Who knew being required to stay at home for 14 days would be so difficult. After learning I had been exposed to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, that became my reality. I completed my first 50 mile race in early March, a week later I was housebound, my Netflix has never seen so much action, my dogs are by my side day and night. I have never struggled so hard.
As a healthcare provider, I understand why the quarantine is required, to protect not only those around me, but myself. That does not change how difficult it is. My emotions have run the gamut from happy, sad, angry, depressed, scared, and more. I am monitoring my symptoms with a checksheet, I have not shown any. The fear is only partly assuaged. I want to hit the trails and go for a run, but I am scared I will run into someone, anyone, whether I know them or not.
I have relied solely on myself since moving to a new state a year ago for grad school. My friend circle is based 1,000 miles away. The majority of my family is on the other side of the country. Having to rely on others for basics such as groceries is humbling. Being at the whim of another person’s schedule is frustrating. However, I am so unbelievably grateful to those who have helped, who have asked if there was another vegetable they could pick up as the store was out of brussel sprouts.
This pandemic is forcing people’s hands. Forcing people to step out of their comfort zones and stay home, away from people, away from their support, away from their everyday normal. Understand that the country as a whole is going through uncertainty. We as a community want nothing more than to get back to our run crew, trails, and adventures. To find solace in each other and our passions. We must adventure near home, explore our local trails, embrace the solo adventure, or at least a respectable distance apart.
A Quarantine Timeline:
Days 1-4: A break! As a nurse and a grad student, free time is rare. I embraced those first few days. I cooked, I cleaned, I did ALL the laundry. I was productive, it was great.
Day 5: The first breakdown. I cried, for no tangible reason. Then I stopped.
Day 6-7: I packed to go backpacking and realized everyone else was doing the same. I could not guarantee that I would be alone. So I did the responsible thing, I stayed home. I rearranged my bedroom furniture.
Day 8: I tried to order groceries, there weren’t any times available for pickup, grocery delivery wasn’t an option either. I had to wait until one of my classmates was going for them to pick up some things. Thankfully, I had ordered a meal delivery service for this week. I rode my trainer indoors, my dog sat next to me, motivating me to keep going.
Day 9: I slept in. I studied. I napped for 4 hours. I Facetimed a friend in California. I berated myself in my head for not being productive. For wasting a day. I studied some more. I went to bed.
Day 10: I got a surprise package from my best friend in Maine. My favorite Maine things. I cried I was so happy. Aside from Facetime the night before, it was the most human contact I felt I had had in days.
Day 11: My grandmother called to check-in. I had sent her meals so she could avoid the grocery store. Now she was seeing how I was doing, knowing that I am not an indoor girl.
Day 12: Exam day for rotation #2. Taken on my couch with my two dogs. Not the worst set up, comfy clothes, coffee, and the occasional toy dropped in my lap.
Day 13-14: It’s almost over. I can’t wait to go back to work. To go for a run. To be my independent, yet still socially distant self.
Mentally, I reached an exceptionally low point. The light at the end of the tunnel was so dim and far away, sometimes it seemed to be unreachable. Two weeks eventually ended, I am stronger for the past two weeks. I am reminded of how important it is to have a community. Physically, I could have worked out more, but I did something, which is more than nothing. I am enjoying the sunshine more, sitting on my porch with my morning coffee, taking the dogs to the dog park, little things that make each day a little brighter. There are still rough days, but one day at a time is okay for right now.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Reach out if you need help. Reach out to a friend who may not know they are in need.
What to do if YOU are quarantined:
- Take care of yourself the best way you know how, and try to keep your normal schedule. It’s nice to sleep in, but staying awake until 2 am makes the next day more challenging.
- Get outside safely. Go for a walk, do yoga outside, take care to avoid populated places.
- Eat as well as you can.
- Acknowledge your emotions. It is absolutely okay to be frustrated, irrationally angry, cry, feel depressed, sad, or any other emotion. This is a stressful time for everyone, being quarantined for two weeks does not make it easier.
- Be kind to yourself. It is okay to have a hard time doing things. If you feel like you are not doing anything, set little goals. Set a goal to accomplish 1, 2, or 3 things. When you complete your task, you have done something, that counts, which is important to acknowledge.
- Reach out to those around you. Family, community, and connection are wildly important, even from a distance.
What to do if SOMEONE ELSE is quarantined:
- Check-in! Random check-ins have never been more important. Social isolation is hard on everyone, seeing other people out for runs on Instagram, while you are sitting on the couch is rough.
- Care packages for the win. Drop off favorite snacks, meals, flowers, a card. You don’t have to have contact with someone to do this, you can leave it on their porch.
- Ask if they need anything to be picked up for them if you are going out. Groceries, coffee, medications, books.
- Don’t assume that someone else will help out. Better to be overwhelmed with requests to help out than desperately asking everyone you know with no response.