Earlier this year I was thinking that I would enjoy doing a little side trip on a portion of the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway on our way south. It is such a beautiful drive but it would mean staying out an extra night and I have become pandemic anxious again after being exposed to the virus by a vaccinated friend who got covid-19 from an unvaccinated friend and having a 41 year old unvaccinated nephew die of covid-19.
The next best thing is to go back to photos from our 2014 side trip where we drove 300 miles of the Parkway. I get so much enjoyment from visiting these past trips that I decided to share a couple of my favorites for Becky’s October Squares.
Have you noticed that, at any given time, you and two or three people you follow on WordPress are on the same wavelength – thinking about the same topic. Probably not that mysterious or strange because I follow a lot of like-minded people and the topic that I was thinking about this week was covid. Laura Bruno Lilly wrote a post titled “What in Your Life did Covid-19 Interrupt.” I started to comment but didn’t because I was thinking about writing a post. Then Jan Wilbur posted “The Difference Between Now and Then is This.” Her post is about the heartache in families created by unvaccinated members. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about unvaccinated people lately. My vaccinated friend had a breakthrough case after contact with an unvaccinated friend who is a member of a conservative Christian community near us where many members don’t believe in Covid-19 vaccinations for whatever reason. My god, what would this community do if there was an outbreak of mumps or measles or tuberculosis among their members?
Yes, Laura, Covid-19 did interrupt my life, or more accurately, some unvaccinated people who became positive with Covid-19 interrupted my life. A little over a week ago I spent a delightful afternoon playing cards with two vaccinated friends. That evening the friend who hosted us called to say that the person she had been with the previous Friday just called to say she was covid positive and had symptoms. My friend had made an appointment to get tested the next day but wouldn’t get the results until Friday. Her granddaughter got her a rapid result test which was positive, and on Friday the other test result was positive. She has had flu-like symptoms for the past week.
Back when I was in high school we would say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” whenever something bad or inconvenient or annoying would happen. It was our way of coping, a way of living in a world that was generally annoying to a teenager. Well, I’m now 77, annoyed because my Covid-19 cookie has crumbled.
During the past week I have been somewhat anxious because I have had symptoms. But to paraphrase what my other vaccinated friend who was exposed, “Jez, I have those symptoms every day.” Yes I have a sore throat and headache that comes and goes with allergens and atmospheric pressure, and I am perpetually fatigued or about to be fatigued or am just over being fatigued because I’m old and have fibromyalgia. I have pain in some part of my body all the time because I’m old, and active, and have fm. All week I have been fearful, wondering whether I was developing symptoms. Because I was constantly thinking about my body, I wasn’t distracting myself as I normally do. My pain levels are higher when I think about what is painful and where by body is hurting. I also have been isolating because I didn’t want to spread the virus (to unvaccinated people?) if I was indeed carrying a load of virus within in my nose.
My response to being exposed and potentially infected surprised me. I felt shame. From the very beginning I had tried to do everything right. Remember how we wiped down everything that came in the door. I panicked when I got confused about what counter was safe and which one wasn’t as we were wiping down groceries. I got vaccinated and have worn masks when in unsafe territory. And I might be infected anyway. We have talked with friends about how we could keep each other safe. And I might be infected anyway. We stopped eating out until we could do it safely. And I might be infected anyway. Now we had new calculations about safety to make because I was exposed to the virus.
We had planned to leave for a month’s camping trip to Maine the day after Labor Day, a week after I had been exposed. We knew we could do it safely and could isolate as easily on the road as we could at home. We’ve done it before. But I didn’t want to leave if I had symptoms so I didn’t start packing. As the week-end approached I started to fear having to pack in just one day for an extended vacation where I was trying to take all the food we would need. Reservations had been made at 4 private campground so we couldn’t delay our departure by one or two days. I spoke with my friend and she was still feeling pretty sick and I began thinking about what would happen if we left as I was developing symptoms and then Jim also got sick. Neither one of us would be able to do the work necessary to hook up and drive us back home. We decided to cancel the trip until next year.
Maybe I better not write my next paragraph. My mother taught me to not say anything about someone unless I could say something nice. I’m too tired to find nice words to use when describing people who don’t know how to use science, have distorted political views, are self-centered, and maybe are just plain stupid. Damn it, if you aren’t vaccinated and have no medical condition making the vaccines unsafe for you, then get vaccinated this week. Do it before you crumble someone else’s cookie.
Post note: Three weeks after posting this my sister’s son 41 year old son Nathan died of Covid-19 and staf infection. He was a minister in a church denomination that doesn’t believe in the vaccine. His wife and two of his children also got sick with the virus. He left a young wife and four children under the age of 7. I am so angry I could chew and spit nails.
We just returned from spending four nights in our travel trailer midway up Michigan’s Lower Peninsula over towards Lake Michigan. We didn’t go for any particular reason except to be away from home for a little bit in a place that we enjoy visiting. On our second day we decided we wanted to go over the Big Mac Bridge to St. Ignase to get a pastie (short ‘a’ as in past} from Bessie’s – they make the very best and we have been known to plan vacations so we go through St. Ignace at the right time to go to Bessie’s. It wasn’t a short drive – two & a half hours each way but we knew it was worth it. Problem: Bessie’s wasn’t open when we got there early afternoon. Maybe they weren’t open for the season yet, in the U.P. June can sometime feel like very early spring, or (Good-God-No) they were closed for good. But they weren’t making pasties and we didn’t have a plan B because we (or I) knew they would be open. We were hungry so we pulled into a restaurant back on the main road that had outside seating. They had pasties so our plan was for Jim to order one and I would order the white fish basket and we would share. The waiter said they didn’t have white fish (this is a restaurant just a couple of hours south of White Fish Point on Lake Superior – how could they not have white fish???) We both ordered pasties and had a fun meal even though their pasties weren’t very good. At that point it seemed a very long way to go for a pastie but we had the excitement of going over the Big Mac, something that never gets old for us.
I was sitting at the table one morning drinking my second cup of coffee, working sudoku puzzles and half watching the man camping next to us clean the roof of his big fifth-wheeler trailer. I think they have the site for the whole summer and Randy was up there scrubbing and patching and doing those things he felt he need to do to have a well-maintained summer home. I heard a noise-of-fright from Randy and then his wife started yelling up to him to “Rinse on your knees! Rinse on your knees, Randy!” He snapped back that she was “treating him like a very old man” (they appeared to be in their late 50’s).
I remember those exchanges in our marriage. I remember feeling offended when Jim became overprotective, just wanting too keep me safe when I was doing something I felt confident doing, something a young person would feel confident doing. I remember back a few years ago when I didn’t like it when people treated me as being old. I remember making sure I moved with confidence so people wouldn’t think my aches and pains were because of old age.
I don’t have that problem any more, probably because now I know that I’m old (but not really, really old). I’m old enough where I appreciate Jim’s help and how our children seem to be watching, ready to step in if needed – but I’m not so old that I want strangers to think of me as old. I want to be perceived as active and involved and healthy (for my age). But I did notice that we seemed to be the old couple over there on site #50. Old people seem to be easily ignored, is what I’m experiencing lately.
Wishing you times of joy and fun during the coming week. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so for yourself and the people who love you.
Being vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus has opened up the world to us again, but I am finding that a whole new etiquette has emerged. We have really missed getting together with the other 5 couples for our monthly pinochle and potluck night – but not sure we are ready to meet with that many people indoors, yet. Jim and I did decide that we felt safe getting together with another couple indoors for cards, something we had started just before we left Florida.
Last week I was having an e-mail discussion with the male half of one of our pinochle club couples about birds and I asked if they would be comfortable getting together for a game of cards. We arranged for Monday night at our house. Sunday evening Jean called and said she needed to tell me what she had done over the weekend. She went to a family birthday party with all of the attendees either vaccinated or immune because they had caught the virus within the past year. Jean wanted to make sure that we still felt safe getting together with them. I was grateful that she asked – I quickly took my internal safety temperature and said I was but I would need to check with Jim. We had a great evening with each team winning half the games interspersed (or interrupted) by lots of laughter.
We also talked about whether we would be comfortable getting together with the whole club. Jean wondered if it would make it safer if we didn’t have the potluck dinner. Our discussion was more of the wondering kind than one that led to a decision or consensus. Yesterday I received an e-mail sent out by Terry, another of our pinochle club friends asking if we are vaccinated and if we would feel comfortable getting together with everyone. Jim and I will have talk that one over some more. My safety temperature is in the “caution, caution, caution” range. What is interesting is that every get-together with people we know involves asking if everyone feels safe doing it. Every time we talk, the discussion includes what we are feeling safe doing and what we are still avoiding.
Life is different now that we are vaccinated but we still spend a lot of energy calculating what we can do and what still feels too risky. We are doing more shopping in stores but that requires that we do the cost/benefit analysis of when is the best time to go into the store. We are getting together with one other couple again but not for indoor dining – although maybe we would mid-afternoon when restaurants are empty. After an outing one of us will usually ask the other if s/he felt safe. There seems to be a balance of calculating how safe an activity is and being more relaxed about the whole thing. We know we have relaxed because we frequently have to go back to car to get our mask before entering.
We are feeling an urgency to be with friends and family again, but our primary urgency is still to protect ourselves and others from taking the virus into our bodies where it can potentially mutate and become even more dangerous. I hope you are finding ways to take care of your emotional and social needs while keeping yourself and others safe.
I was taking photos of water lilies from the boardwalk across the lily pond as two women were painting on the lawn to the south of where I was. The pond is perfect for taking photos of reflections, especially mornings before the breeze comes up. I moved around a lot trying to find the best perspective for a good reflection without too many lily pad or lilies to obscure the reflection. I also look for reflections that are bright enough to be distinguishable and not too busy.
Mostly I take lots of photos of reflections in differing conditions, learn from some, like some a lot, and delete some. As we are moving through our second year of the pandemic, it feels like this has been and continues to be my strategy. As we are making plans on moving to our northern home, we heard the news that Michigan is being hit with a large increase of new cases and hospitalizations, with our small home town being the epicenter – in fact for one or two weeks that small town was the epicenter of the country. That made me very uncomfortable, even as I was receiving my second vaccine dose.
I’ve been collecting information from social media and epidemiologists, learn from some, accept some for the basis of my decision making, and disregard some. In the bar graphs I studied in the New York Times this morning, I learned that Michigan isn’t much worst than Florida and that upward movement of infections seem to be caused by variant of the virus. We had already considered that in determining behaviors that we believe are safe post-vaccine.
I’m comfortable with the decision we have made. We are going home as planned and will continue to protect ourselves in the same way we have here in Florida. We have gone out to eat when we could eat outdoors or taken food home to eat. We have avoided shopping during high traffic times and if people aren’t wearing masks in the store. We spend time indoors with very small groups of friends and family who have also been vaccinated and we continue to practice safe behaviors when we go places. When we stop to visit with neighbors while walking around the block we will still stand apart, we won’t shake hands or give hugs except with our kids and grandkids (unless the virus spread continues to get worst – then no hugs).
I continue to find the virus exhausting and stressful – but in a slightly different way now that we know more about how the virus is transmitted and we are vaccinated. I’m no longer afraid of getting covid from my mail or groceries, nor am I as afraid to go out in public if safety measures (distancing and masks) are taken. I have a little more freedom to eat out and socialize but that still takes a lot of prior thought and being vigilant as to whether we feel safe or not. The virus is still impacting on how I think about my life and my relationships – I’m just not sure how I have changed and if the changes will be permanent.