Monday, March 16, 2020

How We're Riding Out COVID-19

Waverly and our ever present packets of hand sanitizer wipes

It didn't start out scary. The news from China was bad but it didn't directly affect us. Then the outbreak happened at the nursing home here in Kirkland, WA, just two or so miles from our home. Still, we thought, OK, it's contained to a health care facility. Then there were reports that student nurses were exposed at the health care facility, and priests who administered final rites, as well as emergency responders. All of these people were exposed and they have families who were exposed.

Then things started to snowball. Our school district announced the closure of our schools until the end of March (at the earliest). Companies instituted work from home policies until the end of April. Catholic masses were cancelled. So were community events. Italy and Spain had increasing counts of COVID-19 cases. We started to comprehend the scope of the pandemic. Friends of ours in areas of the country which were unaffected reached out to ask if we were OK or if the media was making this out to be bigger than it was. "It's scary," I said. "It's that bad. Be prepared to hunker down." Being the epicenter of this now pandemic feels like something from a film that I typically wouldn't go see because this sort of thing, even fictional,  makes my anxiety skyrocket.

My anxiety level started to reach a scary point. I worried about our exposure, our family and friends around the country, our investments. I took one look at our retirement plan when this started and vowed not to check it again for a while. I worried about our niece who was spending a semester abroad in Spain. I worried about how this pandemic would actually end. When would it end? I couldn't sleep and reading the news made my heart beat uncontrollably fast. If I didn't get control of the thoughts that raced through my mind, I realized I was going to be in the same wrecked emotional state as I was in 2009 when my word collapsed around me.

One thing that I was especially worried about was our two year-old daughter, Waverly. Would she sense something was very wrong? We sat her down to talk about germs. At two, I don't know how much she understands but we've always talked to her as if she understands what we are saying. One thing we didn't want was for Waverly to take on any of the panic that we were starting to feel. We wanted her to feel safe, secure and happy.

I took four deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth. I remembered one of my coping mechanisms in 2009 was to write out my thoughts, what scared me. I knew I couldn't control what was happening in the rest of the world but I could control what happened with my immediate family.

I took control of my fear and turned it into something constructive.  I got our home ready for the pandemic. I bought what we needed to quarantine ourselves for the next six weeks. I prepared for our physical and mental health. Hopefully, that will not only be the healthiest thing for our family but also our community.

*If you haven't been touched by this pandemic yet, you may think this is overkill. This is what made (and still makes sense) to us. And no, we didn't buy toilet paper in bulk. This baffles me.




How We're Riding Out COVID-19

✢ We are sheltering in place, venturing out only as needed to the market or for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

✢ L and I are both working from home and we decided to pull Waverly from her toddler group as well as swimming class. (Both were located in places with a lot of people in environments that are difficult to keep clean plus Waverly likes to lick things and especially now, that's just a big nope.)

We wash our hands. A lot. I keep disposable gloves in the car for when I need to get gas.

✣ While I haven't seen this mentioned, I made the decision not to buy any fruits or vegetables that are exposed i.e. lettuces, squash, avocados etc. I made this decision as I was at the market and I watched a woman cough into her hand, then touch a number of heads of green lettuce and then go on to squeeze a selection of avocados searching for the perfect one.

We have postponed all travel through the summer

✣ When we do go out to the market or somewhere else for essentials (or just to get out of the house!), we leave our shoes outside, we change our clothes as soon as we get home and do a daily load of laundry on sanitize mode

We use debit or credit cards when we do go out for supplies. We're trying to limit our contact with cash. When we need to input our PIN or zip code, I use the corner of the credit card to touch the buttons

✣ I am big believer in Vitamin C and other immunity support supplements. I'm on my second box of Nuun Immunity tablets which contain Vitamin C, Zinc, Tumeric, Elderberry, Ginger and Echinacea.

✣ We have stocked our kitchen with"feel-better food" including matzoh ball soup mix, tea, ginger ale, chicken broth, saltines and popsicles

We're checking in with friends and family members. We're also giving each other some alone time. If you're now spending 24/7 with your partner / roommate / kids and that's a new experience, give each other a breather every now and then. It doesn't matter how big your home is, if you're stuck in a space long enough, you're going to irritate each other. Protect your relationships. Take a walk outside, get some fresh air and remember that this isn't your new normal forever

✣ One thing you may keep hearing about is an emergency or "Bug Out Kit," things you would need in a pandemic or other emergency situation. Here are some things that we have included in our kit:



It's a fine balance, isn't it? You want to prepare and stay safe but not panic. It's hard. I think this is going to change us as a nation and as a world. It's changing the way we feel about what's important to us. It's about being healthy and being with the ones we love. 

I hope you are staying healthy and happy both physically and emotionally.  Happiness will come back, like it always does. Your investment plan will slowly rebound and you will once again be back at work and school. For now, take this time to practice being grateful for your health and the people in your lives. 

xoxo

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