Life in quarantine, volume II

While the week of going through the worst of what COVID-19 handed to my family was certainly more than well-received, the intent was always to shine a light on the all-too-common decisions and struggles that many in the community are going through, using my own family as a proxy.

As our family transitions back to normalcy, the sad reality is that so many families are back at day one of last week’s entry, with those same decisions and concerns, but we’ll examine the challenges faced as we begin to transition away from infection toward recovery.

Day VII (part II)
Not making press time on the previous edition of the journal was a phone call to let us know that the youngest child was negative in her second testing. That was a significant relief and my wife spoke with the call center staff that called with that information to share our current symptoms, which had lessened significantly.

The thing with symptoms with COVID-19 is that I mentioned in the last installment that symptoms come on in a hurry, but they also seem to disappear just as quickly. In part, at least for my wife and I, this has occurred while we have been getting 8-10 hours of sleep per evening, something we rarely allowed ourselves prior to getting ill. Now, by the time 10 p.m. comes around, paper clips are required to hold our eyes open, so rather than resist, we simply head to bed.

The crazy part is that our children are actually sleeping in until 7:30-8 a.m. That’s “sleeping in” for them because they are often coming out of their room when my wife has early morning daycare kids at 5:30 a.m. to attempt to get a peak at the Disney show or YouTube video being played rather than enjoying the final hour-plus of sleep.

This behavior does not compute with me, as I am certain there are days in my youth that I woke up after noon. Rarely, if ever, until I got to college, as we typically weren’t allowed to sleep that long on the farm growing up, but a child finding a reason to exit his/her bed early just seems odd to me!

The major issue of our Friday late afternoon/early evening was a battle royale between mother and son over homework. We arranged for our children’s homework to be picked up by a friend or a teacher for the week so the kids wouldn’t fall behind, however, our son is seeing the opportunity to play with toys and hurrying through his homework. Then he turns the homework in to my wife or I (more often her due to my massive sinus headache making reading a challenge today), and any corrections he has to complete turn into a fit.

In the end, we had to have a discussion with he and one of his sisters who was also struggling to complete her work (just not fighting in the same way) that any Halloween fun tomorrow would not happen until ALL homework from the week was completed. That changed the tone quickly.

Day VIII - Saturday (Halloween)
Living in the neighborhood that we do, we have anticipated 200 or more trick-or-treaters each year since moving into our home six years ago. We attempted giving out candy one year, but quickly found that instead we would go against the candy norm and hand out glow stick necklaces and bracelets for those coming to our home. Parents have told us that our home became their first stop before continuing through the rest of the neighborhood, and our son has actually found it more fun to stay home and hand out to the kids coming to the door, giving him a chance to see a lot of his friends, rather than making a few stops with my wife around town at family and friends.

We had purchased new supplies recently, included necklaces that needed to be strung, and those now go back into the supply box for next year. Making the sign to let potential trick-or-treaters know not to stop by or ring the bell was tough.

The day continued to see further reduction in symptoms for both my wife and I, as she neared the end of her “active” time with the virus, and I was a day behind. The primary issue for me was a sinus thing that left my head plugged, and the pressure gave me headaches off and on. No fevers for either of us, and the all-body soreness and bathroom issues were also passed as well.

We also found that the other of our two daughters had also received a negative second COVID-19 test, meaning all of our children could interact with one another.

My wife and I’s reduced symptoms meant that both of us could participate and engage more with the kids, as Halloween evening came. My wife went to put together the donations brought to us from so many, and the kids had quite a haul of candy, little toys, and plenty of laughs for the evening.

It was a small touch of normal, but in this week, it was a welcome one.

Day IX - Sunday
My wife reached the point of being recovered Sunday from COVID. While she still has a cough, she is now considered to have beaten the virus.

She certainly is a great example of even the strongest being knocked down and not bouncing back quickly from the virus, though. My wife would walk with our children and the daycare children she had all over town, so stamina is not something she ever struggles with, but right now, she wears down during the day.

She has been amazing working with our kids through this as I’ve been attempting to work while at home, so she’s been left doing a lot of the school work with the kids.

Day X - Monday (FREEDOM!)
Trying to set up for our children’s homework now that my wife can pick it up should have been easy, and she intended to make the pickup of weekly assignments for our oldest part of a group of errands that included voting at the courthouse and picking up groceries.

Instead the homework was put in the mail, delaying starting weekly homework with the one of the kids who struggles with classwork at home the most.

The weather warming up allowed for my wife to do some outdoor projects and to move some of the bikes for daycare to our storage unit for the winter, which will open up plenty of garage space. She thought that she would have the kids help her move bikes while I was participating in a Zoom call to cover the Huron city commission. Her idea was to get the kids out of the house to have less noise - except she left our three dogs home, locked upstairs.

And our dogs were NOT pleased.

While I was attempting to decipher the details of a potential new mask policy for city buildings, the dogs were constantly barking in my background. My wife and the kids returned just as the meeting finished and I focused on writing the article about the meeting, finally unaccompanied by a poodle and two pugs in my work.

Monday was my first day technically being deemed recovered. However, after covering the virus every day for nearly eight months, there are little things that I’ve picked up, so when I had streak-like pain down my left thigh Monday evening, it immediately kicked in the thought of blood clots that many have suffered as part of COVID.

When massaging the pain really indicated a seeming vein path of the pain, I called Huron Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room. Laurie was absolutely amazing - patient, walking through the pain I had to ensure I didn’t need to hurry in. After determining I could check in with primary care in the morning, she also asked about my family. Our health care workers in town are swamped and worked hard right now, but that has not stopped them from delivering quality care, even over the phone.

Day XI - Tuesday
The first day out of the house was spent making a number of appointments. Explaining my leg pain to my primary care’s nurse led to a scheduled ultrasound at the hospital. So, the first place I went after quarantine? The hospital. Exciting...

My wife had set up to get herself and the children flu shots Tuesday morning, so they were away when I left. I came home to the kids helping with yardwork while I quickly finished up a piece about the daily COVID numbers for the paper, then I headed for an appointment to hear the news about my ultrasound. Luckily, nothing was found, but blood was drawn, and I also got a flu shot.

On the way home, I drove by the arena as I had my camera in the vehicle, and I figured if there was a line outside waiting to vote, I would snap off a few shots, but to no avail.

Day XII - Wednesday
Working at Community Counseling previously, I was set up as a desk partner with someone who I would eventually call my “work wife” due to our close relationship. We helped each other through the tough days at work and celebrated the good days in each others’ personal lives together.

One of those was her long-awaited pregnancy, which eventually produced my beloved goddaughter, but I remember throughout that pregnancy hearing over and over about “pregnancy brain” affecting my co-worker’s abilities at work.

Forgot to complete documentation on a client for that day? Pregnancy brain.

Missed three things on a grocery note when shopping with a client? Pregnancy brain.

Suddenly answering a question from 10 minutes ago? Pregnancy brain.

I laughed at the idea at the time, but now, I’ve experienced the mental fog akin to what she was describing. I’m often attributing things right now to COVID brain.

Trip over the names of my own children? COVID brain.

Stare blankly into the abyss, attempting to come up with a miniscule piece of information that should be easy for my memory to access? COVID brain.

Struggle to do previously “normal” things for me (math I’d do in my head that now requires a caluclator, spell check words I’d never need to check previously, etc.)? COVID brain.

Day XIII - Thursday
The first day back to work “in person” meant heading to the courthouse for just short of three hours for a county commission meeting to canvass the election. My leg pain is still present the more I sit still, so I got up and moved around at times during the meeting in the background, but Thursday morning cleared up my sinuses revealing one of the more cruel tricks that COVID plays.

While I had been suffering through sinus issues in the worst of COVID symptoms, the virus was doing work on my lungs, and now as my sinuses are clearing and the gunk that has inhabited my sinuses for two weeks is expelled by my body, I am finding that my lungs have notably less capacity.

The feeling is akin to when I would go for a run or help scoop bunks when growing up in the winter. That feeling of cold “burn” in the lungs that limited how much expansion they were giving is what I get whenever I attempt to do a deep breath right now. For someone who sings, diminished lung capacity would absolutely be a crushing blow, so that will be something I do little exercises on at my desk or at home often.

Being back in the work environment was excellent, and I definitely missed my coworkers, but my body certainly had a limit how long it could stay still, and that’s something I will have to work around, as it’s a requirement to be seated to do a notable amount of the work in my job!

Day XIV - Friday
So last week, I lamented just one pound lost. Let’s just say that there have been significantly more than one lost over the total time of COVID now, but I certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone to go out and acquire COVID as a weight-loss program.

I’m still dealing with leg soreness and lung issues. My wife still doesn’t have her normal stamina. Yet, we’ve both been told that we were blessed in how the virus progressed in us.

Our children did not get the virus as we masked throughout our time positive at home.

Protect those you love, protect your neighbors, protect your community. Put on a mask because the numbers only continue to get worse!