My Quarantine Life: Week 110

It is week 110 and I am still in medical isolation. At this point, I do not think the pandemic will end. We will not achieve herd immunity. It is survival of the fittest. Being a person with a compromised immune system who is at high risk of death if I catch COVID, at this point my only wish is to outlive my cats.

The most difficult challenge in all of this is lack of healthcare. Routine healthcare is not available as the health system is too overwhelmed with COVID. When you do go to a medical office, you are exposed to COVID by COVID-positive staff. It is a game of how much pain can you handle and how long can you go without access to healthcare. Even emergency healthcare has a wait that is weeks long. Last fall, I had to wait 3 weeks for emergency surgery. Of course, once I had the surgery after the 3 week wait, things were more dire than they would have been if I had received same day surgery. They did tell me that if we were not in a pandemic, the surgery would have been same day and it would not have been as big of a deal as it was after the 3 week wait.

This time last year, I lost my job. I am so grateful that I have a job now that is 100% remote. Even though the job I have now is very stressful, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be a completely remote worker. My medical isolation is only broken for medical care for me and for the cats. It is broken when I have work done on the car (twice a year) and when I need to have workers in the house.

Last year shortly after I lost my job, my hot water heater went. I was able to get workers in the house to install a new hot water heater.

About two weeks ago, the new hot water heater broke. I have no idea what is wrong with it. We have no hot water. Plumbers and other service people are only able to respond to emergency calls right now, as everyone is so overwhelmed with COVID. Hot water is not an emergency, so we have no hot water. We are hoping that we will be able to have a worker come this fall to fix the hot water heater before the winter. Hot water is not an emergency, but heating is an emergency. We will have to have the furnace maintained this fall. I am hoping to have someone come to the house who can service the furnace and fix the hot water heater both. For now, we are on a waiting list for plumbing service to fix the hot water heater.

I have been heating water on my stove to use for bathing and washing dishes. Thankfully, I do not need to shower every day. I have been using my shower chair and taking bucket baths. They are very soothing and I have actually been sleeping better at night. I don’t mind, really. Hopefully I am using less water by taking bucket baths instead of taking a shower. I just cannot bring myself to take a shower in cold water. I heat water on the stove, and that is the amount of water I have for bathing.

Thankfully, I am still shaving my head in year 3 of the pandemic. Of course, I don’t have access to anyone to be able to cut it for me. It’s just easier for me to shave it myself. It is easier for me to maintain. A shaved head is also easier for me to maintain personal hygiene. Now being without hot water, a shaved head is easier for bathing.

When I filed my taxes this year, I had to return the $1400 “stimulus” the government gave us last year under Biden. That hurt. No, I did not pay taxes on it. The IRS actually made me return the entire $1400 amount. Apparently, if you make less than $40,000 per year, that “stimulus” was a loan and not a gift. I got a letter from the IRS stating that my refund was reduced by $1400 because I was required to pay back the stimulus to the government. My tax refund this year was $187. That was enough to cover my birthday splurge of purchasing the robot vacuum cleaner.

This week I received a notice that I will be losing my health insurance soon. Biden has decided the pandemic is over, so they are canceling the health insurance for over 15 million Americans who have disabilities and/or are low-income. I am one of them. 

I’m not sure what I am going to do without health insurance. There is a health plan offered through my new job, but it is very expensive and the deductible is equivalent to half my annual income. I cannot afford to pay 75% of my income in healthcare. 

I am good about pinching pennies, but there is no way I can afford to live off of only 25% of my income and have no savings. Our student loans are due to enter repayment as well. I did receive a letter from the government stating that I am one of the people whose student loan forgiveness is messed up. 

I will be entering year 26 of student loan repayment. I am in the low-income repayment plan and also the public service repayment plans. For some reason, I don’t qualify for forgiveness so I am required to continue to pay until I die. It’s indentured servitude. Even a mortgage payment ends after 30 years. Student loan payments have no end. Entering year 26 of student loan payments, I am expecting to continue to pay on these for 40 or even 50 years or more. I will just keep paying until I die because there is no forgiveness.

Many people point fingers and say it is my own fault for taking out the student loans. I took out student loans because I was promised that a good education would enable me to get a good paying job to pay back the student loans. Wages are low in America. I’m not sure how anyone pays back their student loans unless they are living rent-free in their parent’s basement or come from a background of wealth.

I am still alive. I am still surviving. My only objective is to outlive the cats. I am struggling to come up with a plan to care for them in the event that I die first. That is my greatest worry. 

We are all together. We are happy and healthy. That is what is most important in life. We are truly blessed. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 102

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In a few weeks, I will be entering year 3 of shielding (as my friends across the pond call it). I am in the immune compromised / vulnerable group that the CDC and US President have both said “deserves to die” in the pandemic. The only time I am indoors with other humans is for medical.

While the government may say and think that my life is worthless, I am still here. I am still alive. I am very happy to be alive. My goal is to outlive the cats so that I can keep them together and take care of them.

Things here have been busy. In 2022, I have saved two lives. That’s a story for another blog post. However, even though I’ve saved two other lives in the first two months of 2022 alone (let’s not count the hundreds others I’ve saved previously), the US government still calls me “worthless.”

I digress.

Week 102 of my quarantine life, I am happy to announce that I finally replaced the vacuum cleaner that broke last year. I was unemployed for a few months, then trying to save money for a new vacuum, then waiting for the January home sales.

World, meet Frankie. Frankie is our robot vacuum that is now helping me clean. Purchasing a robot vacuum is one of the best purchases I have made in a very long time. 

The robot is incredibly smart. It goes around the cats when they refuse to move without bumping into them or running them over. It does an amazing job of cleaning. I can get all windows and surfaces clean while the robot is busy cleaning the floor.

I am so grateful for the robot vacuum, that I applaud it’s work every time it returns to its home docking station after it’s done working. Literally. I clap for the robot and thank it.

There was a news story a few weeks ago about a robot vacuum at a hotel in the UK that left the hotel. It went out the front door and just left. A gardener found it underneath a bush outside the hotel. I’m not sure if the robot got fed up with it’s job of vacuuming the hotel or if it just needed a change of scenery. However, I don’t want my robot to “escape,” so I applaud it’s work every time it’s done so that it knows I am grateful for the help.

The cats tolerate the robot vacuum much better than the traditional vacuum. Jolene is the only cat who is completely fine with any vacuum. Jude and Simon are both terrified of vacuums. Jude, however, tolerates Frankie. Simon does not hide when Frankie is working, which is a huge improvement. 

My life is going to be short. There is a very good possibility I will not survive the pandemic. With this in mind, I am so grateful for the luxury of having a robot vacuum to clean the floors for me in my final chapter of life. This robot is making my life so much easier, it is unbelievable.

I would highly recommend a robot vacuum to anyone who is able to afford one. Actually, when I was looking at purchasing a new vacuum, the robot vacuum was $20 cheaper than the traditional models. They are not too expensive if you get a basic or entry-level model. 

Approaching year 3 of quarantine, I am so grateful to still be alive and home with my cats. We are also thankful for our new robot vacuum, Frankie.

My Quarantine Life: Week 84

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You should be willing to die for your country. You deserve to die. People like you don’t deserve to live.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it? I live in America, and not only are these comments completely acceptable to say to people like me right now, they are celebrated and encouraged. 

I am not in the military. I am not willing to die for my country. I have spent the past 84 weeks trying to survive a global pandemic because I don’t want to die at all. I have 3 cats that depend on me.

To be honest, with what people have been saying to me the past two months, I am depressed. I have to stay alive for my cats and I am absolutely terrified of what would happen to them if something happens to me. However, with the mean things people are saying, I feel like the entire country wants people like me to die. It’s not just a feeling – it’s being said. It’s all over social media and it’s all over the news that the unvaccinated deserve to die.

My Quarantine Life: week 84 – I am still in isolation. When I say isolation, I mean isolation. I am still not allowed to go to the grocery store or pharmacy. I am not supposed to be indoors with other humans unless for healthcare or emergency house maintenance. All our vet appointments are curbside. Groceries are curbside or delivery. The grocery workers put food in my trunk while I sit in the car double masked. I am supposed to be double masked every single time I leave my house. The pharmacy fills all my meds through the drive-thru. I see a person through the window and the medication comes through a chute. Even though the pharmacy person is behind glass, I am double masked there too.

I work from home. I am 100% a remote worker. I very specifically looked for and applied for remote jobs only when Iost my job last spring. I know I am in doctor mandated quarantine. I know what the risks are if I go someplace against medical advice. No job is worth risking your life.

I am medically unable to be vaccinated. People say to me that this is wrong. “Follow the science, but the doctors are wrong.” Ok, so I’m supposed to follow the science. Yet when multiple doctors say your medical conditions make you ineligible to be vaccinated, I’m not supposed to believe them? I’m supposed to be vaccinated against medical advice? How is that “following the science?” Follow the science unless doctors say you cannot be vaccinated in violation of a federal mandate. In that case, the doctors are lying. Follow the science but don’t listen to the doctors – all in the same breath. It sounds very political to me. 

Our local hospital statistics this month show that of the 77 people who died of COVID this month, 75 of them were “fully vaccinated.” Two people were unvaccinated. The federal government says that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and we need to protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. We are supposed to follow the science. Does this mean my local hospital is lying? Is my local hospital spreading fake news? Are we not supposed to believe the statistics they are publishing? Follow the science, but don’t believe the doctors. Got it. Makes sense. 

So I am lumped in with the unvaccinated, or the great unwashed in this country. We are hated, despised, demonized. It doesn’t matter why you aren’t vaccinated. A medical exemption is no excuse. You should be willing to die for your country (again, someone has actually said this to me).

Ever have an allergic reaction to a vaccine? I have. I have had allergic reactions to two different vaccines. You think you just use an epi-pen and it’s no big deal, right? 

Have you ever been on a ventilator? My allergic reactions have been so severe, I spent 5 months in ICU on a ventilator the last time I reacted to a vaccine. Unless you personally have been on a ventilator, in your life, you have no right to say that an allergic reaction to a vaccine is no big deal.

That’s just my reaction to one shot. It takes two (or more) shots to be considered full vaccinated against COVID. So that means if I can survive being on a ventilator without dying, I would have to get a second shot, which would probably be the one to kill me since allergic reactions get progressively worse the more of them you have.

Yet, I should just “buck up” and get in line for my vaccine? I called for a vaccine appointment. I was turned away because there are no ventilators available right now. All the ventilators are in use by COVID patients.

People have told me that having an allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine is better than getting COVID. Ok, so I have an allergic reaction. At best, I spend several months on a ventilator. At worst, I die. So, you’re telling me, that’s better than COVID? Our ICU is overfull with COVID patients on ventilators to the point we are transferring people to a neghboring state. 

Again, if you are a person who has ever been on a ventilator in your life, please feel free to chime in here and explain to me how having an allergic reaction and being on a ventilator is better than having COVID and being on a ventilator.

Again, only people who have ever been on a ventilator can chime in here. I’ll wait. 

I am in medical isolation. I am not indoors with other humans. I have no opportunities to catch or spread COVID. Can someone please explain to me how, as an unvaccinated person, I am a threat to vaccinated people? I only come into contact with other people outdoors and double masked. 

Again, I’ll wait. Explain to me how me as an unvaccinated person is a threat to a vaccinated person?

At my last doctor appointment, they re-iterated the fact that I need to continue my isolation. The doctor told me that vaccination status doesn’t matter because fully vaccinated people can still catch the virus. Fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus. Is the doctor lying? Follow the science, but don’t believe the doctors, right?

In fact, the doctor told me that fully vaccinated people are actually more dangerous to me right now that the unvaccinated. Fully vaccinated people are going around to places like the pandemic does not exist and they are not wearing masks. Unvaccinated “vulnerable” people like me are still in isolation and are double masked when we do have to interact.

The President says we have to protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. This is the exact opposite of what my doctor says. So I’m not supposed to belive the doctor? People say “well, you need a new doctor.” So I need a new doctor because you do not like what the doctor is saying? Follow the science, but don’t believe the doctors.

This pandemic is getting way too political for me.

Again, all I am trying to do is outlive my cats. I am still in isolation. The only time I have indoor interactions are for medical and I am double masked. In fact, the only times this entire pandemic I have had any COVID exposures came from medical appointments.

Both times I have been exposed to COVID were because a fully vaccinated medical professional tested positive for COVID. 

The definition of vaccine is something that prevents you from getting a disease and prevents you from spreading a disease. Have we changed the definition of vaccine these past few months? Can someone please show me the updated definition for vaccine from a reputable dictionary source?

Anyways, I have been nothing but attacked, ridiculed and threatened over the past two months due to my medically unable to be vaccinated status. I’m depressed. I’m also afraid to die. I don’t want to be on a ventilator due to a vaccine reaction.

The reason why it has gotten so bad is because Biden has decided to wage war on the unvaccinated. It doesn’t matter why you are unvaccinated. It just matters that you aren’t. In fact, unvaccinated Americans are about to be fired. Companies can be fined $14,000 per unvaccinated employee. We are all about to be unemployed. So if you don’t volunteer to die for your country, we will just starve you to death instead because you won’t be able to work. 

I never thought I would see discrimination like this in America over something like health status. I’m sure if we took out the word “unvaccinated” and replaced it with “race, sex, gender” or something else, there would be an uproar. Instead, people are saying that people like me who are medically unable to be vaccinated deserve to die. 

I’m not sure how we got here, but this is why I have been quiet the past two months. I feel like everyone around me wants me to die (because they are saying it). Not only are they saying it, but this hate speech is coming from our President who is encouraging discrimination and hate against the unvaccinated, no matter the reason. 

Ever think I would get vaccinated if I didn’t have the risk of an allergic reaction? I am NOT willing to risk my life for my country.

I’m sure this post will probably get me reported or banned or something, since anyone unvaccinated is immediately silenced. I am not saying people should not get vaccinated. By all means, please DO get vaccinated if you are able. 

However, there are people in this country who are medically unable to be vaccinated and we are being persecuted. I’m sorry, but all this hate is really hard on me. I just don’t see how I’m a threat or what I did to deserve this. I don’t want to die, even though millions of other Americans are saying I deserve to die. I’m sorry, but I am just struggling right now with the prospect of losing my job and with all the people who think we deserve to die. I’m not sure how we went from “protect the vulnerable” to “you deserve to die” so quickly.

My Quarantine Life: Week 75

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America is a sad place right now. People are dying and nobody cares. Apparently it is much too difficult for people to wear a mask on their face. Masks save lives, but the government refuses to mandate them to keep people safe. Instead, they are choosing to mandate a vaccine that not everyone can have and does not prevent the disease spreading from person to person.

I have come to realize that I am not going to survive the pandemic. Grim, yes, but reality. Last month, I had an in-person doctor appointment and was indoors with other people for the first time in a year. The medical person (I will not say professional because this was one of the most UNprofessional medical people I have encountered) not only demanded I remove my mask, but also exposed me to COVID.

It was the first time in over a year of isolation I had an actual COVID exposure. If doctors offices are not even safe places to go without being exposed to COVID, then what hope is there? We are not even safe in trying to obtain medical care. You better really be in a life or death situation to see a medical professional in this country right now. It is literally a risk to life to seek healthcare. Forget routine care or preventative medicine. At least in my area, the doctors’ offices are not even safe. In fact, our state has been saying for almost a year now that medical appointments are the second place people are most frequently catching COVID.

We are in the most dangerous part of the pandemic, as the vaccines are not working. With every other vaccine, you do not get the disease and you do not spread the disease. With the COVID vaccine, you can still get the disease and you can still spread the disease to others. Do not report me as fake news. That is scientific fact from multiple outlets in multiple countries. 

Yet, here in America, it is way too difficult for people to wear a mask. Americans are too selfish to wear a mask and would rather get a vaccine instead. Vaccines are good, but refusal to wear a mask is still killing people.

I am certain that my death will be the result of human stupidity. At this point, there is nothing else to blame.

I wear a mask if I go anywhere. The only places I come into contact with others is in seeking medical care and for car and house maintenance. 

As diligent as I am at wearing a mask, it is much more effective if everyone else wears a mask too. 

It appears that COVID is here to stay. At least, that is until all the people who refuse to wear a mask die. Even then, their negligence is also killing those of us who do wear a mask. 

In a country that experiences mass shootings almost every single day, I should not be surprised that no one cares about COVID deaths in this country. Yet, somehow, I still have faith in humanity and expect better of the world. Wear a mask.

Due to the COVID situation in this country, and in my area specifically, I do not expect to survive the pandemic. I am going to be killed by someone else’s stupidity.

I have started to do legal paperwork to try to have my cats looked after in the event of my death. It is not something anyone wants to think about, but arrangements need to be made before it is too late to do so. All I want is for my cats to be loved and to stay together.

It is extremely challenging finding people to designate to take care of my cats if I die. I have had so many of my friends and family die of COVID this past year, that I have barely 5 people still alive right now who I knew before the pandemic. It is kind of hard to meet new people when you are in isolation. 

I meet people online who I would trust to take the cats, but there is a geography barrier. 

My goal is to have all my “official death paperwork” completed this month so that I have peace of mind knowing I have a plan in place. I do not enjoy thinking about my death, but preparations must be made. I want to get my paperwork in order quickly so that I do not have to keep thinking about such a grim subject.

So that is my quarantine life this week. The medical person has extended my isolation for another year or until herd immunity has been reached. Such is the life of the immunocompromised.

The cats and I are doing well. We are all happy. I just need to get this paperwork out of the way so I can move onto happier things. 

I am happy and grateful to be safe at home with my cats. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 64

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It has now been over a year that I have been in isolation. Since losing my job in April, I have switched my grocery orders from delivery to curbside pickup to save money on delivery tip fees. I drive to the grocery store, park in a special parking space, and someone brings my groceries out and puts them in the trunk of my car all contact free.

As long as delivery and/or pickup options are available, I do not see myself ever going into a grocery store again. I am okay with that. With my disability, it has actually been a huge positive for me to use these services. I no longer have to worry about falling in the store (it’s happened before). I also do not have grocery store trips zapping all of my limited energy. I can use my energy for other things like work, the cats, and running.

I am scheduled for an in-person doctor appointment in July, as they have to do bloodwork. It will be my first in-person doctor appointment in a year. They have done all of my other doctor appointments this past year virtually. 

My life has changed dramatically as the result of the pandemic. The changes are all permanent. You can draw a line in the sand of the timeline of my life: before the pandemic and now. I do not foresee anything ever going back to how it was before.

I am extremely grateful that I was able to obtain the professional set of clippers last year. (If you remember there was a huge shortage of hair clippers early in the pandemic.) I have now been cutting my own hair for well over a year. I am not sure that I will ever feel comfortable or safe going back to a salon. There is no point, really. I am saving myself at least $50, if not more, by cutting it myself. 

Sure, it might be nice to have someone else cut it once or twice a year as a treat. It is challenging to cut the back of my head and neck. However, I am perfectly fine and self-sufficient taking care of my own hair now. I am keeping the buzz cut. It has helped me tremendously with my heat-induced MS symptoms. There are many other positives to this cut as well, which I have blogged about before.

Due to pandemic shortages, I have stopped using almost all disposable paper products and have changed everything over to cloth. Of course, that means my washing machine needs to be a workhorse. But I am also saving money by not needing disposable products. I am using cloth cleaning rags, cloth feminine hygiene pads, and cloth baby wipes for pee to cut down on toilet paper use (hard to get and expensive).

My dryer recently died. I am now going without a dryer as it is not a necessity and I do not have the money to replace it being unemployed. I am hanging clothes to dry indoors. We are not allowed to hang clothes outside to dry here. While lack of a dryer makes my life more challenging, it will hopefully also decrease my electric bill since it is no longer running and being used. In fact, I completely unplugged it.

I am okay wearing a mask 100% every single place I go. 

Yesterday, I had to have two workers in the basement to replace my hot water heater. They were surprised I was wearing a mask. One worker was fully vaccinated and the other worker stated he had COVID previously. I wore my mask and kept my distance out of their way. All of the doors and windows were open to allow ventilation. The work took just over two hours. 

I feel better wearing a mask. This pandemic is not over yet. It is reckless and premature to stop wearing a mask now. 

I am okay with not going anywhere. First, I didn’t go out much before the pandemic due to my multiple food allergies. It seems like I was always coming into contact with something and getting the skin allergic reaction. The only places I really went pre-pandemic were the coffee shop, the library, and the gym.

There is no point in going to the coffee shop when I can make coffee at home cheaper. Most of my friends have died in the pandemic, so there is no one to meet anyway.

As far as the library, I can use curbside pickup if I really need something. I have actually been listening to podcasts and audiobooks more instead.

There is no need for a treadmill at the gym. I run outside. When the weather does not cooperate to run outside, I either run in circles on my front porch or do my yoga DVD. I can get by without the gym. 

Other than that, there is no place I need to go.

I have a yard and a firepit. I can put my tent in my yard and roast marshmallows if I want.

I saw a neighbor outside last week who asked me if I get lonely? The answer is yes, I get lonely. However, most of my friends have died of COVID, so what am I going to do? I don’t really have anyone left to visit or socialize with. My socialization is now online. Online is the only way I have to meet new people. I have met some pretty amazing people online these past six months.

I am remote working as long as I can. The only place I really need to go is work. The two part-time jobs I found since I lost my full-time job in April are both remote jobs. I do not start working until later this month. However, I highly value the opportunity to work remotely, so you can be sure that I will work hard at both jobs. I want to retain the privilege to work from home as long as I possibly can.

The pandemic is not over. No one should be risking their life for their job. It’s not worth it. I’m even willing to take less pay to be able to work from home. My life is worth more than any job.

Yes, I am lonely still being in quarantine. However, I am so very happy. I get to be with the cats. I am alive and healthy.

When I get lonely and crave human connection, I can find it online. It’s a new world.

15 months into the pandemic and nothing has changed for me. I have still not been indoors with other humans except for when I have had to have service people in my house. My only goal is to survive the pandemic and be able to take care of the cats. 

I’m still here. I’m alive and well.

Life and Everything

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Birthdays are my favorite holiday. Every time I get one, it’s like a giant middle finger to the world that I was able to survive another year of what life threw at me. This past year has definitely been a doozy. I am so thankful to be alive. 

I am hoping that this year will be as great as my new number – 42. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, you will know that 42 is the answer. It is also a great number for baseball. Well before it was International Women’s Day, March 8 was my birthday. 

Right now, my goal is to live long enough to see another birthday. I am really hoping that I get to see 43 with all three cats as well. Another significance of 42 is that my paternal grandmother passed away at age 42, well before I was born or even thought about. If I can make it to age 43, that will be huge.

Living in the middle of a pandemic definitely makes you take stock of life. I know that my priority is being able to outlive the cats so that I can take care of them and keep them all together. My second priority is to stay covid free. I am more scared of getting covid and “living” than I am of getting covid and dying. 

I am a marathon runner. Running is the most important thing to me, after the cats. If I get covid and survive, I won’t be able to run anymore. That’s not life. That’s just a jail waiting to die.

So I look at the cats, and my goal is to outlive them. Once they are taken care of, then it doesn’t matter what happens to me. These three are going to be my last. I’m not going to adopt anymore pets and then have to worry about what would happen to them when something happens to me.

Simon is the youngest of the three. He will be turning 5 in May. So, right now, my goal is to live about another 15 years so that I can outlive the three of them. To make it a nice round number that is easy to remember, I am hoping to be able to live to age 60. 

Given the decreasing life expectancy in the USA right now, I think that age 60 is a reasonable number. I just wish I could retire so that I could enjoy the last 15 years of my life. Unfortunately, that is not economically possible. I will be working until I die.

As difficult as things are, I am so grateful for this time I have had at home with the cats. We are all safe and get to spend quality time together. My only goal is to be able to continue this so I can take care of them. 

At age 42, I certainly do not have the answer to life, the universe and everything. All I know is my goal is to remain covid free and to be able to take care of my cats. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are the cats and running. 

So here is to another trip around the sun. Let’s hope I get the full ride. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 50

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Simon is sleeping all nice and warm.

Wow. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in quarantine. I’m not allowed to be indoors with any other people. I am not allowed to go to the grocery store or pharmacy. I have had one in person doctor appointment where someone touched me for a blood draw. All my other appointments have been virtual.

The pandemic has been challenging on so many levels. We are still experiencing food and supply shortages. Right now, I am having difficulty getting cat litter. It has been a year since I have been able to get retail toilet bowl cleaner, so I have just been using baking soda to clean my bathroom. 

Prices on everything have increased significantly. This year, effective January 1, 2021, my municipality decided to raise my property taxes by 20%. Yup, you read that right, 20%. My mortgage increased to cover the escrow and I am now paying thousands of dollars a year more in taxes. 

I am now paying 3-4x more per month for food and supplies. I am doing everything I can to try to keep my expenses down. I am using a lot of cloth items and drastically reduced my use of disposable paper products such as paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. 

I have also been concerned about my utility bills. My idea was to reduce my utility bills by turning my heat down. This was a great idea in theory, but did not work well in practice. Here’s why:

There is at least a 5 degree difference between the upstairs and the downstairs in this house. When I turned the heat down, the downstairs was tolerable, but the upstairs temperature dropped into the 50s. This made me concerned due to plumbing. I did not want pipes to freeze with indoor temps in the 50s. I get squeamish about pipes if the temp dips below 60. So I had to turn the heat up enough so that the upstairs would be at least 60 degrees.

Second, I am home all the time now. Last year, there was a huge difference in working all day in a 68 degree office and then coming home at night to a slightly cool house. It did not bother me one bit. But now that I am in the slightly cool house 24/7, it’s chilly. 

Being chilly also makes me feel guilty about the cats. I had the office to go to last year and only came home to a cool house at night. For the cats, this is their entire world. I feel so bad I left them a bit chilly. Now that I am home all the time, I understand more what life is like for an indoor cat.

I turned the heat back up to 68 degrees. That’s where it’s going to stay.

I have no idea how I’m going to afford the utility bills when my heat is on 68 degrees, but we have to be here all the time, so we need to be comfortable. I also have to keep the heat in the house at a reasonable temperature for maintenance reasons.

It helps a little that student loan payments have been suspended right now. Since my mortgage, food and utilities have all gone up, not having a student loan payment takes a little bit of pressure off. Not much, but a little. When student loan payments resume, then we will definitely have to take more drastic measures to reduce our utilities somehow.

So the lesson for this week is that our thermostat is staying on 68 degrees. We just couldn’t stand having it on 63, especially with the upstairs piping being much colder. 

With all of the power outages and everything else going on in the country right now, we are very thankful to have power and heat. 

My Valentine

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Jude with his birthday banner. He turned 9 on February 14, 2021

Last Sunday was February 14, 2021. It was Jude’s 9th birthday. It was also his Gotcha Day. Jude has been with me for 7 years. He will always be my valentine. He did indeed come into my life at a time when he “took a sad song and made it better.”

Birthdays are my favorite holiday. Every time I get one, it is a celebration that I was able to survive another year of whatever life threw at me. Birthdays in the pandemic are an even bigger deal. 

Jude received birthday cards from the vet office and from chewy, where we get our cat supplies. We also got a birthday box from Chewy that had an assortment of toys and treats. It was a fun day for all of us. 

My goal in this pandemic is to survive for the next 15 or so years so that I outlive the cats. I am worried about what would happen to them if something happens to me. I am their home and their forever family. I don’t want them to have to go back to a shelter and I don’t want them to be separated. 

We had a great time celebrating Jude last weekend and playing. We listened to music and had some quality family time. I plan on celebrating all of our birthdays this year in much the same fashion. Life is much too short to not celebrate a birthday. 

Jude will always be my valentine. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 46

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We were able to get blueberries again!

Porch running during winter was a great idea. It definitely helped me to get some runs in on days when the roads were too icy to be out. However, the past few days and in the days to come, the temperatures outside are well below zero. I don’t mind running in the cold, but I cannot risk frostbite, as I have had frostbite too many times already. 

I have not been able to run for about a week due to the sub-zero temperatures and it is driving me nuts. Even though I keep the porch cleaned off, it is still frozen right now due to how cold it is outside. While I would say that my front porch is a safer surface for running than the ice laden streets right now, it is not a great idea.

I have been toying with yoga on and off for about 10 years. Yoga is a great exercise for runners to cross train. I have my own yoga mat. I have taken classes at some high-end yoga studios in a city in which I used to work. Hundreds of dollars later, I finally admitted that yoga classes were a waste of money. I was not able to do even half of what they were doing. I would spend 70% of the class just lying there “peacefully” on my mat. I was not about to pay $40 an hour to lay peacefully on a mat.

I tried a chair yoga class at a local fitness center that was a more affordable option. The instructor, however, was horrendous. The woman was like a military drill sergeant. You can read about that experience in the “my yoga pants went to yoga” post.

Since then, I have tried various yoga DVDs. I have mostly gotten them out of the library so that they are free. No cost involved was a much better option. I was even able to get some yoga DVDs from other libraries through inter-library loan. This was, of course, prior to the pandemic.

Since I do not have treadmill access to run and I am unable to be outside in sub-zero temperatures, I’ve been grasping at straws. MY gaze fell on my yoga mat. Again, I keep thinking I want to do yoga. The problem has been finding yoga that I can actually physically DO.

I asked around a few friends I know who do yoga for their recommendations. I did some research into various yoga DVDs that they recommended. I chose one and decided to purchase it. I figured I would only purchase one yoga DVD. If it didn’t work, then I would forever give up on yoga. I do not have money to burn on yoga DVDs.

I have the yoga DVD in question and it is excellent! I finally found a yoga routine I can actually do. Well, I can’t do all of it. I can do MOST of it, and I am okay with that. When I was trying to take in-person yoga classes, I estimate I spent about 75% of my time laying there doing nothing because the class was way too hard for me and 25% of my time actually physically able to do the activity.

The yoga DVD I have now I am actually able to physically do 75% of the activity in the yoga routine. Instead of just laying there for the other 25%, I am able to do a slightly different modification of the activity. So while I struggle with 25% of it, at least I am not just laying there.

This yoga DVD is one of the best purchases I have made. 

The past few days have kept me indoors due to below zero temperatures. I have been doing the yoga DVD everyday. It helps to be able to do something. I am still going crazy not being able to run. But the yoga DVD is bringing the crazy down from about a 10 to an 8. At least I’m able to do something.

The long range forecast looks like next week will be warmer – above zero. Let’s hope so. I’m going nuts stuck inside. Running on my porch works for days when the roads are too icy to be out, but I can’t risk frostbite on these frigid days.

How are you surviving this winter so far?

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