do I have COVID-19?: going to a testing site today

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Today will be the second time I’ll have been tested for COVID-19. The first time, my son worked with someone who tested positive, so I thought I’d get a test too, since we live in the same house. I had no symptoms then, but now I have. For the past several days, I’ve had dizziness, a dry cough, a mild headache that is not in the location of my typical migraines, an itchy throat, and a bit of gastrointestinal distress. Saturday and Sunday, I felt fatigued as well, even skipping my daily walk Sunday on a beautiful January day.

Last Thursday, my son was told by his manager of the coffee shop at which he works that a second of his coworkers had tested positive, and one of them had worked with him on Sunday. He had just taken a test a few days before, after learning of the first positive, but now he was told that he directly worked with this second person. He tried to get in for a test on Friday, but the county-run facility had met its daily goal and was not accepting any more walk-ins. He tried again yesterday, when he would still be in the incubation period for the illness. He woke early, before the testing center opened, and was fifth in line for a site opening 45 minutes later. He is waiting for his results.

I will wait until the morning rush is a bit through and head to the testing center. I am hoping I will be able to not have to wait in a long line because, although much of the queue is outdoors, the line does travel inside a building with narrow halls.

I work in a library one day a week and the rest of the time from home, and my shift is in two days. The library is closed to patrons and I am pretty much working alone when I’m there, but my supervisor, the librarian, is also in that day. I will let her know tomorrow morning about the situation so she can plan ahead in case I do not get my results back in time. She may have to adjust the schedule and have one of my two coworkers eligible to be at work to come in (all the others are older women with underlying health issues).

I will be going to a county-run facility because getting a test through a doctor’s office is ridiculous and nearly impossible. My primary care doctor does not offer testing. Testing for the health-care enterprise she works under is conducted in a far-off part of the county it would take me 30 minutes just to get to (and then how much longer to wait in line, I wonder).

A few months ago, my son tried arranging for a test through his doctor’s office. He was told he would need to have a teledoc appointment first. He was waiting for a link by text to get on the video call, but one never came. Turns out, the link was sent via email. He missed the call and then had to pay $25 for a missed appointment. Doctors’ offices need to be better at administering tests. Why the need for an appointment of any kind if someone calls in and asks for one, advising the office staff that he or she has symptoms?

The only other option is being forced to wait in line for hours at the county sites, which is what I will probably be doing today. Fingers crossed I’m a negative, but I am really not sure. This is one test I hope to fail.

the corona diaries, day 55: may gray and being denied benefits

Not too much has changed since my last Corona Diaries post, other than more people have become infected with COVID-19 and more have died, including three young children in New York State. How sad is that?

I still am working from home, which I love. On the down side, I was denied unemployment insurance benefits because I was told the money I earn from the part-time job I currently hold–and held concurrently with the one I lost–is $9 more than my benefit amount. You read that correctly. Nine dollars! I make $9 more weekly than what the employment department philanthropists want to pay me in benefits. That’s just over one dollar a day more.

What does this even mean? Here’s how I feel: anger

  • I still lost my job.
  • I still am losing income every week.
  • There are no jobs to be had to make up for the lost income.
  • At 13 hours a week, I barely earn much as it is–it’s certainly not enough money to even afford the average monthly one-bedroom rent where I live.

How, then, can the government deny me benefits? Because I still hold down another job that pays barely much more than the one I lost? How is that OK? Should I ask my other employer to let me go too? Would that be better, to be completely unemployed, at which time my benefit amount would be much higher? I’m not asking for more than I deserve.

I have a friend who lost one of his two part-time jobs too. Because the one he lost brought in less income than the one he currently has (same as my situation), he was denied a claim as well. We are both diligent people, trying to make two part-time jobs work because full-time jobs with benefits are so scarce. Yet, we are penalized when we lose one of those jobs.

This government that is denying my claim because I earn nine measly dollars more than they think I’m worth, mind you, is the same one that has bailed out the banks and General Motors and every other conglomerate that has caused hardworking individuals to lose their  jobs because of corporate greed. Un-f*&$#ing-believable!

Both my friend and I went out of our ways to notify the employment department that we currently still hold part-time jobs so they wouldn’t overpay us if thinking we lost both our jobs. Most people would not have done that, I believe, and would have taken whatever handout they received, whether they deserved it or not (see my reference to the banks, General Motors et al. above). But in being forthright, we are without the money we worked hard for. Once again, the government shows that honesty does not pay off. I mean, just look at who was rewarded with the highest office in the land!

But I digress a little. june gloom

We currently are in what the locals refer to as May Gray, which is followed next month by June Gloom. At this time of year, mornings are overcast with a thick, white blanket of sky. If and when the sun does shine through, though, it reveals what I consider to be the most glorious weather. Some parts of town along the coast never see the sun at this time of year. We live far enough east to have (a) lower property values and (b) more sun when it’s key to brightening bad days.

With the coronavirus pandemic still hanging around, there is a lot of cloud cover above us all right now. We don’t know when those clouds will melt away, but we do know they eventually will. Yes, there will be an end to this madness. It’s just not very clear at the moment when the sun will shine again.

the corona chronicles, day 38, a birthday and memories of quarantine-like bed rest

Today is the birthday of my eldest child, my daughter. This is not the first family birthday celebrated in coronavirus quarantine. Our older son turned 27 last week. We celebrated on our patio, with takeout Italian food. His sisters and brother-in-law-to-be came over and we all managed to hang out, six feet apart.bday cake

Birthdays bring on nostalgia, and last weekend I thought about my son’s birth. After having lived in a string of small apartments with two children, we were finally in an actual house, albeit at 1,100 square feet, a small one. But we had saved up enough to put down a modest down payment. We were on our way to home ownership for the first time in our lives. It was a good feeling bringing our baby boy home to our house.

My firstborn’s entry into the world was much different. Similar to now, I was under a stay-at-home order of sorts when I had her 34 years ago. I was eight weeks from my due date back in 1986 when, at a routine OB visit, I was told that because of the condition of my cervix, I needed to immediately seek bed rest. At the time I was working full-time. (With three more kids to follow, it was, incidentally, the only time I would ever work full-time and have my own work-related health benefits.)

I drove home from the appointment, stopping at the bank and the grocery store, because who knew when I’d be able to get out again, and then came home and lay on the couch, poring over the bed rest section of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I waited for my husband to come home (this was in the days before cell phones) to tell him the news. At a mere 24 years old, adulthood and marriage were still new to me, and now I was facing complications with my very first pregnancy. It was scary times.

Bed rest was not fun. Back in ’86 and only married for a year, my husband and I lived in a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment, with a cat. We had a living room, a kitchen with a small breakfast area, and that about covers it. How I wished in those days for a place with a balcony or patio on which to stretch out in a lounge chair in the fresh air. Rather, our apartment was cramped and dark, and the only outdoor space was a well-traveled walkway that our seven other apartment-dwelling neighbors would pass through from the street to the alley.

The way our unit was situated, there was no direct sunlight at all in the apartment, save for a tiny triangular bit that fell on our opened door. At the top of the stairs leading to our and our closest neighbor’s apartment was a landing only big enough to stand on and place a couple bags of groceries or a laundry basket while unlocking the door. No room to prop even a modest-sized chair in order to sit outside.

I was thankful to be upstairs at least and not on the ground floor, staring at a fence or the alley-side parking lot. At least I could see a single tree in the property next door and an occasional bird perched in it, along with blue sky.

Inside, my one and only physical position was horizontal. Before leaving for his volunteer job at the historical society and then his actual night job as a courier, my husband would pack me a brown-bag lunch, typically consisting of a sandwich, yogurt, and fruit. He’d also leave something similar for me to eat for dinner. On the weekends, he would make dinner, which often was hamburgers, spaghetti, or soup.

I could not drive and could only leave the house to see my doctor and go to the hospital for stress tests to check on the welfare of my unborn child. My entertainment was the few books I had around the house, the daily newspaper, my journal, and the television set. We did not have cable–just four local stations and PBS. We did not even have a remote control, so I would coincide turning the channels with trips to the bathroom or to get another pitcherful of water from the fridge. My only company was our cat, who shared our lumpy, used sofa with me.

Our sole, avocado-green phone was in the kitchen, attached to the wall of course. I didn’t even have the convenience that a portable landline brings. The phone, fortunately, had a long enough cord to stretch to my spot on the couch, but I would still need to get up to answer it or dial.

My friends from work came by one time and brought a pizza and salad. That was the only face-to-face socializing we did. Easter fell during my time of bed rest, and my family, including my newborn niece and her two-year-old sister, came over and had dessert. I stretched out as best I could on the couch while surrounded by 11 people in our small apartment living room.

The night my daughter was born, my closest friend in town was over. My husband cooked up some hamburgers (what else?), and we hung out. She brought over an outfit for the baby-to-be. It was great seeing a friend. When I emerged from using the bathroom, my water broke and I realized I was in labor. Three-and-a-half hours later, my daughter was born. The birth was fast and fierce and painful, and I barely saw my baby before she was whisked off for a night in the NICU.

Those seven weeks of bed rest remind me of this time of stay-at-home orders, except it was much more difficult. Despite what some people are feeling, this isn’t a bad era to be stuck at home. We now have multiple TV sets with remote controls and access to all sorts of entertainment, from thousands of TV shows to new-release movies.

We have cell phones, a futuristic concept in the ’80s, on which we can chat or text at all hours of the day and night to anywhere in the world. We have tablets on which to read a best seller at the touch of a digital button or two. We have social media to see what our friends and even celebrities are up to, which, at this time, is not much different than what we also are doing. Coronavirus, in some ways, has become the great equalizer.

We have laptops and desktops and the Internet to do schoolwork and paid work. We have access to a world of information, including how COVID-19 is spreading. We can leave our houses on foot to take a walk or by car to take a drive. We still have access to food from grocery stores, which remain open, and health care if we need it. Most of all, we have time. Time to bond with family, time to read, time to work on household projects or crafts, time to contemplate life. balloons

Not being able to go anywhere we want at any time because we’re stuck in our homes or stuck in a bed is an annoyance–yes, a major annoyance, but still just an annoyance. As long as we’re not sick or dying, we have a lifetime to make up this time we are all at home. My daughter lived to become an intelligent, kind, productive member of society. She and I got through those seven weeks of bed rest together, and we’ll all, each and every one of us, get through however long coronavirus keeps us indoors. I promise.

 

the corona chronicles, day 5: parks and beaches closed

Our mayor announced yesterday that all city parks and beaches would close. The day before, just the lots were barricaded to discourage people from parking in them and to reduce the number of visitors. But now, no one can hike, hang out at the beach, swim in the ocean, or take a boat out on the lake.

gray storage shed on brown sand
Photo by Guillaume Hankenne on Pexels.com

Confinement is being taken seriously, and soon it will drive some up the wall. More and more businesses are closing. People who can work from home are advised to do just that. Those who cannot are going without work and, many, without pay. My younger son works at a coffee shop with a drive-thru window. Frankly, I wish it would close, because the longer it’s open, the greater the chance is that he brings home the virus. But the Starbucks next door shut down and my son’s employer is capitalizing on Starbucks’ lost business. I hope it’s worth it to the owners. I hope my son, who just started this job in January and would probably be the first let go if there’s a reduction in customers, doesn’t come down with any symptoms.

My other son, an employee of the YMCA, is home with pay until the end of the week. The Y is still charging its patrons membership fees while it’s closed. A friend of my husband’s just canceled his membership because of this, and I’m guessing he’s not the only one. No money coming in means no money going out to workers.

I am fortunate that the city I work for is still paying its hourly workers like me, but how long will this last, with talks of budget cuts having started pre-pandemic? So far, we’ve been paid for one week without physically working. Our next pay period ends on April 3. The city was hoping to reopen the libraries by April 6, but that looks pie in the sky.

At my other library, we are still working from home, which is going fine so far. We can do research online for our patrons if they need help. We can also work on other tasks.

I am able to take my dog to the vet today. He’s diabetic and needs his insulin checked every other week. I may ask the vet to send me home with a test kit that I can use without coming in. Maybe I can report to her the result I get and she can monitor and adjust his insulin from that reading. Or I may just ask to come in less frequently. Since we’re almost all home, we can spot if the ol’ boy is doing well or poorly. So far, he’s responding very well to the insulin.

Will weddings go on? We have one to plan for. Our second eldest is getting married in October, but, of course, wedding plans are on hold. The venue, a community center run by one of the local cities, has closed its doors. Brides and grooms who had booked in March and April will have to postpone their weddings for sure and most likely find a new place for the reception. This venue is very popular and is booked at least a year out. We put a deposit down months ago, fortunately. Now we’ll see if the wedding will still go on even seven months out. Everything is so uncertain. I’m glad we haven’t booked a caterer yet.

Typically in March I’m fully in the process of planning our summer vacation. My husband was having a hard time even picking a free week this year at the very start of coronavirus. We finally decided on a week in September. Now that too will have to wait. Who knows what is in store. One thing is for sure, though, even a trip to a local beach will feel like a vacation.

Stay safe. Stay well.

the corona chronicles, day 4

Monday, 23 March 2020

It is Day 4 of being sequestered during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both the libraries I work for are closed. One remained open through last Thursday. The other, a city-managed branch, had shuttered several days before that.

person holding covid sign
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am still working from home for one library. I have work to do for now but wonder when things will slow down. If this stay-at-home edict remains in place for, say, two or three months, I can’t imagine there would be that much to do from home. Right now, I have a few assignments to take care of. I may have to get creative in coming up with activities in the future, but we have to be doing something work related to be paid. For now, I have plenty.

To get out of the house, my husband and I took a little drive yesterday. It was nice getting a peek at the ocean and seeing something other than our home surroundings. We are lucky, though. We have a house with two floors. It’s not big by today’s standards, but it’s adequate. We have a backyard and a front yard, so, there, we can convene a little bit with nature if we need to. This morning, when I let the dog out back, I noticed three sets of paired-up birds: sparrows, a couple birds that looked like muddy-colored robins, and mourning doves. They were not practicing social distancing, but isn’t it telling that that thought sprang into my mind at the time?

We also live within walking distance to a large regional park. Unfortunately for us but fortunately for others, “our” park has been flooded with people. So many people, in fact, that the parking lots had to be closed off to prevent visitors. (That can only mean that our neighborhood streets will soon start looking like parking lots.) People were not practicing social distancing. It’s the same as at the beaches, whose lots were also barricaded, and some other attractions that draw huge crowds. It’s a matter of time before San Diego’s pride and joy, Balboa Park, is off-limits. What crazy times we live in.

Today, I’m trying to find enough work to fill up my typical 5.5-hour day. I’ll also take the dog out for a walk—maybe in the streets, though, and a little later in the morning or early afternoon, when the typical walkers are back home. But there’s nothing typical about our times.

To say I have zero confidence in our commander in chief is an understatement. How I wish we had a real president, one who doesn’t lie, fib, make stuff up, whatever. What a kid he must have been to raise!

Well, back to work I go. At least I have something to fill my hours. I feel bad for people who are out of work and out of pay, like wait staff and hair stylists, whose tip money was rent money. Or the minimum wage worker who, even if they are allowed to take some kind of unemployment insurance, surely it won’t be enough to pay the bills. Yes, landlords and mortgage lenders are supposed to place a moratorium on collecting rents and monthly payments, but eventually all that money is going to need to be repaid. What then if these people can’t get enough in restitution to cover those payments? There will be, in my opinion, evictions and foreclosures galore. How sad.

Be safe. Stay safe.