The World Knows COVID-19

I talk to people all over the world. I have for a long time, especially at work, but also when I talk to Customer Service people on the phone or in chat.

Since the Pandemic began, it has been a global moment for me. I am no longer frustrated when I cannot get my point across because the person does not speak English as well as I need (and I am always very patient anyway). It is like there is now a leveling of everyone, all of us in the same space in the Universe. (Hope I am saying this right.)

Whomever I speak to, we talk, sometimes just for a moment, about how we are and how our families are doing… a checking in with each other’s humanity. I have never had this feeling of being on the earth with so many others as I do now. That we ALL know this stress, fear, sadness and isolation is quite the reminder that we are really all together in this space and time.

Very humbling.

COVID Orphans

I’m watching the start of the school year speed closer. With that, comes my increasing fear about what is going to happen to those in the schools because of the rampant spread of Coronavirus. Yet, schools seem to have no choice, being forced to open or they will lose the government money they desperately need.

45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer

COVID-19 Orphans

While not the first, this sweet boy lost both his parents within 4 days of each other.

justin hunter 45 COVID Orphans Navelgazing Writer
Justin Hunter, 17 years old

The reality can be students going to school, taking the virus home with them, infecting the rest of the family. As we know, those who have underlying health conditions fare far worse than those who are healthy.

COVID orphans, a blip of a phenomenon at the moment, will, as the school year begins, be seen more and more.

Superspreader Groups

It really does seem like schools are set-up to become superspreader events. Superspreader events tend to occur when groups of people congregate without masks or social distancing.

Rich schools are able to retrofit their classrooms with partitions, but what are schools without those resources to do?

coronavirus Classroom

Overcrowding in schools have been an issue for decades, some states setting limits on students in the classroom. But when they spread the students out into different classrooms, do they have extra money given to them to hire more teachers?

Here is a great list of teacher-student ratios including how much money each state averaged on each student. You can easily see how little states like Arizona and Alabama spend on their students (about $7000) whereas New York spends $22,000+ per student. Where is the money coming from to Corona-Proof the classrooms?

Schools Already Spreading Coronavirus

retrofit Navelgazing Writer

Schools have not even opened yet, but in Georgia, teachers have been going in to prepare for the school year.

However, after ONE DAY in the classroom, Coronavirus cases and exposures sideline 260 employees in Georgia’s largest public school district, Gwinnett County.

While students in that county will be attending virtual classrooms, the teachers were expected to teach from the school’s classrooms instead of at home. No explanation seems to be had for the dichotomy in locations. Teachers tried hard to be allowed to teach from home, but that was denied.

teacher COVID Orphan
Ashley Newman has resigned from Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia after being denied the option to work from home.

It seems Ms. Newman made the right choice looking at the number of sick in that county after one day.

Bring in the Kids!

There is research that shows kids under their teen years might not spread the disease as much as adults do, but that does not mean they are not carriers at all. Testing and research is still gathering information.

Korea School Navelgazing Writer

What if they happen to be carrying the virus more than we think now? What happens if they spread coronavirus to the teachers? To other students who then take the virus to susceptible members of their families?

Multitude of Trials Regarding Children and COVID-19

When one becomes a COVID Orphan, the enormity of the situation seems to reach far beyond what we could imagine.

COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Children: Governments Should Mitigate Harm, Protect Most Vulnerable writes:

“More than 1.5 billion students are out of school. Widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage. Stresses on families, particularly those living under quarantines and lockdowns, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence. As the global death toll from COVID-19 increases, large numbers of children will be orphaned and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

The article made me cry, the pending reality being so bleak.

Plans for Sick Teachers

teacher Navelgazing Writer

Are there plans for sick teachers or staff? How likely will a substitute want to come into a classroom where there was a sick teacher?

Schools are left to choose their own approaches.

One extreme is to basically do nothing — just tell the sick student or teacher to stay home. The other extreme is to shut down the school for each case. If a school plans to do the latter, it may as well not open at all. There is an intermediate option: Close the classroom for a few days, clean it and reopen.

I am very glad I am not a teacher or a mom with school-aged kids right now. I would not be sending them to school, but what if I was a midwife and had to go to a 30-hour birth? What would the kids do?

What a world we live in. So many choices and all really sucky.

Scared Navelgazing Writer

Cancer Returns/COVID-19 Negative

I have been waiting for some settling before writing, but it seems things are just pressing forward, so here we go!

Cancer First

I have Malignant Melanoma Stage 0, for the second time, on my back.

cancer Navelgazing Writer

I was going to the Dermatologist’s doctor to do the excision, but when I went on Friday to have it done, people either had no mask on or had it around their necks. And there was no hand sanitizer anywhere. I had never noticed before, but when faced with surgery, I noticed every unclean thing. I cancelled the surgery and left after telling them why.

Yesterday, I met with the surgeon who did the 2 cancer removals last year and it was wonderful being in his office again. I make them all laugh and they remembered me, which was great.

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

The doctor played Hamilton Mixtape for me during surgery last time, so we are both Hamilfans and talked about it being on Disney+.

We did discuss the surgery eventually. He said we can start with local and sedation, but in the OR and take a smaller circle, trying to get the margins taken out, but if he does not, it will be a bigger excision like my arm was. He also said it was up to the anesthesiologist whether I had sedation or general. I said that was fine.

COVID-19 Testing

Before I could get my excision, I had to have a negative COVID-19 test, but let me tell you, that was no easy feat.

covid Navelgazing Writer

I am disabled so cannot stand for long and have no car, so waiting in line or doing drive-through testing is impossible for me. Testing sites are not made for disabled people! My therapist said that was an ADA issue for sure and I needed to let someone know how difficult it was for me to get a test.

After days of fruitless trying, I tried to get my Primary Care doctor (who told me to get one, too, because I had conjunctivitis our of the blue) to call in a prescription to LabCorp or Quest because they will only test with prescriptions for it. She said, “You can get tested anywhere! Just go to the clinic and get it there.”

But, people line up, standing, at 6am for the 9am start of testing. Once they sign in, they get back in their cars and do the drive-through thing. Both of which disqualify me.

Just

An aside. Do you ever notice when people say, “Just <fill-in-the-blank-of-instruction>” that the task is really complicated for everyone but the speaker?

coronavirus Navelgazing Writer

Same with, “All you gotta do is <fill-in-the-blank>.”

Doctors & Their Dismissiveness

When I called the primary care doctor, the nurse said the “All you gotta do” line and when I explained to her the situation and that I had conjunctivitis and couldn’t I make an appointment to come in because what if the conjunctivitis was COVID-19. She snorted saying, “You can’t get COVID in your eye,” like I was a stupid patient. I told her the doctor she is working for told me about it being a sign and perhaps she should Google it.

At any rate, they would not call in a prescription to a lab.

COVID-19 Navelgazing Writer

So I called the Dermatologist’s office to see if they would call in a prescription, especially since they wanted a negative test before they would schedule my excision. “We don’t do that. All you gotta do is….” and I got pissed.

CentraCare

The conjunctivitis did not respond to the 5 days of drops and my primary care was sending in a referral to an ophthalmologist. I shook my head when the nurse said that. I told her it takes WEEKS for me to get their referrals in the mail. “That’s what she told me.” I said I really hope I don’t die from COVID-19 before the referral gets to me.

clock Navelgazing Writer

I made myself an appointment with CentraCare online. It was for 6 days ahead. So I waited.

When I went 6 days later, the nurse assistant looked at my eye and got out a swab for a COVID test. I didn’t even have to ask. He swabbed up one nostril… and let me tell you, that was infinitely easier than when I had the lit sparklers shoved into my brain via my nostrils.

20 minutes later I had a negative result. YAY YAY YAY!

The Nurse-Practitioner gave me a prescription for different eye drops, stronger. I am doing better goopy eyes-wise, but it has not cleared up completely.

More Testing Coming Up

I will have to have another COVID-19 test 72 hours before surgery, so that is coming soon. I should know in the next couple of days when surgery is.

As Rachel Maddow says, “Follow this space!”

Scared to Leave the House Post Quarantine

I went out the other day, in Uber, riding with my mask and gloves, all the windows open,  the 1-mile to the pharmacy drive-through and then the 1-mile back home.

It had been 9 weeks and 5 days since I had gone beyond the front and back porches. It was really scary, but it was a short trip.

Today’s Appointment

I have an appointment today to see the Infectious Disease doctor, a required in-person visit for my chronic yeast infections and intertrigo ( a new word for me).

intertrigo Navelgazing Writer

But, I am terrified to go. I will not have a car to sit in while I wait for their calling me into a room. I will have to sit in the waiting room. With a flimsy face mask and gloves. How will I really be protected?

My Hair Navelgazing Writer
Pointing to my growing hair, but the gloves and mask are protecting me… in my room.

An aside, how the holy hell can anyone think a mask and gloves is enough to protect a first responder/doctor/nurse/respiratory technician/etc. is beyond me.

Riding a Bike

When I had the gastric bypass in 2001 and lost a million pounds, Zack and I got bikes to ride. He for exercise for me… me for fun. When I got on the bike, I reached for my seat belt.

bike seat belt Navelgazing Writer

Of course that was ridiculous, but it was a habit and whenever I was riding, I felt totally exposed and like I could lose my life at any moment.

This feels like that.

Where is My Armor?

I want to be inside a bubble of protection. Not a metaphorical one, but a real one.

Bubble Navelgazing Writer

If I knew where to get one of these, I would.

And Another Appointment, Too

I have a Dermatologist appointment on Friday. I don’t know if I can go to that one either. It has been 6 months since my last cancer check. I felt like why bother when, if I had it, they wouldn’t do surgery on me anyway during the pandemic, but now that they are starting to do “elective” surgeries again (as if cancer surgery is elective), I would have to have it removed.

I Can’t Do It

Writing this, I am so filled with anxiety, I have cried throughout.

I cant do it Navelgazing Writer

I cannot possibly be alone feeling this, can I?

A Brighter Day

May 1, 2020 was a much brighter day.

Spilling My Words

Navelgazing Writer

I just think I needed to get the fears out there and that took a lot of the energy out of the feelings.

Clearly, sharing helps. I need to remember that.

The feelings build slowly, then get more distressing until I am feeling that train heading closer and closer. I feel like I am going to fall under the train, then write here and suddenly feel immense relief.

Not Being Alone

crowded Navelgazing Writer

I know I am not alone in all this distress. That helps in some ways and makes me feel so sad in others. I wish I could take the pain from those that hurt, too, but my shield of protection is tight around me right now. Selfishly, it is me first at the moment.

Therapy Plans

group therapy Navelgazing Writer

I had my intake with the new counselor whatever day it was ago and she said she has 2 groups she also wants me in. You know you are on the downside when you are being recommended for several days a week of therapy. I look forward to it. I need some guidance and while I have done every kind of post-mental hospital support groups, it never hurts to have some reminders and maybe learn new skills.

The groups will be online and I look forward to seeing how they do them. Zoom? Some other way? Should be interesting.

I Quit

sad news Navelgazing Writer

… anymore.

Help for My Coronavirus Anxiety

12:10pm

I have felt so goofy for really thinking I was on death’s door. And looking back at the posts even before thinking I was sick, I can see the level of my anxiety rising more than ever.

How I did not realize it when I, a non-drinker, was drinking a bottle of amaretto every 2 days. I was not thinking, obviously. Now I see how much I was/am hurting.

I have been dealing with anxiety for a long time, had agoraphobia for a couple of years once, then intense stomach aches all last year.

Anxiety COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic
art by Alexa Rae Inspirations

At my last psych appointment, February 12, 2020… before we knew much here in the US, my doctor offered me anti-anxiety meds… “Benzos” (Benzodiazepine). Because I have an incredibly addictive personality, I turned him down. The message I left yesterday was, “Bring on the Benzos!”

1:20pm (I just got an Telehealth appointment for Saturday. I can make it until then.)

Self Diagnosis/Self Help

Oh, I thought it was amusing as all get out that I diagnosed my own disorder yesterday. How hilarious is that for a mentally ill woman?

Anxiety COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

So, I Googled and read about 300 articles on Coronavirus Anxiety and the main thing they say, of course, is to meditate. Be mindful. Stay in the moment. (Well, they do say to severely limit the news, too.)

Anxiety COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

And what is really bad is I fucking meditate! Clearly not enough to work through the anxiety. I will begin new strategies today… guided meditations on YouTube will be a good way to do that.

An aside: I found this beautiful site (Coronavirus Sanity Guide) with FREE meditation, live discussions and holistic, gentle ways to find yourself Ten Percent Happier.

I think I will go meditate now.

Thanks for listening and hanging in there with me. It means a LOT.

Anxiety COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

Test Results: NEGATIVE!

And I am confused about how to feel! Isn’t that weird?

On the one hand, I have a baseline. And we know I am a hypochondriac, aka Somatic Symptom Disordered.

Pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus

On the other, I was hoping it was positive so I could have antibodies and not get sick again. It would have been wonderful to have gone through it as if I was dipping my toe into the brook instead of being thrown into the ocean like most who get it experience the disease.

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/somatic-symptom-disorder

But, the takeaway, and I am still formulating it, is that now that I know I am negative, the goal is to stay that way. To isolate even more. A friend from work made me a face mask and I will wear it religiously out of the room, along with gloves (which are hard to come by as we know).

I am also embarrassed.

Pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus

Terribly so. I really thought I was on death’s door. And here I am a week later feeling fantastic. Can I stay alive without freaking out about every symptom I have? Can I stop taking my temperature obsessively? Can I just deal with my co-morbidities and leave it at that?

I need to see my psychiatrist and talk to my therapist as soon as possible. I was having anxiety issues before, now they are exacerbated 1000-fold.

I’m sorry I worried you all. Crying wolf on accident is embarrassing. I am sorry.

Pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus

…It Feels More Like a Memory

The line from Hamilton: An American Musical is:

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory

I have had that line in my head for weeks now. Like a low hum over and over again.

Today it is gone. Startlingly gone. Delightedly, GONE.

Pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus
artist, Tomasz Alen Kopera

It will take the results of the test to know for sure, but was I really walking towards dying or was I just being dramatic (as my mom spent years telling me when I was as a girl).

Why, then, have I suddenly lost all desire to die? Nothing really changed. I am taking my meds the same. I am doing the same activities.  I have not felt good working in days and today, I am excited and having a great time.

What is going on?!?

Tonight is Going Well

If I do go to the hospital, I have a friend who will post for me. My children passed on the task but this friend said sure. Good for them!

12:15pm

Feeling okay tonight. If I eat, my intestines rebel quite vociferously, so I think I shall abstain and see how that works.

My breathing has been exceptionally good today, even the asthma has been minimal. Very odd and very different than the last year of constant wheezing. Will be interesting to see what goes on as time passes. Even laying down tonight causes no lung or breathing pain. Still no temperature. Woo hoo!

I am listening to Mists of Avalon, the 4th reading I have had of that book over many years. I tried to read Anne of Green Gables, a story I love in the TV series, but the book was just… so… hyperbolically effusive, it was sicky sweet. I could not continue. I tried to imagine being 11 and reading it, but not sure I would have liked it then either. I will remember Megan Follows as Anne in the show.

I am going to poke around the Net for awhile. Trying to stay away from COVID-19 info. I am quite saturated.

More soon!

 

What If I Lived?

9:50pm

The really poor feelings come and go. My throat hurts like crazy, but I have only had to do the Nebulizer twice today. Breathing isn’t horrid tonight.

And no fever tonight (so far).

I read about this “slow burn” sort of thing:

“They say, ‘Hey, you know, I think I’m getting over this,’ and then within 20 to 24 hours, they’ve got fevers, severe fatigue, worsening cough and shortness of breath,” said Ohl, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Then they get hospitalized.”

I wonder if I am in that 24 hour window.

What if I make it through the 24 hours and am still off and on yucky, but still home? What if I recovered even though fat, diabetic, kidney disease, lung diseased people are THE prime target of COVID-19.

What would that be like?

Lit Sparkler Up the Nose

1:40pm

Holy fuck, the test hurts.

A lit sparkler up the nose just begins to describe the feeling. Then the person wielding the sparkler tries to touch your brain and burn it.

pandemic covid-19 coronavirus

It’s been an hour and I still feel the burning sensation.

So here’s the best part… HAHA… the most absurd part.

pandemic covid-19 coronavirus

It will take SEVEN to TEN DAYS for the results.

I’m not kidding. So many around the country are baffled. I answer with: Welcome to Florida Health Care.

I told the sparkler lady I could be dead before the results come back. Sheesharooni.

I feel alright at the moment. Trying to eat something, but it tends to make my stomach hurt, so might be done with food for awhile.

Gonna rest.

Waiting for Test Appointment

I gave an extensive history to nurse, then saw the doctor who was really kind. I thanked them both for being there and helping people during this hard time.

I’m having GI crap again (HAHA!), so that isn’t fun at all. My stomach hurts. Breathing is meh… not horrid, but not easy.

I got a “Rx” to be tested and they will call me with an appointment within 24 hours to go through a drive-thru test site a mile away. Not sure how I will get there yet, but will deal with that when the time comes.

Rest, hydrate, and call EMS if I cannot breathe.

Let’s see what the day holds!

Still Home, Not Much Change

6:00am

I slept sitting up and walking to the bathroom brought on weakness and a lot of pain in my back, my right lung more than my left. I sweat through the night, but have no temperature now. Not feeling too terrible if I do not move. I’ve been doing the Nebulizer ever 2 hours and that seems to help, too. That cinched feeling has abated some, but I do still feel it.

Wouldn’t it be the bomb if I survived this?!?! I am on Day 4 of symptoms. The timeline says short of breath on the 13th should begin and severe breathing issues the 16th. I have a morbid note in my phone for the 22nd: Dead yet? I do amuse myself if no one else. HA!

By day five, patients with preexisting conditions might find that they have trouble breathing, and it usually takes about seven days for a person to go to a hospital.”

“Early studies found that most people who die of the disease will do so within 14 to 19 days. “

So I have a few days to write still? Sheesh. I feel like I’m walking towards the edge of a cliff knowing I am going to be walking off.

I just found this… also not very encouraging:

They say, ‘Hey, you know, I think I’m getting over this,’ and then within 20 to 24 hours, they’ve got fevers, severe fatigue, worsening cough and shortness of breath,” said Ohl, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Then they get hospitalized.”

I won’t do it, but I honestly wonder if taking a slew of pills and some amaretto might night be the best option. I never think about things like that, either. But this? A different time.

pandemic covid-19 coronavirus

Lung Tightness Starting

It’s 10:00pm and the lung tightness started about 90 minutes ago. I’ve been debating going in (I will have to call EMS because I do not have a car), but really would like to wait until I talk to the doc in the morning. If it gets worse, I will just go, though.

I have asthma, new since this year, actually, and this feels different. This feels like I have a cinch around my upper body. You know those velcro things you wear to protect your back? That is what this feels like.

Fever ebbs and flows. My eyes are burning from the fever. I continue barfing, too. No diarrhea since I stopped eating.

I am a DNR and have the paper I wrote that on close by.

Will write as I can.