52, female, multiple underlying conditions
I honestly didn’t think it would affect me...affect us, here in suburban San Diego, far away from where it all began. So many other worldwide health emergencies terrorized huge parts of the world and left us alone (at least so far); I guess our run of good luck ran out.
We - the husband and I - spent the first weekend in March in Phoenix, watching Spring Training baseball games and kicking off what was to be an entire calendar year of celebrating the 50th anniversary of his birth; as I type that, I am struck by how amazingly naive and selfish that sounds. By then, the rumblings about cases rising in other parts of the United States had begun, so we knew we needed to be careful, and we were: I brought disinfecting wipes, disinfecting spray, multiple pump bottles of hand sanitizer, and even sanitizing hand wipes. I wiped everything in our hotel room before we moved our things in, and we refused any servicing of our room for the duration of our stay. I even brought my own pillow case. And then, for three days straight, we sat in crowded stadiums, elbow to elbow with random strangers. When I think about it now, my chest and throat constrict with the understanding of how terribly, terribly wrong that all could have gone. About halfway through the final game, on Sunday afternoon, I was struck by a sudden thought of how exposed we all were, and it just didn’t feel safe anymore, so we left early.
For the entire (over 5 hour) drive back to San Diego, I just kept thinking, “I want to be home. Please get me home.” It was three days after we arrived home that my company sent out the message telling all of us that we’d be working from home for a minimum of six weeks out of an abundance of caution; we’ve been working from home ever since.
What has changed since March 16 (the last day I was in my office at work)?
- I was training to run a half marathon that was scheduled for the last Sunday in March. I ran 5 days a week, faithfully, from December 9 through March 15 and then I just stopped because the world stopped and the race was cancelled
- I spent a few weeks in a major depressive funk over the cancellation of my race but more importantly the terrifying prospect of what would happen to me, my husband, my parents, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law (all of us have “underlying conditions”) due to the pandemic
- My wonderful running coach reached out when he hadn’t heard from me in about 10 days - no entries on my training log, no text messages - and we crafted a new routine for me:
- I run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday very early mornings; if I’m not back from my run by 7:45am, it’s too crowded in my neighborhood, and I need to avoid the landscape maintenance crews (Tuesday) and sanitation trucks (Thursday)
- My husband bought me a bike trainer for our anniversary in mid-April and, ever since then, I bike in the garage Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings; these rides are my favorite time of the week
- The Fitness Center at work has gone completely virtual (and global), and offers two 15- minute stretch breaks (one morning, one afternoon) and multiple group workout classes live each work day; my favorite classes are Gentle Yoga (Mondays at 4pm) and Durability & Resilience (Fridays at 7:30am)
- I do not exercise for more than 90 minutes at a time or above 75% of my maximum heart rate (220-your age * .75) because there is data showing a decline in immune system function for athletes working beyond either of those limits; no more three hour training runs for me for a long while
- I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup, not even tinted moisturizer, since I left the office on a Monday at noon
- I now work in a 10’x10’ home office space, about 4’ from my husband, who is also working from home for the duration of the world health emergency; so glad my manager convinced me to bring my monitor home with me!
- I recently received approval from my new manager to order a sit/stand desk riser - my lower back does not appreciate all of the sitting I do now that “going to a meeting” means slipping an AirPod into my ear and signing in to Zoom!
- We went from never eating a meal at home - literally, never! - to eating all of our meals at home.
- We have a meal delivery service that sends five fresh, not frozen, dinners each week that are gluten free, dairy free, and feature free range proteins that are organic and locally sourced.
- I recently started ordering these yummy lunches that are gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and artificial sweetener free, which has really helped me eat enough food throughout the day
- We order food delivery for Sunday breakfast and one dinner a week from a group of local restaurants that we frequented before the stay at home orders; the food arrives on our doorstep, we receive a text message then wait a few minutes to allow the delivery person to get back to their vehicle before we open the door. One of us - usually my husband - picks up the bag and holds it while the other carefully takes the food out of the restaurant’s containers and puts it on our dishes. We then throw out the bag and containers, wash our hands, and enjoy our meal!
- We haven’t visited Starbucks since late in March - can’t pinpoint the exact date because my app no longer has any History for me. We have our favorite small batch coffee delivered from Seattle every two weeks and I brew one cup every morning.
- All of our groceries and household supplies are delivered - we haven’t been inside of a building other than our home since March 25
- Early on, I realized that we’d need to avoid being anywhere around other people, especially indoors, so we subscribed to a grocery delivery service. Initially it was difficult to obtain delivery spots - I used to set an alarm to wake up at midnight so that I could get first dibs on the next day’s deliveries, but their capacity has increased a lot, probably due to the number of local jobs impacted by the stay at home orders. I tip far more generously than I used to and always give 5 star ratings to our delivery people because they are, quite literally, keeping us safe
- For household supplies, we used to just stop off at our local general merchandise retail store whenever we needed more toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, personal health supplies, etc, but that came to a complete halt as of April 1. Now I use either same-day home delivery or have items shipped, depending on how urgently we need things
- After many years of employing a house cleaning service, I am now the only one cleaning our house.
- This posed a lot of challenges back in March because:
- The stores were completely out of all cleaning/disinfecting supplies by the time we got home from Phoenix (#hoardmageddon). For weeks I kept trying to find wipes, sprays, paper towels, or anything I could use to clean our home, but to no avail
- I hadn’t needed to do more than an occasional clean up of a spill or stain in years, and I used wipes or sprays with paper towels to do that, which I could no longer do
- Eventually, I decided to do what my grandmothers would have done: buy actual cleaning supplies (washable, reusable microfiber cloths, dusters, and mop heads) and mix my own cleanser and disinfectant spray in glass bottles.
- I couldn’t find alcohol anywhere, so my disinfectant is peroxide based, mixed with distilled water (my new best friend) and clove essential oil (which is actually effective on its own against viruses): it smells good, can be used on all hard surfaces, and kills viruses in one minute of working time (alcohol and other disinfectants take 10 minutes of working time)
- My everyday cleanser is just a liquid soap and water mixture in a glass bottle and it works great: viruses, and especially the one we’re battling right now, are highly susceptible to soap and water, and it is non-toxic and unscented so I don’t need to wear gloves while cleaning
- I even overhauled my laundry routine: I mix the same soap concentrate with distilled water in a reusable plastic laundry bottle and use it with an oxygen-based bleach alternative in the wash. Instead of using hot water, I use a 25 minutes soak cycle before the main washing begins, and that kills all of the germs without any toxic chemicals or a huge hit to our utility bill! In the dryer, I use wool dryer balls to help clothes dry faster - no more disposable dryer sheets.
- I truly believe that our house has never been cleaner! We tackle at least one larger cleaning task each weekend: vacuuming the living and dining room furniture; damp dusting one of the rooms top to bottom; cleaning the microwave, dishwasher, and clothes washer & dryer; dusting the window blinds; running a microfiber duster underneath and along the sides of the major appliances (fridge, washer, and dryer); dusting the ceiling fans; changing out the filter for the heating/cooling system; washing the shower curtain and liner; wiping down the inside of the kitchen garbage bin (which always has a liner in it but still manages to get dirty).
- I packed away most of my clothes that cannot be thrown in the dryer; I will probably dispose of them through an online consignment service or once it’s safe for us to visit the drive through charity store drop off site. What remains in my closet are all items that I love wearing because they are natural fibers like cotton and linen; I made an exception for my merino wool and cashmere items during the cooler months, and for my silk tops now that it’s warmer. (If you wear a thin cotton shirt under your sweaters, you only need to hand wash them once a season.)
As we prepare to enter our fifth month of staying at home, we have a pretty good routine going; we know that we will not be able to stay as isolated as we are forever, but minimizing our risk is the most important thing we can do right now to hopefully allow us to make it through to see a vaccine and effective anti-viral treatment.
Whew, that was a lot - I promise shorter posts from here on out, and I’ll remember to take some pictures to accompany the next one, too!
How have things in your life changed since March? Any good housekeeping tips to pass along?