Day 100, and holy CRAP

8.5 million cases worldwide. 2.2M in the US.

Well over 450K dead. 120K of which are in the US.

We’ve been seeing spikes because of Memorial Day weekend openings.

Because people couldn’t wait. Let alone mask.

Protests continue for the fourth weekend. Confederate statues and portraits are coming down. But people are guarding others. With guns.

Juneteenth was celebrated nationally yesterday. It has become a state holiday in many states, including New York. But racism still abounds in many places.

Breonna Taylor’s murderer was fired but no charges have yet been filed. She was murdered the same day we started quarantine here, and still no charges.

I am truly, deeply hoping that justice comes, and comes with her sword.

Day 40, with Overwhelm

CW: Death toll, other associated numbers, general horror at the state of the world

Today is a rough one. A reeeeeally rough one.

I understand that anything that would make US governmental bodies shut down businesses would have to be bad. But today it hit me how bad it still is, vs my miniscule effort, vs all these days inside.

In the past two days, over 10K people have died globally. More people have died in the US between 4/20 and 4/21 than are, on average, killed by heart disease (the #1 killer in the US). The death rate right now in Spain is over 10%. The death rate in the US is 5% so far, and while New York’s curve is finally starting to flatten, as a country that curve is still climbing.

We’re doing incredibly badly at containing this monster, and I’m terrified for friends and family across the globe. If you’re reading me regularly you probably are already doing all you can, but if you stumble on me by accident? Please stay safe, don’t play chicken with this horrible thing.

Day 34, with Exhaustion

Yesterday morning my voice was ragged and low, what Jon calls my Kathleen Turner Overdrive voice. I sounded like a massive cold was in my throat and lungs, snot not there yet but oh-yeah incoming. And I was TIRED. Really darkdeep tired. I was seriously debating calling in a sick day. But people need, and work needs, and I’m doing (relatively) good work for a fine institution that serves people, and I wasn’t SICK sick.

So I got up, and started working.

And very quickly regretted it.

Not because anything went wrong, per se. Everything in my work-world is exciting and has the typical tech hitches, and the interpersonal dynamics are all familiar to me and everyone associated with my projects really means extremely well.

No, the problem was the tiredness. I haven’t been this kind of tired since the last time I had mono. Adding a LOT of video conferencing calls where I was called upon to be cheerful* was an effort and stress I wasn’t really up for. I ended the day with my head on my desk, my cheeks not just aching but burning from smiling too long, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I actually did go and lie down under the covers for a while, and if I’d had dinner I might have just passed out.

But I was angry at myself. I’m not doing that much; I’m not working up to my personal spec day by day. So there I was, head on desk, thinking “dammit Risa get the hell up and get [that other thing] done.”

If that sounds familiar to anyone, I want to extend a psychic hug. Sometimes gentleness with ourselves and each other is hard, because the world is not gentle and we’re keyed to respond fast and adapt soon after. But nothing about this is actually easy. Living with helplessness is not easy. So I want to remind you that not only is the world full of horror right now, but there was horror we were struggling with before this all happened, and your tiredness or anger or pain? It makes sense. Things are bad. We get tired. Struggling to not be tired only works short-term. In the end, we’ll be forced to admit to the existence of that goopy human who needs to cry or scream or maybe just space out for a little while.

That goopy human deserves all the care and love we can summon for it.

*because otherwise I get the worst resting bitch face.

Day 24, with Inspirations

CW: Coping or lack thereof, discussion of a death unrelated to COVID-19

It’s funny how many tiny inspirations a person can pull from their immediate surroundings when trying to cope with a mass trauma event. I’ve been through more than one, and normally I get my coping juice from being outside or with blooming thigs. This is the first time I’ve started trying to pull some ‘power’ from these intensely localized events and observations. But I figure talking about my little inspos might help others find their own. So here goes!

First inspiration is my wee hydroplants. I adore purple passion vines* and they root really well in water, so I have six different cuttings in water around my office, four of which come from the same plant. Well, yesterday I noticed that one of the plants has decided it wants to have purple roots. In my coupla decades of water-propagating purple passion vines, I have neeeever ever seen this. This one plant has three purpling roots, one long and two just starting the pass the coloring down the length of the already-flourishing root. I am so proud of this baby for pioneering a new way to be purple.

Second inspiration is our adaptability as humans. Today I “sat shiva” with a dear friend via Skype. It wasn’t an unexpected death, but my friend couldn’t go to the funeral without endangering the rest of his family. So he stayed home, and participated in the funeral via Skype, and oh I am so so proud of him for agreeing it was best and being willing to sacrifice his own bit of closure. Seeing my friend do all of this remotely, navigating his mourning, was a strong reminder of how quickly humans adapt to adversity and keep moving.

Third and finally, I made a mask for Jon yesterday. I’d been meaning to anyway, even before the “everyone wear masks outside” directives, but the fact that the sewing machine is both dusty and hard to access right now was a deterrent. However, I realized I had a few holey cotton yoga pants I could repurpose, and an idea struck me. I was able to make a no-sew mask – not the best quality but a better-than-bandanas mask nonetheless. I’m thinking of posting a video, because a lot of people don’t have the resources (or spoons) to sew.

I’m hoping that these kinds of things keep happening, because I’m anticipating at least another 4 months of this. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m preparing to be right.

Day 14, With Spring

It’s the time of year I love the most*. This morning I looked out my office window and the sun was shining juuust right on the magnolia tree and forsythia bush across the street, and I felt…

Well. Back in my early days I’d have felt overflowing, like a cup fuller than full, in the good way. I’m slowly getting back to that emotion, but now it’s simply a wee swell in the heart, an ease in the lungs, a sense of both return and newness.

It’s a BIG conflict when compared to the sorrow and devastation this global illness has wrought, and it changes how I respond to the feeling. My immediate inclination, almost a compulsion, is to go outside and bury my face in the flowers like I’m a nectar-hunter. I can’t, though, because I’m still within the “might be a carrier” zone. So I’m staying in. No biggie, right? But when you’re contemplating your mortality, these things loom larger. I’m glad we’ve got a lilac bush really close to the front door; it’s not due to bloom for another week but if the CDC/WHO determine people can be carriers for longer than 21 days, I’d be in agony. It would be a hell of a struggle for me to not huff a lilac when there was one within walking distance. While I was in Texas, I missed lilacs more than I ever expected.

In the meantime, I feel simultaneously lucky and helpless. We’re doing reasonably well in this crisis but others I know and love are not. My stepfather has a health crisis unrelated to the virus wracking the world right now, and I think of him hourly – alongside everything else. And I think of my mother, who can’t go visit him. Alongside everything else.

And there’s nothing I can do for anyone except stay home.

I understand why people break quarantine. I’m not sympathetic, but I understand. We’re not used to accepting helplessness. We’re always told we can do something, we can change it, we can fix it, if only we did x or y or z.

I think it’s time to revisit what helplessness means. Because gods know, as individuals we’re helpless to stop the spring from coming. So I’m practicing imagining the discomfort of helplessness as a bud, enclosed in the chill of the wind…

about to turn into a flower, if it can just. hold. on.

* …allergies notwithstanding.

Seriously, What the Hell, Body

Dealing with multiple sickers ickers REALLY sucks.

Not only do my feet hurt and my hip on my left side twinge with whatever nerve thing is going on there.

The trapezius and deltoid in my left shoulder is spasming painfully and the spasming resists stretching, massage, heat, ice, topical lidocaine, NSAIDS, extra magnesium (internally and externally), valerian, passionflower, chamomile, peppermint oil, etc etc etc. I’d be slathering lavender oil on even though I’m allergic, buuuut…

I also might be allergic to SOME fucking thing in the house. I’ve been good with my food but my eyes keep blowing up, even though I’m taking 25mg benadryl 3x a day to make the shoulder thing livable. Any allergies should be conquered by that, right? And for most humans it’d mean you’re knocked right the hell out? But no, not me. I’d go to urgent care to get a prescription for muscle relaxers buuuut…

I am really hesitant to take anything new because I ended up allergic to my new fucking ALLERGY PRESCRIPTION. Full face blowup, venom sac-like things and all.

*headdesk*

And on top of all of this BS?

I’ve been struggling with a nasty cold (which Jon opines is the source of my eye blowouts since stopping the prescription, but I’m not so sure) including sore throat and loooong drawn out coughs. So pleasant. Plus? The extra magnesium has not helped my belly much. *side-eye*

I am fighting REALLY hard to not have this be the way I segue into 2020. A little help, here, Universe?

Transitional Phases

I’m in a weird state of disability right now, in which I have a foot with four different conditions that doesn’t want to heal, and a back that has decided it’s going to stab me with burning cold stilettos if I move even a centimeter the wrong way. Even better, while sleeping helps the former, it makes the latter MUCH worse.

(I’m glad I didn’t Konmari; my Lordoloc back brace from my disk surgery in 2016 is proving to be a life saver.)

Before this happened, a dear, beloved friend of mine actually asked me “If you could heal yourself just by not eating meat, would you?” I had to remind her I’d already been vegan. I’m not that kind of meat eater. And I was well aware that her intentions were “holy cow there’s got to be a way my friend can heal. Maybe I can help her.”

It’s got me thinking about transitions and liminal spaces, and how much people want to be, and help you, through them. Most forms of sickness and disability are viewed as a phase that you need to get through. Healing is to be rushed through to get you back to an “acceptable” state.

There’s no real space for accepting where one is.

It’s frustrating, this rush to get back to the “healed” state. I mean, certainly I do NOT want to be in pain. That’s a given. But it’s not like I’ve had a trustworthy body all my life that has suddenly fucked off on me. I’ve had all sorts of issues since I was quite young. Skin, feet, back… all before I hit the double digits.

It’s not like all this stuff I’m going through wasn’t heralded.

When I put my foot back in the protective boot in order to not be in pain I felt a surge of rage at my backsliding that surprised me. My mental process was “As if I don’t have enough to deal with, the only way I can be pain-free is to encase my left foot and ankle in this clunky plastic-and-foam-and-velcro… almost exoskeleton. What the actual fuck.”

Didn’t even occur to me to be grateful there was an option. Some folks are just… in pain. And sometimes I… am just in pain. So on comes my lower back, stabbing me, to remind me what THAT constancy of agony felt like.

I think it’s about time that I stop treating this aspect of my life as something I can heal from, and quickly. That’s pretty ableist of me.

It’s time for me to think about what I can do to make this life, this immediate, as-I-am-right-now, life work for me.

Norovirus + Cold

Okay, this is pretty miserable.

Went to my gorgeous niece’s birthday party this past weekend. Lucky us, it happened to be scheduled during a brief pause between when Jon was recovering from a nasty bug (it’s been going around his office) and when I was coming down with it.

But the “coming down with it” happened while we were prepping for the 5-hour drive back home. Ugh.

Let me say that 1) traveling while sick with norovirus is uncool (UNDERSTATEMENT) and 2) having a cold on top of it is just extra cruel. Last night with its combined “not only are you nauseated but you also can’t breathe through your nose” made for some unpleasant sleep.

And then I dreamed I was being framed for a horrible thing I didn’t do. Had to escape from Bosnia-Herzegovina on top of a train without being caught or electrocuted. (I’ve never been to any part of the Balkans; I don’t know why that came up. But apparently Bosnia-Herzegovina has lots of lovely waterfalls, so maybe I should go…?)

Enduring simultaneous multiple illnesses affecting the head and throat: do. not. recommend.