One Year On

One year, folks. One year since things went nuts.

On March 6th 2020, Chico flew back to the United States from Spain, and on March 14th Trump banned flights from many European countries (including Spain!).

The fact that Chico has been with us through this pandemic has been one of the small miracles I’ve witnessed over the last year.

There have been a few others.

The Power of a Gifted Teacher

We are lucky to live in a privileged school district, where each child was issued a Chromebook. We are also lucky to have reliable internet connection.

And we are extremely lucky that for kindergarten the Bug was assigned to one of the finest teachers I have ever encountered. A woman of great patience, kindness, but firmness, with a sense of humor to boot.

Mrs. B has reached through the computer screen and ignited the Bug’s love of learning. I consider that a miracle. And the miracle of Mrs. B’s gift has had such a big impact on our family.

He’s logged on to school each day with joy and anticipation, and not once has he complained about it. Miracle.

The Dedication of a Team of Strangers

I signed up to volunteer with the local medical reserve corps last spring. I felt powerless in the face of the pandemic and wanted to help.

From the first time I volunteered, I was struck by how well organized, how proactive and how coordinated everything and everyone was. It seemed to me like all the other volunteers were pros who had been doing this forever.

It turns out, a large number of them were first-time volunteers like me. But like me, they were of a mindset that they were there simply to be useful.

It speaks to how well the organizers from the health department do their jobs, because the MRC here runs like a well-oiled machine.

We currently vaccinate between 1,800 and 2,800 people a day at the county vaccination site. That entire operation is staffed solely by volunteers.

That volunteer army is a miracle.

How Children Adapt to the New Normal

The first time I went to the grocery store wearing a face mask, I nearly had a panic attack.

It was so strange, so frightening and so new to me that I didn’t think I’d ever get used to it.

Ha! Shows what I know! Now I feel weird NOT wearing a mask!

When the kids first had to wear masks, it was a struggle. They complained and fussed, and kept pulling them off their faces. By the second time, they were more resigned. By the third time it was as if they’d been wearing them all their lives.

Now, when we leave the house, they put on their masks like champs. It’s the new normal for them, and they shrug and put them on, just like they put on sunglasses on sunny days and hats on cold ones. No biggie.

Not having to argue about mask wearing every time we go out? Definitely a miracle.

A Shoutout to Librarians

The last little miracle I’ve witnessed is the wonderful dedication of people who love their jobs, and do them well.

Specifically, librarians.

They are a rare and wonderful breed, and they enrich our lives in so many small ways. Every Monday, we go to our local library, and there we encounter the ways librarians show the community their love.

They’re small: A carefully chosen display of books and references on this month’s theme (March is national crafting month!). A printed flyer with a list of read-aloud chapter book recommendations for children ages six to nine. The weekly craft, all neatly packed in a brown paper bag, ready for us to take home (this week we’re growing zinnias!).

The joy the boys feel when they pick up their weekly crafts, and then settle in to browse the bookshelves… That joy is a gift from the librarians.

And it is no small miracle.

Thank You, Miracle Workers

Thank you to the teachers, the volunteers and the librarians. Thank you for the miracles you work every day.

A Double Negative!

We got two pieces of good news today, and both involved negative results.

Do two negatives make a positive? Or is it that a double negative cancels out and makes a positive?

Whatever. All I know is that we had good news.

First Negative: No Breast Cancer Gene!

Now this is good news, in that I am relieved that I do not feel like I need to fear my own body.

However, it’s true that this is no guarantee that I will not get breast cancer. In fact, my mother was also negative for the gene indicators, and she did get breast cancer.

So while it is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, it’s still a relief.

I wrote earlier about there being an expiration date stamped on my butt. Well now, it feels like instead of an expiration date, perhaps it’s more of a sell by date.

Everyone knows you can keep stuff waaaaay after that sell by date, right?

Second Negative: No Covid!

This evening, Chico and I both got our results for the nasal swab test we had yesterday.

We are both negative for Covid! Hooray!

We are, however, still required to quarantine as the Bear was in contact with a positive case only last Friday. We’ve got about 9 more days of quarantine to go.

We’re watching him like a hawk for symptoms and we’re taking our temperatures daily.

Going Forward

Winter is coming. Cold and flu season is upon us. We’ve had our flu shots, (GET YOUR FLU SHOTS!) but I feel like in this, The Time of Covid, any symptom, no matter how mild, is going to make us think, “COVID!”

With that in mind, we have some hard thinking to do, and some decisions to make.

We may withdraw ourselves into our own family lockdown again. Or at least, stay all four of us at home so that we feel more comfortable expanding our bubble to our close family members.

You know: the people we’ll want to see inside when the weather really gets cold.

Meanwhile…

We’re having days like this:

One had a soft landing. The other did not.

The Risks We Run

It’s called a pandemic for a reason.

Over one million people have died worldwide (that we know of). Over 200,000 have died in the United States alone.

Just because we’re tired of social distancing, doesn’t mean the virus is gone. People are still getting sick with Covid-19. The coronavirus gives precisely zero craps about how fed up we are with things.

And So, We Choose Risks.

First, we carefully consider how much risk we are willing to tolerate. Do we get together with a limited group of family members?

Then, we consider the kids. Do we keep them at home? Or do we take the risk and send them to daycare and school?

We kept social distancing, but we returned the kids to daycare. They thrived. We kept up our hand washing routines, health checks. Everyone was fine.

When it came time to make the choice about distance learning vs. hybrid, we opted for distance learning, before the school board reversed its decision to offer a choice and went for only distance learning.

And Then… We Got Used to It.

Pandemic procedures became part of daily life.

The weather was good, the boys were happy. We were spending time outside, so we saw people outside, and it was easy to forget about the pandemic.

We kept wearing our masks, and the children’s teachers were always masked. It all came to seem so normal.

Yesterday, A Child Got Sick.

Yesterday evening, we got a call that a child in the Bear’s daycare class had tested positive for Covid-19.

I cannot imagine how terrifying the situation must be for the family. I’ve since learned that the child is only experiencing mild symptoms, and I pray that continues to be the case.

For me, it’s been a real wake-up call. A reminder that this is still real, and it can happen to us.

Quarantined

So we’re in quarantine. The Chico and I are experiencing mild cold symptoms, so we got ourselves tested for Covid-19 and should have results tomorrow.

Whether we have “the dreaded lurgy” or not, we’ve been given a stark reminder to take this seriously.

If we do have the lurgy, then we’ll see you after quarantine.

If we don’t have it, well, we’ve still got to quarantine at home.

Either Way, We (Won’t) Be Seeing Ya!

Because we’ve got to social distance.

First Time Volunteering

Today I volunteered for the first time with the Loudoun Medical Reserve Corps.

What is an MRC?

Your town or county almost certainly has one.

It’s a volunteer program where medical professionals and other, non-medically qualified people can register to volunteer.

MRC members will be called upon to do any number of things:

  • Staff testing facilities for disease;
  • Be present at small & large public events to help with health information;
  • Man call center helplines to answer health questions;
  • Provide logistical support to medical professionals in an emergency;
  • And more.

I originally signed up for the MRC because I figured I could make calls for contact tracing from home.

A First Time for Everything

Today I participated in my first MRC volunteering activity, and I felt like the most useless, least qualified person there.

It was a door-to-door COVID-19 testing drive in an apartment complex. Earlier in the week, volunteers had put door hangers on all the apartment doors, and our job today was to make contact with residents who had indicated they wanted to be tested.

I was not qualified to administer the test, nor was I even qualified to handle the samples. I wasn’t even trained to be on the registration team, gathering people’s information before the test.

Most of the other volunteers were either experienced medical professionals or long-term volunteers who had way more training than I did.

I was on logistics: sweeping the buildings to identify which apartments had door hangers, restocking supplies when needed, and helping the testing teams move their kit to the different apartment buildings.

By the end, though it didn’t seem like I had done much, it felt like my hands had contributed to making light work.

More is Needed

Our local MRC will be called upon to continue staffing these pop-up testing sites.

Also, with early in-person voting starting on September 18th in Virginia, the elections board has asked the MRC to be present at testing sites to provide COVID-19 awareness guidance, ensure social distancing and provide hand sanitizer and face masks if necessary.

If you’re looking for ways to contribute in this time of crisis, this might be a good way.

Remember, you don’t have to be a medical professional (I’m certainly not!), and you can start off with a pretty basic level of training.

If you want to be able to do more jobs, you can always complete further training.

Planning to Return

As the MRC is called upon to help out, I will sign up whenever possible. Every little bit is helpful, and these groups need volunteers!

So please consider joining!

Lockdown Mode

It’s official! Our governor has joined many in imposing a stay-at-home order.

Other than grocery shopping, medical care, going to essential jobs or getting exercise, we have to stay inside!

UNTIL JUNE THE TENTH.

June 10th. JUNE TENTH.

That is… Let me see… MORE THAN TEN WEEKS FROM NOW.

That is just mind-boggling. We’ve already been home for two weeks, and just the thought of not being able to leave the house for any extended purpose for that long is enough to set me nervously twitching.

What can I say that you don’t already know?

This is HARD. This is BORING. It’s CONFINING. It’s ANXIETY-PROVOKING.

It’s so many things in ALL CAPS.

Learning to live with it

This situation has brought forward so many insecurities I had about myself as a mother, a spouse, a housekeeper, a knitter… Even as a reader.

(Yes, you can be insecure about your reading skills, choices, tastes…)

I’ve had a lot of time to look long and hard at my insecurities. And as I look at them, they gradually lose some of their frightening power. It’s like I’m getting to know them all, one by one.

I’m becoming more aware of insecurities I didn’t know I had, and little by little coming to understand them.

That’s not to say I’ll come out of social distancing cured of all my ills and ready to take on the world like She-Ra.

Though I can still dream…

But perhaps this time in social isolation will help me to better accept my insecurities and understand how they play on me.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll figure out how to face one or two of them.