Our COVID Chronicles, part 2

Well, Truman's third test came back positive, so we are sitting at 5 out of 6 COVID cases here. Sigh. Truman is feeling better than he did on the first day of his fever, but still has a headache, is weak, no appetite, and his legs ache. His fever has come down from 102.4 that first day to right around 99 on his fourth day. He also has a new face rash, but the Ped isn't concerned because Truman does get viral rashes. Zyrtec should help the itchiness and we were cleared to use Ibuprofen for the leg aches, too. Sigh, so much sighing around here. Sigh. Sigh. Freaking Sigh. 

Porter is the last man standing, and he's cracked the code for this mess. Yesterday we were talking about all things COVID, and he said to us, 'I'm not going to get it, because I'm being SUPER careful.' We asked him to elaborate and he said, 'Well, I'm not going to lick anyone that has it.' Porter! We also discussed extra hand washing as a truly 'careful' measure. To which he responded that he does wash his hands after using the bathroom, and 'before we eat, whenever you tell me to.' This kid, man.  

(my images are going to be all inspiring quotes by Morgan Harper Nichols on Instagram. She is the most amazing artist and speaks to my soul often!)



Yesterday I spent some of my day answering questions on Instagram, which was mostly enjoyable because it feels nice to share and help others work through their questions. Old habits die hard, I guess. Most people were very supportive. And yet, I can feel the anxiety rolling off many of the comments. I get it! It's incredibly scary, the fear of the unknown can be suffocating. I'm guessing parts of our story will increase the panic (specifically around sending your kids into a school building) and some parts will ease your worries. But I wanted to touch on a few things before I get into my actual post. 

When I mentioned the shame stigma that seems to surround COVID patients, several people said that nobody should feel shame about contracting a virus. And I agree! But now that I'm digging into my feelings a little more on this topic, it's not a true 'shame' that I've felt. I mean, it does feel like we have the plague and people may want to run the other way when they see us. But what I really couldn't put my finger on until I shared our story, is the fear of judgement. It feels like some people will pick apart our story, and look for 'what went wrong', or what we DID wrong. Because obviously, we messed it up somehow, right? And maybe if *you* don't do this pandemic how we've done it, you will be SAFE. How else can I explain it other than saying, we did everything right and we still got it? Yes, the kids wear masks all day in school. Yes, they are socially distanced--there are only 9 kids in Cece's cohort. Yes, we have brand new HEPA filters installed in our school building. I know that is hard to hear but they are facts. I know everyone means well asking questions and I'm ok answering most of them. 





Trust me when I say I completely understand others' anxiety about this, and the need to control and predict what will happen to you. But as long as you are doing your very best, which I believe 99% of people truly are doing, you just have to keep following precautions and continue to take calculated risks you feel most comfortable with for your family. It could still happen to you as nothing is a 100% guarantee at this point, except for literally locking yourself inside your home until the end of time. I would not recommend that choice either and I certainly do not recommend living your life in fear! 

It all really sucks, you guys. All of it. The anticipation of COVID, the actual living through COVID, the unknowns about the future. I know so many people are struggling mentally and emotionally right now, and it's heartbreaking. BUT! There are silver linings and positive things to pull from this, I promise. I'll talk about those in a hot minute. 

A few other hot topic questions from Insta revolved around my in-laws and how they are doing. They are doing great, Praise Be! Lois tested negative twice, and we didn't actually see Tony the weekend that Cece would have been contagious. Ultimately Nate's parents have been our top priority during this entire pandemic. Back in March, we completely stopped seeing them to protect them from COVID. And then, once we realized there is not an end in sight to this pandemic, we started taking calculated risks to see them as they are an invaluable part of our lives. It would be my ultimate nightmare to give COVID to my in-laws and I'm beyond relieved that has not been a part of our story right now. We miss them so much but we have a ways to go before everyone is out of quarantine. It will make it even sweeter when we can reunite. 


The other common thread in most of the questions had to do with the school district policy on quarantining after a positive case. I was disappointed in how the district handled Cecelia's case, and I have been in communication with them about my disappointment. I'm not going to elaborate any further or throw anyone under the bus. I know people want to blame SOMEONE here but it's honestly not worth the effort to point fingers. 

Also, yes we will be sending our kids back to hybrid (assuming it stays hybrid and doesn't switch to full virtual soon with our metrics changing by the day). Cece is already back, in fact. No, I do not regret sending my kids into the building. Full virtual learning for our family is extremely difficult and I do not think my children learn best in this home environment. Obviously, I wish Cece didn't get COVID but I still prefer in-person learning to at-home learning. 

And yes, I still believe in mask wearing. Cloth masks are not N95 masks, they are not perfect, and nobody should promise you that you'll be safe if you just wear a mask. But I do think masks reduce the viral load you're being exposed to and I think they are worth it.

Yes, of course I am worried about long term effects for the kids and for Nate/myself. But I cannot create mental space for those worries right now. One day at a time is all I can manage. 

Oh, and blood types! I realized why I don't know my kids' blood types. I asked my Ped about this today and she said the hospitals only test babies' blood types if the mother is Rh -. I am for sure not negative and believe I'm AB+, so there's no way any of our kids have 0 blood. Also my Ped said that in children, luckily their symptoms tend to be less severe overall than adults---so the blood type and symptom relationship isn't proven for kids. 

Onward!

My Covid Silver Linings:

-Nate's clinic can still function without him present. He can't work from home, and it's not the usual income without him there but absolutely better than nothing. 

-I am not working outside of the home anymore. Seriously, would have been impossible with both of us in healthcare and without any help from grandparents/daycare during quarantine.
 
-Nobody has endured severe symptoms, hallelujah. In fact, MOST COVID cases include mild symptoms. There will always be outliers to this statement but chances are high that you'll be okay if you do contract it.

-Cece and I could quarantine together. It was a strange but sweet time. 

-Nate and Wallace could quarantine together (with Cece and me) after my quarantine was finished.

-Cece did not spread it to her classmates.

-Antibodies! For at least 3 months we can feel less fearful of this virus. It is not a guarantee of course, there's just so much we don't know about this virus. But I plan to breathe a little easier and let go of some anxiety I've had prior to this.

-Family time and help from Nate in online learning! Under different circumstances this would have been heavenly, like a true vacation. Of course it has been anything BUT peaceful, and we have all been pretty sick. I have still been able to notice and appreciate the time with Nate here and I'm sad that period is ending, but he needs to get back to work!

-Hugging my family after isolation was an absolute HIGHLIGHT. It's like I don't ever want to take for granted all of the beauty in the ordinary days again. My first Wallace-hug made me cry, his little body wrapped around mine <3


Things I've learned from our personal case study:

-Being inside a school building with masks, HEPA filter, and social distancing does not mean you are safe from exposure. Even if you are staying 6 feet away, and have not been in contact with an exposure for more than 15 minutes cumulative, you could still contract the virus. This is a huge pill to swallow and I'm guessing Cece's case is rare but it still happened. 

-This virus is unpredictable: some people will get it after very low risk exposure, and some won't get it even with significant exposure. MADDENING.

-Even with symptoms, you might be negative (Truman). Well, at least for two tests, and then he finally got a positive test on the third try with a new fever. 

-Without symptoms, you might test positive (Me and Wallace--but we did get symptoms after our tests, so we would be considered pre-symptomatic).

-Our symptoms are not the same as everyone else's symptoms with COVID.

-Transparency and communication is KEY when it comes to possible exposure. Err on the side of caution and give potential 'close contacts' the information they need to make decisions for their family. 

-The only way to handle COVID is to go through it, you cannot completely avoid it forever or be fearful of it. Respect the virus, it is a very real thing. Take all of the precautions. But once it hits your family in some capacity, focus on the silver linings to avoid total overwhelm. Listen to your doctor. It's okay to be scared, angry, and sad. But at some point you'll need to process those emotions and move on. You cannot control everything that is happening to you. You can only control how you respond to this very crappy situation. I'm still working on this one on the regular.

-The first few days after Cecelia's positive test were the most stressful, overwhelming, scary days full of constant information. Many bits of information will conflict with each other when it comes from different sources (doctor versus health department versus school district). Grab hold of any information that makes logical sense and try to let go of the rest. And get ready for a crash after the adrenaline wears off. For me, my head was spinning for a solid two days before I crashed hard, and then I got sick after that. Stress does real things to your immune system and cortisol sucks. I'm not blaming my stress for contracting COVID but I'm certain it didn't help.

-Stick to Tylenol instead of Ibuprofen, even though it sucks in comparison for relief of fever (for adults at least, my Ped did say Ibuprofen is okay for Truman). Ask your doctor to be sure.

-Comparative suffering is not worth the effort. Everyone will move through this experience differently, at a different pace, and with a unique story to tell. Don't play the game of 'we had it worse than you because....'. There is value in re-prioritizing what is deemed 'essential' in your life, and having a kick-ass support system will help immensely. But ultimately, you will need to process this on your own, with your family, isolated. Nobody else can do that for you.



The end for now. 

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