My Quarantine Life: Week 18

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This was at my doctor’s appointment yesterday. It was my first human contact in over 120 days.

Isolation Log was supposed to be a fun Star Trek spoof. Except isolation isn’t fun. This entire COVID-19 situation is not fun. 

Yesterday, I saw my primary doctor for a check-up on my “health conditions.” It was the first time in over 120 days I had been touched by another human. Due to the virus and my health conditions, my quarantine has been extended until at least January 2021. Quarantine is my new normal. It’s time to adjust.

There was a TV commercial long ago about buying the world a coke (as in coca-cola soda pop). We are beyond that now. What the world needs is a hug. Even if the world doesn’t need a hug, I do. I may ask the doctor to hug me at my appointment in January. 

Quarantine is the new normal for the foreseeable future, so instead of isolation logs, we can chronicle my quarantine life. I am still not supposed to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or pretty much anyplace where there are other humans in the same building as me. This is mostly because there are cases locally of COVID-19 travelling through HVAC systems and infecting people even when they are “distanced” from each other. 

I am not supposed to ride in a vehicle with another person I have not quarantined with (actually that piece of advice applies to everyone, not just me) the doctor told me. 

The good news is, in addition to curbside “touchless” pickup being okay for me, I am now also “approved” for outdoor socializing. I actually have already done this twice prior to the doctor giving me the okay because it seemed safe to me. I can socialize with other people outdoors as long as everyone wears a mask and maintains the 6 feet of distance. I have not been approved for “indoor” socializing yet. Anyone who comes near me anywhere is supposed to wear a mask.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this. Even though I am okay at home and very happy to be home, I still really want a hug. I miss humans. 

The goal is to take one day at a time and to remain as safe as possible. My biggest challenges are food and work. As long as I can take care of those two things, then I am fine. 

Speaking of food, we still have huge food shortages in the food allergy community. There is also price gouging. I used to spend $4 for my allergy friendly flour. The same package is now $21. I have lost almost 10 pounds due to the food shortages because it has been hard trying to get food when all of the shelves are bare. Since I weigh less than 100, I don’t really have 10 pounds to spare.

Hopefully someone somewhere will figure out the problems with the food supply so that the food shortages end. If I am able to live long enough to see my next birthday (in March), I really want pizza. We will see if that happens. Pizza is one of the things I have not been able to get due to the food shortages. 

So, my quarantine has been extended and it is time to adjust to life with this as the new normal. Quarantine life is not a temporary thing. Even if the virus ends and my quarantine ends in January, I will have lived this life for almost a year by that point. It is time to get used to it. 

Welcome to my quarantine life. 

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.b.20

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I got two books and a movie for my first curbside library pickup during pandemic times.

Contact free library pick up! Woo hoo!

The day in March that it was announced the libraries were closing was the day that the magnitude and severity of COVID-19 became real to me as an actual threat. 

I was at the library on the last day it was open before closing. We had a book club that night. The librarian said we were allowed to check out anything we wanted with no limits. I came home with two bags full of stuff. When I got home, I cried.

Libraries are a lifeline. The library is an important place to me for many reasons. I was very happy when I bought my house that I am in walking distance to my local library. This made me ecstatic. Since moving into my house, I attend adult craft class at the library. I started an adult book club at the library. I use the library for internet access. The library is where I would go to use the internet for my online class through Berkeley last fall. I have attended music concerts on the library lawn in the summer.

Libraries have always been a safe haven and place of respite for me. When I was homeless, libraries were a safe place to take a nap. Libraries are a place where you can be in air conditioning to get a break from the heat outdoors in the summertime. 

Libraries are a huge source of entertainment. Not only can I get books, but also DVDs. That saves me money so I only go to the movie theatre if it is something I absolutely want to see. It also means I have less clutter inside my house. Instead of spending money on books and DVDs, I can use my money on other things. I get books and DVDs free from the library. The books in my home are only my absolute favorites that I read repeatedly. 

As I went through the bags of items I checked out of the library in March, I returned them to the return bin outside the library. I went through all the items and have been content with the books and DVDs inside my house.

When the librarian called me this week to let me know that contact free curbside pickup is now available, I was overjoyed. No one is allowed in the library for safety reasons. However, you can request items online or by phone and can pick them up curbside contact free.

You can ask for exact books, a favorite author, or have the librarian choose something for you. 

I successfully picked up items last night through the contact free curb service. I am so happy to have library access again. We are not allowed to interlibrary loan items (which makes sense). You can only get items that are already at your home library. 

I cannot tell you how much I have missed the library. I am so happy they have figured out a way to safely provide services to us once again. Contact free pick up protects both the library staff as well as the person checking out items.

Thank you, library! I have missed you! 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.a.20

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I am so thankful for strawberries. This was the second time in 4 months I have been able to get fresh fruit due to food shortages.

Day 100 of captivity. The natives are getting restless. I have had enough of being stuck inside my house because other people refuse to wear masks and distance. I have no faith in humanity to do the right thing anymore.

It has now been 100 days since the doctor told me to stop going to the grocery store and pharmacy. It has officially been 111 days since I have actually been to a grocery store myself.

I am so tired of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired of it or not, this is the world in which we live. At this point, I’m just waiting to die because people are not wearing masks and distancing.

As frustrated as I am with the situation, I do not feel as though I am missing out on anything. I have altered my behavior to keep myself safe. Due to multiple food allergies that react by touch, I did not go very many places before the pandemic. The changes I have had to make to my routine have not been huge. So what have I changed? Here’s the list:

Groceries: This one has been the most challenging. I am so thankful and so grateful for the small army of people who kept me supplied throughout the worst of the pandemic so far. I have now successfully been able to receive grocery delivery so that I am not putting my friends at risk. I am now grocery shopping once per month. As long as I have food to eat, I do not mind NOT going to the grocery store. I loathe shopping in general. I am not missing out on anything by no longer going to the grocery store. I am fine with contactless grocery delivery once per month.

The Gym: This is the time of year when I am running outside. I typically use the treadmill from October to April. I am not missing the gym right now. That may change come this fall and winter. As long as there is not ice on the ground to cause me to fall, I will run outside. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go to the gym.

The Library: I do miss the library. However, I am taking this opportunity to reread every single book on my bookshelf to make the decision whether I should keep the novel or get rid of it. So, I am using this time to engage in a minimalist exercise. I miss the people in my book club, but we have been able to keep in touch with phone calls and letters. The library recently reopened for touchless curbside pickup only. I have requested two books and a movie for curbside pickup. I will let you know how that goes when I pick up my items. I am thankful for the touchless pick up option. If we end up officially quarantining again, I am content to read what I have in my house to make my “keep or donate” decisions.

Church: I have found a podcast that I am able to listen to and enjoy to hear Bible messages. Of course, this is in addition to Bible reading. It’s nice to hear someone’s perspective on how the Bible applies to daily life. I am fine with doing church by podcast. I don’t want to physically go to church and then meet Jesus by getting COVID-19.

The salon: We have reviewed this one previously. I am now shaving my head, which means I do not need the salon. I do not feel like I am missing anything here. In fact, I am using the money I am saving by NOT going to the salon to help pay for groceries. My groceries expense has increased about 3x due to the food shortages and price gouging.

The grocery store, the gym, the library, church and the salon are pretty much the extent of my social outings before the pandemic.

A friend recently expressed concern that I am still isolated (this is by recommendation of my doctor, remember). Yet, I am totally fine being isolated. I did not do much before the pandemic. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go any place. People’s cavalier attitude regarding this virus right now is scary. It is not worth my life to go out someplace when I have no need or desire to go anyplace. I can communicate with people through letter writing, phone calls and text messages. I’m fine.

Another concern raised by a friend is that they want to see me for coffee. If we weren’t having a pandemic, I would be open to that. Every contact you have with someone is an exposure, so seeing anyone in person right now is not safe.

However, we can still have coffee. Make your coffee and then call me on the phone. There. We are having coffee in a safe way. 

Things around me are reopening. People I know are taking HUGE unnecessary risks with their health and safety that I am uncomfortable taking. Unfortunately, if I come into contact with those people (like at work), then they are exposing me to all of their risk taking. I’m still waiting for my execution date.

People and businesses in my area are not doing enough to keep people safe right now. The safety measures are not being enforced in my area. People are being remarkably careless. No errand is worth my life at this point in time. 

We must remain vigilant. The pandemic is not over yet. As frustrated as I am with 100 days of captivity, the alternative is death. I have three little ones to take care of at home. I’ll take captivity. 

Stay safe. Wear a mask.

Isolation Log: Covid Date 13.a.20

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Jolene likes to ride on the rollator when I roll.

Trust no one. I feel like I am channeling Fox Mulder from the X-Files. You just don’t know where people have been. The health experts say that about 40% of COVID cases come from asymptomatic carriers. So you may feel fine, but you can still transmit to someone else.

I have been thinking a lot lately that people wearing a mask is just like wearing a condom for sex. They say when you sleep with someone, you “sleep” with every other person that person has been with. That’s why wearing a condom is important. Unless both parties have been tested, you don’t know if you are a carrier for HIV for some other STD. If someone does not wear a condom to prevent disease transmission, then you refuse to have sex with them.

I wish wearing a mask could be the same.

People should wear masks like they wear condoms to prevent disease transmission. You just don’t know where people have been. When someone is not wearing a mask and gets within 6 feet of you, you are then coming into contact with every other person that person has been in contact with. Same scenario. 

Everyone in my area is going around like nothing is happening. No one is wearing a mask. It’s still not safe for me to go out. If someone refuses to wear a condom, no sex. Since people in my community are refusing to wear masks, I cannot safely leave my house. 

That sucks for me. I should not be a prisoner in my own home because other people refuse to take proper precautions. I still stand by the thought that people who refuse to wear masks should be charged with negligent homicide. What do we need to do to make that a reality?

I won’t live long enough to see a vaccine, a medication, or any type of law that is on par with the risks involved. Someone is going to end up killing me as soon as we have to go back to work in our office. Even if my coworkers wear masks and take appropriate precautions, I don’t know where they’ve been. They may (and most do) take more risks than I do. 

Trust no one. With 40% of COVID cases coming from asymptomatic carriers, you just don’t know who has it.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet apart. 

On the plus side, I can say that I am very fortunate in that I am not in need of anything. Sure, there are a few things that would make my life easier. However, I am not experiencing any crisis as long as I stay in my house. 

Your right to “not wear a mask” infringes on my right to “live my life.” But I guess your rights are more important than mine. Just another week in isolation wondering when someone else is going to kill me when I have to go out.

This can’t go on forever. I feel like I’m on death row. I know I’m going to get killed when we go back to work. I’m just waiting for my execution date. 

Until then, I am very happy at home with my cats. Even if the internet sucks and the heat makes my symptoms worse. I would rather struggle to be alive than be murdered by someone’s negligence.

I am very happy to be alive at home for as long as it lasts.

Isolation Log: Covid Date 12.a.20

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Well, the pandemic is over, everyone is doing whatever they want like it’s 2018 or something. Of course, this is untrue. However, that is an accurate depiction of people’s behavior.

I can now say that I have officially lost all faith in humanity to do the right thing.

This week, I walked into the village to attempt to find a place where I could get cell service to make phone calls for work. That was a mistake. 

I was wearing a mask and distancing myself from people. I was perfectly fine.

Then, these two teenagers on bicycles who were not wearing masks, almost ran me over. Literally. I had no place to go and no way to get off the sidewalk due to the traffic in the street. By the way, it’s illegal to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk here.

Because they were not wearing masks and were much closer to me than 6 feet, I have now had a coronavirus exposure. There are so many asymptomatic carriers, that you have to assume everyone is positive and you have been exposed if the other person is not wearing a mask. This also necessitated a coerced phone call to the doctor’s office and being screened for testing.

If people would follow the law and wear a mask, I would not have to go through this. The Governor issued the order. It is the responsibility of the local government to enforce it.

While I was making my phone calls, I was standing in a spot across the street from the local post office. I stood there on the phone watching a stream of people go into and out of the post office and not a single person was wearing a mask.

Every week when I drive my car, I see people all over the place in large groups. No one is wearing a mask. That law must be optional or something. Are there other laws in life that are “optional?”

I must be imagining this entire pandemic thing – except for the fact I had to get screened and obtain a doctor’s note saying I don’t need to be quarantined so I can work. Except for the fact that I know four people who have died, which is the most death I have ever personally experienced in a two-month period. But I’m sure everyone is joking. My “dead” friends are going to pick up the phone and yell “gotcha,” right? Wrong. This pandemic is real. It is not a joke. People need to take it seriously. 

It’s all very simple. People need to wear a mask when they leave their home, because you don’t know when you’re going to encounter another person. When you do encounter a person, stay 6 feet away.

Apparently those parameters are too difficult for people to understand.

I don’t have a whole lot to say this week. I have lost all faith in humanity to do the right thing. My community has shown me, first-hand, by their actions, that they do not care about other people. Human lives mean nothing but the almighty dollar is everything. That is the lesson my community has taught me.

In addition to my personal exposure this week, our “local leaders” have been very disappointing. New York State is engaging in a phased reopening. Last week, our local leaders decided to blatantly ignore all State guidelines and recommendations and open our area early. They said that the economy is more important than human lives. It’s more important that people go back to work. If people die, that’s too bad. 

A big part of why people in my area are having such a hard time is due to the incompetence of our local leadership. Our county decided they just wanted to open before the state said it was okay to open. They were sick of waiting. 

Don’t be surprised if my tombstone says “COVID-19.” At this point, I am fully expecting to die or suffer permanent lung damage in the second wave (found in those who “recover”). As a distance runner, that would really piss me off.

We can only control ourselves. We cannot control other people. Yet when other people put your life at risk, what are you going to do about it? The answer is nothing. There is nothing you can do when someone threatens your life. This is the world in which we live now. 

My biggest positive is that I still get to stay home where I am safe. Attempting to leave my house is a whole other issue entirely. I should not be a prisoner in my own home because other people refuse to wear a mask and distance. But that is what is happening. Their “right” to “not wear a mask” is more important than my life. My life is meaningless. That’s the message I get when people refuse to wear a mask.

We will see what things look like when we go back to work, but given how other people are acting, I do not expect to live long enough to see my next birthday. Someone is going to kill me because they decided to not wear a mask. 

The exposures will only increase when we return to work. If people want to risk their own life, that’s fine. But don’t expose me. It’s going to happen as soon as everyone returns to work because you cannot control other people. There are many people in my community who like to take huge risks. I do not like to take risks, but it looks like I will be forced to accept everyone else’s level of risk once we return to work. 

The American dollar is worth more than a human life. At least that’s what our county leaders and local business chamber tells us. 

Every interaction is a potential exposure. 

Stay as safe as you can. 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 11.a.20

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Jude & Simon enjoy snuggling.

It’s like Christmas! March seems like it was 20 years ago, even though it was only 2 months. When everything was going into lockdown, I had ordered a bunch of supplies online. With the exception of the flour (mostly because I was out of flour), I completely forgot that I had ordered anything.

Last week, I finally received my order of allergy-friendly flour and allergy-friendly “milk.” I was overjoyed. This week, more packages have arrived that I totally do not remember ordering. But they have my name on them, and they are all things I use on a regular basis, so must be I did.

The only way for me to stay safe is to stay home. Unfortunately, people in my area are not being responsible. They are not wearing masks or social distancing. I wear a mask, but if other people do not follow the rules, then it is not safe for me to be out. I will stay home.

In focusing on essentials, the only things I need are food and to continue working.

For food, people have been stellar about bringing me food and filling my cooler. I do not like asking for help, and I do not like to put other people at risk, so I am trying to find a work-around so I do not have to go to the grocery store. I am also trying to find a work-around so that the amazing people who have been helping me can have a break. The doctor told me not to go to the stores, and I do not see the doctor again until July, so those are the instructions I’m following.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to only grocery shop once per month now, similar to when my grandparents had the farm. Worst case scenario, I have to attempt to go to the store once a month at a low traffic time. Best case scenario, I try to figure out how to get things delivered to me. The challenge with delivery is that I cannot order fresh items.

Trying to figure out my new normal, I did find a local company has started to offer touchless food deliveries to people. I will be trying this service at the end of June to order my July groceries. If it goes well, I plan to use it for the foreseeable future. The service uses refrigerated trucks, so I can order fresh and frozen items. They have a “menu” from which to order. It is a company that traditionally services restaurants and schools and is now delivering locally to homes. If all goes well, I will use the service for as long as they provide it. 

I did have a friend drop-off supplies to my cooler today and I am so grateful. I would not be making it through this pandemic if not for so many people helping me. In adjusting to our new normal, I am trying to find other services to “help” me so that I am not taxing my informal supports.

It looks like having coolers in front of homes for food supply drop-offs is going to be a thing here for the foreseeable future.

In other news, I received an application for absentee voting a few weeks ago in the mail. I filled it out saying I need to vote by mail for every election for the rest of the year. Today, I received my first vote-by-mail ballot. It is for the local school board and school budget election. This is my first time voting in a school election. 

The reason why I am voting in a school election now is because the ballot was mailed to my house. It is so much easier for me to vote by mail than it is for me to vote in-person. I wish we could vote by mail for every single election all of the time.

One of the biggest surprises about the mail-in ballot is how easy it is to understand. Not only is voting in person a major pain, but it is difficult to understand the new electronic voting machines that they have at in-person polling places. I found it much easier to understand how to vote with the paper ballot than I do on the machine in person.

There are some throw-backs making a return with this pandemic that I am hoping will stay for the long-term. I am super excited to try this local company offering grocery delivery service at the end of June to obtain my July groceries. I also love voting by mail. It is so much easier and convenient than voting in person. A few weeks ago, I used the special orange envelope to get stamps through my maiboxl from the post office. My mailbox is my favorite accessory right now.

I am loving these services and so grateful to have them. These services are bright spots in a challenging time. Right now, I am super happy about anything that makes my life easier and limits my contact with other people. When I feel safe to interact, I will. It is still too soon and we have the second wave coming. 

What services have you found helpful in the pandemic?

Isolation Log: Covid Date 10.a.20

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Jude likes to snuggle on the couch.

One of my really good friends of over 20 years passed away from COVID this week. This is the fourth person in 9 weeks that I know who has died of COVID. This pandemic has been very hard for me emotionally, and the fact that I am surrounded by irresponsible and ignorant people is not helping. 

Last weekend I went into my work office and protesters were downtown wanting everything to reopen. I overheard one of the evil neighbor kids asking their parent what coronavirus was, and the parent responded “something people made up so you don’t have to go to school.” 

My local school district has been delivering lawn signs to congratulate graduating seniors. They are doing this in large groups of 15-20 staff where no one wears a mask or bothers to social distance. They were all milling around in the street and hugging. 

I will remember the irresponsibility and blatant disregard for safety displayed by my local school district by voting “no” on the school budget increase this year.

Everytime I see these things, not only does it make me terrified to leave my house, but it just plain makes me cry. I do not understand how people can be so ignorant and think that this is fake, when I have experienced such profound loss and death.

One person commented this week that everyone who is dying is elderly. This is not true. Of the four people I know who have died, they have all been in good health with no pre-existing conditions and under the age of 65. I have another friend whose 6 year old is currently in ICU with the disease.

How many more people have to die before people in my area wake up and take this seriously?

I am heartbroken and terrified.

Protesters complain about their “rights” and say they don’t have to wear a mask.

If you refuse to wear a mask, you should be charged with negligent homicide. 

That’s what it is. It is a very simple concept to understand. It is exactly like drinking and driving. If you are stupid enough to drive when you have been drinking, you can kill someone. If you are stupid enough to leave your house without wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people, you can kill someone. They are one and the same. The only difference is that a car accident is a quick death; COVID-19 is a slow, long, painful one. 

My greatest challenges are figuring out how to obtain food and working. As long as I can do those two things, I can manage everything else. The challenge is that I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me. If people around me refuse to wear a mask and social distance, then it is not safe for me to leave my house. That makes it very challenging for me to work.

My region of New York is reopening. Of course, it is too soon and people are acting stupidly. Our COVID rate has tripled since reopening started. But that’s ok. People in my county do not care if people live or die. I never thought I would live in a world where the value of a human life is nothing, but here we are. 

On to the good stuff for this week …

After waiting over 7 weeks on an order I placed back in March, the allergy friendly flour and allergy friendly “milk” I ordered finally arrived! I now have food to be able to eat breakfast again!

Once the flour and milk are gone, that is going to be it for a very long time. The factories that make my allergy friendly specialty items are closed. They estimate that when they do reopen, it will take them at least 2 months to get back to capacity. 

I currently have about 8 cups of allergy friendly flour. However, I am going to set about 2 cups of it aside to save for Christmas. I am anticipating that it will be a long time until I am able to obtain my speciality items again, and if I save 2 cups for Christmas, I can make something yummy to look forward to when we enter the second or even third wave of the pandemic.

I am so happy to be able to have breakfast again!

I have been working on minimizing my bathroom, and will be doing a minimalist bathroom post soon.

My neuro symptoms have been getting worse with the heat and I am relying on my rollator more. Luckily, I do not have to drive to work right now, so I am not a danger to anyone else when my vision goes and I am not balancing well. 

As challenging as the tech issues are, I am very happy to be able to work from home. I enjoy being with my cats. I feel safe here. I am also afraid of what will happen to my house once I do go back to work with all of the children running around unsupervised. It was Memorial Day weekend last year when someone took a baseball bat to the side of my house and traumatized my cats. 

Right now, I am taking one day at a time.

I am working from home with my cats where I am safe and very happy about it. I am so thankful to still have a job.

I would love to be able to go out and do something, but unfortunately, I am unable to do so because other people act stupidly. If everyone would wear a mask and abide by social distancing, I would be able to leave my house safely. I can only dream. 

After knowing so many people who have died recently, I don’t want to be next. I can’t leave orphans.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away. 

Old Habits Die Hard

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Simon in the window enjoying fresh air.

In times of stress, it is common to fall back on our coping skills. Some coping skills are positive and some coping skills are negative. As we age, we gradually replace negative coping skills with positive coping skills. When you know better, you do better.

Some coping skills are not necessarily negative, but there comes a point when a particular coping skill is no longer needed because you have overcome the problem. Either the life situation has changed so that you do not have that problem anymore to require a coping skill, or you have adapted to the situation in such a way that it is no longer a crisis which prompts coping skills.

This coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have ever lived through before. It is prompting all types of coping skills in people, myself included. 

I keep trying to find something to equate to our current situation. After all, the beauty of coping skills is that if they work for one crisis, they will probably work for another.

I spoke earlier how the pandemic is worse than when I was in New York City on September 11. I stand by that statement. At least in 2001, one could leave the City and escape somewhere else where life was still relatively normal. In this pandemic, there is no escape. It is pervasive. It alters our daily routines, habits, and life. It even alters our homes, which is the place of sanctuary for many. Your home is like your lair where you can freely be yourself, and now your place of refuge is being invaded by “working from home.” 

In trying to somehow wrap my brain around this pandemic and what it is doing to life, the only situation with which I can equate the current situation is when I was homeless. Even that is not completely accurate. The only parallel between homelessness and the pandemic is the stress and the scarcity. Trying to figure out how to get food and basic supplies. Other than that, the comparison is an oversimplification. I have someplace safe to live with my family. The only challenge is how to get supplies safely.

Below I am going to outline three coping skills that have made a resurgence for me in the current crisis. I honestly never thought I would have use for these coping skills again. I thought I had finally gotten to a point in life where they are no longer needed. I thought wrong. 

Old Habit # 1 

Toilet paper. Oh, yes, you knew I was going there, didn’t you? Toilet paper is the story of my life. When I was growing up, I would have to make one roll of toilet paper last 4-6 weeks. Now, due to the coronavirus, I have decided I am going to do the same.

I am going to make a 12-pack of toilet paper last for an entire year. I am probably going to be doing this until I die. 

Buying one 12-pack of toilet paper each year saves money. By using less toilet paper, I can take the $5 or $10 I would have spent on toilet paper and use it instead to purchase food. Yes, our economy is that decimated. Food shortages are pervasive and real.

I am supplementing my one roll of toilet paper per month with cloth baby wipes. Some people may complain that this creates more laundry. They are small. I do not think it creates more laundry. Plus, now that I am wearing pajamas twice instead of once, there is “space” for the cloth baby wipes because I am going through less pajamas.

In fact, I am actually saving water by using cloth baby wipes for pee. I flush my toilet less. When I use paper toilet paper, I typically flush the toilet every 2-3 uses so that the toilet does not get clogged with the paper. Using cloth baby wipes, I only flush the toilet once or twice per day. There is no paper in it, unless there is # 2, which gets flushed immediately. 

Old habits die hard: I am only using one roll of toilet paper per month, similar to when I was growing up and would have to save the nickel change from food stamp purchases to be able to afford one roll.

Old Habit # 2

When I was in grad school, I would work Tuesdays through Saturdays instead of Monday through Friday like all of the other executives in my office. My grad classes were on Mondays, so this worked well for me. Weekends were Sundays and Mondays. I loved it. 

It was also nice having a weekday off, because if I need to schedule a doctor or some other appointment, I could do so without having to take off of work. The only challenge was that some places are not open on Mondays. For example, I remember I could never get my hair appointment on a Monday because the salon was closed on Mondays.

Trying to work from home during coronavirus has been a challenge due to little to no internet service. I type things into google docs so that I can copy and paste into an email when I do have internet service. I hope that I can get things in fast enough to be able to send the message before I lose service.

Also, being that I am in the high risk group, I am extremely apprehensive at returning to the office and being surrounded by my coworkers who have many many more exposures than me. I do not feel that is a safe situation. I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me.

I have asked to change my current work schedule from the Monday through Friday back to the Tuesday through Saturday format, and it is going great! I actually get decent internet service on Fridays and Saturdays so I am able to get more work done. This is in contrast to Mondays, where I spend all day waiting for one web page to load, and it may not even be the web page I need. 

Also, if I do have to go into the office, which I did this past weekend, I have the entire place to myself. I can get things done with minimal exposure. I have always worked well independently.

Tuesday – Saturday work reminds me of when I was in grad school. Summer 2015 was one of the best summers of my life, so there are good memories of this work schedule. I feel good.

Old Habit # 3

 Make do or go without. This was the mantra of the Great Depression and it is again the mantra of the Great Depression part 2. It was also what got me through the 4 months of hell when I found out my rent on my apartment doubled (with 2 weeks notice) and I was trying to buy the house.

I have spent so much money on trying to get food these past two months that I have completely blown my budget. It’s different when you have to have other people shop for you and then reimburse them. It’s also hard when you are trying to keep a week’s worth of extra food on hand in case people can’t get to you right away. I am dependent on when other people go to the store.

I do not want to ask people to go to the store for me because then they are putting themselves at risk for me. So I’ve been telling people to let me know when they are going to the store for themselves and I will just add to their list. 

Throw in multiple food allergies to that mix and the food shortages of food allergy specialty items … well, it’s been rough.

So my mantra is to make do or go without. I literally have no extra money to spend on anything. If you are expecting me to “stimulate” the economy, forget it. The only thing I am doing is paying my essential bills and food.

To this end, I have cut out all non-essentials. That includes hair cuts. Hair salons are still closed right now anyways, and even when they do reopen, I do not feel safe enough to go back. 

I am going to isolate and socially distance myself for a very long time until I am sure this is over. It could be years, and I am okay with that.

This means I will be cutting my own hair. 

Previously, “make do or go without” meant that I only had my hair cut twice a year. My hair was really long – down to my butt. What I learned was that only getting it cut twice a year saved me money but was horrible for my hair. My hair ended up so damaged that I ended up having to get it cut into a bob. 

Many people have said that I should grow out my pixie and that I can save money on haircuts by just letting it grow long again. The problem is, that is not healthy. Plus, long hair is a major pain. Now that I have had a pixie, I am not going back to long hair again.

I finally got a pair of clippers and buzzed it off. The clippers were $60. Since I usually pay $50 for a haircut, it will only take two hair cuts for the clippers to pay for themselves. If I do not go back to the salon and continue to do my hair myself, that is money saved I can use for food.

It is going to be a very long time, possibly even years before I will feel safe enough to go back to a salon, to be honest. Make do or go without. I am making do by cutting my own hair. I will go without the salon. 

Another way in which I am making do or going without is air conditioning. I still do not have enough money to get air conditioning for my house, even though it is medically necessary. Heat exacerbates my neuro symptoms. I have to go without, so I am making do.

We are supposed to get a heat wave later this week. I do not have money to buy any more black-out curtains for the windows, so I am going to go ghetto and tape towels and blankets over windows in addition to the curtains I do have. The more I can block the light, the cooler it will be in the house. Or, at least, I hope so. We will see how bad my neuro symptoms get. 

I am making do and going without air conditioning because I can’t afford it, no matter how medically necessary it may be.

What old habits do you have that have come back to help you cope with the pandemic?  

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 9.a.20

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Jolene is a happy baby.

Bubble space. It’s a pretty simple concept that I would teach to all my pre-school students back when I was teaching. I spent over a decade as head teacher in an inclusive classroom in the public school district.

An inclusive classroom meant that my class size was limited to 14 students, about 25% of them had some sort of disability (usually on the autism spectrum), and I had a dedicated teacher’s aide in the room with me at all times. In addition to the dedicated teacher’s aide, there would be other professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers who would frequently be in the classroom working with a particular student on a certain skill or with a topic.

My weekly lesson plans included not only the basics such as letter recognition, pre-reading skills, science, colors, numbers, but also social and emotional skills. We would use modelling and positive reinforcement to help teach kids how to be nice to others.

One of the big social emotional skills taught in my classroom was the concept of bubble space. As many of the children in my classroom were on the autism spectrum or had some sort of sensory disability, many of them did not like to be touched. 

I would teach all the students that they live in their own personal bubble. If you take both your arms and hold them out, that is your imaginary bubble space. If you measure fingertip to fingertip like that, it is also supposed to roughly equal your height, but I digress.

Kids were supposed to ask before entering someone else’s bubble space. For example, you should ask someone first if it is okay to hug them. This was also a great exercise in teaching kids the difference between good touch / bad touch for abuse prevention. If someone enters your personal bubble space in a way that is not okay with you, then you need to say something about it. Always tell two adults. This is in case the first adult does not do the right thing (report it), hopefully the second adult will.  

The point is, everyone has a personal bubble space.

Now, I have seen a marked decline in society since I stopped teaching pre-school. I’m not sure what has happened to people from the time they left my classroom at age 5 to adulthood, but it seems like the entire world has forgotten the concept of bubble space.

Do I need to go back to teaching pre-school and invite all of the adults? Get with the program, people! Bubble space!

Bubble space is essentially the same thing as social distancing. For some reason, many people, or, at least, many people in my area, are unable to social distance. Why do you not understand the concept of bubble space? Four year olds get it, but the adults have forgotten.

It’s not hard. Yet people do not seem to be able to do it.

I live in a bubble and I would appreciate it if people would respect my bubble space and not enter my bubble. 

Why is this concept hard?

Bubble space is no longer a part of the manners I teach to pre-school children. Bubble space is now a life and death concept for every human being on the planet.

This is a reminder from one of your educators to please remember what we taught you in pre-school and respect the bubble space. It’s not hard. I can’t get over the fact that 4 year olds get this, but somehow adults don’t. 

Did you get dumber as you got older? Or do you think once you hit the age of 5 this no longer applies?

Maybe someone needs to hire me to teach adults now instead. 

Wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from people.

Isolation Log: Covid Date 8.a.20

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I finally got a nice photo of Simon. He is sitting in the fabric box.

What can I say? We are going to re-open too early. It is glaringly obvious that some people think the economy is more important than human life. So people will die and nobody cares. Wave two will be deadlier than what we have experienced. Or, at least that is what the history of pandemics tells us.

Where I am, the food shortages are getting worse. I am now out of anything to make breakfast. I have used all of my allergy-friendly flour. There is none to be had in the stores. The order I placed online in March has yet to arrive. I do have three boxes of allergy friendly cereal, but no allergy friendly milk. The milk status is the same as the flour status.

I do have rice, beans, chicken, pork chops, potatoes and carrots, so I can make food. I just won’t be having traditional breakfast foods. I can no longer make breads or muffins.

The health department only counts confirmed COVID cases, not presumed positives. This means, you have to be tested. My county just started testing for COVID-19 last week. We have been quarantined for almost 2 months, yet they JUST STARTED offering testing now. Sounds smart, doesn’t it?

They say because we only have 33 positives, we are doing a great job and can re-open. Yet there are 140 presumed positives quarantined because there was no testing in this county prior to 7 days ago and they do not have transportation to get tested. 

No one wears a mask. When I drive the car once a week to keep it going, parking lots at every single business I pass are full. My neighbors are having house parties every week because they are out of work. There are groups of 10-15 people running around between 5 different houses.

Three times I have narrowly avoided neighbor kids getting way too close to me during my daily outside time. They say that coronavirus is a hoax. They taunt me and say they can get as close as they want to me because coronavirus is not real. My doctor told me, coronavirus has a 90% chance of killing me given my medical history. But according to the neighbors, my doctor is lying.

I like to have daily outside time, and it makes it hard to go outside my house when people think none of this is real and try on purpose to infect others. There is no recourse for this behavior. The police have other things to do.

The house next to the one with the evil children in question is COVID positive. That person spent over a week in the hospital with a 105 temperature. Yet, the neighbors still think COVID is not real. We are all just having one awesome vacation.

I know 3 people who have died from COVID and 2 more who currently have it. Yet, according to everyone in my county, none of this is real.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone. 

I haven’t been feeling well in the past week or so. My doctor’s office said since I am in the high risk group, I should go to the hospital. But there is nothing anyone can do. There is no cure. They try to make you comfortable. I do not want to go to a hospital. I will either live or die in my house with my cats. I am comfortable here. I’m not getting close to other people, so I’m not infecting anyone. (To be honest, I do not think I have COVID. I think it is my neuro issues acting up). 

Unlike my neighborhood children, who are actively trying to spread the “fake” disease that they think is so hilarious. It’s the new game they are playing since there is no school and no internet here to do school online. You can only sit a kid down with a worksheet for so long.

On to the positives – 

I am really happy to be home with the cats. I am thankful for this house. I may be a reluctant homeowner, but I can tell you, I am thankful for this house now. This house has survived both World Wars, the Spanish Flu, and the Great Depression. It will survive COVID and the Great Depression part 2.

People are still dropping supplies off to me by using my cooler. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that. The fact that food is delivered to my cooler reminds me that there are good people in this world. That’s one of the few things giving me hope right now.

This week, in addition to the 2 bags of groceries in my cooler, was a small bag of 5 cloth face masks. Even if no one else in my area uses face masks, I do. Face masks have been proven to work.

While people have been good about bringing me food, I have been so focused on food (and what I can’t get due to shortages), that I have forgotten about other supplies. My calendar this week reminds me I need to change the furnace filter and it is the last one.

I placed a call to my local, small business hardware store from where I usually get the filters to see if they are open. Not only are they open, but I have an appointment day and time next week I can go there to get the filters. Since I am in the high-risk group, they are going to make it even easier for me. Not only am I going at a special “low traffic” time, but they told me to call from the parking lot to pay by credit card, and they will bring the supplies out and put them in my trunk so I have zero human interaction.

Now, the doctor told me I am not supposed to go to the grocery store or pharmacy because I am in the high risk group, but I think a transaction like the one the hardware store is offering me will be okay. That is essentially how I am getting food anyways – people leave things in my cooler. Except this time, the hardware store will be putting things in the car trunk for me.

God bless the essential workers and everything they are enduring right now to keep us supplied and safe. Not only is this hardware store keeping me safe, but it seems like putting things in my trunk is safer for the employees as well. 

This will get worse before it gets better. We are reopening in a few week and many more people will die. At some point, I have faith that people will get a clue and realize that human life is more valuable than the economy. 

The fact that people are putting food in my cooler for me is what gives me that hope in humanity.

Thanks.