Adventures in Quarantine

Or lack of adventures I guess I should say.

Today, April 11, marks day 9 that I have been completely confined to my bedroom with the exception of a visit to a freestanding ER on day 7 (more on that later.)

Other than my husband cracking the door to leave me food and other supplies and a few doctors and nurses who spent as little time as possible with me, I have not seen another person face-to-face. Now I have had plenty of phone calls and zoom callas and facetiming, as well as a good amount of time staring out the window at people walking by like a creeper, but being an extreme extrovert, this has been quite the challenge for me.

Let’s go back to how this whole thing started…picture this, it’s Dallas, March 2020:

There is a global pandemic and many places, Dallas included, are under stay-at-home orders. In my little household we have been struggling to figure out how to homeschool twin 2nd graders while Mike’s work is non-stop and I am trying to create a brand new program for Mommies In Need on the fly so that we can continue to help families and also not have to lay anyone off. But there are some things that I am enjoying…

Like not having to run around all the time, like not worrying about getting dressed in real clothes, like family movie night almost every night, and reading Harry Potter with the girls.

I am getting more exercise than at any other point in my life since having kids because long walks with the dog are my main source of alone time. The girls get new bikes for their 8th birthday and I get one as well. I ride a bike for the first time in probably 20 years and the next thing I know, hour long bike rides with the kids are an every weather-cooperating day activity.

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Oh sure, by the end of each day I am exhausted, and am constantly being freaked out by the news, and drinking way too much wine, and miss seeing our friends in person, and hate watching the kids disappointed because they can’t have a birthday party with friends (we had a Zoom party but it is not even close to the same), and am entirely unsure what to do with my groceries and packages (wipe everything down with Bleach? Leave it outside for days? Just hold my breath while I open the box?), but generally we are coping and figuring out how to get through this together. And I am loving being around for bedtime every night and sustaining myself with extra snuggles from my girls who are growing up too quickly.

Then on March 19, which feels like approximately 7 months ago, I faint. Like full on fall to the floor and pass out with no apparent reason. I am standing in the hall and the next thing I know I am on the floor with Emma saying “Mommy are you ok?” and Mike rushing in asking what the giant thud was (Spoiler alert- it was me!)

Mike gets me to my room and I lay down and we discover that I am running a low-grade fever. And with that my amazingly practical husband quickly puts me on full quarantine. He gets a few things he needs out of our room and then we enact the “everything that goes in this room stays in here” policy.

Meaning that we set up a table where Mike brings me food on paper plates with disposable utensils as well as a case of  water and Gatorade in plastic bottles. That I have trash bags where I collect my trash and keep it in here until… I get out? We aren’t sure on that one, but it doesn’t smell yet. My room has it’s own bathroom, so I am literally not leaving this space for any reason.

For the next couple of days I have a bad headache and feel generally tired and achy while running an elevated temperature that never goes above 100. I call my doctor and try to get COVID tested only to discover that she does not have any available and that I would need to have a higher fever AND at least one respiratory symptom to qualify for testing at one of the drive through centers. All friends in the medical field advise us to act as if I had COVID-19 and for me to continue quarantine until at least 72 hours without any symptoms.

The first few days are the worst because my kids are really upset and worried and say that facetiming me or talking to me on the phone will make them too sad. I peek at them through the blinds when they are out on their bikes but make sure not to let them see me as I don’t want to do anything to upset them more. And I can hear how hard it is for Mike. It was tough when both of us were helping with the girls and now he is doing everything on his own and I feel terrible about that.

I cry a lot. I feel like a burden. I start to feel better and then think that I am putting my family though this situation for no reason and that we are all overreacting.  I don’t tell anyone except my closest friends and family because I don’t want people to worry over something that is probably nothing. I begin to pray that I get worse so that I can just get tested.

But I don’t get worse, in fact I start to feel fine. My temperature stabilizes and I start to count down the days. By Tuesday I start telling people that I am ok and will be out of lockdown on Friday. The end is in sight!!

Now that I have a target- just get to Friday and I will get to see my family again. I settle into my Quarantine life. I get a lot of work done- I send out the announcement of our new virtual program at MIN and now have a first-hand understanding of how important it is to help families where a parent has COVID-19 and has to limit contact with their little ones. Since all meetings are on ZOOM, I am on time for every one for the first time in my life! I am even interviewed by the Lakewood Advocate from my room, you can read that here. When I post the article, it is also the first time most people find out that I have been locked in my room for a week.

I watch all episodes of Altered Carbon, Russian Doll, Schitt’s Creek (again), and even Tiger King- mostly so I can understand the memes. I crochet, I color, I read, and I sleep… a lot.

Then on Thursday afternoon I get a fever again. I come really close to loosing it and then make the decision that I am going to a freestanding ER as soon as the kids go to sleep (no need to freak them out) and convince someone to test me.

I start a ZOOM call about North Texas Giving Day Now, which starts next week and then I leave the meeting wearing the cupcake mask my friend Kira made to head to the ER. The experience there is surreal, once I check in and give my symptoms and say that I believe I may have COVID-19, they bring me right back into an isolation room. The nurse that comes in to do my testing is wearing the full hazmat suit with face shield and everything and I start to think that if I don’t have it I will feel bad that they had to waste PPE on me!

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I get tested for strep and flu (both negative), as well as full bloodwork and an antibody test and they do a chest CT to make sure my lungs are clear (which they are.) The doctor comes in once to assess my symptoms and then calls my cell phone to report test results, which is a pretty clever way of having less contact with me. I am sent home to wait for the COVID testing which should only take 24 hours, but the doctor warns me could be longer because of backups at all the labs.

So now I wait. I haven’t had a fever since the day I was tested so my hope is that I get the all clear call soon and will be able to rejoin my family. I was really hoping to see the girls for Easter and do an at home egg hunt with them but that might have to be through Zoom as well.

I can hear them playing twister. I hear Mike calling “right foot green” and the giggles that ensue as they shriek with laughter. I guess someone has fallen and someone has won. And it makes me smile and it makes me sad. I hope that if this teaches me anything it is to appreciate those moments even more when I am able to have them again.

And then I hear the girls fighting and doors slamming and Mike yelling at the dog to “leave it” and I’m thinking… maybe just one more day in here isn’t so bad.