Monday, March 16, 2020

When the World Paused - Separate to Survive.

It started in China, this virus I heard about on the news, and it has spread around the world. The number of people infected and the number of lives taken numbers in the thousands at the time I'm writing this, it's infected 138 countries round the world (according to the CDC).

But as news of it started to spread over NPR, it seemed unfathomable that this disease would ever touch us here in the United States. Why? I don't know.
Probably because as Americans we often forget that we are part of the human race after all.
We suffer from Magical Thinking. It gives us hope and drive, but also nearly instinctual arrogance.
We forget that our biology isn't any different than anyone else's.

 Our hurbis turned to humility quickly when the numbers started coming in for our state. Currently, there are 780 people with the virus, and it spreads quickly and easily - and can be lethal for those who are compromised.

And here is my little family - a short ferry ride away from the big kick off in America for COVID-19, and a short driving distance from the last reported confirmed case, with more likely coming down the road.

But my blog isn't here to talk about medical information or facts and figures. How are we faring during all of this?

It's been a surreal experience - so far.
This weekend we went to Port Ludlow and flew a kite on the beach and hiked around checking things out. These moments of fresh air are what is going to keep me level and sane - I can already tell.

When My Sailor does contact me, there really isn't much else to talk about, so we discuss what we've heard, what we know, how I'm planning and prepping to keep me and The Impossible Girl safe, and whatever he can tell me of what he's going through. He can't be with us through this, and it's been a true test of my grit and honesty.

Last week, they government closed the schools on Friday. The next day, they closed gatherings of over 250 people.Sunday night, they closed bars and eateries (excluding take out and delivery), and all other recreational centers - including the Y's I worked so hard to get into.

Social Distancing practices require us to be about 6-10 feet away from anyway, and that sounds like a good idea to me - especially since we have someone in the family who would likely be severely affected if she caught this bug. 
The Impossible Girl has had pnuemonia 3 times in 4 years.
 Almost every time she gets an upper respiratory bug, we end up with a chest x-ray and a breathing treatment in the ER. She was diagnosed with asthma earlier this year (that only seems to kick off hard when she gets an upper respiratory thing). She also has some neurological ticks that we can't quite seem to get to the bottom of, but look like a mild form of childhood epilepsy (just very difficult to trigger for EEGs, and again, they kick up more when she is ill). She tends to catch every virus coming down the pike, so she's the VIP right now. 
Some days are hard and we mostly communicate in grunts, tears, and cuddles.
And although she doesn't quite understand it yet - separation is hard enough when My Sailor has to leave, but adding to that the fact that she can now no longer play with her friends, go to school, or the Y, or anything that feels normal and inclusive - and it's been a bit of a rough day so far. 

This weekend was pretty much a normal weekend in our book. I listened to the news and explained further hand washing. (We've gotten into the habit of making a game of counting to 20 while we wash our hands more often.) We talked about germs and how there won't be any school next week because we need to stay away from people right now to not pass germs and to keep everyone healthy since there is a really bad germ going around right now.

She understood that explanation - but she didn't understand what that meant until today. 
Doing our best to support fellow struggling small businesses, we bought 2 drinks and a box of muffins from our favorite small bakery (Fuelrz). I called ahead and placed the order. When we arrived, I parked in front of the walk up window. The Impossible Girl wanted to go sit inside. I told her we couldn't because there is a lot of sickness going around right now and we don't want to share germs from the store. The worker santized her hands, put the drinks and the muffins on the window for me to pick up. She stepped back and I grabbed them and left. And THAT has been the extent of our face to face interaction with people. Social Distancing measures demand we keep 6-10 feet away from others - so we are. 

We got home and ate the muffins just in time for her preschool's Watch Party. Since they can't have school, the school is providing us with a means of staying connected and helping us set the tone for home based learning. Once a day, a teacher does a Watch Party on Facebook and talks to the kids, sets up a theme for learning time (today was a block building party), and reads a story to them. While it's not terribly interactive, it is a great way to let The Impossible Girl know that her friends care about her and miss her - just like she misses them. 
Block party tower building
 For lunch, we went to the front yard and did a picnic. It got us outside and gave her a sense of control. She got to pick what we put in the lunch (pears, string cheese, veggie straws, and a hot dog) and she picked the blanket we laid in the overgrown grass to picnic in. I am hoping it felt a little bit like school (recap: she goes to a Forest Preschool - so she's usually playing outside in the woods for 4 hours a day).
 We dug out her helmet and her pink tricycle she got for her birthday a few years ago. She can pedal it a bit now, but I realized that the driveway had too many pine needles and pine cones. So we grabbed brooms and raced across the driveway cleaning it off a bit.

Which lead to drawing a race track for our hot wheels we took out with us to the picnic...
Race track
 Which lead to a whole little obstacle course we drew in chalk. Half way through, she tripped and fell and scraped her hand, and that ended outside time, but we got a few hours in.

We saw almost no cars. A few neighbors made the walk and we waved to them as they passed, but it's very strange to think that this is likely how the next few days will go...

I made dinner while she got some tv time, then a bath and bed.

My mind is racing with 'to-do's, between the switch to going completely remote with my business to concerns about my own self-care, to wondering if my brother will make the trip to see me this weekend - or if his flight will be canceled and our cabin rental will be for naught. (It's in the woods even FARTHER away from people - so we'll be killing it with our social distance practice.)

Now, I've always liked my quietude in my adult life. Once I made peace with lonliness, it was no longer an enemy. I don't fear it. In fact, occasionally I've often choosen it when my spirit needs a recharge. But forced isolation is something entirely different. Part of me is tapping into those lessons to enjoy the quiet, while the other parts are going a bit crazy internally.

This doesn't seem like it's going to be a terribly temporary situation. We as a nation, culture, and race seem to be going through something that will change the way we relate to each other, the way we interact with each other, and the way we teach our kids forever.  In the quiet, I was glad that we had an up to date will, so The Impossible Girl would go to the right people to help out if something happened to My Sailor and me. Because, well, now it could.

The hardest part of today is that NOW she seems to understand what all this separation means. It means no, you can't go play with your friends. No, playgrounds aren't safe right now. No, we can't go to the zoo. No, the Kids Museum is closed. Lots and lots of 'no' to things that would normally be completely healthy. It makes me wonder how this period of time should it linger on (and I expect it will) will effect the next generation. Those that are kids right now being told to not hug, see, touch, their friends.

She's already dealing with My Sailor being under the sea. I'm frustrated she has to deal with this too.

Me? I'm annoyed that my hands are already starting to look like they've gone a few rounds on a speed bag from the super frequent hand washing. I have medical grade lotion working on them. I'm disappointed that all my big plans for activities and events to do with Beanie Girl are cancelled (though I agree to why). And I'm proud of myself of navigating it well enough so far. I've always been the kind of person you want in a crisis. I have a momentary freak out, but my brain is already ramped up looking for solutions to problems as they arise.

1 day down. Who knows how many to go...

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