Covid-19 isolation log: week 1

Day 7

Thursday March 19, 2020

The first official day of spring. I am feeling anxious today, thinking of the hours I have to fill keeping Cordelia entertained and myself level-headed. Our life has been relatively simple for months, we are home most of the time, but there have been things to look forward to: visits to the city, small shopping trips: treats like Starbucks and cupcakes. I had begun preparations to return to work in May. Now the day care centres are closed and so is my office, everyone is working from home. 

Before we leave for our walk, I receive a call from the local Naturopath clinic. My appointment next week, that I had been waiting 4 months for, has been cancelled. I fight back tears, and at the same time, berate myself for being selfish. It’s not important. Not now. 

It’s cloudy, but relatively warm out today. There are lots of cars driving around town, to where I’m not sure. Some, the way they circle, and turn around, must be the retirees just wanting to get out of the house. There are also lots of children, on scooters, skateboards and bicycles. At a crosswalk, Cordelia and I approach a boy who coughs loudly and doesn’t cover his mouth. Almost by instinct now, I move as quickly as I can away down the street in the opposite direction.

A woman returning home from a shopping trip is unloading her truck, and having a heated conversation on the phone. Yelling at someone to “get home now”, to “stop messing around.” A couple in pajamas sits outside on their patio, another quarrel loudly in their home, the noise carries easily on the silent back streets.

Cordelia and I walk downtown. Many businesses remain open, but with warning signs posted on their doors, not to enter if you are ill. Still, others have shuttered. Some restaurants are offering curbside take-out or delivery, including the venue where we are supposed to have our wedding in August. 

You can still walk into Tim Hortons and buy a coffee, but you must leave immediately. The bathroom is closed.

Lately we have been walking twice daily: once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. The afternoon walks often leave me with a sense of foreboding, the sky is grim and the wind picks up. Everything seems more austere.

I am relieved when we return home and I lock the door behind me.

Day 8

Friday March 20, 2020

Cordelia and I get up and ready early this morning to venture out for a grocery haul. Walmart is open at 7 a.m., Zehrs at 8 a.m., but the first hour is now reserved for seniors and those with disabilities. We head out at 9.

At Walmart, instead of a greeter, there is a security guard and signs posted warning visitors to stay at least 2.5 feet away from others. The usual stack of toilet paper at the front of the store has been replenished, but warnings decree: only one per person.

I overhear someone lamenting there is no sugar or flour on the shelves. These items were also on my list; for baking cookies and sweetening coffee. My sugar supply is low. I will have to come back.

In the short time I’m in the store, it starts to get busy. Cordelia grabs a brochure from my purse and takes a bite out of it, I have to fish the piece of paper out of her mouth with my finger. I am instantly filled with anxiety.

Some of the items we take: diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, baby wash, toothpaste, tooth brushes, some vegetables, disinfecting wipes, bread, notebooks, a fishing magazine for Evan and instant coffee.

When I reach the cash there are only two buggies in front of me, but after a few minutes, I look behind to see the line stretching back into the depths of the store. Luckier today than last week.

We are not allowed to approach the cash registers if another person is being served. One at a time, while the rest stay back. When it is our turn, I chat with the cashier who is still in good spirits, “at least it makes the day go by fast,” she says. “And it’s better than being stuck at home.”

We will go to Zehrs after this for the remainder of the groceries.

Outside the store, a hand-washing station has been set up, like those you see at concerts or big events. There’s another one inside the store. I use it, but can’t get the paper towels to work, so I wipe my hands on my pants. Counterproductive.

The line-ups here are less strict, but only one check out is accepting cash. Everyone is wearing gloves.

When we get back to the car, I clean my hands and wipe down Cordelia’s as well. She sucks her thumb, so I have to get to it first.

Back at home, after Cordelia is down for her nap, I begin taking apart the cupboards, pulling out all of our stock and organizing it against the new. It seems like a good amount when I have it laid out on the table, but back in the cupboard, there is still so much room.

The government keeps saying not to panic, but no one wants to be caught with their pants down. For the millionth time this week, I tell myself, it’s okay they will keep the stores open. You can always go back.

Evan arrives home from the city shortly after noon. I feed Cordelia and we get ready to go to the bank, to move some things around, provide a little security. It is empty except for staff in the main vestibule, but when we ask about making some changes to our accounts, they tell us all advisers are booked up for the foreseeable future.

After we arrive home I have an email announcing they will be closing some branches and reducing the hours of all others. 

Evan goes out again to go to the Beer Store and LCBO. At the beer store they are rationing what supplies they have left. One case per person, and selection is limited. 

Later on, we watch some saved episodes of Big Brother Canada. I am shocked to realize they are currently living in the studio house. Watching them receive the news, completely oblivious to what is happening in the outside world, brings me to tears. But the show must go on. 

Day 9

Saturday March 21, 2020

The sun is shining today, but it is bitterly cold after the temperature plummeted from a balmy 12C yesterday. It’s now -6. 

Evan has gone to the river to fish, like so many others in our community. The official season doesn’t begin for another month, so potential locations are mostly limited to the river mouth. Luckily, fly fishing in and of itself encourages social distancing. There is an unspoken etiquette on the river. Those who get too close have always faced harsh criticism. A fresh fish for the freezer, right now would be welcome.

I have my usual breakfast of avocado toast with boiled eggs. Avocadoes may become a luxury in weeks to come as California shuts down and borders are closed between the U.S. and Mexico and restricted between the U.S. and Canada– so I’m enjoying them while they last.

New York City this morning declared a ‘major disaster’ – which apparently is worse than a ‘state of emergency’. These kind of descriptors have started to lose their meaning. Where do we go from here? The city has over 5,000 cases of the virus, with one death per hour. Unless they are able to obtain thousands of ventilators, masks and other medical equipment immediately, the tragedy will only escalate.

As of this morning, Canada had over 1,000 cases. 

Many stores are still open, restaurants are still offering delivery, we are still allowed to go outside.

On Instagram, I see others are quarantining their purchases for up to 3 days, putting non-essential groceries in the garage, wiping and spraying everything down, washing produce in soapy water. It seems extreme, but I’m already second-guessing myself. 

When Evan returns from fishing, lamenting the chill and high water, I go for my run. Despite the sun, it is still frigid and running against the wind slows me down and leaves me feeling discouraged. There are still lots of cars driving around and people outside; many are doing yard work, others are biking or running. A small group of high school students are doing organized exercises together. 

Back at home, we stay close to the news for the remainder of the afternoon. I do a strength training workout with Cordelia playing alongside me. After she goes to bed we eat leftovers and play Scrabble. Neither of us is very focused on the game, or the TV show we watch after. We have become numb and are dreading tomorrow when we will decide whether Evan should return to the city to work or not.

We sleep in separate beds. The distance is starting to take its toll on me.

Day 10

Sunday March 22, 2020

Cordelia slept terribly. She has been gnawing her fists and drooling more than usual, so I expect she will finally cut her first tooth very soon. After breakfast I get a peek inside of her mouth. Sure enough there is a tiny jagged edge protruding through her bottom gum. She is fussy and wants to be near me. It will be a long day, but I miss the newborn cuddle phase and enjoy her little face pressed into my chest. 

Around noon, Evan packs up to go fishing again, while I bundle Cordelia for our walk. It’s slightly warmer than yesterday, but the town is eerily quiet. There are fewer cars and we only pass a handful of people. I notice Subway is closed. 

We stop at Rexall to pick up more baby Tylenol for Cordelia, and some toothpaste and a toothbrush. There are only a couple customers, but I wear gloves.

When we get home, Evan is there. He said he got to the river and it was so crowded with guys he turned around and came back: one of the few ways left to let off steam. We FaceTime with his parents so they can spend some time with Cordelia. Our trips to the city already feel like a luxury. We made so many plans for the coming months, now slowly being cancelled one by one by one.

I feed Cordelia lunch and put her down for a nap. She is fussier than ever. While she sleeps I tidy and disinfect high traffic areas in the apartment. My anxiety is starting to get the better of me.

I task Evan with installing a new curtain rod in the living room, while I take a few minutes to have a snack and salvage my mood. I am feeling exhausted and lethargic but committed to going for another run today while the weather is nice and I have the opportunity.

Cordelia sleeps less than an hour. We get her up and the three of us lie on the bed listening to the white noise machine. It is hypnotizing and I can barely keep my eyes open. It’s nearly 3:30 p.m., I need to go, if I’m going. Cordelia continues to fuss and is approaching a full on meltdown. I’m reluctant to leave, but Evan pushes me out the door.

On days like today, I usually hit my stride and am grateful I went. Not today. My legs and feet feel like cannonballs dragging behind me. I am slow and the wind pushes against me. There are many more people out now. We all zig zag across the street, moving from the road to the sidewalk to stay the recommended 6 feet away. I can tell there is guilt, we feel rude. I exchange smiles or a wave with some people. No offense we all say. None taken, the reply.

There are barricades up at the playgrounds with signs prohibiting play. This has just taken effect. Too many people out enjoying the nice weather on Saturday, too close together. They have also closed the provincial parks, and many conservation areas. To be there, is trespassing now. You’ll be fined.

You can also be fined for gathering in groups or hosting parties. This is enforced by police, but not yet the military. Not yet.

When I get home Cordelia has worked herself into a state. Her eyes are puffy and she has the sobbing hiccoughs. I feel guilty for leaving. I take her in my arms and she snuggles against me sucking her thumb, finally calming down. I give her some cold applesauce that she eats willingly. It must feel nice on her gums.

Sitting and watching the news, Evan and I debate for two hours whether he should return to the city to work. We cannot come to any kind of conclusion. The risk seems great, but we can’t both afford to be on EI. We flip a coin. Heads. He packs up his things. Five minutes after he is gone I resist the urge to phone him and tell him to turn around. To come back. How can you ever know you’re doing the right thing in these circumstances?

Before he leaves, Evan hides potential weapons around the house. You can’t be too careful, and I’m here alone all week.

For dinner I thaw some tortellini and cook whatever vegetables are starting to turn in the fridge to create a Greek pasta of sorts. I have it with my mom’s pickled beets. They remind me of childhood summers, previous freedoms.

I am so tired and my eyes feel puffy and heavy. I hope it’s wind burn, from my run and not something else. For the first time since this all began, I am starting to feel paranoid.

Today there are over 1,400 cases. The United States has over 30,000. 1,300 people have died in Italy over the weekend. 

Day 11

Monday March 23, 2020

There’s a blanket of wet snow outside this morning and it’s still falling. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to get out for our morning walk, but maybe later this afternoon. At least the rest of the week is looking to be sunny and mild.

I woke up last night at 3 a.m. with sharp stomach cramps. Maybe from stress, maybe from my run, maybe from the pasta. I didn’t eat a lot, but since having Cordelia, I’ve become more sensitive to gluten. I read somewhere this is a thing. But pasta is cheap, filling and comforting. Pick your battles.

I listen to the news at 9 o’clock, so far there isn’t anything that stands out, just more of the same. Cordelia takes everything off her book shelf. We read her favourite story together, then she is napping by 10.

My plan today was to do my hair and make-up, but I can’t be bothered. No one will be seeing me and I don’t want to waste anything right now.

I work on the online certificate program I’m taking until she wakes up, then make myself a vanilla latte. I placed an online grocery order this morning, but it won’t be ready until Saturday. We should be fine until then, I tell myself again.

It’s not having the option that gives me anxiety. But I promised Evan we wouldn’t go out.

My mom phones. Dad has been laid off, someone on his line at work is ill so he must isolate for two weeks. I file his EI application, the website is slow but fortunately doesn’t crash.

The snow and rain subside, so Cordelia and I set out for a walk after lunch. It’s foggy and a damp mist is still falling. We don’t have to worry about avoiding strangers today, we only come across a handful of people. These walks give me life. Even though the weather is miserable, I feel my mood shift soon after we set out. 

We walk by a duplex where a woman lives with her grandchildren. We’ve chatted in the convenience store and I pass her out walking from time to time. Today on her front door is a sign. It’s written in marker on construction paper: “No one enter! Thank you.” I can’t remember if it was always there.

Evan texts me while we’re still out. They’re shutting down the province, he’s laid off and will be home tonight. I am equal parts relieved and fearful. This is a no-win situation and I know others have it much worse.

Gas is 0.83/litre; the lowest I can remember since the early millennium. Evan says it was 0.74/litre in Hamilton. If only there was somewhere to go.

Back at home, Cordelia goes down for her afternoon nap and I turn on one of Kira Stokes’ workouts. I opt for the 30-minute session today instead of the full hour. I’m having a hard time motivating myself to exercise lately. 

I can’t allow myself to get pulled under.

Restrictions are becoming more austere in Europe and during his daily press conference, Justin Trudeau barely controls his temper, addressing those who have flouted the rules directly: “Enough is enough: go home and stay home.”

Today Canada has over 2,000 cases. The United States has over 33,000.

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