Pandemic Road: When Negative Is Positive

This picture is so “Thanksgiving 2020”. I saw this poor turkey when I was out walking the other day. It was just laying there in the street surrounded by dead leaves and covered in dust. His poor face looks a little shell shocked. A little deer in the headlights. Don’t you agree? I think I can relate. How about you?

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving. I was behaving myself going to a routine medical appointment. Actually it was the last follow-up appointment from a brief hospitalization I had last September. I am doing fine! Couldn’t feel better. That was on Monday. On Wednesday, I received an email from Baylor stating that I may or may not have been exposed to someone during my doctor visit who has tested “positive” for Covid 19. I was given a list of symptoms to look out for and a phone number if I had questions. I called immediately.

Now please keep in mind that I have been so good throughout this pandemic. I wear a mask whenever I am out in public. My hand washing skills are at an all time peak! I have not eaten in a restaurant since last March.….which seems like a hundred years ago at this point. Social distance is a must. Even when I dash into the grocery store I try to go during times that are least busy or during senior hours. I haven’t seen any of my friends during this time except for phone calls, texts and zoom conversations.

I immediately called the number and got on the schedule for a tele-health visit with a doctor. During my video appointment, I explained that I wore a mask during my entire visit and used hand sanitizer three times while I was in the clinic. (Entering, during, and before exiting. Then again when I got into my car.) The doctor assured me I was at low risk, but that I should get tested just to be sure.

I had appointment for testing the next morning. I walked out of my home and out into my car by myself. I drove to the entrance of the parking garage. I had a number written on a big piece of paper on my dashboard. I pulled up to the security guard where I saw a sign to tune into a specific radio station. The security guard waved me into the garage and I listened to a soothing voice telling me to keep my mask on and my windows rolled up until I saw a nurse for testing.

As I approached the testing site a man signaled me to stop. He held up a sign that said, “Please stop your car while you are checked in.” The man looked at the number on my dash and walked over to a window. He came back and held up a sign that told me to put my identification on my dash. He looked at the driver’s license I presented and he returned to the window. Then he returned with a test kit in a plastic bag and placed it on my windshield. Then he held up a sign that said “C” which indicated the specific testing site where I would encounter a nurse in full PPE ready to administer the test.

The nurse motioned for me to roll down my car window. She looked at my test kit and verified my name and date of birth. She stuck a test stick up one nostril for five seconds. Then she stuck a stick up my other nostril. I swear I still have the marks where the sticks went through to the back of my head. Maybe I had a look on my face resembling the turkey in the picture.

It was all over in a matter of minutes. I drove back home. I realized that during that entire experience I had quasi interacted with three different people. I communicated with all three, but had only exchanged words with one and had touched no one. Now I play a game of seeing how many things I can do and how many places I can go without getting close or interacting with others. It’s a fun game to play and a way to creatively get through a global pandemic. And my test came back negative! My efforts are paying off in a very positive way.

Until next week.….

Pandemic Road: Resilience

Self-isolation, Quarantine, Social Distancing and Global Pandemic. These words were not part of my daily vocabulary last February. By the end of March, they consumed my world. These are crazy difficult times. Have I ever survived difficult times before? You bet I have. That doesn’t mean this is not still difficult, but I know I have some survival skills that I can pull from. The most important for me is a sense of humor.

Can we talk about “handwashing”? Before February I always assumed that most people, at least most of the people I knew, were familiar with the concept of handwashing. I never would have guessed that Facebook, YouTube and television news programs would all feel the need to show tutorials about how to thoroughly wash your hands to keep from spreading disease. How did we keep from spreading disease before? Well, considering normal annual rates of colds and flu, maybe we didn’t.

I can remember seeing and sharing the post on Facebook that stated something to the effect of, “Now, if everyone has mastered handwashing, next week we will focus on turn signals!” Apparently, we are still working on handwashing and haven’t graduated to turn signals yet. Maybe that will be one of our New Year’s resolutions for 2021.

In addition to handwashing, I have become an expert on sanitizing everything I ever touch. I use bleach to clean counters, doors, door keys, light switches, you name it, if it is in my home, I have sanitized it with bleach. Except for my cat. My cat has assured me that she wants no part of this human drama and she will continue to keep herself clean as she has done for the last 15 years.

The most challenging word I have learned and incorporated this year: ZOOM. One of the many technological ways for people to stay connected. I’m learning it……slowly……really slowly. By the way, where did the word “zoom” come from. The definition means to move or travel quickly which is an oxymoron when it comes to me and zooming. But I do it, because I can stay in contact with some really wonderful people.

I am just willing to bet that when this pandemic is over and we start meeting together again in person, we will all complain about having to “actually travel” through “Houston traffic” to get somewhere. Yuk! We will think back and remember the “good old days” when we could just talk to people at home on our computers wearing sweat pants and pajamas. I mean people are wearing sweat pants and pajamas. Computers don’t generally feel required to put on clothes for zoom conversations.

Has any of this been easy? Heck no! Have there been times when I have become depressed, angry, sad, forlorn, and every other emotion I can name? Heck yes! What do I do? I look at history. Tough times do eventually come to an end. The Great Depression, The Pandemic of 1918, and World War II are just a few examples.

I love to read books about people who survived tough times. I have read historical fiction and many biographies by people who know what surviving hard times is all about.

Also, I keep in touch with friends even though this does involve a lot of zooming. A good social network goes far into helping me stay sane during these crazy times. That includes all of you who read this blog. Thanks for being there!

Until next week.….