Wash your hands!

March 14th, 2020: No surprises here about the main topic of this post.  I feel absolutely obliged to share our experience thus far, living in this apocalyptic time (ok,slight exaggeration); the time of the Novel Coronavirus in the United States!  Specifically, I will share what it is like in Northern Kentucky, USA. During my recent hours perusing Twitter, I ran across a couple of posts that suggested the importance of journaling during the pandemic.  Years from now, it is going to be invaluable to look back at these times and see how we survived all of this. Why not throw my hat in the ring too?

This is so extra interesting since this weekend is our first weekend totally at home, alone, without any plans or obligations.  We moved away from Indiana two weeks ago and my family from Cleveland was here last weekend to celebrate the 30th birthday of my baby brother.  It is just us.  

The week as a whole has been remarkable.  

On Tuesday, March 10th,  we had plans to go see Steve Aoki at Bogarts, a small-ish venue, over the river in Cincinnati.  We planned on taking off the following day and scheduled a couples massage to use up a gift card that we received as a wedding gift almost three and half years ago!  The news about “social-distancing” had just been ramping up, but this show- Aoki, was a total bucket-list event. We were excited to go! 

It was an absolute joy and did not disappoint, but let me tell you, I began questioning our choice to be there when I witnessed a member of one of the opening acts spray down the first few rows of the audience with a water bottle that I am quite certain he had been drinking out of!  We are hand washers, but every time we hit up the potty it felt extra important to give it a little extra scrub and I was notably nervous when a drunk girl splashed her water all over me as she stumbled by. I might have been a bit more confident if it had been alcohol.

Wednesday, March 11: The next day, we survived (and really enjoyed) our first massages.  Oh, the irony of a lifetime of avoidance of having strangers touch us, only to sign up for sixty minutes of corporal relief, on the day that the World Health Org declared the new virus to be a pandemic.  It was really nice. We picked up some takeout at a favorite Thai restaurant and enjoyed the rest of the day, trying to lay low in the house.  

Thursday-Friday (12, 13): I worked from home on Thursday and was back in the office on Friday.  On my way out, my boss caught me to say I should pack up as if I will not be back for a while and I went home.  The day at the office was ominous, and you could hear murmurs of conversations about the virus here and there. Everyone seemed to have their head on a swivel and we had started getting recommendations about meeting sizes and preliminary precautions via our email and intranet.  

Saturday, March 14th: We woke up and vacuumed out the car and dusted it off.  The ducks got fresh pools, and then we hunkered down for the rest of the day and watched the rain from the basement.  

And it continues…

Sunday, March 15th:  By the afternoon, we received the text message from the boss that we would not be returning to work.  The governor of Ohio announced all bars and restaurants would be closing, except for takeout. The governor of Kentucky decided not to close them, as long as people continued to maintain their distance from one another.  The leadership from the governors of the two states right now has been so comforting. I cannot imagine the disaster we would be stewing in if the last governer of Kentucky was still in office. Just last week, Bevin, the previous governor of Kentucky,  posted a message on Twitter, implying that everyone is overreacting to the pandemic.  We are so much better off than we can even imagine. Perriee and I watched the movie, Outbreak and then the democratic debate.  We fell asleep watching the two old white men fighting over the future of the American people in a room with no audience.  Everything was normal, yet forever changed. 

Monday, March 16th:  It was my first official day of working from home.  I had an infected toe due to an ingrown nail that I had tried to extract.  When I called my doctor’s office to request an appointment, they directed me to the online portal where I could only be seen via a tele-medicine/electronic visit.  There would be no more visits to the office for now. I took a couple of pics of my toe, and attempted to conduct an e-visit to make sure my toe would not need to be amputated.  Again, exaggerating, but I am always feeling a day away from diabetic, so you cannot be too careful.  

My sister asked if she could come visit us before we were not allowed to leave the house anymore.  Of course I wanted her to come, and she did, but don’t think I wasn’t just a touch nervous to have her in.  We watched the government order us to not meet in groups greater than 10. It was 50 just earlier in the day.  I made some food while we visited, and we talked about our worst case scenario plans. What happens if we lose contact with one another?  What are our end of life wishes? All things that are extreme, yet so perfect to know…just in case.  

Perriee and I went for a walk to get out in the fresh air for a bit.  Aldi, across the street was our destination. I just wanted to see what it looked like.  There was almost no meat, no paper products, and they were set to close two hours early in order to stock up.  The vulnerable folks shopping were extra identifiable. Following our walk through the grocery, we went to Burlington next door.  There was one family shopping and us. I picked up a new pair of sweatpants to supplement my new work attire- they are “Nasa” pants! The cashier dutifully sanitized her hands before checking us out and I watched her hands the entire time.  After we got back home, I tore the tag off the pants, we wiped our phones off with a sani-wipe, and washed our hands- exactly in that order.  

Our neighbor, the best baker in Newport, texted us about some cake she made for St. Patrick’s Day- Irish Poke Cake and joked as to whether we would like some before we are forced to quarantine.  Perriee went over to get a piece for us. I begged her not to hug them and she reported back that she threw out her elbow for a tap to thwart a hug from one of them. Minutes before she left to go, I was wondering aloud about how my ex-husband’s family was doing in Italy.  When the chance came up to get some cake, I asked her to see if they had heard from them. Perriee said they were at least active on Facebook that day and there was no indication that anything was too bad. The cake was amazing.  

Tuesday, March 17th: I woke up with P and got my day started with some writing and some light weight lifting.  We had a team meeting where my boss told us that we would likely be home working for at least 8 weeks. Hearing that left me broken out in chills! At one point, I went outside to check on the ducks to find two of them in the neighbors’ yard.  Dayz and Nick, of course, the two flyers and also the most skittish of the four. I was able to catch Nick pretty easily and toss him over the fence. As I was dodging multiple piles of poo and a garden snake that was lurking in the grass, my Birkenstock slid on the grass and my leg went in the exact wrong direction!  I felt my hamstring pull in a way that I knew would haunt me for ages.  

Luckily, my neighbor was able to call her husband to help me catch her and he and his employee helped me get the ducks inside and locked up for the rest of the day. I know she cares about me, but I could feel the reluctance to come near me in this new age of, “social distancing” . I am fucked. Having already called the doctor about a stupid toenail, I knew there was no need to go anywhere. I managed to get my ass back in the house, got some ice, and took some ibuprofen to finish the day.

Later in the evening we received an email that the house in Kentucky was going to closing. Yes, we are happy about it, but this world does not leave us hopeful for the immediate future. We caught up on the up-to- date orders from local government regarding the closures, went to get some wine and liquor as well as some prescription cat food for the guys. While in the store, we saw a super nervous looking woman with a bandana around her mouth shopping with her partner for booze.  Me limping around, I was worried that someone would ask if I was sick. Nope- just really broken. At least I can walk. I googled the symptoms of a bad hamstring tear and am hoping it is just bad enough to not need medical attention. At least I can walk.  

Wednesday, March 18: I was happy to wake up and not be unable to walk.  It still hurts pretty bad, but I was able to get relatively comfortable sitting in the chair with a frozen water bottle under my thigh.  The ducks were grounded for most of the day since it is clear that two people are needed for catching escapees, and it isn’t fair to put that on the neighbors.  

Work was busy, trying to finish a project prior to a deadline this Friday.  I had the pleasure of watching the president spew racist nonsense at the press conference today about the “Chinese virus” and how we could have prevented so much, if only he had known sooner! Rand Paul threw a wrench in the relief package.  Ohio is closing down salons, so Perriee’s mom is now unemployed.  

The Terminix guy came to look at our damage to the deck steps and gave me a quote of 1500 dollars to treat, in addition to 200 for something else that I don’t remember.  Did I mention the termite damage we found on our deck? I know he said it was safe for pets, including the birds, and I believed him when he told me he grew up on a farm.  They will be back Monday to treat, which might also be the day we close on the house, if we don’t get postponed because of the virus. He indicated that they might be closing down soon, so I did not want to chance it by putting it off any longer than necessary.  I am glad I had him come and am hoping our relief money can be used to pay for this. At least we have credit. He came in the house and sat across from me to write up the bill and had me sign with my finger on his tablet. We are all doomed.  

Earlier in the day, I ran (well, limped) to the bank, in order to get the check we need to secure the home owener’s insurance at the Ewing home.  I went through the drive through and the guy informed me that there would be no more lobby transactions after today. The world is shutting down.  

Both hospitals where Perriee and my sister work at had their first Covid patients admitted today.  The doctors’ lounge is still hopping, with their new gourmet grab-and-go menu, which consists of quinoa bowls, quiche, pizza, chicken tenders, oh and salad and wraps too.  I thought they would be getting sandwiches and salad. They are going to be earning it. As much as I want her home with me, it feels good to know we have that safety net, for however long it lasts. 

Her mom is sout of work after today since she works at a nail salon, and we talked about how she will of course, live here if needed.  Turns out, her mom is such a bad ass that she is totally fine for now, living at home and chilling without the job. She get social security and said the job was for extra money.  We have her back if needed. I’ll finish my wine and go to sleep and see what tomorrow brings. Surely it will be more sickness and death, but hopefully also a couple of more videos of the beauty of humanity sharing tender moments on the internet.   

Thursday, March 19th: The biggest news out of Washington was about how much and who will be getting relief checks in the coming days.  The latest suggestion would be for people making less than 75k to get a $1200 check. We are in, which is great since that will allow us to pay the Terminix bill that has gone on the credit card for now.  

I snuck into work first thing to get my plants off of my desk and snag a monitor stand.  I hope to get back in after the weekend to grab a monitor. I need a screwdriver to take it off of the arm, and I didn’t have one at the ready.  There was no one to ask. There was no one there. I sort of wanted to get out without seeing anybody. I had a bit of a sniffle and sore throat so did not want to be pinned as patient zero.  As I was getting on the elevator to leave, I heard a toilet flush- ok there was someone. One.  

My work garden.

Texting has become the new lifeline.  My sister and friend from high-school have been keeping in touch.  We all acknowledged how lucky we are at the moment to have the jobs we have. Before dinner, I googled some physical therapy exercises to do for my hamstring.  I found a series that I will be doing daily for the next four to six weeks. When I did one in particular, where I laid on my stomach to do curls, I realized the gravity of the situation.  I could not curl. I could raise my toes up off of the floor about two inches. This is real and terrifying. I had a good cry and Perriee reminded me that this is how it was when I did my shoulder rehab after a scooter accident, years ago.  Slow and steady, right?

After the news, we sat on the front porch for a bit.  We waved to the neighbor, who just days ago was going in for a hug.  Now he waved back from across the street. I texted him that we would likely be seeing more of one another in the coming weeks.  He acknowledged, and included that it would be from our respective porches, because, social distancing. Things move fast these days.  

Before bed, as seems to be the new routine, I put on the address from Andy Beshear to see what the Kentucky updates were for the day.  He has started a great routine of showing posts of Kentuckians doing their best to keep us all safe in these uncertain times. His calm and encouraging, yet cautious demeanor is so comforting.  I don’t know if I have said it before, but we are so lucky to have the leadership that we have from Kentucky and Ohio right now. Washington is necessary, but not where I get encouragement. The president will not stop his self-serving behavior during this time.  He is not capable.  

Friday, March 20: I usually write about the previous day the following day.  I feel like I missed a day somewhere. Very possible these days. It is Friday and we are hanging in the house.  I am currently sitting in what may be our future family Skype spot. I just got off the Skype with dad. He suggested it earlier this evening on our family chat so Perriee and I practiced with my brother, then I talked to dad.  

His job closed today.  His sanity stems from the fact that his house is paid for and he doesn’t have a car payment right now.  He worked at a limo company and is fine to apply for some unemployment and ride this out. We recapped the amazing day of family text messages, including dad’s rendition of his “pet cat”, which was drawn on a piece of paper and shooed off the table, to be found by the front door, “gazing out”.  We brainstormed YouTube channels he could start. The best idea we came up with was a beginner morse code class. I had my first lesson tonight. “BA”. da..dit…dit..dit..di da? Ill study.  

Our CEO announced that anyone off of work for Covid would be paid 8 weeks.  The governor of Kentucky announced that our bourbon distilleries will be making hand sanitizer.  Governor Dewine is closing senior centers, but leaving non-essential business open for now. I have a coworker who cried over that announcement due to a medical procedure that will take place tomorrow because of it.  

I saw online or on the news that Christmas lights are being hung up to help cheer the air, so Perriee and I hung some up this evening.  We went to the liquor store after picking up some duck food at Tractor Supply and she immediately felt like she should have bought more after watching folks really stocking up today.  After dinner, I put on my slip on, rubber soled, red cowboy boots and went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was chilly and felt amazing to move, albeit slow as fuck.

Our pandemic lights.

Still no word from the bank about the house and that is fine.  I am hoping they will close before we can close. Perriee called her friend in Georgia and she shared some stories of nursing from the front line.  She said we would all likely be on some sort of lockdown in a few days. She really said a couple of days. I didn’t tell dad that. I texted her my sister’s phone number, who is going to need all of the lifelines possible in the coming days.  

Saturday, March 21: The new closures in Ohio yesterday included adult day services for the disabled and the governor dealt his first nasty hand by proclaiming that abortion services will be bucketed in non-essential medical procedures bucket.  Now is not the time to be pregnant against your will.  

I did my physical therapy exercises and took a slow walk around the neighborhood.  Perriee and I spent the day outside looking for the entry point to the digging animal in the duck run.  We came to realize they are likely running into the run and sneaking in to hide under their house. We lifted up the floor and flushed out some mice.  The hardware cloth that we installed seems to be helping to keep them from getting in the house, however. It was the most I had been on my feet in days, and I was certainly tired after we finished.  

After a shower, we went to Aldi for a few things.  We came home, had some food, and joined the family for our first group Skype.  It was nice to see everyone (and everyone’s cats, including dad’s!). 

Sunday, March 22: I drove down to downtown Newport yesterday to take my daily walk.  It was eerie to see all of the businesses’ signs in their windows regarding current closures.  One of the most memorable moments was coming across a medical mask in the middle of a parking lot.  It was actually sad to see it there, such a precious item in the middle of all of this. 

After, I went to Lowes to get some soil and small pots for our little basement garden that we are working on.  It was getting increasingly busy as I shopped and I checked out in the garden center. My reasoning for being in the garden center was because it was in the open air, at least.  They had marks on the ground to separate customers as they waited in line. The visibly nervous woman checking me out sprayed lysol on the credit card machine in between customers.  The fact that there was not time for the lysol to dry made me wonder if it was even working. She was calling for a new can and the response from her radio was to continue checking people out in spite of her running low.  

Victory gardening

The local liquor store updated their procedures since we were last there.  A man with a clipboard approached my car as I parked the car. I was taken aback initially because I did not know he worked for the store.  Their new policy is to text your order with your credit card information to inside of the store. I was a little frazzled by the process also because the man kept calling me sweetie and honey (in response to me asking if they had Jim Beam Honey).  I started to place an order, then realized how stupid it would be to text my credit card information to potentially desperate people who would be in need of money in the event that they were laid off. No thanks. This is not the time. 

I went to Kroger instead.  The Ohio governor announced an order to stay at home and the Kentucky governor basically echoed the same, except for an official order.   All non essential businesses will be closed in both states after today. Our next time shopping at Lowes will be a delivery.    

Thursday, March 26th: I finally went to the orthopedic urgent care to have my hamstring evaluated.  It felt like i re-injured it the other day while trying to help out in the yard, when my foot slipped quickly on the ground while trying to help with the duck chores.  The pain literally brought me to my knees. I called the orthopedic urgent care and made my trip to the office. I was the only patient there at the time that I arrived.  They took my temperature in the lobby and instructed me to remain behind the taped line on the floor. Every station I stopped at, there was tape and lots of gloves, sanitary wipes, and sanitizer.  

The doctor was awesome and told me what I expected- that I had torn my hamstring and that it was reprable without surgery.  That was the good news. Pre-coronavirus, she said, I would be doing vigorous physical therapy. That isnt happening right now.  I was handed a printout with exercises on it and told that Iw ould be contacted to begin virtual therapy in the future. She asked if I had someone at home and gave me a ten second demo of the massage she can help me with.  My wife is now a massage therapist. We will all have new certifications when this is over.  

Yesterday, Perriee informed me that her coworker’s wife has been tested for the virus.  It is getting closer and closer by the day. It sounds like she might be ok, but one day soon, we will all feel it. 

The president makes me angry but I listen in to keep abreast to what we are dealing with.  If it wasn’t for Dewine and Beshear right now, I would feel totally helpless.  

Sunday, March 29, 2020: Wayne died yesterday.  He passed peacefully at home with his mommy, my sister, after 18 years of kittieness.  This is just all so sad. Even though the virus has not specifically affected any of our lives as of yet, the side effects of the pandemic have been nothing short of tough.  In any other circumstance, we would have hopped in the car to go be with her during such an awful time. Not now.  

Instead, we cried on the phone together and made plans to meet at a McDonalds parking lot to talk and reminisce together.  Two of us drove separately from the Cincinnati area and met my sister who came in from Louisville. We stood in our respective corners and talked from an uncomfortable distance.  The drive through was hopping, the cold wind was blowing, and the sun was shining.  

Perriee and I are prepping for our closing on Wednesday.  They told us we would be signing inside the bank and I do not feel good about it at all.  We will be bringing our own pens and will not be touching anyone.  

We worked on some garden beds yesterday in the backyard and planted some seeds, mint, and one lone cabbage.  The ducks were annoyed that we were not sharing more, so I made sure to put some scoops of dirt out here and there to keep them off my back. 

Our indoor plants are kickin ass and I cannot wait to make a spot at the new place for them as well.  We don’t have a lot of room for things like cabbages in our city yard, so it will be nice to give it a go out there.  

I made Pandemic Pie with a couple of June’s delicious eggs.  Our neighbors are feeding us. One neighbor gave us cookies and another delivered a whole dinner of smoked meat, greens, cornbread and brownies.  We are blessed.  

Tuesday, March 31st: It seems that the abnormal is becoming normal.  It is normal to work at home, normal to take a walk each day, and normal to watch the governors give their nightly address.  We watch the numbers roll in like the medal count of the Olympics. The USA is winning at the moment. We may just take the gold.  

I went to the bank to get the check for the downpayment on the house.  The closing is tomorrow. Afterward, I took a walk down by the levy. I saw about three people there.  It has never been so empty. The world is closed. My leg felt the best since the day I injured it, so, there’s that.  My overall step count leaves a lot to be desired, but the cadence at which I could move pleased me! 

It is day two of not listening to the White House press conference.  I will catch up on Twitter later. After watching it for the past two weeks, I know that the idiotic things that reporters are sharing are, in fact, accurate depictions of what “he who must not be named”  says, and therefore not useful to my success in this fight. We watched some Andy B on the YouTube (his memes are as encouraging as he is) and I ate an ice-cream sandwich for dinner, courtesy of my wife who continues to make it to work every day in spite of this madness.  They have been taking her temperature every day and they just started wearing masks today. When she gets home, I ask if everyone made it through. She is a healthcare hero right now. It is pretty hot.  

Homework: Stay inside (and wash your hands and do your stretches)!!! 

Please do your best to stay in the house.  When you go out, don’t touch anyone. Don’t touch your face.  Wash your hands when you get back home. I know so many of us still have to be out in the world, so every interaction that does not need to happen is a win for all of us.  Take care of yourself. You might not be able to see a doctor right now. Brush and floss. Do your stretches. Stay healthy at home! Just remember the voice of Andy Beshear, when you are thinking about going somewhere that could be avoided: “You can’t be doing that!”

Empty shopping mall parking lot. Newport, KY (March, 2020)

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