Thursday, March 19, 2020

On The Rox: Life in the Time of Corona - The First Week #lifeinthetimeofcorona

Every night  this week I have gone to bed and prayed that this is all a nightmare and that I'll wake up in the morning and the world will be back to normal.

It hasn't happened yet.

Everyday the dystopian nightmare seems to get worse.

Back in December when news about the virus started to trickle in from China I felt a weird stab of...fear...maybe. It was an odd gut feeling. A niggle that flagged something in my brain.

Between Christmas and my book deadline I brushed it off. Caught some news here and there. Absentmindedly worried. But not consciously. I had to get my book done before going into surgery on January 20.

Then after surgery I was tired. Weak. Got really sick. I was down for a couple weeks. Never been so sick in my life. Usually the flu will hit me hard for about a day. Two days in bed tops then I'm back up and going about life as usual even though I may still feel a little crappy. Not this time. One week where I was completely down followed by two more weeks where I did little to nothing but nap. 

I didn't pay much attention to the news those weeks but something kept gnawing at me. The fear. The uncertainty. 

Mid- February I finally started to feel like myself again. Things were bad in China. The virus was spreading to other places. 

I started to get very concerned.

And it takes a lot to get me going. 

Even with my anxiety I tend to have a filter about what will or won't impact me and my life. A bullshit meter perhaps. I don't know. I just seem to have always instinctively known whether or not I needed to be concerned about something that was making headlines.

At this point I have lived through the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Y2K, 9/11, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, the end of the Mayan Calendar, Zika, and all the other supposed end of the world scenarios that have made headlines the past several years. 

I never panicked, prepped, or stocked up on anything. Not even for Y2K. I just kind knew everything would be OK.

I pay attention to world events. Thanks to the Internet I feel much more connected to the world than I did before social media. I have friends all over the world.

When things started to get bad in Italy I knew it was going to get very, very bad. I ordered a box of nitrile gloves, a few masks (because I have a compromised immune system), hand sanitizer, and vitamins. 

I started having panic attacks. Mini ones. I had to be more pro-active. 

So March 2 I went grocery shopping and bought some shelf stable food basics, first aid supplies, and cleaning supplies. I felt better after getting things I knew we might need.

After that I didn't plan to leave the house unless absolutely necessary like for my doctor appointment on March 12.

Hubby kept working as normal. The Kid was still going to school. Everyone had small bottles of hand sanitizer to keep in their pocket.

The daily news continued to get worse.

The week of March 9 colleges in Michigan started closing, moving to online classes. My daughter called from Michigan's UP telling me everyone was freaking out because Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech closed.  Some of their classes can't be done online and whether or not the kids can finish, get credit or graduate is still unknown. 

My son's band competitions were cancelled. He was devastated. He had worked so hard rehearsing, planning and practicing since November for these shows. They had two left. One was the state finals. :-(

The NBA shut down. March Madness gone. All other sports and large events started cancelling. Conventions, parties, ComicCons...all shut down, postponed or just flat out cancelled. All the events we had planned through May. Gone. Cancelled. A few things are still up in the air but the way things are looking they will probably be cancelled, too.

The night of March 12 Governor Whitmer in Michigan announced all schools were to close starting Monday March 16. Most just closed outright starting March 13.

Thank goodness I shopped before the mass panic set in because by Friday the 13th people had emptied stores of everything. 

You still can't find toilet paper at local stores unless you get there as soon as they open up. Which now the first hour of many stores is for the elderly so they can shop. This is so amazing because people who couldn't rush in and get things in the mad dash were left without. 

On March 13 Whitmer prohibited large gatherings 250+. Since then the number has been lowered to 50. Entry into care facilities became restricted. My mom's husband is in a nursing home. She went to see him every day and stayed with him for hours. Now she can't visit him.

Monday March 16 Whitmer closed all bars and restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, etc. Restaurants  can remain open for delivery, drive thru and carry out only. 

My daughter works at a hotel in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They are still open but it is a ghost town. She worries about losing her job. I worry about things getting really bad, the entire state going into lock-down and her being 6 hours away with a giant bridge between us that could close to public traffic.

Many non-essential stores are closing. Locally the Genesee Valley Shopping Center closed. The Birch Run outlets have closed.  Many offices and other places are closing. GM and the other auto factories are closing. Some factories may be re-opened to make medical supplies. 

The closing of GM means my oldest son is without a job for awhile. I don't know yet what GM is doing about pay. They probably have to apply unemployment. I don't know yet. This is new as of today and details are not clear yet. My son works third shift so he's probably sleeping. I don't want to wake him up to ask a bunch of questions.

Governor Whitmer is doing a great job trying to take care of Michigan residents. 

It is very heartwarming to see so many organizations stepping up to help take care of people. Schools are still providing food for kids, some have numerous pick up locations, some schools are dropping lunches off at bus stops every day.

Programs are being put in place to take care of people, especially those who need them most like children and the elderly. The US government is talking about sending out stimulus checks to help. People are scrambling to do good things which in this time of crisis is amazing to see.

Hope is what we need now more than ever.

But that doesn't make the fear go away.

This week has not been good for me. I have not written anything. I have not created anything. I did some basic Bewitching work but not writing or creative work (other than a Haiku I wrote to teach the kid how to write Haiku). 

I have done very little with The Kid for homeschooling. I have pulled out some books and some ideas but I'm not pushing it.

I think this week is an adjustment period. We have to deal with all the disappointments and the constant change as we adjust to this new way of life. 

Next week I'll put things in place so he can learn and I can work. 

But this week has been too emotional. 

I worry so much about my kids and my mom. I worry about me because my health isn't great to begin with. 

And most of all I worry about my husband,because as of right now, he is still going out to work every day. And he's been going to the stores to get us food and prescriptions and things like that. He keeps us stable and taken care of. And I worry because he's out there. With people. With the virus running rampant. 

He set up a decontamination chamber at our front door. It's his small ice fishing shanty (it is kinda like a small pop up tent). All things stop there to get cleaned before coming in the house. He strips and puts all his stuff in a plastic bag to take directly to the laundry. Anything non- machine washable gets wiped down and cleaned. He uses hand sanitizer on himself then comes in and takes a shower. I hope that's enough to keep us safe.  

We had our first case confirmed in Genesee County today. I'm sure there are more. Tests just are not being done. 

But he works all over doing pest control. Lots of jobs in Oakland County which right now has the highest number of cases in Michgan.

And there's another problem. With places closing he's losing clients. 

I work online, but in this crisis authors are not buying book tours or social media promotions. 

Even though everyone is online now looking for distractions. But with money and jobs being unknown luxury items are not going to be purchased. Book tours are a luxury item. 

So I need to write. Even if I can't publish or make money off the writing immediately hopefully when places start opening again I can submit new books to publishers. So hopefully I can begin to focus again.

I feel better today.

Yesterday I was bad. Everything hit me hard. Fear, grief, disappointment, anger, and all the unknowns. It may be the unknowns that do me in. Because I am a planner. I prepare and plan. I make lists. I schedule things. I arrange things. 

I can't plan anything now. 

Literally everything is a big question mark changing by the hour.  No one knows how long this will last. How long we'll be quarantined. How much worse it will get.

I shut myself in my room last night and just cried. I was so broken.

I couldn't meditate. I couldn't calm down. I couldn't breathe. I just hurt. Hurt so bad. Physically, emotionally, mentally. So. Much. Pain.

Today I told my bestie I was not OK.  She talked me down from the ledge. With much love and a healthy dose of rationality. But most of all she made me feel validated. She made me understand it was OK to feel the things. 

That was what I needed. To know it was alright to fall apart.

Being the mom, being the plotter and planner and glue that keeps everything sticking together and the grease that keeps our home and family running smoothly-I don't give myself permission to melt down. Too often I don't let myself feel, I don't cry. I definitely don't give me permission to fall apart. 

I always tell myself,  "Keep it together, you have people counting on you. You have to take care of them."

But yesterday I couldn't take care of anyone. I just needed to process this crazy world and go through the feelings.

Because you have to feel it to heal it. You have to go through hell to get through it.

I tell people that all the time and I couldn't do it for myself until my bestie reminded me that I could. 

I know we're all in the same boat dealing with fear and uncertainty and so much disappointment. Feel it. Let it out. Reach out if you need help. Share you feelings and thought. Thanks to social media we can practice social distancing in the real world while still being connected online.

Please check in with your loved ones. Check on your strong friends because they might not be as strong as you think. This is a crisis that could break anyone.

I pray that we, as a people, come out on the other side better. That we all realize how connected we truly are, that we can stand together in times of crisis, and that we need to take care of each other, the planet, and all living things.  

The world is going to be different after this is all said and done. I hope it will be a good different and not a wasteland different.


Laura Bickle said...

*Hugs* I'm right there with you in spirit, Roxanne.