Family · Health · Perspective

Living Heavy

Pandemic. Do I dare even say the word? I’ll just refer to it as “the big P.” It has us all fatigued. People are living heavy. We are edgy and impatient. My daughter calls it “harsh.” I believe it’s directly correlated to the overall environment the last couple of years.

In retrospect, WE were living with force. I was stressed trying to balance all the moving parts and keep us healthy. Constantly questioning myself if this was a good idea? Are we going to get sick? If we do, how sick will we get? What will it disrupt? School? Work? Let’s balance the kids’ need for socialization (school has been IN PERSON the whole time) with making health-based decisions. Make sure you are washing your hands! Who was sick today at school? It was exhausting. Just keep moving. For two years we lived like this.

Christmas Day all the questions were answered. I got sick with what seemed like a bad intestinal flu and fever early in the morning. I don’t remember Christmas at all. My husband wanted to wait to open gifts until I got better, but I refused to make the kids postpone Christmas morning. Scoot forward to day 3 of being sick and I took a home test. Positive, very quickly, I might add. Rona had finally hit our house. Day 5 (fever free!) I emerged from my room (without a sense of smell and modified taste) to my 11yr old son not feeling well. He ran a fever for 12 hours, headache, and intestinal issues. Two days later, I had a cranky 9year old with a stomach ache and headache. The final domino to fall was my husband. That night he developed a fever. He was sick for 36hours (intestinal) and thought everything was extremely salty. Weird.

We live in a rural area, so by the end of our self-imposed quarantine we loaded the vehicle and went for a country cruise. Interacting with no one, it was just a nice dirt road drive to get out of the house. Then it was over. Done. We’d missed Christmas with my family, a basketball tournament, work, and a gathering with friends. We put together puzzles, made Chex Mix, did crafts, played games, and watched Christmas movies – all together. Everyone recovered without medical intervention. No one experienced the respiratory symptoms. What a bizarre experience!

I have mixed emotions that I’ve discussed with my therapist. Part of me feels guilty that we had absolutely no complications. Even with my MS, I had no issues other than my illness lasting longer than everyone else in the family. It’s been drilled into us that if we get C19, we will die. If we get C19 and you aren’t vaccinated, or your immune system did not mount the proper response (hello autoimmune), you will die. Even if you did get vaccinated, you might have complications and die. Many people have. In no way am I downplaying that fact. It IS a fact. It’s a terrible, sad fact and I have grief and empathy for those who battled unsuccessfully. And yet, we didn’t. Survivor’s guilt.

On the other hand, I feel IMMENSE relief. After two years of somehow managing to avoid it, we’ve made it thru. We can live a notch lighter. I know we aren’t alone in this. I read an online article out of a major US city that voiced these exact feelings, both the guilt and the relief, from a handful of people the author interviewed.

A good friend of mine described the same situation after her family went down with C19 in January. We felt shame for being sick with it, followed by relief and guilt when we recovered. Neither her family nor mine was broadcasting on social that we were positive. We quietly let our immune systems battle it out in the privacy of our homes and told only people who had to know- family and those we had been around in the days prior. After recovery, we told our closest friends. That’s it. Why the stigma? We’ve all been living in the big P for 2+ years. Now, 2.5 months later, I feel comfortable writing about our experience and the reflections on it. I’m tired of living heavy. This is a step towards living lighter.

Life in QT over Christmas.

Love Sandwich 2021 Style

It has certainly been awhile since I’ve written on here. It’s been almost ten months since I’ve written at all! Many, many reasons… but most of them were just temporary road blocks… one after another, after another… I’m sure almost everyone can relate!

I always like to frame situations as a “love” sandwich. Good – tough- good. This term is courtesy of one of my college professors during my teacher education blocks. She said it is always best to start with the good, fill in the hard stuff, and round it back out with good.

Good: My kids were in-person education ALL of the 2020-2021 school year with the exception of 3.5 days. I can’t praise our administration enough for this! They front loaded the school year with an extra five minutes each day in case we had to close for covid. We did NOT have to close, so my kids had every Friday off from the beginning of April until they finished it out in mid-May. No vocal music programs or school assemblies, but if that’s all we had to sacrifice for school activities? No big deal. No teachers, administration, or students perished. Our district did not suffer much teacher turnover after 2020-21 covid year either. Being a former teacher, I pay attention to these things!

Tough: This was an EXTREMELY challenging season for mental health. Mental health of all generations was tested, squeezed, stretched, flambĂ©ed, and left exhausted in a heap. I sought professional counseling. Our social workers and school counselors focused on student’s mental health through extra time in classrooms. We had in-depth conversations in our home and asked those harder questions.

Good: Summer activities were back in a completely pre-pandemic, normal style. We’ve dedicated ourselves to baseball March to July, softball May-July, 4H activities and the fair, and a family vacation to Florida. It felt good. We have a boat! What? YES! After boat-watching for multiple years and searching for one for a year, we bought one in February! It’s a pontoon (cue that song by Lady A). Our family has spent many days and evenings out on it since Memorial weekend. We haven’t quite located where the good fishing spots are at our local lake… or maybe it’s just that we don’t know how to read the fish finders? Kids enjoyed tubing with cousins on the 4th weekend. I’ve read a few books while just cruising.

My next post will be more introspective and with pictures. This was just a quickie. I hope you have stayed healthy and full of hope!

— Jen