Category Archives: Chronic illness

Pandemic Diary: 2 June 2021

It’s been awhile since my last post because I just couldn’t write about the pandemic anymore—I was feeling pandemic exhaustion, or “languishing” as it’s being called now. I was definitely languishing. But I decided to write in the Pandemic Journaling Project again today, so I’ll post it here, too.

They give two questions to answer, so this will be a little long.

Question 1: How are you feeling this week?

After almost a year and a half of maintaining at least 6 ft of social distance, I have a very hard time when a stranger stands closer to me than that, even though I’m fully vaccinated. Today I was in line at the grocery store and a man came up and stood right behind me, at most 2 feet away. It made me really uncomfortable and anxious. Plus he wasn’t wearing a mask, which also doesn’t really matter now that I’m vaccinated, but it just made it worse for my anxiety level. The same thing happened a few weeks ago. I get really angry and want to turn around and scream, “6 feet, people! 6 feet!” But I don’t say anything because I hate to make a scene. And honestly, I’m afraid the person might be aggressive. So I just keep trying to inch forward to get away from them. Of course it doesn’t work because they just inch forward, too. I by nature have a large personal space, so social distancing has been quite comfortable for me with strangers (not with family or friends, though—I want to be able to be close to them). But I was okay with a couple of feet between me and other people. I don’t know how long it will take me to be able to stand comfortably any closer than 6 feet now.

Question 2: What was the biggest event of last week?

The biggest event started before last week—the COVID situation in India is horrendous. And Thailand is suffering from the biggest surge since the pandemic began. Africa doesn’t have enough vaccines to give out, Europe is still restricted in many places, and the U.S.–Canada border is still closed. With the rate of vaccinations going up in the U.S., it’s easy to feel like the pandemic is ending. But it definitely isn’t. And only 41% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, so we’re not anywhere near “herd immunity” yet even here.

I read an article yesterday about the conflict for vaccinated people who want to feel relieved and happy and optimistic for the future, but so many people are still suffering and dying that we can’t just celebrate. And Americans are still dying, too, so it’s really hard for people who have just lost someone to the disease to see other people going around without masks on, having parties, etc., when a loved one just died from COVID.

We’re entering a very complicated time in this pandemic where some people are coming out the other side of it while others are still buried in it. And some people are vaccinated while others aren’t. The wealth gap is blazing in our faces, both domestically and globally. Why are so many Americans vaccinated when India and Africa can’t get enough to go around? Why is India running out of oxygen for treatments? Why are people in poorer communities here in the U.S. not getting vaccinated as quickly as middle and upper class (and mostly White) folks? I hope this horrible suffering will be redeemed at least a little bit by people seeing the injustices that have been exposed to the light, and doing something to change them. I wish I could be more optimistic about that actually happening.

Pandemic Diary: 10 May 2021

I’ve been languishing since January and find it hard to motivate myself to talk about the pandemic anymore. I’m so tired of it. And there’s no clear end in sight.

I have written a couple of times in the Pandemic Journaling Project, so I’m going to copy and paste those entries here.

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12 April 2021

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I haven’t had any motivation to write about the pandemic for the past two weeks. It’s like I’ve run out of caring about it. My husband and I are both fully vaccinated now, so we were able to spend Easter with our kids and grandkids, which was fantastic. My grandson greeted me with a huge hug and kiss, and I said, “I can eat your face again!” So we both kissed each other all over our faces. Our granddaughter was also super excited to see us. She’s less kissy than her brother, but she gives great hugs.

I’ve thought, “I need to write this in my blog—it’s a huge part of the pandemic experience.” But I haven’t done it, for some reason. It’s not like I feel that the pandemic is over—that’s far from true. Even if the variants don’t take over and make the vaccine worthless, we’re still going to have a long time before enough people are immune to get back to a life of easy socializing. And a huge surge is happening right now in Michigan, with the infection rate going from 45,000+ two weeks ago to 51,500+ this past week. Only 35% of Americans are vaccinated so far, so it’s going to be a while before we can call it a day on this. So maybe it’s just pandemic fatigue that’s kept me from writing here or on my personal blog.

I felt really angry after we came back from Brooklyn. I just want to be able to feel relaxed about spending time with people, and to wander around Central Park without feeling unsafe and afraid every time I pass by someone with less than 6ft between us. Or even just having to have 6ft between me and the rest of the world. I’ll keep doing it until it’s safe not to, but I’m getting super sick of it.

Talk about your current living situation. Has anything changed during the pandemic (for example, where you’re living, who you’re living with, etc.).

The major thing that’s changed for us is recently we refinanced our house to take advantage of the current low interest rates, and we took a cash-out for $8,000. Then the stimulus checks came, so we added another $2,800 to that. And we finally got our refund from an error in my tax filing for 2020, which was way more than I expected—$2,700! When I file this year’s taxes, I can fill out the rebate form for not getting my 2nd stimulus check for $600, so we might actually get a refund for that, too. Being in the money has allowed us to upgrade and beautify our home and gardens in ways that we’ve wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t afford to. There were so many people at Target yesterday that the checkout line went down the aisle and around the corner. You can see the stimulus checks in action! Anyone who says that personal checks don’t help the economy wasn’t at Target yesterday.

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26 April 2021

“How has the pandemic affected your life in the past week?”

In the past week? Great, in maybe a weird way. We got our relief checks, so that’s another $2800 in the bank account. We spent a lot of it on garden stuff so we can make our front yard look as good as we’ve wanted it to for 12 years. And we’re also getting things for the vegetable gardens and Louie’s Milkweed Butterfly garden. It’s wonderful to be able to afford better quality items than we usually can.

That seems like a very materialistic view of life in the pandemic. But it’s real, and a blessing for us.

Has the pandemic disrupted your plans for the future in any major way? If so, talk about the most significant disruption(s).

The border with Canada is still closed, so we can’t travel to Montreal and Ottawa. We spend a lot of time in both places when we’re allowed to. We had also planned a 25th anniversary trip to Nova Scotia last year. That’s not going to happen again this year either.

Travel in general has been halted—after more than a year, it’s getting sad and a bit suffocating not to be able to go anywhere. First World Problems.

Additional material

With everyone vaccinated, we were able to spend Easter weekend with our kids and grandkids. It was soul-filling. We went to Central Park (NYC) on Saturday to have a chilly picnic. In this picture, Anna is playing with her dad, and Louie is scoping out his next activity. So much fun!

Pandemic Diary: 5 Mar 2021

I’ve been writing in a global pandemic journaling project, so I haven’t posted anything here in a couple of weeks. Here are a couple of the other journal entries to keep you updated.

[22 Feb ’21] The system for getting a vaccination makes me intensely angry. It’s completely unjust, and a mess. This is a global pandemic, people! If we don’t get people vaccinated, it’s just going to continue to kill people. More than 500,000 people have been killed by COVID in the US alone. That’s half a million. Over 12.5 times the number of people in Pittsfield. Imagine 12 and a half Pittsfields dead. I can’t imagine it. The numbers are beyond reckoning now. Globally, 2.5 million+ people have died. So many unnecessary.

The US accounts for 20% of all COVID deaths, in the whole world. 20%. Something is horribly wrong here. And I lay that at Trump’s feet. He got the vaccines approved quickly, but he did nothing about getting them distributed. What good are vaccines if people can’t get them?

I’m totally disgusted with this mishandled nightmare.

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[1 Mar ’21] Had a really bad fibromyalgia episode Sunday night, out of nowhere. I’d been doing well for a couple of weeks, but we had a windstorm that knocked out our power around midnight, which means my CPAP shut off, which woke me up. So I had to go sleep in the guest room so my snoring wouldn’t wake up James. By then, I was fully awake and noticed some FM pain beginning. In a few minutes, it was a total-body throb, with tingling in my joints. I think it’s the worst pain episode I’ve had yet. Gabapentin didn’t help, so I ended up cancelling my morning classes and taking an Ambien to get to sleep. The whole next day I was trembly and in low-grade pain. I cancelled my evening classes, too.

Today it was hard to get up, and then my back seized up while drying my hair, of all things. I managed to hobble to my study and teach my morning lessons, and after sleeping/resting for a couple of hours, the pain is gone. I’m still exhausted, though! My FM has been consistently worse throughout the pandemic than it was before. Stress triggers flare-ups, so the past year has pretty much been one long flare-up!

Obviously not a great couple of weeks. It’s sunny today, so maybe I’ll bundle up (it’s 22ºF and windy, so the “RealFeel” is 6ºF) and go for a walk. That will help in many many ways.

Pandemic Diary: 16 Feb 2021

It’s been a while since I felt motivated to write here. Beginning a new year knowing it will be just like last year for several months or all 12, or even worse given the new strains that are appearing. It made me feel totally exhausted emotionally, so I had no energy to engage with it in writing. But it’s time to get back to reflection.

At least we have a mature adult back in the White House. That lifts a huge weight off my feeling life. It was a horrible trip there, but we made it. Now we wait for the next neo-Nazi attack. I’m sure there will be one.

Louie has come up with a game to play during our zoom get-togethers—he calls it “Chaos”. We set up a whiteboard that we can all draw on, then Louie draws a city and has me draw a house. For some reason I haven’t figured out yet, he draws a fried egg in the middle of the city. Then Gwad starts drawing lines and boxes all over the screen, playing the part of chaos, while Louie erases them as fast as he can. He’s been wanting me to be “on his team” lately—I guess maybe being the house and his teammate makes me a safe place amidst the chaos. And he feels totally safe with Gwad, so it’s a way for Louie to deal with the chaos of his world right now in a safe place. We have a great time playing, lots of laughs, destroying the chaos with fun.

His most telling quotes from yesterday’s game:

  • “Chaos levels are high today.”
  • “Fighting chaos has never been easier in my life!”

I’m glad we can make this all a little easier for him. I can’t imagine what his sensitive 7-year-old soul is going to take away from this pandemic time.

An early Chaos adventure.

Pandemic Diary: 16 Dec 2020

I haven’t been able to write here for a little while because the tragedy of COVID-19 cases and deaths has just been too overwhelming to talk about. Almost 210,000 cases per day in the U.S., and over 2,500 deaths yesterday alone. The daily death numbers have gone over 3,000 recently. I can’t even get my head around numbers like that. Like I said, too overwhelming.

To stay sane and not horribly depressed and anxious, I focus on the fact that no one in our immediate family has gotten it, and in our extended families there have only been a few cases and none life-threatening.

I found this video today on Facebook. It comes from a family of white privilege, but so do I, so it really speaks to me. I love these guys—they say true things in fun and creative ways. Some of their parodies are priceless! The Holderness family. I recommend them.