Saturday, April 25, 2020


I got the COVID antibody test back and it was negative. I have not been exposed, as far as the test can tell, to the virus.

The results do come with a very long list of warnings. Like that it can take up to 5 days post exposure for antibodies to show up in the test. That is not a big deal for me personally since I've spent most of the last month more than six feet away from pretty much everything....
While I though that a positive result may have made me feel better, after reading the caveats that come with the test I'm pretty sure I would have spiraled. It doesn't mean that you are immune; it just indicates that you have been exposed. I would have spent the next two weeks waiting for the worst....
Now I'm just back at my baseline state of perpetual low grade fear.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Quarantine Week ?

My mood lately has been generally less bleak with bouts of extremely bleak and extremely anxious.

The news about not reopening schools was, while not unexpected, still hard to take. The kid misses seeing her peeps and, despite her protestations, likes the structure and challenges school presents. We like, despite loving her deeply, not having to manage her full time while also getting our own jobs done.
The school announcement also made it clear that summer vacation plans are in jeopardy.
Will there be summer camps? The kid is desperately looking forward to spending a week doing gymnastics at overnight camp and always looks forwards to her two weeks of farm adventures.
Will Santa's Village, the AMC huts, or any campgrounds open? Will they lift restrictions on trail use? Will mountain biking clubs start up trips again? Will kayaking trips get scheduled?
The curve will come down, but when and what will it take for things to restart? Maybe kayaking with close friends who you can be certain are not carriers will be OK since kayaking is mostly socially distant, except in emergencies. Maybe beaches will stay closed?
Maybe summer will be fine and schools will start up in the fall and things will go back to mostly normal with occasional quarantines and official contact tracing as opposed to the sorts that Google and Apple already do....
Maybe the recent studies that are showing that the infection rate is way higher than expected, and therefore the mortality rate is way lower than expected, will turn out to be true. Couple that with the studies showing that people are showing some sort of lasting immunity means that herd immunity is closer than we think. Then all will be fine.
Maybe of course they are bunk since the tests are not reliable. Or maybe it does not matter what the mortality rate is since it does make a decent number of people very, very sick while leaving way more  people to be Typhoid Mary.

I also read an article saying that the most difficult thing about treating this thing is that by the time most people show up in the hospital they are in critical condition without even knowing it. The O2 levels are so depleted and their lungs so clogged that they should be very sick, but because of how the virus does its damage the patient's body is not reacting in the expected ways. Apparently we feel short of breath when too much CO2 builds up in our blood, not when the O2 gets low and COVID allows your lungs to shed CO2 just fine while blocking the O2 from getting into the blood stream.
Super fun time there for a hypochondriac. Now I think I am likely sitting on deaths door with no way to know. I did do a very hard interval ride on the trainer after reading that article just to prove that I could. The fact that I felt tired and a little high afterwards was worrying, but some water and TV sorted that out. I also did a fairly strenuous walk the following day and my VO2 Max is improving, so that calmed my nerves a bit.
And then night time comes and the monsters in the closet come out....

The most stressful thing I've done in weeks was today. I actually ventured out of the house to see my doctor. It was a routine check-up that was scheduled months ago - and that I had rescheduled once already - and was seriously planning on rescheduling again. H said getting out would do me some good.... I'm not convinced she was right, but I did go.... I brought plenty of disinfectant and wore a face mask when outside of the car. Other than the office staff, I was never within six feet of anyone. The office staff all wore masks - as did I - and reminded me that they only see one patient at a time, wipe down everything between visits, and do not see anyone with any symptoms.... Made me feel better at the time. Sitting here typing this now, I'm not so sure it really helped that much.
I feel like the two week clock is completely reset.
Anyway, he said my lungs sounded good. My blood pressure was fine. My temp was normal. I need to lose 5-10 lbs. He was glad to hear that quarantining and general anxiety had upped my exercise routine although he wished that I was doing more exercise for less crazy reasons....
He also had me take an anti-body test to see if I have had the dreaded COVID. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Do I want to know I've been exposed and likely recovered? I'm not sure if that would make feel better or worse. Logically, it should make me feel better knowing that I'm unlikely to get sick from this thing. However, it is likely to just make me anxious because I know I've been exposed and will be waiting to get sick. Or what happens if I test negative? Then I have to continue living in fear of getting it and possibly being one of the unlucky ones.... Although, in general I do tend to only get minor symptoms from colds, so I probably do have to worry too much.

Yes we are the lucky ones with homes, secure jobs that afford us the luxury of food delivery, and good health insurance and good health. Still we are not doing great.... The kid nearly missed a dance class and an online meeting because the adults spaced on time. It is getting harder and harder to remember what day of the week it is. The kid spends too much time in front of a screen before we notice and then we overcorrect.

Today the kid did an awesome job getting her shit done with minimal adult supervision because I was trying not to have an anxiety attack while driving to the doctor's office and H had full day of meetings. Then, because we all spent all of our collective emotional energy in the morning, bed time was a disaster.

We are the lucky ones. Pray for the ones who are not as lucky....

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Quarantine Week 4+

Last week was the roughest yet.
Somehow I keep thinking I will slip into a routine and adjust to the new normal. It is not true.
Thursday and Friday were black days. I was angry and on edge both days for no particular reason. I couldn't even find my way to get some movement. I was actually too angry, or craving control, to allow myself to exercise. The stairs pissed me off; the thought of sitting on the damn stationery bike with barely working gears disgusted me; walking around our deserted neighborhood wearing a mask like it was the god damn zombie apocalypse depressed me.
H had spent the week stressing about getting groceries. We finally got a curbside pick-up scheduled for Sunday, but it was curbside and we needed to make sure we stocked up enough for two weeks. There were times I just didn't care if we even had food; I just wanted to stop hearing about getting food. It probably didn't help that we were digging into the left over food in the back of the freezer for dinners...
My work sucked. I was spending more time fixing a tiny bug in an obsolete installer and answering inane e-mails than I was getting new work done. That was in the small bursts of time I had to actually work between H's meetings, Bug's incessant need for attention, and the less than occasional flare ups.
H is still trying to find her legs doing her job remotely. Her job really does not lend itself to being "remote". There are privacy issues; privacy and internet are oxymorons. There is managing parents expectations when every school district is doing something different, there is no central leadership, and no end date in site.
Bug is actually starting to adjust to home schooling, but it is still a struggle for her. She is not a sit quietly and do work person. She is move around and do stuff person. She is capable of great things but like most people would rather not paddle up stream into the wind without knowing there is a payoff. She misses her friends even though she talks to them and virtually plays with them as much as possible. She gets too much screen time and rebels at our attempts to restrict her and get her to do things IRL. She does not get enough space to make mistakes without us being around to notice and, without us, with the best intentions, trying to use them as teaching moments.
The weekend was better. I did actually leave to house for walks. It was depressing, but the sun was nice.
Getting food was strange. All the information on the available says food is safe, but we still spent an inordinate amount of effort decontaminating it. Having some more food in the house is nice.
This week has not been much better. The rain on Monday was depressing and work was interminable. Then we found out that our early summer camping destination was postponing registrations again. Bug's summer camps sent out notices about how they are hoping to still run programs, but are putting all sorts of restrictions in place.
Tuesday I forced myself on the bike which was the right thing to do. I at least slept better.
In short, the longer this drags on, the more it is grating on me. Yet there is no end in site. Maybe we can stop being trapped in the house before June, but all models point to a repeat lock down in the Fall. In between, there is still no telling who is carrying the apocalypse and we'll get to witness the devastation our months of lock down has wrought.
Still we soldier on....

Monday, April 06, 2020

Quarantine Week 3

This was a rough week. It would have been a rough week even without a global pandemic trapping us  our houses and throwing all of our lives into turmoil.

The weather was dreary and work was a slog of learning new things that are unlikely to see the light of day or even be noticed.
Waltham's school system has started providing more structured learning. Bug meets with her class twice a week. Her teachers are providing some writing prompts and other activities. Next week they will be ramping that up by starting to do some actual instruction and providing work packets. This is a small blessing. Bug puts up less of a struggle when the work comes from her teachers. It also means less time we have to spend coming up with activities for her do. She actually admitted today that she misses school.
Her dance school is doing weekly lessons which also helps. It gives her at least one hour of structured exercise a week. One of the Mom's from her gymnastics team is also setting up some get togethers for the girls. Friday night they spent nearly two hours doing gymnastics and stuff over Zoom. Yesterday she spent like an hour doing gymnastics over some other video chat thing with another friend.
There are still constant struggles about the technology. She chafes at the fact that we don't let her access technology during what would normally be school time. She gets pissed when we limit her time on Tic Tok and Roblox. She doesn't like it when we try to coach her on social etiquette on phone calls.
Most of it is normal kid stuff. It is just that much more intense since her world is so small now. We normally wouldn't listen in on her conversations with friends, but now instead of happening at school they happen in the kitchen. We have an open floor plan....
The craziest part of it all is that I often have to be the peacemaker. Yes I am the most mentally unstable person in the house, the one with an actual, diagnosed anxiety disorder that requires medication; I'm the loner of the family who actually requires alone time to function well; I'm by far one of the most misanthropic, inpatient, and emotionally stunted people I know; I'm the guy at work that people don't talk to for fear of setting me off. Yet in my house, I am the one who cools situations down. The one who lets the child vent until her overheated emotional system cools back down to normal nine year old levels of rationality while trying to remind her that we are not evil and that she is not the worst child ever born and reminds the wife that she is doing a good job and letting her vent until she returns to a much more mature state of rationality while attempting to remind her that part of the reason the child picks on her so much is that she knows how much her mother loves her.
Let us not forget that I am also the one who is the most germ phobic and prone to health based hysteria..... After my experience trying to go for a walk last week, I was less than enthusiastic about attempting walks this week. Fortunately the rain, general gloom, and seemingly incessant demands between my job, H's job, and child, kept me inside for the most part. The creaky old bike is holding up pretty well. It only has two functioning gears, but we work with what we've got. I also discovered that pacing up and down the basement stairs for 30 minutes at a brisk pace is quite a workout.
I did actually go outside for walks twice this weekend. We stuck to the streets and steered very wide of all people. I will be wearing a face mask from now on and have been very consistent about changing my clothes when I come back into the house, putting the contaminated clothes in the laundry, and immediately showering. H thinks it is a little crazy, and I am not going to attempt to say it is, but we do what we need to stay sane. It also forces me to shower. Before yesterday, I am not certain when the last time I showered. It is also not really creating more laundry since I also am not sure how often I change my clothes anymore.
I found that doing calendar in the morning with Bug is a challenge. When everyday is an inside day, it becomes hard to remember what day it is....
We only had to venture out once last week to pick up some prescriptions. I made H disinfect all of the bottles and did, briefly, consider if taking the pills was worth the risk. None of them are for life threatening conditions - well maybe the anxiety is a life threatening condition I'm just not sure whose life would be threatened.
Deliveries and take out food are stressful as well. H does a heroic job of disinfecting things before they come into the house. Non-food packages sit for at least a day before being opened. Food packages are unloaded in dedicated spots, all items are thoroughly washed, and then placed in holding. Takeout food must be hot food and transferred from the delivery packages into clean plates with exacting care and then microwaved for at least 45 seconds before being consumed.
I have to give credit to my poor wife who takes the brunt of the child's wrath, is doing most of the shopping and cooking, and tries to meet my decontamination standards all while trying to figure out how to do her job remotely and using entirely unfamiliar digital tools. She is a direct service provider for special education students - not exactly a job that lends itself to "remote" delivery. Like every teacher in the state/country/world she is trying to relearn how to do her job on the fly under ever changing guidelines with no clear game in site. People all hope that schools will reopen before summer, but nobody knows if that is even realistic. At this point nobody knows if any summer camps will open, or if school can start in the fall.
She also has to deal with an elderly parent in a nursing home whom she cannot visit and whom she cannot call on the phone. She too is a people person and while doing Zoom hangouts with friends and Zoom meetings and texting and Facebook help, it is not the same as seeing people in the flesh.
I know that we will get through this and science will find treatments that make this disease less deadly and eventually even find a vaccine. I know we will all eventually adjust to a new normal. I know we will all get back to kayaking, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. We will see our friends and families again without needing a screen.
It will take time to get through the the darkness. Some good leadership would help. We are fortunate to live in a state with a Governor who understands this and can provide it. We are fortunate to live in a city with a Mayor that understands thins and can provide it. I have given up hope that the "leaders" we have elected to the Federal government either understand or are capable of providing leadership and feel for those who are not fortunate enough to have local leaders to guide them.
I thank all of the people: doctors, nurses, EMTs, fire people, police officers, public health officials, food service workers, scientists, public servant who toil away in obscurity to make sure things continue to run despite the darkness and chaos from the top.
Hopefully, when the sun comes out again and the dust clears we will learn from this and demand more from those whom we empower to lead our country.