The Pandemic Diaries

In 2009, my then just shy of five year old contracted the H1N1 virus. I think all four of us had it, but she was the only one who got tested. After a visit to the ER which included a spinal tap, an ambulance ride to a different hospital, and an overnight stay.

It was such a whirlwind at the time that details of how it all went down, and how things progressed so quickly were hard to keep track of. With a decade having gone by, details are even fuzzier. I remember Chris telling me I needed to check on her because she was acting a little strange. She had gone to bed. I went to her room and found her agitated, feverish, and, for lack of a better term, speaking in tongues. It was like she was trying to talk but couldn’t. It was evening. I was tired. I wanted to go to the ER like I wanted a root canal, but things were just a little too strange. I left Chris home with Jerod while Elise and I loaded up for a trip to the local hospital.

We waited. I think it was over an hour, but as I said, a decade has passed. Could’ve easily been more or less. At any rate, the physician who saw her was worried enough by her mental state that he wanted a spinal tap. At the time we didn’t have extended family in town, but we were fortunate enough to have neighbors who came to stay with Jerod while Chris joined me in the ER.

I honestly don’t remember why the doctor deemed an ambulance ride to be necessary. Or a hospital admission. I do remember things progressing oh so quickly, and yet in painfully slow motion. Once admitted, a test for H1N1 was ordered. Her condition, which in hindsight was probably never terribly precarious, rapidly normalized. Less than 24 hours later she was discharged and we were sent home with instructions for rest, fluids, and fever reducers. And tamiflu if I remember correctly. Within a few days, life felt largely normal; and Swine ’09 was in our rearview mirror. Since I’ve just blathered on about the experience, I guess you could say I’ve been having some flashbacks to the experience.

Since Friday night around 10:30, our family has existed in something resembling quarantine. I can’t say we’ve been terribly effective global citizens. Chris stopped at Chipotle on Friday evening on his way home and picked up dinner. He and Jerod went out for bagels yesterday morning. They grabbed dinner at a drive thru yesterday evening. Elise had a friend over to watch a movie. And this morning I ordered grocery delivery.

The takeaway from that paragraph is the Holt family is most definitely going to have to do better in the coming days. Despite our shortcomings, though, the weekend has felt incredibly strange. Soccer was canceled. Church this morning will be via Facebook live. I baked a cake yesterday. I watched two episodes of Virgin River, which I’d normally dismiss as rubbish; but couldn’t seem to turn away from. Because, well, I had time; so why not? On Friday night Chris and I watched Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, we’re behind the times. Because idle time simply isn’t something we’ve had a lot of in the past decade of raising children in a world where hyper-scheduling is the status-quo.

As I write this, we’re 15 minutes out from a press conference from our governor; who I’m quite certain is going to close schools. The world is shutting down around us, bit by bit. And yet, I really have zero doubt that come 8:40 tomorrow morning, I’ll be getting into my car as I’ve done pretty much every weekday since starting a job in January. Ironically, one of my contributing factors to leaving my job in health care 15 years ago was that I wasn’t crazy about working when most other people weren’t. So when looking for a job at the end of last year, I pursued options in a handful of different industries and ended up working for a CPA. While he is a smart, reasonable fellow; he has no intention of shutting the office this week. Despite any rumors you’ve heard, the April 15th tax deadline has not been extended, and at least in our little corner of the tax prep world, we don’t want it to be. My guess is, that unless government ordered, our office will be open for the duration. I’m grateful there are only three of us in the office and we have adequate space. I’m less grateful my boss is continuing to give folks the option to come in and pick up their returns; when they could be sent in the mail. As a new employee it feels like overstepping my bounds to tell him he needs to quit letting folks come to the office; but I think come tomorrow morning, I’m not going to care.

I have lots of thoughts on the wide array of attitudes surrounding the situation. I’m not going to go into detail about them at this point, other than to say I strongly prefer my governor’s to that of POTUS. I have two different people, both of whom I consider close friends, who had college aged kids studying abroad. To say watching them navigate the situation of trying to decide on a course of action, then trying to execute the decided action has tugged on my maternal heartstrings would be putting it mildly. I have another two moms within my circle of acquaintances who can be described as immunocompromised. One is going through chemo, the other recently had a kidney transplant. They both have kids in the same age groups of mine. I don’t want them, or anyone else, to have to deal with a health system that is also compromised. Which is why my family needs to do better, and every other family needs to follow the damn rules and roll with the punches.

Hours have passed since I started writing this. My kids have no school until March 27th. My daughter’s ninth grade trip to D.C. has been canceled. My family is not sitting around the kitchen island filling out our March Madness brackets, and we’re not at the Minnesota United home opener as we’d planned. Toilet paper, rice, beans, and thermometers are in short supply, but the fixings for jalapeno poppers apparently are not. That’s all I know, folks.