Category Archives: coronavirus

Barcelona and Covid

I borrowed a friend’s super duper HEPA filter. I have three fans in position, ready to circulate the air. My husband’ll take our bedroom and bath and I’ll take one of the boys’ bedrooms and their bath. We’ll wear masks.

Because? You guessed it. He caught COVID. K spent the week in Barcelona duking it out with Tylenol and room service. He didn’t make his presentation. “It’s like a bad cold,” he said, as many do. He stayed longer than his coworkers but is traveling home now after a positive test.

I know. I know.

I stopped to buy ham so I can make one of his favorite meals this weekend: ham, au gratin potatoes, and something green. I also bought a generous pack of chicken wings to add to the chicken carcass that’s in the fridge. This batch of chicken soup has to be good, silky-good. His senses of taste and smell do not seem to have been affected.

Today is cool. A beautiful first day of fall. Finn sniffed things on our walk this morning per usual and tried to roll in some very stinky soil amendment near The Terraces which was not usual.

I listened to This American Life — about a couple that travels to Switzerland for an assisted suicide. The husband had Alzheimer’s.

Did I already post this? (speaking of dementia!)

No one understood why I didn’t want to go to Spain with K. I kept saying, “It’s because I don’t want to get Covid.”

When K gave me the news earlier this week, I laughed and said, “You didn’t have to get sick to prove me right!” (Not immediately, of course. That wasn’t the first thing I said …)

I’ll be back to answer comments from last post. I seem to be missing some of my usual mojo lately.

PCC image this week: B&W photos of men

How none of it seems to end

The list of things imposing misery right now is quite long. Ukraine is never far from mind. For many of my friends, Russia’s atrocities are personal.

Things I’ve heard in the last month from people I am close to:

My mother grew up in Belarus.

My grandparents are Russian Jews, but from areas now Ukraine.

I just found out that I have a relative from Poland who died in the Holocaust. I was named after her.

I’m have very little family history, which is traumatizing too.

My grandfather grew up in Odessa.

I didn’t realize that H’s mother was Ukrainian.

Meanwhile, it’s Monday and K has gone into the office. He will travel into Boston every day this week. It strikes me as a signature Covid experience how the familiar becomes strange and the strange becomes familiar. Example: in spite of this being my husband’s commuting routine for decades before the pandemic, it now feels a little weird, a little dangerous, a little not-normal.

Also today: I get to make a friend lunch and we won’t have to be quiet because K is on the phone at his workstation (aka the kitchen table).

And, I get my second booster this afternoon.

Age, portraits, and Covid

AGE

It’s official: I am a GOMER. Look at me with over-the-glasses sunglasses and Medicare card!

(GOMER is an acronym that stands for Get Out of My Emergency Room. Emergency room physicians well know that patients of a certain age can come into the ER with a minor complaint, only to have testing reveal major health issues. Hence, the quaint moniker.)

I start dinner prep at around 4:15. I groan getting up off the couch. I often can’t remember why I went down to the basement: to fetch something from the downstairs fridge, from the dryer, from the pile of used Amazon envelopes?

PORTRAITS AND COVID

Two nights ago my phone spit up a series of photos from early 2020. What a stunning reminder of how shocked and frightened we all were at the beginning of the pandemic. I’ll share a few. You’ll see the results of my mask-making and you’ll see expressions both haunted and grim.

April 2020

Because COVID has wrecked our sense of continuity, this review of images helps to ground me. So does the following narrative.

Two years ago, my husband had just returned from China. Mid-February we both came down with what we thought was the flu, or was it Covid? We couldn’t get tested because they said it was too long since exposure, it being a month after he returned. This, even though peers in his office had returned more recently. A dozen engineers were sick as I tried unsuccessfully to round up a test.

I might’ve sprung the $200 for an antigen test but they were too unreliable to make it seem worthwhile. I rinsed groceries with a dilute bleach solution and left mail in the garage for four days before bringing it in the house. The postman to whom we open the door because he’s a nice guy and he loves Finn and Finn loves him became a threat I silently referred to as my “sole vector of disease.” He reported that he’d never smelled so much Lysol in his entire life. I watched the red dots on the Johns Hopkins COVID chart guessing correctly that we were right behind Italy. We cancelled first a trip to Florence and then the compensatory trip to Quebec.

I’m curious what others remember in those early weeks. How long ago does it seem? How strange, still?

We approach 1,000,000 now
Hand sanitizer shelf

Advice from an old lady

Before I get to the more general advice, let me dispense some cautionary advice relative to COVID. I’ve been reading one horror story after another about hospitals being overrun and depending on whom you believe, a health care system on the verge of collapse or already fully collapsed.

In that vein: stay off of ladders; keep your knives sharp; exercise care going up and down stairs and getting in and out of the shower; get your groceries delivered — or if not, certainly cut out all non-essential shopping for a month; do not get drunk (according to my brother some huge percent of ER admissions are alcohol-related); save your heart attack for the summer; take all your meds; shovel snow in brief intervals or hire someone else to do it; get grippers for your boots; stay off motorcycles.

In other words, now is not the time to cut yourself or take a bad fall.

Now for some more general old lady advice. I’d love to hear yours!

Roll spine before getting out of bed

In winter, put hemp salve up the nose to keep tissues soft

Open all mail from Social Security promptly

Buy the nicest face products you can afford

Heating pads are a way of life

Sprinkle critical items around the house: charging cords (plugged in); reading glasses; writing instruments (I like Bic Medium points, blue); dental floss

Make every bath a salt bath — regular Epsom salts for the average day, scented Epsom salts for a little treat, and fizzy bath bombs for a bigger treat (I pull my bath bombs out of the water halfway through their fizz to extend use).

Invest in good walking boots and comfy shoes that have a little style to them.

Scarves and earrings can dress up a wardrobe of plain shirts

If your size or stature is hard to fit, when you discover a pair of pants or top that is flattering and comfortable, immediately buy two more in other colors (I wish I had learned this decades ago)

Enjoy food!

To counter this, I don’t eat breakfast, take a statin, and walk every day. Every once in a while I’ll eliminate gluten, dairy, and/or sugar for a while. Sometimes years.

(I haven’t quite worked this one out and have struggled with an extra ten pounds for about four years).

Dogs! Cats! Need I say more?

A heavy bamboo blanket turns a couch into a haven. Upstairs, I now sleep under a weighted blanket as well. It took some trial and error to figure it out, but now that I’ve got it, I can’t imagine sleeping without it!

Stay in touch with friends.