Mar 21, 2020

Self-Isolation Day One

Friday, March 20, 2020: First official day of self-isolation

I feel a vague sense of shame at not having completely isolated myself until now. Last weekend we celebrated a friend's birthday one night and hosted a dinner party the following night. Interactions: 8, plus the guy at the fish counter whom I forced to murder three lobsters, breaking his lobster-killing cherry, and the cashier, whom I told to be nice to the fish guy because I had just made him commit murder. Amendment: interactions: 10. 

On Wednesday night I finally decided to cancel all students until school restarted. Half of them had already cancelled anyway.

On Thursday I went to my chiropractor appointment. They sprayed my hands with mint disinfectant and kept us a few feet away from each other. Interactions: 3. Then I went to my mom's for a visit. We sat at opposite ends of the couch and elbow-bumped goodbye. Interactions: 1. Next I stopped at Walmart to pick up photographs, avoiding other shoppers, of whom there were few. Total interactions: 1 (the guy who handed me my photographs). A brief stop at the grocery store to buy chicken (there was nary a breast nor a thigh nor a wing to be found), tin foil and cling wrap, and fresh fruit. I used the self-check-out station. Total interactions on Thursday: 5.

As an aside, Dude is an obvious exception to the interaction total. Since we regularly share air space, a bed, door handles, food, and bodily fluids, he is exempt as a given. 

Which brings us to today, my first official day of self-isolation.

I have had a mild cough with a slightly sore throat for a couple of weeks but have tried not to show it. I felt like I was keeping a horrible secret, like a well-read copy of Mein Kampf or a penchant for cannibalism. Perhaps I was/am. There is no way to tell, as we are not given tests unless we are in the medical field or have severe symptoms and have been out of the country or been in contact with someone who has recently been out of the country. Even then, we are told to just stay home and self-monitor. For what purpose is anyone's guess. A significant worsening of symptoms? An unofficial probable COVID-19 case count when this is all over? At this point, given my symptoms, I'd diagnose myself as a solid maybe-but-unlikely. Hence the vague sense of guilt.

My motivation for continuing to go about my day without informing people of my cough is unclear to me. I certainly don't want to pass the virus on to anyone else. A not-entirely-subconscious denial? A stubborn unwillingness to follow orders? Whatever the reason, it's moot now, as I am determined to see nobody but Dude for the next two weeks. (I may break that vow to visit my mother again. I feel an odd combination of protectiveness and the desire to be comforted by my mommy.)

Today I had breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and jam, juice), ran in place on the elliptical for 20 minutes and did my 98-pound-weakling weight routine, and then showered and swapped my night pajamas for day pajamas (a bra and panties are the only real difference).

I did not wash my hair. I did not apply antiperspirant or makeup. I did apply eye cream and moisturizer. I took my B12 and zinc. I made a list of all frozen and perishable foods currently in the house and came up with a dinner menu plan for the next two weeks. I counted out 7 toilet paper squares when I sat down to pee.

I checked facebook and my email, did some reading, made dinner, watched netflix, stroked the cat, ran the dishwasher, started a new jigsaw puzzle, listened to music. I scanned the Halloween photos from 2003.

None of these activities was unusual (except for the toilet paper square counting), but they had a distinct air of unreality nonetheless. There is a sense of waiting, of emptiness. Of pause. An undercurrent of fear.

And this is only Day One.