Late Saturday night, I noticed that my chest felt a little tight, especially if I tried to breathe deeply. I thought it might just be fatigue, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
But when I woke up the next morning, my chest still felt tight. Ruh-roh.
I messaged the host and the person I had the most contact with at the gathering I’d been at the night before (fewer than 10 people — six to be exact — almost all of whom work at home). I also messaged the guy who’d come over on Thursday. I let them know that I had slight shortness of breath, but no fever, stuffy or runny nose, body aches or sore throat. I’d only coughed about three times in three hours, which isn’t all that unusual for me. Still, I told them to keep an eye on themselves.
Before you ask, yes I was/am very upset that I might have infected people. Yes, I realize that this is part of the problem that could lead to hospitals being overrun. It’s pretty much all I could think about actually.
I’m still grappling with how to keep myself physically safe while also keeping others safe. But you’ll be happy to know that this incident did cause me to change my game plan in that regard — more on that in Thursday’s post.
Luckily, as I said most of the attendees (all but one, in fact) work from home or have been sent home from work, so that’s something. (Well, a second person who works showed up later, but he was barely there for any time at all and never got physically close to any — we were in the pool — except his live-in girlfriend.)
The next step was to call Mom to update her.
She said maybe it was pollen and not to jump to conclusions. But I’ve been in Arizona for a decade now, and this has never happened. The bottom of my lungs felt like there was a band around them, and taking a deep breath was a smidge of effort. So it’s almost definitely something respiratory. What that is, I have no idea.
Next I called the Arizona Department of Health information line to find out at what point “trouble breathing” should be reviewed by a medical person. I wasn’t going to panic and go to a doctor/medical center unnecessarily, but I wanted to know at what point I should get concerned.
The line was completely automated and told me to go see my doctor. It was a Sunday so… Not helpful.
I called an urgent care clinic, which directed me back to the information line. Though they did at least give me a specific option to press. Alas, it turned out to be the one I’d pressed in my last call. So I again got told to go see my doctor.
I called urgent care back, and they gave me the number for the local division of the CDC. Which had an automated message that directed me back to the Department of Health information line.
So glad we’ve clearly got this information system do now that cases are increasing exponentially.
I called urgent care AGAIN, and they essentially told me that I should monitor symptoms and go to the ER if it got “severe.”
Well, thanks for clearing that up.
As I’ve said, I didn’t have any other symptoms of COVID-19. But just to be safe, I decided it was best to isolate myself for the recommended seven days.
This is going to be ugly.
I had posted on my blog’s Facebook page to let people know my current issue and to say that — since 72 hours alone had me climbing the walls — wasn’t seven days going to be a treat?
Tim left a laughing emoji.
This is actually the second time he’s left a laughing emoji on one of my posts. (I don’t think he really understands proper Facebook stalking. You don’t react to the posts, you just lurk.) The first time was on my main Facebook page post about how single people are very afraid for our mental health being so isolated. I ended it with, “So just please fucking think before you judge others’ reactions to the social distancing thing.” Given that last sentence, I’d initially rationalized away that maybe he’d just found the bit of slight snark amusing.
But now, I was beginning to suspect otherwise. It seemed pretty clear he was laughing at me.
I put up a Twitter poll (for scientific purposes) to see whether I was misreading the situation, should ignore the childishness/dickishness or should block him.
I woke up and the tightness didn’t seem to be there. Hmmmmm… Had I overreacted? Eh, didn’t much matter because I still had to isolate for a week just to be safe.
A couple of hours later, the tightness felt like it was back. Maybe the sports bra wasn’t helping? But it’s uncomfortable to be, er, unsupported. So… Not sure what the answer there is.
I alternated between lying down and answering emails. I did try taking off the sports bra for a bit, but the tightness still came and went seemingly randomly.
I did a load of laundry. I was already antsy and trying to use the energy toward productive purposes.
In that vein, since I had severe carb/salt cravings, I did the unthinkable and actually prepared a meal. Well, I made rice, slathered it in salsa and stirred in beans, black pepper, red pepper and garlic, then ate with chips. But compared to my standard food prep — stick frozen meal in microwave, take meal out, eat — this was basically akin my cooking a three-course meal.
Between lunch and dinner, I may or may not have eaten two days’ worth of a three-day supply. Oops. #stresseating.
Oh, and I decided to block Tim from Facebook. Twitter agreed with me overwhelming, by the way.
Not sure whether he can still see my blog’s Facebook page. But if he does react to anything else on there, I can use it to block him on that page for good.
Once work was done, I watched TV. For hours. I simultaneously tried to distract myself with social media. But starting around 4 p.m., I was so bored that I just wanted it to be bedtime already
Woke up with lungs feeling pretty clear. But there was a bit of wheeziness on deeper exhalations.
And given that I still had zero other COVID symptoms, I increasingly suspected this was an unrelated respiratory issue, which was a relief. I wasn’t terribly worried for myself, but obviously about the few people I did see recently. And their potential for spreading it.
And since the condition — whatever it may be — seemed to be resolving itself, there was no need to leave the house to go to the doctor. Let alone waste a test (which the doctor would probably refuse to prescribe anyway, since tests are still in short supply). I decided to just stay hunkered down til Saturday and then as long thereafter (besides a quick grocery run) as my sanity would allow.
I had a lot of downtime at work and was yet again antsy. I needed to do something, so I called Apple support to get an update on my phone. It had inexplicably died last Tuesday. At least it’s still under warranty.
Not-so-great news: As of the fourth business day of the company having the phone in its possession, it had apparently just sent the device to the testing department. Sigh.
I was told to call back in a day or two. By then they’d know what the issue was and about how long until I got it back. Given that it’d already been five business days since it was sent in, clearly Best Buy’s five to seven business day quote was a wee bit off.
In the meantime, I was using my iPad to keep in touch with people. Thank god I bought one a couple of years ago, or this isolation would be excruciating instead of just highly unpleasant.
I tried to sit still, but I was fidgety. I also tried to keep myself occupied via texting, social media and online games. And generally tried not to think too much about how long it would be before I can leave the house — and how long it may be until I see my friends again in person. It made me want to cry every time my brain touched on the subject.
Anyway, I worked, answered some blog comments and generally whiled away the day. Oh and a gal I met at the last MeetUp I attended had messaged me on the app. So we chatted a bit, which was nice.
I kept chatting with a few friends online too. To everyone saying this will help me feel connected in the absence of in-person contact: It. Is. Not. The. Same.
I know other options are actual phone calls and even FaceTime. Frankly, the idea of talking continuously on the phone (rather than messaging as I feel I actually have things to say) sounds exhausting. FaceTime, even more so. I’d feel the need to look at least vaguely presentable. Nope.
Definite signs of depression creeping in.
I spent the the night watching TV, ignoring the unfolded laundry and the dirty dishes that seemed too onerous to contemplate (another early sign of depression). Instead I played endless games of Poppit to keep my mind occupied. I was doing okay — if incredibly bored, increasingly lonely and watching some depressive habits seep in around the edges — until bedtime.
Then I made the mistake of reading a couple of news articles about the state of COVID-19 around the world and in our country. Yeah, I lost my shit on Twitter. I had tears running down my face right before I fell asleep.
Woke up to 18 notifications and two Twitter DMS — most of which were supportive and/or concerned (the others were just Likes). The reactions made me tear up (in a good way). Except that it also reminded me of just how full of despair I was the previous night. So I also teared up for that reason. And I teared up as I typed this.
So this was going to be a fun day.
Speaking of days, I was thoroughly convinced — all evidence to the contrary — that it was actually Thursday, not Wednesday. Maybe even later in the week than that. Knowing that it was actually Wednesday, it felt like this isolation would never end.
I made myself wash the dishes that’d been sitting around since Monday night. I put away the laundry. I took the recycling bin out to the curb. I finally got the mail from the garage after like three days of letting it pile up. I even wiped down the stovetop and kitchen counter.
Anything to try to create some sense of routine and normalcy.
Despite that, I officially hit the point of sporadic crying jags. Goody. Just random things were now setting me off. Sometimes I was just crying without prompting.
I was going to wash my hair — since I realized I hadn’t done it since Saturday — but I only made it as far as the bed. I lay there checking social media, saw some more supportive messages and… Just started crying uncontrollably for several minutes.
I did eventually get my hair washed. And came out to find an email from Mom, concerned over a very depressed Facebook post I’d put up about my struggling.
She wanted to fly down so I wasn’t alone. She (like me) was worried that I’d slide into suicidal ideation. But I didn’t really want her flying. She’s under 65, but she’s got asthma. So she shouldn’t be sitting really close to several people, breathing the same air for six hours. I promised her I hadn’t ruled anything out, but I wasn’t prepared to have her fly down just yet.
A friend sent me an article about how a lot of what we’re feeling is grief. I guess it’s true to a point. Mainly, I was just feeling alone and hopeless about all of the people who are going to die and any part I might’ve played in that. But the article made me cry, so maybe there’s something to it. Then again, I was crying a lot in general so… Who knows?
My closest friend hadn’t messaged me that day even though she’d checked in the last two. I think she was frustrated with me because I had gone to that small gathering, and if it had been COVID, I’d have been part of the problem. Which I get. Absolutely.
But I already felt pretty wracked with guilt and was obsessing about it in my mind. So I didn’t want to get into it, and so my responses may have come off a little flippant. I’m not sure if that made her even more upset with me.
Or she’s just busy and my depressed brain was reading into things. Hard to say. It’s not like I was really up for being chatty right then anyway, so I suppose it was kinda moot.
Still, given that my last message to her was about my bracing myself for a slide into deep depression… Yeah, it hurt that she hadn’t messaged me. No, that message wasn’t the first time I’d referenced the inevitable depression, but still… Ouch.
Anyway, my shift ended, and I felt very, very weary. If nothing else, the crying tired my eyes out and they felt heavy. So I lay down. But I couldn’t sleep and ended up just crying some more.
A couple of friends messaged me. I wasn’t really up for conversation at that point, but somewhere around 5 p.m. the random crying abated and I felt vaguely normal. So I chatted a little via Facebook messenger.
I got a slew of responses to my upset Facebook post about how badly I was doing. Aaaaand almost all of them were suggestions about how to get through it. I know they’re trying to be helpful, but a) I’d heard pretty much all of them before and b) people really don’t seem to get that nothing substitutes for in-person interaction.
Obviously, yes, it’s about making do because we can’t have that. But people suggesting alternatives rather than just saying, “I’m so sorry, that sucks” is exhausting. I feel like it implies, really, that you can suck it up and that you wouldn’t really be hurting if you were trying all available options.
Yes, actually, yes I absolutely would be hurting. And I was still dealing fatigue at the very idea of continuous conversation on the phone or FaceTime. So the supposedly great substitutions weren’t even an option right then.
And now with random crying jags… Extra nope. I didn’t really feel like having people listen to/watch me cry. No matter how many people insist it’s not a big deal to them. It’s a big deal to me.
That evening, a guy I’d went on a date with a few weeks back messaged to see how I was doing. He’s also single, also working from home (though unlike me, he’s new to it). He, too, isn’t doing great in the solitude. We agreed we’d meet up when this is all over. You know, in a few months. Ugh.
I ordered pizza and cinnamon sticks, watched some All-American on Netflix and went to bed around 9:30 p.m.
Woke up feeling relatively okay. No idea how long the feeling will last, but it was a nice respite.
Since I was feeling functional, I talked to Mom on the phone for about half an hour. Then I answered emails and worked on some blog posts. It was a pretty normal day overall. Except that I couldn’t make myself work out.
This was partially out of laziness. But partially because I felt a little breathless that day.
I fervently hoped the symptoms weren’t returning because I was finally feeling confident about this not being COVID-19. That said, I still had no fever, sore throat, stuffed-up/runny nose, coughing or body aches. So I think I’d either eaten too many carbs in the previous 24 hours (weirdly, a slight breathlessness is sometimes a side effect of that for me) or it was still just an unrelated-respiratory thing that hadn’t quite been kicked yet.
Either way, I got off work, tried to breathe regularly and faced yet another 6+ hours of killing time until bedtime. It was boring and lonely, but at least it wasn’t as emotionally painful as the previous day.
I know my friends are coping with isolation. Honestly, I’m not sure how — other than the one friend who has a live-in partner.
I think the rest of them are more into FaceTime calls than I am. I should really try that, I guess — I mean, when the mere idea doesn’t feel so onerous. But yeah, I think they’re spending a lot of time on FaceTime with their significant others.
I’m really not sure if it’s better or worse to have a significant other in this situation. On the one hand, someone to talk to regularly and be a source of emotional comfort. On the other, a regular reminder of the physical contact (intimate and otherwise) that you may not get for several more weeks.
I know that one friend has been walking her dog so much that the pup doesn’t even get excited anymore when my friend grabs the leash. So I guess walks in the fresh air actually do help some people. Never made much of a dent for me personally. (Also, this friend is dating a therapist. I figure that probably helps too.)
Oh, and that friend I mentioned from Day 4 still didn’t message me. Could be busy, but my brain didn’t think positive things.
Woke up with pretty clear lungs again. It was still slightly difficult to take super deep breaths, but by and large I was fine. After reading more and more COVID-19 accounts, it seemed clear that I didn’t have the virus. Even a mild version would have had at least one other symptom.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a seven-day diary but… My isolation (though not my in-house stay) ended this day.
Someone has to come stay with me. (I’ll explain more in Thursday’s post.) I tried to schedule it around my isolation and not have them come til Sunday.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out with their timeline. So we’re using separate bathrooms, and I’m just going to do my best not to breathe on common spaces. Because even if it’s not COVID-19, no need for this person to get an upper respiratory issue, right?
I gotta say, it was a relief to be around someone again. Because I had a feeling I was pretty close to another Day 4-type situation.
Anyway, I’ll still stay inside through Day 7 because… I mean, I might as well. I didn’t need anything.
That said, I’ll make a grocery run on Sunday. I also need a prescription filled at CVS and I should fill up the car. But otherwise I plan on staying home for the foreseeable future unless I have to run a crucial errand.
Still, I gotta say that I’m inordinately excited to run my errands tomorrow. Even though it’ll be brief, I’ll be out in public. I’m going to stock up even a little more than I had before. Just in case further public panic empties the shelves completely.
I’ll also have to start keeping an eye out for toilet paper starting in a few weeks. I have about 78 rolls, but I’m not sure how many the two of us will go through each day. It appears we both pee a lot, so I’m assuming one to one and a half rolls a day. And the person isn’t staying the whole time. So the need is far off, but I can’t count on the toilet paper scarcity dying down in the near future. So sometime in late April, I should probably start being vigilant.
Anyway, the company will probably help for a while, but I’m not sure how long they’ll be staying with me. And even with company, it’s going to be an adjustment to stay home all day every day. But… There’s really not much choice, is there?
Oh, and my friend still hasn’t messaged me. Perhaps it’s passive aggressive — okay, it’s very passive aggressive — but at this point I refuse to message her. Because I’m just genuinely curious how long it’ll take for her to be concerned about silence from her depressive friend.
Perhaps it’s my depression in overdrive, but given that I consider her my closest friend and this is the person I normally chat with just about every day, I’m pretty goddamn hurt by the fact that she apparently couldn’t be bothered to send a two-second “Hey, thinking about you” message, For three days straight. When she knows how freaked out I was about isolation.
Even if she’s still annoyed with me, you’d think she’d at least send a single sentence like “Can’t really chat but hope you’re doing well.”
Maybe she’s just not up for a conversation and thinks one is inevitable if she messages. Maybe life is crazy on her end (though I know for a fact that her work is incredibly slow right now). I’m trying to remind myself that there could be any number of reasons for her silence. But it still really really hurts.
UPDATE: I have been called out for the not-texting-her-first BS. That’s fair, though my feelings are still badly bruised. But I did realize that her anxiety was running very high (for obvious reasons), and she’s very much an introvert. So I’m still going to wait a bit to text her because if she’s turning away from interaction to be insular, an outside message could put stress/guilt on her. So if I still don’t hear back in a few days, I’ll message to check in with her.
How’s everyone doing staying at home all of the time?