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 6.a.20

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Simon jumped into the recycling bucket after he threw one of his toys in there. I helped him to get it out.

When this is all over, I want pizza. 

It sounds like a simple request. Restaurants are open for take-out and delivery right now. The challenge is that I have multiple food allergies, so I can’t just eat any pizza. It has to be allergy friendly pizza. The nearest restaurant that makes allergy friendly pizza is over an hour away. They can’t even get the ingredients to make the allergy friendly pizza.

Normally, I would be able to get a frozen daiya (allergy friendly) pizza. However, with the food shortages, they are not currently available. With the food shortages, I cannot even obtain the ingredients to be able to make one at home. I do cook almost all my food from scratch, but I like to treat myself to a daiya pizza about once a month or so. 

The “specialty” items that people with food allergies require for everyday life are not considered to be “essential” items. Unfortunately, the food allergy community is hard hit in this pandemic right now. 

When the only thing left on the grocery store shelf is a jar of peanut butter and you have a nut allergy … no one should have to make the choice about whether they want to die of starvation or die from eating something that will kill them. However, that is the situation that some people are experiencing in our community right now.

I realize that everyone is making sacrifices right now. I am very happy that I do have food to eat. I guess it’s just hard when there are certain comfort items you want and cannot have because they are not available. So, yes, I am whining that I don’t have pizza. It’s a first world problem. I will eat my lentil loaf for dinner tonight. I am making vegetable soup in my crock pot tomorrow. 

As soon as allergy friendly pizzas are available again, I want one. I think that everything I “want” right now is a food item that is unavailable due to the food shortage.

Food shortages are real, folks.

I am very fortunate that I have people helping me with supplies. I have food and everything else that I need.

Right now, we are sitting tight waiting for anti-body testing so that things can reopen. The world will not be the same after this. We all have to try to find a new normal. Anti-body testing is probably a pipe dream, since there is no covid testing of any time in my county. We just have to hope that we can ride out the second and third waves of this virus.

What foods are you looking forward to having when they are available again? Hopefully the food shortages will end soon and not get worse.

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 5.b.20

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Snow in my backyard on April 16, 2020

Ending the shutdown and going back to work right now is a terrifying thought. No job is worth your life. In the past 7 days, three people I know have died from COVID- 19. I know 2 right now who have it, but are not hospitalized. This is not getting better. It is getting worse.

Testing in my area does not exist. Only the rich and privileged who have access to a vehicle and can drive can be tested. The nearest testing site is an hour away. I know someone who drove to the testing site and was tested. They passed out after the test and almost got into an auto accident on top of everything else. Many testing sites are drive-thru style, yet the test makes some people pass out.

With lack of testing, the numbers reported in my county are very low. There is also inaccuracy in reporting. One of the people I know who has died was a nurse and has lived in her house for 20 years. Instead of her death being reported in the county in which she owned her home, her death was counted in the county in which she was born. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I guess it doesn’t need to make sense to me. The point is, the virus is everywhere. 

Opening the economy is not worth all this death right now. Public health officials need to get a handle on this before we all go back to work. Hell, if you look at my street and the area in which I live, we are not under any restrictions whatsoever. People are still out doing whatever they want in large groups and driving all over the place. From where I sit, people in my community are going about their everyday lives as if people we know and love are not dying right now.

Maybe I’m just special in that I know 3 people who have died. I guess I have a different perspective.

The COVID response is not going to end with some sort of economic stimulus plan or some big go-back-to-work package. The only way this is going to end is through widespread societal structural changes that the US will never do. So I expect that we will see the death toll to continue to rise and be large.

In happier news, many people in isolation think this is all fun and games and have been sharing stupid things they are doing. 

My stupid purchase right now is that I ordered another set of World Series DVDs. This particular World Series has been on my wish list for a long time. However, the DVD set has always been in the $300 range. With everything going on, the price of the DVD set is down to $50, so I ordered it. 

Yes, it was a non-essential purchase. Yes, I feel bad for having something stupid like that shipped to me. The way I was thinking about it is that if I’m going to die, then I want to see that particular World Series before I die. I’m considering it both my birthday and my Christmas present this year since I did not get anything for my birthday and who knows who will still be alive come Christmas.

Of course, there is a delay in shipping for non-essential items. I probably will not receive the DVD set until next month at the earliest. Everyone else has cable and internet to watch things. I just have a DVD player. I already viewed all of the DVDs I had checked out of the library and am now reading through my stash of books.

What non-essential or wacky purchases have you made in isolation? 

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 5.a.20

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Hair I cut off my head this past weekend

Oh, yes, I did.

The special hair cutting scissors I ordered arrived last week and on Saturday morning I cut my own hair.

It was difficult.

I have never cut my own hair before. I have never cut anyone else’s hair. I have never even cut the hair on a Barbie doll before for fear of getting beat as a child. Even when I started to cut, I was looking around expecting my grandmother or some other adult to jump around the door frame and start screaming at me. 

So actually taking a pair of scissors to my own head was a pretty big deal. 

I also love the pixie cut that my stylist gave me. However, my appointment was scheduled for the day after the shutdown began, so I have gone 9 weeks without a haircut, when it is usually done every 5 weeks (and by week 5, I am totally annoyed – it should probably be done every 4 weeks).

My goal was to only cut the pieces that annoy me.

Apparently, there were a lot of pieces of hair annoying me. I cut enough hair off to fill the dust pan. It looks horrible. My stylist usually buzzes around my ears and the back of my neck. I can’t handle either of those two areas. Do you know how hard it is to cut your own hair on the back of your head?

I feel great! 

My hair may not look good, but it feels good. I am much happier washing it in the shower since I have cut it. It is no longer hanging down in my face. It does not stick up as much when I wake up in the morning.

When this is all over, I will go back to my stylist to fix it. I am not sure if I want it to be “fixed” or if I want it to be all buzzed off. 

I love my pixie because it is so low maintenance to have short hair. It is way easier for me in the shower, it is the perfect hairstyle for running, and saves me money on allergy-friendly shampoo (which runs at about $5 for a single ounce). 

If I buzz my hair, then maybe I can also cut down on salon visits. I am thinking about it. Right now, I just got these special hair cutting scissors that I can use to trim it myself. I am still waiting to receive the pair of clippers I ordered online – they are on backorder. We will see what I think about buzzing all my hair off when the clippers arrive or the isolation breaks – whichever comes first.

Right now, I am really happy with my self haircut, even if it doesn’t look great. Now I know why so many 4 year olds would cut their own hair when I was teaching preschool. And it completely makes sense when their response was “Because that piece of hair was annoying me.” 

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 4.b.20

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Jude playing in a box

Well I got friends

In isolation

Where quarantine

Jump starts

Their memories

 

Haven’t heard from

Them in ages

Now they’re texting me

With “hi”s and updates

 

Just checking

To see whose

Alive and kicking

 

Oh, I’ve got friends

In isolation

 

Yeah, yeah, the song “Friends in Low Places” was going through my mind yesterday.

In the past week, I have had six people reach out to me from whom I have not heard in years. Some of these people have been incommunicato for so long that they did not even know I bought a house 20 months ago. 

I am very happy to hear from them and that I have had the same cell number for about 20 years so people can reach me. It’s nice to know that in the heart of this pandemic, people are thinking of me. They must be too busy in everyday life to reach out, but now that everything is on PAUSE, we have nothing but time. 

The most positive thing for me with this crisis is that I get to be home with my cats. The second most positive thing for me with this crisis is the amount of people who are reaching out to me. I am hearing from people who I thought had dropped off the planet.

I regularly write people. Some of them I have sent a text message and received no response. I try not to be annoying. So I am pleasantly surprised to be hearing from people now. Most of these people are from out of state and are not local, so I blame the whole “out of sight, out of mind” concept.

It’s nice to know that coronavirus is bringing people together. 

 

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 4.a.20

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Medal # 18 from the Shamrock Run.

My spring race was canceled in the middle of all this mess. My entire 2020 race season has been canceled. With my spring race gone, I ended up doing it virtually.

I was about a minute slow for a 5K, but I did get it done and received medal # 18 for my efforts. This medal is anti-climatic. It lacked the excitement of being awarded right after the race. I typically wear the medal for a week after the race for everyone to see. This medal came in the mail after I posted my results from the Garmin for the 5K.

My cats have seen the medal, so everyone has seen it. They are not impressed.

I am pretty much sticking to 3 miles a few times per week while we are being isolated. Every day I am on the road and able to run is a good day.

I am very happy to be home and am doing well in isolation. In fact, this experience has me seriously re-thinking my routines in everyday life. I am enjoying not having to go out a whole lot. I am pretty sure that when this is all over, I am going to continue many of the things I am doing now and limit my social interactions with other people. 

My greatest challenge is when I do have to go out. After the discussion the primary doctor had with me a few weeks ago about not going to the grocery or pharmacy, I am terrified to go any place where there are other people. 

Jolene had an appointment this past Saturday to have her mouth looked at again from her January dental surgery. She has healed from the surgery. The challenge is that when the shelter did the surgery in January, they did not do the best job. There are roots and bone left in her mouth that should not be there and have caused infection.

Jolene had an antibiotic shot on Saturday to help and will be going in for another dental surgery tomorrow to correct the surgery from January. This one I will have to pay for. Hopefully when it is done tomorrow, her mouth will be fine from here on out. We have been with this vet office for about 15 years now and they are excellent. 

The staff at the vet clinic was great. Only one pet owner is allowed inside the clinic at a time. We all wore masks. They came out and took her in her carrier for her appointment. I spoke with the technicians and the vet on the phone. They had Jolene in there for the exam and I stayed in the car. Then they brought her back out to me. I did not even go outside. My only “interaction” with a human was transferring her carrier. 

Tomorrow Jolene will be at the vet office for the day for her dental surgery. I drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the late afternoon. I just hope that everything goes well so that her mouth is no longer in pain for her. She is the sweetest cat. Everyone loved her Saturday. They said she was so playful for her appointment. Honestly, this dental surgery is the last thing I need right now with everything else going on, but I have to keep her safe. She needs to have her mouth fixed.

The biggest take-away I am getting from isolation right now is a change in routine. I do have a daily routine. How is my routine going to change when we are no longer isolated? Will I go back to the way things were? I doubt it. What aspects of my isolation routine will I keep? I am thinking a lot of them. Time will tell.

The best news is that isolation is great for my food allergies. All of my allergy spots from skin reactions I have from coming into contact with allergens in the environment, like almond oil, are healing. If all of these allergy spots heal, it will be the first time in almost a decade that I am not having an active allergic reaction. Nut oils are the bane of my existence.  

People have said they are worried about me right now and I do not understand why. I am fine in my house with my cats. This is where I want to be. My greatest challenge right now is when I have to leave the house to do something like taking the cat to the vet. That is a necessity and I have to do it. If my cats need medical care, I have to take them.

The county in which I live does not have the ability to test people for the coronavirus. Therefore, our numbers are really low. The numbers are deceiving. In order to get tested, people have to go to one of two neighboring counties, which is about an hour drive away. Transportation is non-existent in my rural county. There are many people here who have coronavirus and it is not reflected in the numbers because there is no testing in my county.

Only those who are very fortunate and have access to a vehicle and the ability to drive an hour away can be tested. People in this area have a false sense of security when the reported numbers are so low.

This is one of the challenges of living in a rural area that lacks transportation. I just hope they will figure this out and test in our county before they lift the stay at home ban. Otherwise, we are going to have a very large outbreak here. However, I do not think that people in my area are taking this virus seriously.

This is going to get worse before it gets better. We have not yet seen the worst of it.

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

 

Respect Our Coolers

If you see a cooler outside of someone’s house or on the side of the road, please do not steal it.

Those coolers are supply drop off points to help people through this crisis.

Schools are delivering meals to homes and putting food in the coolers for children. For adults under Matilda’s Law, local heroes are checking on us to see what we need and delivering supplies.

It is really hard to ask for help. I am very fortunate in that I have many local heroes who are checking on me. 

I do not want to ask anyone to go to the store for me because I do not want to put that person at risk. However, if a person is already going to a store for themselves, then I will ask for them to add my list of items to their own.

Today I put my cooler out for supply drop off for the very first time. I am scared for the people who are helping me. They are putting themselves out there to keep me safe.

There have been a few reports in my county of some coolers being stolen. I am going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the person who “stole” the cooler thought it was on the side of the road as an item free to take. Maybe that wayward soul was mistaken regarding the cooler’s purpose.

I am telling everyone right now that those coolers are there to help children and vulnerable adults. Please do not steal our coolers. If you need help, ask for help. Someone will help you. Do not steal a cooler that is providing help to someone else who is in need. 

If you see a cooler “on the side of the road” or in front of a house, it is not there as a free item. It is there as a supply drop off for that house.

Respect our coolers.

#NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 3.a.20

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Simon sitting on the rollator to bird watch when the rollator is not in use.

It has now been 10 days since I have had human contact. Now I know what my cats must feel like when I go on my 3-day marathon or camping trips. At least when I am gone, they have each other. I am thankful to be home with them. I am able to go out into the world (generally – pre Covid), but for my cats, the house is the only world they have. Now it is mine.

Good news, is that since I am surrounded by three adorable felines, I can say with confidence that there is intelligent life here. 

A good friend dropped off feminine hygiene supplies to my door the other day. They were much needed. Even though I ordered supplies online, delivery times are slow. That is even if items are in stock. Many items I am looking for are out of stock online. I have enough supplies and do not need help for now – but I will. Some items say that they are only available for purchase in stores. The problem is, my primary doctor told me I should not go to the grocery store or pharmacy because those are high-risk areas for me.

I have been getting creative with food. I now know four different ways to cook carrots. No, I am not hoarding carrots. They were on sale 2 / $3 the last time I was able to go to a grocery store, so I ended up with four pounds of them in the house. Today I will be making allergy-friendly carrot raisin muffins that will be my breakfast for the next few days. 

I am re-learning the difference between wants and needs. I have enough supplies. I have food. I have things I need. I want zucchini. Do I need zucchini? No, I can live without it. I am thankful for what I have. There are a few things that when this is all over will certainly be a real treat to have again. I did need those feminine hygiene products though, so I am grateful someone dropped them off for me. That was a need. 

I took the car out for a drive this weekend. I know from when I was in the hospital a few years ago, that the car needs to be driven once a week to keep it going. It was so weird to just drive for no purpose. I have not done that in a long time. I really need to get the snow tires off the car. We are supposed to get more snow this week, so I guess it’s fine for now. Nothing I can do about it anyways.

Sunday I had a great 3-mile run in between raindrops. We had a violent thunderstorm last night and almost lost power. In the past week, we have gone from snowstorm to thunderstorm back to snow. It’s central New York. If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change.  

For minimalism, I worked upstairs this weekend. I have a few boxes of things ready to be donated or leave the house in some way when this is all over. They are in an empty room upstairs. I was able to create an empty room and an empty closet this weekend. I’m one person. I only need to use one closet. I was finally able to achieve this. 

I have been using my rollator (4-wheeled walker you can sit on) more. This is definitely not the time to be falling down and hurting myself. Yes, I am still running, but I am having more bad moments than good moments. I have only taken my rollator out in public with me once, but it is going to have to happen more often.

People think it’s weird seeing a marathon runner with a rollator. One day I will be running, then the next day I will be rolling. That’s just it, though. 

On good days, I run. On bad days, I roll.

The next time I have a bad day, I am going to take my rollator with me for my daily outside time. I went out the other day without it. I was having a bad day. It was not good. I avoided a fall, but did not get very far before I had to come back. 

To be honest, I’m worried about being judged for using it. The very reason is that one day I may be running and the next day I may be rolling. I know how people think about things like that. 

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that I no longer control my own body. Any day I am on the road, it’s a good day.

On good days, I run. On bad days, I roll. Every day with my cats is a little piece of heaven.

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 2.a.20

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Jolene playing in the empty laundry basket

Welcome to Upstate New York where we have coronavirus in a snowstorm!

That’s right, folks. We are under a winter weather advisory for 6 inches of snow with sleet and freezing rain. I bet all the kids were hoping for a snow day … oh, that’s right, they already get to stay home. Except they still have to go to school – online! 

Muahahaha.

I have been working from home today. I work in my kitchen, where I have the best lighting and electrical outlets. I also have the best windows to sit here and watch the snow while the cats like to bird watch. The snow is coming down fast. 

Today it was announced that New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. New York State has 20x more cases than any other state in the country.

New York is Ground Zero. Again. That’s ok, we are used to being Ground Zero. Our Governor is doing a stellar job right now. 

In positive news …

I am feeling okay. I have decided that it is in the best interest of my mental health to stop listening to the radio. My sources of news are primarily radio and newspaper. For now, I am reading my newspaper and watching the Governor’s daily briefing. Watching the Governor makes me feel better in this scary time. I like that he gives daily updates. He makes me feel safe. No matter your politics, you have to agree that our Governor has really stepped up to the plate in dealing with this crisis.

I am using my CD player more since I am no longer listening to the radio. I cannot stand for the house to be silent. I have to have music. I am having a great time revisiting some CDs that I have not had the chance to listen to in awhile. Music makes me happy.

The cats are completely oblivious to what is going on. I’m sure they think I am just on a 3-day weekend or Christmas break or something. I am so thankful for every single day I get to be home with them. I’m glad they are oblivious. It’s my job as mom to take care of them. I don’t want them to know what is going on or how bad it is. 

I had a great 3 mile run outdoors yesterday. I am holding steady at 3 miles. I am pretty sure that my entire 2020 running season is going to be forfeited to the coronavirus. Right now it’s all about survival. I need those 3 miles to keep my sanity.

I am hoping that it will warm up and rain or something in the next few days here so that I can continue running outside. I went to the mailbox today, and not only was there quite a few inches of snow, but it is very slippery. I can’t run in this. 

If worst come to worst, I may start running laps around the first floor of my home with my Garmin. Any guesses on how many laps will make a mile? I’m guessing 1,378 laps. I’ll let you know if I get desperate and do that. 

I do have a daily schedule so that I still have a routine. I have a designated time each day for outside time. Sunshine is good for the soul.

This weekend, I may be working on some of my minimalist home projects. I am still trying to empty a room upstairs. While I am not physically able to remove items from my home right now, I can at least box items that are ready to leave when I can get rid of them.

In my Bible, I am currently reading the book of Psalms and the book of Revelation. They make me feel better.

Last fall, my book club read a novel called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. One of the characters talked about how they had to burn books for warmth during WWII. She said that she left her Bible for last, and that when she did have to burn the Bible for warmth, the two books that she decided to burn were Job and Revelation.

I do not think that we are going to be that desperate where we have to burn books for warmth. We may have to use them for toilet paper … come on people, SHARE! 

I doubt we will have to use books for toilet paper, but if it does get to that point and my Bible is the “last book standing,” I can tell you right now, that I will not be using the book of Revelation. I will be using the book of Numbers. I still don’t get that one.

Be warm, safe and well.