashionable teenager.
Hubby put in a full workday, which provides zero information about his state of health because Upholders categorically do not believe illness applies to them. Got my eye on him, still hoping he will be fine but suspect he is in for a rough weekend.
Got some information today. My plaintive cry, How do I hospital? was answered. (Will share this week). Did you know, if you have an intimate acquaintance with chronic illness, it can be useful to other people? Maybe you have quit sharing with friends and family, but guess what, others on the internet may be desperately Googling for information about your condition.
I wanted to know what to bring to the hospital. Some other questions might be, did you ever have some kind of respiratory therapy? What exercises did they give you? Did you ever have vertigo, how do you manage it? Have you ever had to track health metrics, what format do you use? Do you have experience managing nausea or recovering from something like food poisoning? Have you and partner ever had flu together while caring for tiny kids, any tips?
Anecdotal: my friend from Virus Brunch who did not get sick speculates that her lupus medication may have been prophylactic against COVID-19. I AM NOT A DOCTOR and I don’t even know what she was taking; I certainly would NOT recommend that anyone else randomly swallow pills. Don’t even know the name of her prescription. I share for three reasons:
BTW I dropped my iPad, slipped off the bed last night and the screen went black. Have to sit at my actual desk and it is making me tired. Too tired to finish troubleshooting it after hard reboot and connecting to iTunes didn’t work. Would dearly love to have it fully restored without reformatting but if this is the karmic price of something, I’ll happily pay it, fair trade!
Talked to my other friend who is already better. She is an extreme extrovert and is having a terrible time feeling alone and trapped in her tiny apartment. Pointed out to her that she might be immune now after recovering from COVID-19 and that she could safely help her parents or sister if they get sick.
And then me too!
This is my plan. I’m actually feeling well enough already that I know I could put a simple meal together if I had to. I can bring my hubby water & pills if he gets sick.
One of the reasons I finally decided I was ready to remarry was that I got the flu while living alone. Eight days flat on my back and I didn’t even have someone to bring me juice. Recognized I was getting older and this would probably become more of a problem at 70 and 80 than it was at 20 and 30.
Gee was I right about that! But I have had to crawl on the floor to get myself a drink of water, call nurse hotline when I could barely hold the phone to my head, nurse myself back to health. I have the grit and fortitude within me, I can get us through from this point.
Knowing this, once we are both through the gate, how could I possibly sit back and not use my new super power?
I’m going to stomp a mud hole in this thing and then I’m going to step right over its twitching remains and march right out the door. If I hear about a family in my district getting sick I’m going straight over there to put things in order. Fearless.
Each of us has something we are very good at that we totally take for granted, something else we truly enjoy doing, and something else we think is boring or repulsive. I hate driving and don’t have a car, so I’m not the person to run errands or buy groceries for shut-ins. I passed out the one time I tried to donate blood. But, two things I am good at are 1. Writing about health issues and 2. General Mary Poppins stuff. Former nanny, executive secretary, restorer of the chronically disorganized, vanquisher of squalor, nothing is too gross for me. It actually seems kind of fun to wade in, wave my wand, and help another household get through the worst two weeks of its life.
At least this is my fantasy. Technically I should not be leaving the house for at least fourteen days.
I emailed an update to my doctor, because I didn’t have the most typical symptoms (fever or sore throat), virtually no cough, but I still can’t smell or taste anything and atypical experiences are relevant. It looks like this thing has already morphed into 8 separate strains and maybe I just had the SoCal flavor. Before I go anywhere or do anything I will of course be smart, research, ask around, get the clinical all-clear. Which would take me two weeks anyway!
I hate this movie. All the plot twists are so predictable. Once there was a stupid girl who went to a stupid brunch and then she gave her husband coronavirus.
I REFUSE to let this be the end of our love story UNACCEPTABLE
I’m going full Karen on this thing, let me speak to your manager you godless vermin
He had to fill out a form for his work, we are on official quarantine now. Which sucks because he has actual mission-critical things to do. And this is all my freaking fault. National disgrace, that’s me.
Here’s another bad movie. Werewolf crouching and covering her face. Someone comes up to touch her shoulder, are you okay?
No, go away! Get away from me, RUN!
But it’s already too late.
How am I doing? Gaslighting myself. On the one hand, the part of me that keeps saying “get up Drama Queen, mop the floor,” the part that couldn’t believe I was ill refuses to believe this is really happening. On the other hand, noticing I have to pause for breath before finishing short sentences, hate how breathy and wispy my own voice sounds. I know three people now who have lost someone to COVID-19, one fell a hero, COVID doctor in Florida, just last week.
It’s real for them, not for me, serious cognitive dissonance in action.
The part of me that thinks I am a fraud is at battle with the part of myself that would kick a door down to advocate for my man. Don’t mind me - but also, step away, save yourself, you don’t want what I have - but seriously, can we get two doctors, four nurses, and a pharmacist for my husband? NOW??
He cooked dinner, it was good, he’s been doing literally everything for a week. Waiting on me hand and foot while working overtime, counting my pills, everything.
If he gets sick before I get better we’re screwed, not like we can put anyone else in danger to come in and care for us. Who would we even ask?
Have to make plans now. He claims to feel fine but then so did I.
This is the first time I have felt bad about not having a car. But then, even if we did... I don’t know how I would get down to the garage right now, much less drive 17 miles to urgent care. If he gets sick enough to need to go, it’s not like he could drive either. Self driving car where are you when we need you?
Would have to ask one of our friends from Virus Brunch who are already recovering. No way we could in good conscience put a ride share driver at risk. Ambulance? Foolish to wait *that* long. Anticipate several hours’ wait anyway, remember we were just in the ER three months ago for his eye injury.
Could possibly rate a test at this point. Drive-thru test site is only mile and a half. Don’t feel as bad asking for a ride to go do that. Even if it takes two hours.
I have a list of prescriptions from someone else who got treated and recovered. Inhaler, two different cough meds. Know what to ask for if it comes to that. Anyone would be willing to pick up prescriptions, Kaiser pharmacy is a mile up the road, drop off in front of our building. A safe lifesaving favor. Can ask.
What I don’t know is how to prep for hospital and that is driving me crazy. Anyone who is not a busy medical professional can you PM me? A link or checklist or anything? It would ease my mind to have a go bag. Like, underwear, toothbrush, wallet, phone charger, backup battery? Or are you allowed to have anything at all? Is it like jail, do they take your stuff, or is it too dirty?
I’ve never spent the night in a hospital and let’s keep it that way please
I do feel better today. Vertigo fading off, breathing better, think I almost caught the ghost of the taste of mustard. That must be a good sign? As soon as I heard my husband cough it got my Irish up. You messed with the wrong family, get the hell out of here, you’re not even a life form and don’t you dare let my nice clean doorknob hit you.
Have you been reading what I’ve been reading, this virus is so much more dangerous for the men. 2:1. He’s almost 8 years older than me. Yeah I have worried I might die of this but that would be a RELIEF compared to the thought that I live and he...
Will not say it, never think it
Ladies, ladies, gender roles are dumb but this time they are based in biology. We should be the ones running any errands or going to the store. Let them handle the big stuff, the coyotes or rabid raccoons or whatever. The microscopic stuff is for us this time.
Spare a thought for us, not for me, for us, for him. He is in a pretty unfair situation right now and I put him there. Please let this just be paranoia on my part, please please
If we make it out I will try to donate plasma, I will make masks ten hours a day, I will stay over and be nurse for a family at their house. Please just let this be a bad movie, zero stars, change the channel already.
Setback today, vertigo worse than ever this morning, walking like the V8 guy. Leaning Tower of Housewife. Normally I am the kind of annoying person who can do tree pose on a paddle board, now I can’t stand up straight on a dare.
Telling you this because if your vestibular system ever gives you trouble, you have to plan for this. I have almost fallen over sideways several times, worried I will fall and hit my head on the counter. Please be safe dear.
Dizzy, can usually solve with more hydration.
Crashing, go take a nap.
Bonking, get your blood sugar up, keep eating.
Light-headed, blood rushing to face, sit down!
Vertigo, not sure what to tell you, limit time that you get up, avoid leaning over.
Malaise, just feeling ill - stare into space and wait a week, that’s what I’ve been doing
Gulping air couple times an hour, constricted feeling around lower ribs like super-tight bra band, making me feel mentally out of it, hard to finish my sentence sometimes. Not going to lie to you, I am no longer convinced that I will survive this. Sorry to tell you that. I am trying hard. If I wind up in the hospital I will be on the “nice try” list, middle-aged and no pre-existing conditions, also I am nobody.
It’s okay. Save a nurse, save a doctor, save an EMT, save a teacher, save someone who has a child. I am totally okay with this, it is fair and right, it makes sense. For that matter give my spot to one of the homeless combat veterans.
Nobody owes me anything.
Understand I am cataloguing my symptoms to help others recognize to sit down and stay home. I didn’t know I was sick. I beat myself up for being a hypochondriac and a stress case, called myself lazy. GET TO WORK inefficient economic productivity unit. The day I first felt ill, I talked myself out of it because I had a major sneezing fit and that “proved” to me that it was “just allergies.” If I had known I was exposed to someone who tested positive, I would have paid attention.
Instead of going to the grocery store the very next day. May God forgive me. I can only hope that I did not infect anyone.
This is why I am now going to talk about contact tracing and why I know for an absolute fact that the official statistics are wrong.
See my diagram? That is the table where I sat down with my five friends and an out-of-town guest. The connecting lines are to our partners/family and others I know were exposed.
Now get ready for a little murder mystery dinner theater type thing. Was gonna call it Death Brunch (great title) but so far all of us have lived and it’s a bit too on the nose, morbid! Virus Brunch instead.
At the north end. My friend who tested positive. Upholder, early bedtime, super responsible person. CAME TO BRUNCH WITH SORE THROAT. I ask of you.
Across from her, guest from Chicago, in town for a few days, she and husband ALSO ALREADY SICK. Flew back either that day or the next if I recall correctly.
That’s the mystery. Positive testing person travels for work, at least three confirmed positive cases at her company of 3000+ employees, many of whom travel all the time.
WHO GAVE IT TO WHOM?
Did Chicago guests bring it to us and my friend brought it to her work? Or did she pick it up at her work and give it to them? Or did everyone involved get it from community spread?
Nobody will ever know because nobody from any agency has made even the faintest pretense of contact tracing. I didn’t even find out that I was exposed until the night of March 30, two weeks later, because my friends were too sick to think to call me.
When I called my doctor, he was skeptical that I had it because my symptoms hadn’t developed sooner. In my opinion that is an unscientific attitude borne of scarcity. But I understand because they are in triage mode. It’s far, far too late to start contact tracing now, horse is out of the barn.
Okay, back to table. Middle seat on west side. She and positive tester train together. Their personal trainer and two of his other clients also got sick. Sounds like they are better now. Incidentally trainer is Special Forces combat veteran, probably pretty mad he had to fight something he couldn’t shoot. All of this group are younger and fitter than me.
I think J and T already had coronavirus before the brunch, that’s why they got sicker sooner than I did. They hang out a few times a week and probably exposed people at bars and restaurants too.
Okay, probably enough to prove my point, which is that ONE PERSON in this group tested positive while EIGHT other people got sick and did not get a test. At LEAST fourteen people were directly exposed all together, not including colleagues, waiters, bartenders, other people at gym, grocery stores, EVERYONE AT LAX and on plane to Chicago, EVERYONE AT O’HARE, etc. For instance there are 72 units in our apartment building with shared elevator/lobby and roughly 100 residents, most of whom are 60+ in age.
Virus Brunch was on 3/15. Governor Newsom gave our stay-at-home order four days later.
Let me tell you something about contact tracing. Having to make the calls to tell people you have exposed them to the novel coronavirus is... awful. Never in my life have I felt so sick with guilt. “Sorry, father of three, go tell your wife I may have just killed you all.” Fortunately the two people I saw after I was exposed both laughed it off, we stayed 6’ apart, that was two weeks ago, no worries! One offered to bring us anything we needed and buy our groceries. The other has been texting my hubby each day to check in on me and hope I feel better.
This is the attitude I hope to carry with me. This is nobody’s fault. My friends acted under Old Rules, the old “keep your commitments” and “don’t inconvenience anyone” and “hide your symptoms, how embarrassing” rules. Even if I blamed them, after going through the rigors and experiencing COVID-19, I know it now. Penance is paid. Consider yourself shriven.
If I have ever harmed you, hurt your feelings, annoyed you in any way, please, imagine me in my sickbed and can that go toward my tally?
Satan’s gumballs are still after me but I’m still here.
Writing these in the evening, auto post in the morning, so you are reading a day later in the timeline. I tend to dip in energy in the afternoon and perk up a bit after dinner.
Energy level about the same as yesterday, vertigo slightly better, no chills, no coughing so far today!
New symptom: ears ringing
Have you ever had that feeling where all the blood rushes to your head, your face gets hot, ears start ringing and you feel like you might pass out? Yeah, that one. I wonder if that’s what other people mean when they describe their symptom as “light-headed.”
Another thing I have noticed is speech errors, some aphasia and some spoonerisms, word order substitution.
Also making me derpy, forgetting what I was doing, losing train of thought. Got wrong pill for myself because they both come in a blister pack. But remembered before I actually swallowed it.
Both of those types of things for past couple of days.
Total nap attack today, crashed hard after having trouble breathing for an hour or so, thinking, If I wind up in the hospital by next week this will be why. Wouldn’t rule it out. In general I feel slightly better but not thrilled about the breathing thing.
Trying to sit upright as much of the day as possible rather than lie flat, avoid fluid buildup in my lungs, gotta tell you it is exhausting. Couch potato, more like couch mashed potato
Oh hey! I TOOK A SHOWER! And washed my hair! Sense of smell has mostly come back and I can’t even tell you how wonderful it was to smell tuberose and coconut. Mmm. If I get through this the first thing I will do when quarantine is over is buy scented candles and body wash.
Taste a few things now but not others, surreal. I can taste BBQ sauce and raisins but strawberry soy yogurt just tasted plain and tangy. Opened my sandwich and put my tongue right on the mustard, nothing! Pickles, just taste wet. Can feel my mouthwash burn but it still doesn’t taste minty. Makes me wonder if it has to do with where the tastebuds are or something.
Okay. Today let’s talk about staging for if you haven’t had this yet. If you live alone I’m so sorry honey. Don’t be scared.
Decide if you’re going to be on the couch or your bed or...? Imagine you will be weak and dizzy and will need stuff within reach. Get your charger set up so you don’t have to lean over.
Clear path to bathroom, make sure you have safe things to lean on
Is there a flat surface right next to you? Nightstand, dresser top, end table, coffee table?
That’s where you will set up your Tylenol, energy bars, any fluids or snacks that are easy to open. This thing wants to EAT and you have to keep calories up even when you can’t taste or smell and have no appetite.
Chills are no joke, get a stack of extra heavy blankets close enough to haul on yourself. If you have a heating pad, hot water bottle, heated mattress pad, anything else to help that’s good too.
I haven’t had the fever that I know of, other than the other night when I stood up and started pouring sweat, but I don’t think I’ve had a fever since grade school. If you do tend to get fevers do you have Gatorade or electrolytes or juice boxes or anything, try that.
I have been taking Mucinex twice a day, like 10 am and 10 pm, and I really think it has helped avoid lung congestion. Also paired with two acetaminophen. For general inflammation. Haven’t really had body aches or fever and that may be why.
One thing I did in the lead-up to this was to cook an extra pot of soup every night. (Privilege) It’s one thing to have a full pantry right now but it’s something else entirely to have complete meals prepped that you can just heat up.
I found out the enhanced “chills” I was getting are called “the rigors.” Not like ‘rigger’ but RYE-gors. *cue Young Frankenstein joke* Watching Chris Cuomo talk about his symptoms. Makes total sense to me that a strong guy like him would chip a tooth during that. Not fun.
My husband finally cleared his cough after four weeks. Bronchial cough not dry spiders like I have. Why did he get that and I didn’t, and now I have this and he seems fine even though he’s been sick all month? No clue. He took a nap today and his nose was whistling, scared me half to death thinking I might have made him sick. Imagine falling off a ship and realizing nobody saw you, treading water in the dark watching it sail off. Can’t do this without you babe
But he claims to be fine!
He has like ten million hubby points right now, if he ever gets sick again I’m making him five-course meals on a tray with a bud vase. Actually I might do that without the sick part, just for fun.
We will have fun again one day. It’s okay to laugh and stuff if you can, you don’t need permission. Hang in there, we will get through this somehow!
Took me 4 tries to type that, hope you like it.
Updates here so people know I am still here, I love you, don’t expect me to text back pls
Worse today, sorry about that
Chat with my friend to compare symptoms. She still has the vertigo, haven’t seen that come up in lists of what to watch for. To me it is the worst, can’t move my head.
Today we can add hand tremors
These chills are different. Jackknife entire body, quads clenching. I get up to go to the bathroom and immediately lose all my body heat, teeth chattering, going BRRRR can’t stop
It is 65 F
Under two afghans and 20 lb weighted blanket, shaking all over
Understand the effort to type a two sentence email, without auto complete you would not be able to read this
Oh also I am losing my voice
The “cough” is not like other coughs. Imagine a hundred spiders suddenly hatching in the back of your throat
Started coughing and fell over sideways
...but at least it’s a dry cough
Still can’t taste anything but today I could smell... had to ask, is that... toast? Kinda
Let’s tackle some rumors
NO, hot tea will not “wash the virus into your stomach acid”, I have drunk hot tea every single day for the past, like, ten years. Also eating hot soup and oatmeal. Whoever told you this, CITE YOUR SOURCE, did not work for me
NO, “warm weather” is not going to save you, it was 65 F the day I was exposed, in the 90s in Australia and they’re getting it there too
This is hard work, the pseudoscience, it is like fruit flies
Thanks for the advice to “keep moving,” I am dizzy + vertigo (2 distinct feelings), body shaking, weak as a new kitten, can’t regulate body temperature, takes 15 minutes to get to bathroom and back
Hand sanitizer didn’t save me, washing my hands for 20 seconds didn’t save me, if I’ve ever cooked for you then you know how much garlic we eat, didn’t save me
I’m a five-mile runner, 35 full push-ups, headstand, 45lb backpack, 10+ servings of vegetables, cabbage eating person, it still came for me, BECAUSE IT IS A VIRUS
Not respecter of persons
I went out ONCE
I went out one single time and I got it WHILE trading coronavirus news and health advice
I’m trying to scare you so that you will stay home. Sure, you probably won’t die, that’s not the point, the point is you do not want to feel this sick.
While I was working on this we had a 4.9 earthquake. I said “okay, seriously? Come on”
Fate is stupid and mean
This took me 2 hours
Be well lovelies
She’s fine, she’s not even a mammal. She’s safe from me. Birds can sleep with one half their brain at a time. She perches on a chair, tucks up one foot, and watches me sleep.
When I roll over she lets out a piercing whistle and my husband comes running. Nurse Noelie is on the job.
Getting worse, sorry to tell you that.
Sometimes my hearts starts hammering when I’m just lying there doing nothing.
New symptom popped up overnight. I kept waking up because apparently I roll over in my sleep a lot, and every time I would get vertigo, didn’t even know that can happen in your sleep. Whole room spinning. Fall asleep and it happens again.
So I’m okay if I lie still, but if I turn my head even slightly the room starts rolling again.
I hope it’s a chiropractic thing from laying around in bed all day and not some weird new symptom
Add to list of things I can’t taste or smell: citrus, mint, taco sauce, mustard, Masala sauce
But at least my appetite is good.
Thought I was fine to sit at the table for dinner. We did gratitude and then the coughing started. Now I am scared. Got up after dinner and as soon as I stood up, sweat started rolling down my chest out of nowhere. Had to lean on the chair for a while before I could make my way back to the couch.
Starting to feel like work to breathe now.
People keep asking me about the test, the test. There aren’t enough tests but even if there were? Then what? There’s nothing? Maybe they can try some experimental drugs on me, okay, I’ll try them, other than that?
I’m sharing my experience because I know how curious everyone must be. What will it be like, will I make it. When it’s my turn.
The truth is I have no idea. I assume i am going into a tunnel and that I have five frightening days ahead of me. I assume I will feel worse each day and that at some point I will believe I am going to die. Maybe I will die. Not my intention but what do you do.
My white blood cells are fighting these evil little lung Nazis, doing the best we can, eviction notice is served.
If I make it through this I’m guessing it will be weeks before I feel totally well again. Who knows.
In the meantime I am so glad I have my pretty little peach to watch over me, Nurse Noelie doesn’t need any special gear, she’d only chew on it anyway.
Don’t be scared
It’s mostly okay if I lie still and I can sit up a little bit. But my heart pounds pretty hard when I move. Leaning on the wall when I get up to use the bathroom.
Sleeping a lot. Think I’ll just close my eyes a minute and then it’s two hours later.
It’s true what they say about losing your sense of taste and smell. I could only smell a tangerine from one inch if I really sniffed at it. Couldn’t taste mint mouthwash or taco sauce. It’s like everything is sealed in plastic wrap.
Everyone is being so sweet and reaching out to offer anything we need, I just need my husband not to get sick.
Doctor said there aren’t enough tests, assume you are contagious, don’t leave the house, call if it gets worse
Wash your hands
I’m 44, I don’t have any underlying conditions, I am a marathon runner and a kickboxer, I am a tough lady badass!
Get out of my body, you stupid marble from hell
Readers, I love you, STAY HOME and be well
I know how I got this, I know who gave it to me, we were so careful. We bumped elbows, I was 10’ from the person who tested positive, we all wore hand sanitizer, we even took vitamin C packets. We followed all the rules, every person who met that day got it, STAY AWAY from people it’s the only way to stay safe right now.
I’m one in a million, so far I’m one of the lucky ones.
Wish me luck anyway, I could use some more
I prefer posting my first quarter check-in on any day other than April 1, because it makes everything I say seem like a potential April Fool’s joke, but not this year. I’m only bothering at all because I’m thinking ahead, hoping that I will live another quarter and that one day all of this will be behind us, collectively. Five years from now we’ll be living in a different world, so let’s make it a better one and start planning.
Starting with: what theme song will you play on the first day out of isolation? What outfit will you wear? Where will you go and who is the first person you will see?
I’m going to play “Walking On Sunshine” and walk down to the beach, where I’m going to get a non-dairy strawberry ice cream. Then I’m going to get my phone screen replaced and reschedule all my periodontist appointments, because priorities.
Thinking about all of that right now is distracting me from the biggest thing on my mind, which is that I just found out I was exposed to COVID-19 and now I’m starting to feel ill. I have a phone appointment right around the time this will post, with no idea whether it’s possible to get tested in my area, how long it would take to get results, and whether I infected my husband.
This tends to have a way of putting things into perspective.
I’ve spent the last few years of my life focusing on goals major and minor, trying to transform myself from bookworm to badass. I ran a marathon, ran adventure races, climbed a rope, jumped over open flames, took martial arts and learned knife fighting, worked on my public speaking skills... only to find out that I already had the skills of hiding out in my room, reading all day, and avoiding people that I would actually need to fight the great crisis of my generation.
All that work for nuthin.
What really gets me is the thought of dying of a pandemic when I am a full body donor. Now nobody will want my organs and that is making me feel some kind of way. In the back of my mind I thought giving away my corneas would make up for never having created a legacy that would outlast me. Now it’s feeling like the time for dithering is done. Will I be more than a sad statistic one day?
The truth is, this year was going badly for us already. A month ago I thought I had a lot to complain about. In the past four months, I’ve been in urgent care three times, had an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, had surgery to remove a cyst from my chest and got four stitches, had three grueling periodontal procedures (after two oral surgeries last year), spent the night in the ER when my husband had a severe eye injury... and then we both had the flu for a week, and then we had to put our dog down. Poor Spike. We were definitely feeling like we needed to send 2020 back and ask for a do-over.
Honestly self-isolation has not just put it all in perspective, it’s been almost relaxing... though of course the perspective is changing every day. New Year’s Eve feels like nostalgia and wasn’t it just a minute ago?
In reading through the goals I posted so giddily only three months ago, I realized I had forgotten that I made decade goals as well. *snif*
Personal: This year my goal was “body transformation,” or getting back to the Healthy Weight for My Height. I have succeeded in losing 6 pounds so far this year. Now that we’re all in quarantine and the grocery stores are picked clean I assume that this is a goal that will sort of achieve itself. I’m just going to call my new decadal personal goal: Living to be at least 55.
Career: My career goal for 2020 was to learn how to do webinars and that is basically all I have been doing with my time. We’re partway through having to switch our Toastmasters public speaking competition season to 100% virtual, and guess whose team got to go first and lead the transition planning. I have now spent at least an hour on no fewer than five online meeting platforms, and I know all the tips and tricks.
For 2030, I want to be a published author... and my book is going to look a little different now than what I had in my outline.
Physical: My physical goal for 2020 was to get my weight back to 125. Allow me to be a little more specific on that and say that it appears extra body weight is a risk factor for full-blown COVID-19, it certainly isn’t doing anyone any favors, and while my main motivation is to simply survive, I am doubling down on my commitment to get my body back.
My decade physical goal is to run a 50-mile ultramarathon. If I get through this thing, distance running is one of the only physical activities that is allowed under isolation, and I’m going to be so happy to be able to run the first mile that I might just keep on going.
Home: We decided to start saving to buy a house. Since there is now literally nothing to buy but groceries, our, um, savings goals are right on track?
For 2020, I was working on automating more household chores as part of my book project. I’ve had plenty of time to do this research and I *still* can’t get the stupid hard water buildup off the shower doors.
Couples: Our couples goal was to build an app together. Not sure if this will happen, as he has been working 50+ hours a week.
Over the next decade, we had a shared goal to do more camping, hiking, backpacking, and bicycling adventures together. He had been traveling over half-time and we were missing each other and wishing to spend more time together. We have actually ridden our bikes together with backpacks on because we’ve been terrified to take the bus and we needed groceries. Um, ta da?
Stop goal: My “stop goal” for 2020 was to stop procrastinating about text messages and voicemail. Yep, another success. I’ve been in touch with people I haven’t heard from in years and realizing how much I’ve missed them.
My ten-year goal was to stop procrastinating in general. Now it seems like there’s nothing TO procrastinate and everyone in the world just got a giant reset. I talked to one of my hoarders who has been evicted at least once, and she said she “finally broke through her block” and completely cleaned out her place!
Lifestyle upgrades: Our ten-year lifestyle upgrade goal was to have a garden again. This seems like less of a hobby now and more like a civic duty. We’ve already been talking to a couple of friends and family members about putting in or expanding gardens in their space, so in a way we’re doing this virtually.
For 2020, it was a bummer to think about but my big lifestyle upgrade was “probably” going to be gum surgery. Now my fourth of four scaling and root planing appointments has been rescheduled indefinitely. I actually found myself saying recently, “Thank God I had that root canal last year.” My NEW big lifestyle upgrade for the year will be to walk out our front door.
Do the Obvious: The most obvious thing to do in my life right now was to plan around constant travel. That changed almost immediately to “zero travel for who knows how long.”
I was right about one thing though: No normal weeks.
Ultralearning: This was the first time I tried to set up an ultralearning project. I was going to learn Dutch. Then, suddenly, someone else was in the room with me basically every minute of every day and this sort of got derailed. Will I start again now that I have no excuses? Depends on how sick I get, honestly. It’s lovely to picture open borders and a reason to travel to the Benelux countries and casually speak Dutch with the people I meet.
For 2030 I had planned to learn to write screenplays. Now I’m wondering how to reinvent the entertainment industry to be contact-free.
Quest: My quest was to train for an ultramarathon between now and 2025. Now I will be delighted to LIVE until 2025 and running fifty miles seems like a testament to survival and the fighting human spirit.
My decade quest was to visit Antarctica, and I wish I was already there...
Wish: My wish for 2020 is to get a publishing deal. Our wish for the next decade is to become millionaires!
Why the heck not. Honestly why not wish for anything and everything right now.
Goals, wishes, quests, visions, and dreams are technicalities. They’re a game. You win if you set yourself up to win, such as, I wish to find a penny. Something specific. On technicalities, I’m accidentally crushing several of my goals this year.
Personal: Body transformation - IN PROGRESS
Career: Learn how to do webinars - SUCCESS
Physical: Weight at 125 lbs. - IN PROGRESS
Home: Automation project - IN PROGRESS
Couples: Build an app together
Stop goal: Stop procrastinating on text messages and voicemail - SUCCESS
Lifestyle upgrades: Probably gum surgery - IN PROGRESS
Do the Obvious: Plan around constant travel
Ultralearning: Dutch language
Quest: 50 for 50 ultramarathon! (2025)
Wish: Publishing deal!
2030 - Ten Year Goals and Resolutions
Personal: Silver Fox project
Career: Published author
Physical: 50 for 50 ultramarathon!
Home: Buy a house to live in
Couples: Camping, hiking, backpacking, and bicycling together
Stop goal: Stop procrastinating in general
Lifestyle upgrades: A garden
Do the Obvious: Plan around constant travel
Ultralearning: Write screenplays
Quest: Visit Antarctica
I just found out that I was definitely exposed to COVID-19.
So, yeah, that happened.
Might have exposed my husband and two other people.
Sitting with that knowledge for a moment.
I’m the only person who was exposed that day who hasn’t been sick for the last two weeks. That’s why I was the last to find out. Also, the test results just came back. It takes a while to even get the test, much less have it processed.
Can’t blame them
That’s what this is about, really. How do you feel the full range of feelings about something truly awful, while knowing there is nobody to blame?
Well, not my friends, colleagues, or neighbors anyway. Only a psychopath or a malignant narcissist would deliberately infect someone with a lethal pathogen.
Emotionally there are so many ways to deal with world events, with the unfair sickness or death of anyone you know, with your own incipient demise. I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of them.
Denial - everyone on Nextdoor who keeps complaining that the whole world is “overreacting” - to something with a worldwide kill rate of 19%? This thing is killing more people than botulism. Come on, folks, get it together.
Anger - like that matters to a microbe
Disgust - see the neologism ‘COVIDIOT’
Fear - remind me to tell you about my coronavirus-themed night terrors
Sadness - this is where I have been over the past week, choosing what outfit I want for my memorial and crying over photos of separated families every day, and that was *before* I found out I was exposed
Embarrassment at being the kind of trainwreck who couldn’t see the future and who thought that following social distancing recommendations would be good enough
HEY, what gives? I followed all the rules to the letter, so why am I being punished?
The problem of suffering is a challenging one, a stumbling block that disrupts many philosophy students and spiritual thinkers. It’s related to the problem of evil, although of course we understand that evil and suffering are not the same thing, right?
Epicurus had basically this to say on the subject:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Interesting point, not exactly the final answer. The tricky thing here is assuming that any kind of suffering is evil, whereas it seems transparently obvious to me that not everything that happens is... about us. A coronavirus, one of many, pops into existence, and it just so happens to cause illness and occasionally death to humans. Was this *on purpose*? Or was it just something that happens?
There’s no real law about stuff that makes humans sick. Technically there could be several competing pandemics circulating at the same time. We’re not all suddenly immune to measles just because this dog-toy looking round piece of junk showed up. Yeah, I said it, you look like a dog ball, nobody wants you, get out of here Covid and go crawl back up Batman’s... *ahem* sorry about that.
If there is a hurricane and people die, is it evil? How about it if happens in the middle of the ocean and only some fish die, is it evil?
How about if it happens on the planet Jupiter and no sentient beings were within four hundred million miles, is it evil then? Really really big storm?
Getting hung up on the problem of evil is basically saying that no human should ever suffer anything. But why? Says who?
I have trained myself to ask myself, because my biggest flaw is that I am violently prone to self-pity, Why *shouldn’t* I suffer?
Not like I’m asking for it or anything, but if anyone... why *not* me?
My neighbors across the street many years ago? One got meningitis, one had a quadruple bypass, one got brain cancer, and the other got to be caretaker for the whole lot of them for several years. These were nice people, so what the heck? Why did all of that land on one house?
A friend of mine? Her house burned down while her husband was being treated for prostate cancer, right after he got laid off from his job. Nice people. Why them and not me?
Or... you, for that matter? No offense, just for illustrative purposes...
I tend to hear these types of stories because I’m a sympathetic listener (and a bit of a gossip) and because I have the sort of gloomy disposition that records the dark stuff and saves it for later.
As a good Stoic, I consider the prospect of suffering before it happens: premeditatio malorum. As a medievalist I think about the prospect of dying a lot, memento mori, and the reason they did it is because they had a lot more experience with epidemic illness than we do. As a yogini I do my savasana, “corpse pose,” and I’ve done a certain amount of Buddhist meditation on the subject, marasati, as well.
In a way it’s been almost soothing for me, to assume that I know the manner of my death. I’ve been sick in bed before, I’ve had nasty respiratory infections and coughed up blood, I can visualize this. I can construct a counterfactual that helps me cope, such as, At least it wasn’t a shark after all, or, Thank goodness I won’t be taken by a serial killer, or, I’m so glad it wasn’t a fire. I’ve found this strangely satisfying, although of course I could just as easily go in a massive earthquake tonight.
I have no reason to expect or demand safe conduct through this world.
Nobody ever promised that we would carry our mortal bodies around for eternity - or if they did, wouldn’t we all be taking better care of ourselves? Especially our teeth? Wouldn’t we have been wearing more sunblock all this time? Of course we know that our time will come one day.
I used to pray that I would die like a Stoic, without whining or crying WHY ME? Now I pray that when I go, I go alone, and that I’m not responsible for taking 400 other people with me. At least let my conscience be clean and clear, knowing I tried my best to protect others and obey quarantine rules. Let us make it through this as best we can.
Working at home is a whole different thing when suddenly you find yourself with coworkers. I used to contentedly wander around the house in my underwear, swigging San Pellegrino from the liter-size bottle, and writing whenever and wherever I wanted. Now there’s this cute bearded stranger doing who-knows-what across three monitors. It’s quite distracting.
(He’s not really a stranger; it’s just that the beard makes him look like a completely different person).
Imagine the swap from his perspective. One day he has his own private office with a door, and suddenly he has to share his workspace with two ladies who talk to themselves, both of whom are bipeds and one of whom has feathers. It’s a lot to fit into 650 square feet.
The way we’re adapting and sharing space is to simply indulge in separate mornings.
I know people who are chipper when they first wake up. In fact, my little parrot Noelle is one of them. She greets the day by making kissy noises and calling out “Whew!” Me? I’m more like one of those lawnmowers that won’t start until its cord is pulled several times. I doubt I’ve ever done anything good or interesting before 10:00 AM in my entire life.
My husband, on the other hand, is an extreme lark. Starting his workday at 7:00 AM is something of a prosocial compromise.
Some of you are saying, Ah, but you don’t have kids. Anymore, true, we don’t. Most people our age do not have little children at home. If there are two adults in the home, there’s a simple tradeoff, which is that one of you takes mornings and the other takes evenings. If neither of you is much good in the morning, then one can do baths and story time while the other gets clothes and breakfast prepped the night before. Or flip a coin.
What always surprises me is how so many households will allow for a culture in which someone or everyone is cranky all the time. Someone resents someone else for relaxing or enjoying any kind of peace and quiet. Someone tries to take a nap or sleep late, and someone else comes in and shouts at them and forces them to get out of bed. It’s awful. Personally I won’t stand for it.
Now that we’re all stuck indoors together and trying not to drive each other nuts, isn’t it time to let sleeping dogs lie? Or at least let sleeping people sleep?
I’ve built the culture of my household around High Quality Leisure Time. Reason: so that *I* get my share! I want to be able to take naps, therefore I must support others in their right to take naps. I want to be able to read quietly, therefore I must not distract others when they want to read quietly. I have things to do, therefore I need to accommodate others when they also have things to do.
Separate mornings are such a great way to do this!
We started this practice early in our marriage. My husband asked that I not get up with him on weekday mornings, because it would make him want to hang out and talk to me. He has always had his morning routine down to the minute, one of those proverbial “set your clock by him” guys. Even one minute of “good morning sweetie” and he’d have to recalibrate.
This is fine by me, since I’d prefer to sleep until 9 AM every day. Fortunately for me, almost everything I do is clock-free and virtually all my appointments are in the evenings.
It doesn’t really make sense for us to get up at the same time. There’s no need. We’d get in each other’s way, since we only have one bathroom and our place is so small we can’t even be in the kitchen at the same time. This is what I tell myself on the rare occasions it occurs to me that I’m spoiling myself by sleeping in.
Two hours of quiet time at the beginning of the day are worth four hours later on, when the phone starts ringing and all the meeting invitations start popping up.
Not everyone has a job. For instance, my auntie just reminded us that she has been retired for eleven years. She earned it! Just because you’re not reviewing engineering drawings or filing a patent doesn’t mean you can’t make use of separate mornings. It’s fair to have two hours to yourself, to read or stare out the window or doze off or whatever you like.
Honestly I think that everyone should be free to exert privacy on demand. Sometimes you just need a little breathing room, and that’s fine.
It’s a pretty common reaction to feel frustrated with someone else for having more fun than you are, for relaxing when you are not or for being able to concentrate deeply when you can’t. I blame the individual for this. If someone else is relaxing, then sit down and relax. If someone else is doing focused work, then you can do yours. If what is disrupting you is a power imbalance, such as unequal division of caregiving or household tasks, then it is your responsibility to advocate for yourself, set boundaries, and negotiate.
If an extreme lark and an extreme night owl can negotiate a schedule that they can both survive, then I think anyone can negotiate anything.
The nice thing about the separate mornings is how well it works. I offered to hang out in the bedroom longer, if he wanted more helmet time to focus, and he said he was always excited when I came out. It makes him happy to know that I am peacefully sleeping while he works. Though probably not as happy as it makes me to not have to wake up at 5:30 AM.
Mornings might not be the time to divide your living space. For others, it might work better to have a break in the middle of the day, or to go to bed separately. Some people need more sleep than others, and that is not a moral crime, it’s a simple fact of biology and neurochemistry. Why fight it? Accept it, appreciate it, and find a way to use it to create some privacy and peace of mind, both for yourself and for everyone else in your household.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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