Slogging through solitude…

Can Covid-19 pack it’s bags and go home now? I’ve whizzed through the whole series of Good Omens (and could really use a second season). Now I’ve started on the book. Colin’s lent me his DVD collection of Doctor Who and I’m up to The Library episode now. I’ll be sad when the 10th Doctor is gone. I like the 11th Doctor but the 10th holds a special place in my heart (up in the right ventricle). I’m playing Scrabble on Facebook and a quiz game. I’m also playing a word connect game on my phone. I go for several walks each week and bounce on my mini trampoline for 20 minutes at a time. Plus phone calls to friends and family. Rinse and repeat. It’s a lot but I want to do something new. I want to window shop… go on walks with my Mom… sing karaoke with my friends… have lunch in a little restaurant and try something new. I want Sunday family dinners. I want to get my eyes examined and go back to the gym again.

I’ve made this apartment a home with pictures, word art, and plenty of cats but sometimes it feels more like a cage. There’s so much I want to do. Meanwhile a microscopic virus is hemming us all in. So I wear a strawberry covered cloth mask and slap on hand sanitizer which shows me where every cut is. I follow taped arrows down store aisles and step on the grass to let strangers by on the sidewalk. I talk to my psychiatrist and case manager by phone instead of in person and try to ignore the fact that two buses will get me to my parents’ house. I can’t take those two buses there because social distancing.

And I practice my breathing and listen to music and watch hypnotic animations and go on websites with information that’s supposed to help anxiety and depression and I take my medication. And hopefully someday this will be over. I’m tired of being alone.

04

Me and my strawberry mask

Maybe I shouldn’t read the news?

I was reading an article a friend posted on Facebook today when this sentence caught my eye…

In those who survived mild and severe disease alike, the researchers found that many of the biological measures had “failed to return to normal.”

To be honest it was less like that caught my eye and more like it grabbed my eye and screamed at it. The article went on to say…

“COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disorder,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholtz, a cardiologist at Yale University. “It can affect the heart, the liver, the kidneys, the brain, the endocrine system and the blood system.”

Isn’t that just spiffy. I can understand why people who have been intubated for days on end could end up with long term side effects but mild illness? That was totally unexpected.

I haven’t been diagnosed with anything other than a mild viral infection that could be covid-19 or the flu. They aren’t tested mild cases around here, even with shortness of breath (which worried both the doctor and the telehealth nurse). I’ve had the flu before. It was horrible but it was nothing like this. And the shortness of breath worries me too, especially now. What if this is it? I’m short of breath walking from my bedroom to the kitchen and my bedroom door pretty much is in the kitchen. I live in a shoebox. Heck, I’m short of breath sitting typing at the computer. How am I supposed to walk twenty minutes to the grocery store? Or go on a nature walk? Heck I just signed up for the gym right before covid struck. This is going to be the world’s slowest walk on the treadmill. The shortest too.

I’m out of my apartment technically on Friday although I’ll probably wait until Saturday just to be sure. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk if I pace myself, I’ll just need to wait and see. And, for now, I really should stop reading articles for my own peace of mind. At least until there’s more information.

20200419_123911_hdr

Ironically enough this is the surprise photo my phone took while I was aiming the camera. I like it better than the posed shots.

Feeling blah…

mask from Mom

Homemade mask from my Mom

It was Good Friday, April 10th, and throughout the day I developed a mildly runny nose and a slight dry cough, both of which could easily be caused by allergies. They worsened the next day and I started feeling short of breath. Easter Sunday found me tired, coughing, sweating off and on, and short of breath. I took an online covid-19 test and bombed the second question. That wasn’t good. There was no way I was walking to the local hospital, not when simply cleaning the kitty litter left me short of breath and needing a break, so I called Telehealth, an Ontario healthline staffed with nurses.

I originally tried their covid-19 line but you needed to have contact with an infected person and I have no idea if I did or not. It’s not like I asked the people I passed in the grocery store if they were sick. So I had to go through their regular line, which had an astronomical wait. I elected for a call back and got one four hours later. They were swamped! The nurse wanted me to go to the hospital but by then it was cold, dark, and I was too tired to walk a half hour anyway. So she gave me a website which linked me up to video chat with a doctor. That was great. Obviously she couldn’t take my temperature (and I don’t own a thermometer) but she was able to see me and hear my cough.

The end result is I have a viral infection but whether it’s the flu or covid-19 she couldn’t say, and it’s too mild for me to go to the hospital for testing. So now I wait… and read… and scrapbook… and pace myself with cleaning and cooking. My energy levels suck and I’m spending a lot more time just sitting in my swing chair listening to music. I can’t even read a full chapter of a book, I just can’t concentrate.

Thankfully Colin’s feeling fine. We don’t need his move screwed up any more than it already has been. But he needs to stay isolated too. So he’s watching lots of movies, cleaning up, and packing. The organization that’s helping him will drop off groceries and, hopefully, in exactly two weeks, he’ll be on his way to the new apartment.

Meanwhile I sit here and play word games… and read… and watch Doctor Who. I’m tired enough and out of energy enough that I’ve got no real interest in going outside. And hopefully by the time I feel better and can be sprung from here, we’ll have some spring weather for my walks!

A matter of luck…

I sit here with homemade chocolate chip cookies beside me and I can’t help but reflect on how lucky I am. I’m in a brand new, spotless apartment with working appliances and tasty, clean water. My fridge and cupboards are full of healthy food (and the ingredients for junk food). I have plenty of books to read and unlimited high speed internet. There’s friends and family to call when I need to hear a human voice… specifically their voices. And I have five goofy and loveable cats to keep me entertained.

So many people have so much less. I think of Colin, who’s stuck in our old apartment with no one around and no internet. He wanders over to the community centre to sit outside and download videos via their wifi and he calls me (yesterday he called seven times) but that’s it. He should have just under three weeks left until he moves. That’s going to be so long for him.

The job loss rate around the world is staggering. I was full tonight after dinner and put my leftovers in the fridge. Meanwhile there are countless people counting their change and hoping to scrape together enough money for some food. Where are they going to find work with almost everything closed? They’re trapped in a situation not of their choosing and struggling, and sometimes failing, to make ends meet.

I just read an article which said that police are concerned because domestic violence charges are down when they know the incidents are going up. How many people are injured at home, without medical treatment, because they can’t get out and can’t even make a phone call? How do you get away from an abusive and possessive partner who’s now constantly at home, especially if you have children? My heart aches for those caught in a nightmare with no end in sight. I hope they survive this experience and manage to get away. Please stay strong and stay safe. Do what you can to survive.

Many of our Indigenous people live in substandard housing with no clean running water, expensive food, and no local health care. And now covid-19 has been thrown at them too. How are they supposed to survive when their situation was already deplorable? How are they supposed to take care of the sick with no fresh drinking water and holes in the walls? We need to do a lot more as a country to bring up their living environment. Their treatment is a black mark on the nation.

And I feel horrible for LGBTQIA people, especially teens and young adults, stuck in a home with unsupportive family. It must be hell on earth for trans people who are continually misgendered and misnamed by the people who are supposed to love and care for them and for people who hear regularly about how awful queer people are. There are celebrity ministers right now who claim gay people caused the covid-19 virus, even though it’s beginnings have been clearly established. Quite a few of the people who listen to and agree with those ministers have queer children at home. For all of you. You are loved, you are valued, you are important. This is horrible now… a nightmarish hell… but it will get better. You will break free. Just hold tight.

And here I sit in comfort, passing through the storm in a well stocked and weatherproof home. Lara stands beside me begging for (and receiving) pets. Pentatonix plays on YouTube, while my scented candles wreath the rooms with the aroma of lilacs. We are in the middle of the storm but hopefully, especially for those who are trapped, I hope it blows over soon.

breathe

A covid conundrum…

Colin and Chinese foodI got a call from Colin’s case worker yesterday. The good news is he really, truly should be moving on April 30th. The bad news is they need his banking information. He can’t give them the banking information. He can read a bit but he can’t write and he doesn’t have any internet right now. His banking information is all online. That means he needs to come here.

I know the strict guidelines for covid-19. Stay home… stay safe. And allow no one inside your home except immediate family members, the ones you’re already living with. Having a special needs child makes that difficult, if not impossible.

Colin’s not supposed to be living on his own right now. I moved at the beginning of February and he was supposed to move within a couple of weeks after me. We gave notice to the building and booked the moving elevator. Then came covid and both were cancelled… then and again at the end of March. Colin’s supposed to be living in a group home with six hours of support a day. Not sitting by himself in an almost empty apartment. Everyone has been telling him to stay home. To only shop when necessary. He still goes to Dollarama and Metro every single day to window shop. He still asks me almost every day when we’re going to visit. Can he come over soon? We’d been living together before, he doesn’t understand why we can’t see each other now.

So he came over once for Chinese food and to download some videos to watch when he’s all alone. And I went over to make sure he was keeping up the apartment to the best of his abilities. Then we went grocery shopping together, with me stressing we had to stay 6ft apart. And now he’s coming tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to seeing him and sharing pizza tomorrow but I can’t help but worry that I’m putting him in danger (or he’s putting me in danger). It’s not like covid-19 has a neon sign. I’ve got soap and Lysol wipes so we’ll muddle through as best we can. Having a special needs child is hard and covid’s made it so much harder.

I don’t know when I’m going to see him again after this. He’ll be moving (fingers crossed) in a couple of weeks and will be at least one hour’s drive away. But he’ll have his own apartment and loads of support. It’s just getting him to that point.

Isolation ideas…

cedar-hill

Part of my morning walk

I woke at sunrise then quickly hurried outside, breakfast in pocket. I met a handful of people, all on brisk walks just like me. We kept our distance, nodding or smiling as we passed. The birds sang cheerfully as I entered the woods. It’s not an easy path. There’s a couple of fairly rickety wooden bridges and the thigh high remains of a wall to scale. But the creek is lovely, the woods are beautiful, and the obstacles keep it quiet.

This is one of the ways I keep myself relatively sane during these days of isolation. I’m hoping I can share my ideas here and, if anyone has more, they can be shared in the comments in the hopes we can keep everyone happy and relatively sane during these days of covid-19.

One of my biggest ways of keeping myself amused is going on YouTube and selecting a playlist. They make them up relatively randomly of music you’ve listened to and similar music. Sometimes they get it right and others, well I just skip some songs. Or I’ll watch videos like The Dodo. The beginnings can be sad but there’s always a happy ending. And right now I need those happy endings.

I also go on YouTube and sing karaoke. Just find a song you enjoy and type karaoke at the end. You can either just sing along or record yourself on your phone. If you’re really feeling brave you can share it on Facebook or Instagram or wherever your little heart desires.

Social media keeps me entertained and informed these days, more Facebook than Instagram. I belong to a local group on Facebook and get information on the latest covid-19 stats plus tips on where to find toilet paper and Lysol wipes. So far finding yeast has been a total bust. What are people doing? Baking twenty-five loaves of bread a day? Eating it by the spoonful? Spreading it on toast? It’s even sold out at Shoppers Drug Mart. I made my own private group on Facebook as well. It’s nice to chat with friends.

I downloaded the Kobo app on my phone for free, which means I can buy books at 9pm in my pjs or when I’m bored in the middle of the afternoon. The app also remembers my page for me. I’m in the middle of an Anne Bishop novel now called “Wild Country” which I’ll probably reread since my memory stinks and I’ve lost track of half the names. If you’re looking for a book to read, I’ve got two available at a good price. Just click on my books tab and enjoy. They’re both easy reads and LGBTQ friendly.

On the days I just can’t concentrate enough to read but still want something to do, I play games. I’ve got two versions of Word Connect on my phone, one downloaded because they made it look like a different game and one I actually use. I also have a trivia game I play online with one friend and a scrabble game I play with another. There are so many options out there, just about everyone can find something they like.

And hobbies are amazing. I’ve been doing digital scrapbooking for years and, when I get enough interesting photos, I’ll throw together a layout. My latest was quarantine cooking because so many of us are making big dinners these days (myself included) and I’ve been photographing mine and sharing them on Facebook for dinner polls. One friend of mine has taken up watercolour painting and is doing an incredible job while another seems hellbent on supplying half of Canada with homemade face masks. She’s doing a great job too. My Mom’s been painting beautiful designs on rocks and my cousin and his wife are taking old furniture and re-purposing it. Their whole house is going be completely different by the time isolation is up and it’s going to look amazing.

So what have you been doing to keep yourself busy?

quarantine cooking

And I think it’s going to rain today…

20200329_113041_hdrI woke to the sound of rain beating on my windows, a sound that’s a tad disconcerting considering the windows are right above my head, like the top of my head bangs the window sill if I inch too close up my pillow. I’ve spent the last eight years with my windows sheltered by balcony roofs so the sound of rain is no longer familiar.

I’ve still got a quarter of a Patricia Briggs book to read and my swing chair makes a cosy place to relax, especially on days like today. Then I’ve got to go grocery shopping later this afternoon. I don’t like leaving the house these days, it doesn’t feel safe, especially when I’m surrounded by a small crowd of people. But the cats need cat food so I’ll go. At least it’ll have stopped raining by then.

Colin’s discovered that the closed community centre right near his place still has internet and wifi so he’s been heading there daily to sit on a bench and download videos for that evening. I’m so glad he discovered that. I hated that he was sitting alone in his apartment with nothing to do and no one around. He was supposed to be safe in a group home with plenty of support, not sitting alone with no internet. Hopefully they’ll let him move on the next scheduled date. Even if he’s kept quarantined in his new apartment for two weeks it’ll be better than sitting by himself in Oshawa. He agrees. The days are stretching long for him with no end in sight.

I had a long chat with a friend right after lunch, which was nice. It wasn’t as good as seeing her face to face on one of our karaoke nights but it was a whole lot better than nothing. I need to get more phone numbers for friends and chat instead of Facebook messaging. And when this is over, I need to do a lot more face to face visiting. No more being “too busy”, friendship deserves time.

Well the rain has stopped early so it’s time to head out, douse myself in Purell, and hopefully not have to stand outside in line. The cat food awaits. Take care of yourself and stay safe! This virus is indiscriminate and the world will never have another you.