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Greetings from Self-Quarantine

Drawing by Kristin Noreen

Hello Readers! I have so many ideas for posts right now, but I bet your attention spans are as short as mine for anything but obsessing on our current situation. I think what we need today is a check-in. I’ll go first, then you tell me in the comments what it’s like for you.

I’m super stressed right now because my cat is scheduled for a medical procedure tomorrow at a specialty nuclear medicine facility in Seattle, 81 miles away. He has to stay there at least 2 nights, possibly up to 10, but the average is 2 to 3. They don’t do releases on Sundays, so he’ll either be there 2 or 4 nights. I feel like I’m skating in under the wire—non-emergency services like this could be closed down at any time. But he can’t be released until his radiation level reaches a certain point, so if they close the clinic, they have to complete treatment for the cats that are already admitted.

Timbits has hyperthyroid, which works differently in cats from how it works in us. It’s often referred to as “malignant hyperthyroidism,” because older cats tend to get thyroid tumors that cause the hyperactivity. Radioactive iodine treatment is the magic bullet—very high cure rate, and very low complication rate. Medication can control it in some, but not all, or even most cats. With my partially paralyzed right hand, giving pills to a huge, strong male cat is not happening. I have to get him to that appointment. Hyperthyroid can kill if left untreated. I feel like I have to get him in before I lose the opportunity. So many things are closed or not allowed now.

The clinic is about a 90-minute drive. I have to leave 2 hours ahead to ensure I make it on time. Seattle traffic is greatly calmed by the quarantine, but you never know. My neighbor, who runs the Senior Center, gave me adult diapers so I can make it all the way without having to stop at a public highway rest stop. When I arrive, I am to phone the desk and announce that I’m there. They’ll text me when it’s time to come in. One patient enters at a time, and surfaces are wiped down between patients. I’ll sit in a designated chair that keeps me 6 feet from the doctor.

These people are all over the containment thing. I feel safe going there. What makes me nervous is all the things that could go wrong during an 81-mile drive in a 15-year-old car with a distressed cat. I’ll feel much better when he’s safe at home again. That’s probably 5 days from now; it feels surreal wondering what things will be like by then.

Other than the veterinary drama, things haven’t changed that much for me in my daily routine. I’ve been working from home for 10 years already now. Only a year ago I moved to the tiny house with my 32-square-foot office with a view of the forest and a meadow that is often filled with deer.

I really miss seeing people, though—the ones you would normally see in a day. Tim who sells Real Change at the Co-op. The Chinese lady at the pool who doesn’t speak a word of English but smiles warmly at me every time we meet up. Jenny at the Thai House! Oh, how I miss Jenny. The Thai House is still doing take-out; my small group of neighbors is ordering out this Saturday and eating together at separate picnic tables (we have enough—one of the neighbors is a retired park ranger). Our combined $100 order will help them through this tough time.

I’ve been having a lot more social anxiety. I think because our interaction is less face-to-face now, every moment we do spend talking to people from a respectful distance is precious. It’s lost the free-and-easy fun feeling and my jokes aren’t landing as well, or I’m thinking of better ones as I walk away. I parse conversations after the fact and second-guess their responses in a way I don’t normally do. Fear has made us awkward with one another.

Meanwhile, doing without basic things has made some people come unglued. First of all, people, toilet paper is not a necessity. Most of the world’s people don’t use it. I have an RV toilet on a shared septic system; we don’t flush paper into it. I use a squeeze bidet bottle (available online in many places) with a special nozzle that aims the spray where it needs to go. If you have trouble squeezing a bottle, there’s one heavily advertised on Facebook that uses batteries. (Don’t use batteries needlessly if you’re able to squeeze.) I dry off with soft cloths that I toss into a covered can next to the toilet, and I throw them in the wash with the towels. It’s not gross, and once you get used to it, you’ll think toilet paper is.

That said, our need for basic supplies may be more real than that of other people. There may be things that we, with our various conditions, can’t do without. I’ve been having a blast making do with whatever is at hand. My neighbor and I have a casual competition going over who can make the best jury-rigs without leaving the house.

My medical services are barely available. No acupuncture, the clinic closed. Chiropractic care is still happening, not as often as I’d like. My massage therapist is taking me Friday on the down-low, because my bolted-together arm is miserably sore without regular workouts at the pool and gym (both closed).

This is the eve of the Equinox, tomorrow is the first day of spring. I light a ceremonial candle and ring a tiny chime to welcome the season. I couldn’t find the wooden hammer for my chime—last time I saw it, Timbits was batting it wildly around the floor—but I did find my missing gym padlock. I tapped the chime lightly with it and was rewarded with a clear “Ping!” “To the MacGyver Spring,” I said as I lit the candle. “May it all work out just fine.”

What is going on with you? Are you in the high-danger category? Are you able to self-quarantine? Are you getting the medical care you need? Do you have a support system? Introduce yourself in the Comments, tell us your story. Let’s help one another to be okay.

Greetings from Self-Quarantine


Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.


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APA Reference
, . (2020). Greetings from Self-Quarantine. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2020/03/greetings-from-self-quarantine/

 

Last updated: 18 Mar 2020
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