Hello! Today marks one year since I started isolating at home due to the coronavirus. I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night, but I will never forget the week this all started.
One year ago, on March 16, I had an eye doctor appointment. I remember the news becoming more and more dire about the new virus. I remember being worried about going, but I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in so long, and it was too late to cancel.
I went, and the eye doctor’s office had precautions in place, including a lot of hand sanitizer. They also had a new policy: If you try on glasses, don’t put them back on the rack, put them in a tray for them to clean before going back on the rack. I got my eyes checked, picked out glasses and was told they’d be ready that day.
So, since this office was across town, I decided to stay in the area. I was going to go shopping or just wander around somewhere. I picked an antique store, and it turned out that I was the only customer in the entire store.
The appointment had made me more nervous with all the precautions, then at the antique store, I overheard the owner and employees talking about closing the store. They were talking about the virus, and how it didn’t look good. They figured they’d have to close up shop for a while.
Hearing their conversation made me even more nervous, so I went and sat in my car. I was going to go to the arcade across the street, but I decided that was too risky. Then I saw there was a CVS, so I thought I’d see if they had any sanitizer or anything like that. They did not, as the shelves were already empty.
So, I drove over to the eye doctor and just sat in the parking lot until my glasses were ready. I even remember that it started raining as I was sitting there. Finally, my glasses were ready. I picked them up, and that was basically the last nonessential thing I did for a year.
On March 17, I went to work. I had already had conversations with a friend about working from home, and that I would absolutely have to with this virus. So, I get to work, and my boss calls me into his office and asks me if I want to work from home. Probably too emphatically, I said yes.
I grabbed the laptop, a monitor and some stuff from my desk, thinking I’d be back in a few months. I remember asking the IT person if I had what I needed, and she said “I don’t care.” So, that was helpful. Note: I didn’t have what I needed. I didn’t have a cord that I needed to hook the monitor up to the laptop.
So, I get home, and I quickly got the laptop set up on my bed. I found out that I was missing the cord, and I had to design pages on the tiniest screen on Earth. But I was working from home, and that was SUCH A RELIEF. Also, I found out that it is a very bad idea to work on a bed. My back was 10 miles past dead by the end of the night.
But all I wanted to do was get through that shift, then I could sort everything out. Strangely enough, the next morning, Walgreens called and an automated message said that they were offering a new service: You could call them up and order something, then pick it up at the drive-thru. Well, I immediately got online and saw they had a cord I could use. It wouldn’t hook the laptop up to the monitor, but it would hook it up to the TV.
So, I ordered that over the phone and picked it up at the drive-thru. That was so fabulous that they did that. I set up the laptop, TV and whatnot on a card table, and that was my desk six months. It started out in my room, but I hated that I could see it every day after I was done working. So, I moved it into the den.
And I’ve been working remotely ever since. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.
So, I worked remotely and slowly realized this was going to last awhile. Then, in April, my cat Leo got very sick. I took him to the vet, and the vet actually kept him overnight at his own home. He gave me three kinds of medicine to give him, and it seemed like he was getting better.
The day I was waiting for a phone call from the vet, I got a phone call from my boss. Long story short, my job was going to be eliminated. No timeline given. No other information. I went completely numb. Man, I really remember the feeling. Just this feeling of my consciousness floating away. It was just too much for me to take at the moment.
It was not a good time. Throughout April, May and the first part of June, I got more and more depressed. Leo was still sick. And then in the middle of June, he took a turn for the worse. He couldn’t go to the bathroom. I could see he was miserable. I texted my vet — that’s how he communicates, no phone calls — but I got no response. So, I called a different place and took Leo in.
I’m crying right now. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. The shot was supposed to take a while to work, but Leo was so bad off, that it took only moments. I could tell. The cat I owned since 2004 was gone. And my heart shattered. I know I will always cry for him. I still cry for Lily, who died six years ago. I still cry for Kitty-Kat, my first cat who died on my 21st birthday.
Side note: I am ready to get another cat. I miss having one. At first, I felt guilty because I was actually enjoying not having one. But I think it was a way of coping — my brain trying to make me feel better by thinking: no litter to clean, no vomit to clean, no training or waking up in the middle of the night. But now, I know that all of that is worth having a buddy to chill with me. Having company in the middle of the night. Having the entertainment, purring and everything glorious that comes with having a cat. I am waiting until after I get vaccinated. I know I want an adult cat. And I want one that’s a total lovebug.
So, here it was. Isolated because of the pandemic. My cat was gone forever. And my job was going to be eliminated at some point. I had gained a ton of weight over the past two years. I didn’t feel great. I was at the bottom.
Then I started thinking. I realized that if I lost my job, I wasn’t going to lose my home, as I live with my mom. I realized I have my mom to help me with stuff. I slapped myself out of my funk. I decided I would do something about this. I had advance warning about the job situation. So, I talked with my mom about my options.
At the time, I thought that I would not be able to continue my job as a newspaper designer and editor, as options are slim picking around here. There are three papers: The one I was working at, one that I had worked at years before (no thanks) and one other, owned by the same company as the “no thanks” one. Plus the two others were at least an hour commute. Been there, done that. No.
I considered going back to school. This would have been a good option, but there is a daggone pandemic, and I couldn’t find anything that interested me that was online only. I searched all kinds of sites for ideas on what other career I could do. I thought maybe I could freelance as an editor. I thought I could try graphic design, but I would have to learn Illustrator. I did not have my own computer at the time, so I couldn’t do that at home.
My first big thing I did was buy a computer. I was glad I could buy it outright with my own money, as that isn’t something I could do in years past. I considered buying a subscription to Adobe Creative. Boy, that’s expensive. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t spend the money on it.
After I bought the computer, things started to get better. I started this blog, and I really think it helped so much. It was therapy, just writing everything out. I enjoy sharing my experiences, and I enjoy knowing that others do too.
I found these group of guys on YouTube and started watching their videos. Viva La Dirt League. It still sounds so silly to me, but they really helped get me out of my depression. They actually inspired me to make some changes. And they stream on Twitch. I started watching them, and I’ve made online friends in the chat. I have a VLDL calendar, and the guys all signed it and doodled on it. It’s great.
I also started exercising and dieting. Winter really did a number on me regarding this, because while I did exercise inside, it was still really difficult because of the cold. Winter is super painful for me. But it’s spring now, so I’ll be getting outside more to exercise. But before winter punched me in the face — man, it was a cold, snowy one — I was jogging or doing yard work or some form of exercise every day. My mom bought me a bike for my birthday, and after I do a spring checkup on it, I’ll be out on that again as well. My aunt bought me an indoor exercise chair, which still gives me a good workout. My sister got me an exercise mat, which is super thick. I couldn’t do any lying down exercises, like sit-ups, before because the floor is concrete with 45-year-old carpeting. Not comfy.
I have better eating habits now. I don’t eat before bed. I also stop eating when I’m full. I eat better food now as well. I haven’t weighed myself in awhile because I’m worried that I have gained weight. Last time I checked, I was down 35 pounds. I do know that I did not gain back 35 pounds. So, there’s that at least.
September hit, and I realized I had not done much in the job department. The last news I had heard about my job was in July, when I was told the job would last through the end of the year. Well, in July, it was “Oh, that gives me 5-6 months to find a job!” Then it was September, and all I had done was update my resume.
And also in September, I believe that is when I heard that a different paper in the company was going to a design desk, so I felt like my job had reached a “gone at any time” stage. Every Friday, I was worried that it would be the day I would lose my job. Sure, folks told me that the job would last through the end of the year. And while I know that my boss wouldn’t lie to me, I didn’t know anything about the folks above him. I’ve been there when the corporate bosses have promised “no layoffs” only to have mass layoffs not long after.
So, I really started looking. At any and every job. Anything remote. ANYTHING. I applied to a bunch of places, but I wouldn’t hear back. The way applications work nowadays is ridiculous anyway. (Upload your resume, then fill in all the information that is on your resume. Do this 45,000 times. Also, this site automatically copy/pastes from your resume, so if it’s any different than a cut-and-dry resume, you’re going to have to go through and fix all the information. SO AGGRAVATING.) So many places were offering remote work, but I would still have to live in the city. Moving was not an option.
Then a cousin of mine emailed me a job tip. It was for a remote job at a newspaper design desk. And while I didn’t get that specific job — I think it was filled by the time I got the posting — it made me realize that DUH, I could work for a newspaper design desk! Super DUH. Mega DUH. Queen DUH. I knew of two design desks at the time, and one of them was part of a company I had worked for before. My awesome friends who still worked for them offered to pass along my resume and let the folks at the top know that I was available for work.
But one night in September, I had been looking at postings for a couple hours. I decided to make one last run through. I was on Indeed, the site that I used to get my current job at the time. And there it was. Newspaper designer. 100 percent remote. I could work from where I live now. I got insanely excited. The listed asked for samples. So, I scoured my files, and I found some good ones. Then I applied on Indeed. Well, there was no place to attach or send in the samples. So, I checked the listing again, and there was a name and email address, so I emailed my resume and samples.
And I got a call the next morning. And after interviewing and a background check, I got the job. I started in late October, and I absolutely love it.
And during the course of all this, yet another friend told me about an opening for a columnist. I would be writing about my autoimmune condition: granulomatosis with polyangiitis. I started off writing it as a weekly column, but after I got the new job, I was too exhausted to write that much. So, now I write a monthly column. You can check it out here. So, I’m also officially a paid writer, which is just wicked awesome. I will say that is not the main reason I write it though. I write it so folks who have this condition don’t feel alone, like I did when I was first diagnosed.
And then at the end of last year: hope. A vaccine was close. Then it was ready. Then two. And folks started getting them. And then at the end of February, I got a call from the health department. I had signed up in January to be on a waiting list. And the call was for an appointment for my first shot. March 3. Just a few days away.
I was so excited and so nervous. I was worried about side effects, of course. I just had a sore arm with the first shot. I was a tiny bit wonky right after, but that didn’t last long at all. I have to skip some doses of my medicine, so that’s been rough as well. The second shot is next week, and I am insanely nervous. I know that the second one is a lot worse than the first.
But I’ll be vaccinated. Today is one year since self-isolating. I’ve been out maybe 10-12 times, mostly for doctor’s appointments. My mom — who is now fully vaccinated — and I are making plans. Plans! We are still going to wear masks and social distance, and we’re going to start small. A picnic. Dining out, but only at restaurants with outdoor seating. Or getting food, then eating in the car. Shopping is also on the list, but a bit later on. And we’re planning a small vacation somewhere not tourist-y.
So, what a year. What a crazy, sad, hopeful, depressing, joyous, altering, isolated, busy, boring, weird, tragic, intense, stressful year. A year! I really can’t believe it. A YEAR. Stay safe, wear a mask, social distance, get vaccinated.
Until next time!