serendipitous reflections

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quarantine journal -- from the beginning

I really should have done this a while back because so much is happening and it might be good to keep track of everything. I'm not going to pretend that I was Johnny-on-the-spot when all this started to go down. The "over-reactors" at the beginning may have proven to be the smart ones. But we didn't know.


As the cases were starting to multiply and the threat started to grow, we were in the midst of doing the play Belles at Workshop Theatre. I was running sound and Jeni was working in the Box Office. We were heading into the final week of the show, but the outbreak of COVID-19 hadn't been prevalent in Columbia yet. A few cases were starting to show up in neighboring Kershaw County, but none in Columbia. One of the ladies in the show though she may have come in contact with a "presumed positive" and came in wearing gloves and a mask for one show, then dropped out of the remaining four performances. Fortunately our stage manager was ready and able to step in and save the day, doing the shows from Thursday to Sunday. We almost cancelled the remaining shows after Thursday but decided to power through. The format of the show actually worked with distancing precautions, since each actress was in her own "room" and never directly interacted (only through phone calls).

Heading into the closing weekend of the show, on Saturday, March 14, was when social restrictions started to become a factor. Events were limited to 100 people or fewer, which worked for our space. The janitorial staff would come in a fumigate the theatre between shows. We had hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes at the box office, and were constantly washing our hands. The space even allowed for patrons to spread out and not sit near each other. We were fortunate to be able to finish our run of the show. Other theatres in town were just starting, and got in two performances before going dark.


From there, Jeni started working from home. She's been self-isolating essentially for five weeks now, with the exception of the weekly trip out for groceries. We started by just wearing gloves (we lucked into some packs of gloves at Sam's Club on March 23) and starting April 10 have been wearing masks at the store. I started wearing gloves in the office on March 24 and masks in the office on April 6. The hunt for gloves is never-ending. We were fortunate that we bought paper towels and toilet paper just before the panic buying started. My first mask was a homemade bandana mask using hair bands to attach to my ears, and a coffee filter inside, following the CDC recommendations. Our friend Hans 3D printed an ear saver for me, and we sent an extra to Jeni's cousin Amy who works in a pharmacy in Ohio. Those are lifesavers (well, ear savers). I'm lucky, because a patient brought me extra gloves, another brought me an N95 mask, and another brought the office a 50 pack of surgical masks. Many people don't have this, and are having to do the best with what they have (or doing nothing at all).


It has been difficult being socially cut off. The weekend after our play closed two friends had birthdays (Saturday and Sunday) and Jeni made little individual birthday cakes for them and we delivered them to their front porches. We would leave them on the front porch, then stand about 10 or 12 feet away and visit briefly. This was important for Jeni. Her nature is to give, and provide, and make people feel special and remembered. And the thought of friends missing out on birthday traditions was difficult for her. We've done a few birthdays over FaceTime (my nephew Liam's first birthday, Jeni's Dad, Lisa, Jackie).

Facetime has been a blessing. We will do meals with Lou and Hans, and play games. We recently learned to play Exploding Kittens remotely (Quarantined Kittens) which is a lot of fun. And Jeni visits with Nikki and Tiffany remotely on HouseParty a few times a week.

We did sneak out and deliver Easter baskets to friends. We would leave them on their porch, then text them after we'd left. Chris and Kendal were the only ones to catch us in the act. That made us very happy.


I am very fortunate to still be able to work as a chiropractor, even though it is "close contact" work. The gloves and mask are a necessity, and we've spaced out the chairs in the office, and clean constantly. The patients truly appreciate us being here. It can be very stressful, and is mentally and physically exhausting. I have my good days, and I have my down days. But overall I'm glad I can be here. Sure, there's a little FOMO when I see people reading books, and starting new hobbies, and finishing projects. But then I have to remind myself that I'm working and getting paid, and they're not.


We make a point to check in with our friends often, especially those who live alone. Also, when going to the store we check to see what others might need that we can pick up for them. That keeps them out of the store and away from exposure. We're all in this together. Amber made masks, that  we traded Almond Milk for. It's the little things...


My daily routine now when I get home consists of changing my clothes immediately, washing my face and hair, and scrubbing my hands thoroughly (even though I've been wearing gloves all day). Jeni has been cooking some amazing meals. If one thing good has come from this, she's had time to cook again, which she enjoys.


As the governor continues to talk about re-opening stores and getting back to normal, our plan is to remain vigilant, do what we've been doing, and protect ourselves. We've had friends go through this (Joy and Kurt), and it's not pleasant, and we want no part of it.

I plan to continue to make posts to chronicle life during COVID-19 so when I look back I remember exactly what this was, what it was like, and what to do if it happens again. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Take care of each other.

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