Saturday, September 12, 2020

Negative Nelly

COVID rates have been dropping in Georgia in recent weeks, which makes me feel a bit better about life. But still this pandemic is not over, which means that things will probably get worse again. And I don't know how to come to terms with that fact and the fact that this pandemic something that our country seems to want to sweep under the rug. We can't just sweep it away. It's here and I...

I have a friend who is a COVID widow.

While she has been stuck in bed, too sick to do much of anything, and while her husband was in a hospital, his life draining out of him, we were pushing for in-person activities—a pool party for the young women!—and it breaks my heart. I could we be asking for in-person activities when this family—here—had been suffering so much at the hand of this disease?

It doesn't make sense to me.

This friend worked with me, with the children, doing whatever it is we're doing now. It used to be "activity days" but now I think it's "primary activities." What I wouldn't give for a good verb. Anyway, because she's been so sick and another leader has been sick with non-COVID things, we're down to two leaders instead of four. So I'm in charge of the girls and another friend is in charge of the boys. But she called to ask me the other day how I "felt" about in-person activities. 

"How I feel about in-person activities?" I repeated, in shock.

Like, she knows why we're so "understaffed," doesn't she?

"Yeah. I'm just trying to gather people's feelings about in-person activities."

"I feel...we...would not participate," I said. 

I just can't. Not yet. 

Granted, the children did play with some neighbourhood kids yesterday. Three sets of children gathered makeshift swords and shields (the best was the boogie board our neighbour up the street brought), divided the cul-de-sac into "socially distanced" quadrants and then chucked pine cones at each other. They really did a good job of maintaining their distance and it's the first time they've played with each other since March, but even breaking down that they are asking about when they can play again and...I'm just not sure.

Right now our numbers are going down, but I don't believe they will stay that way (though I will be more than happy to be wrong—go ahead and surprise me!) so I just don't feel like we can jump back into "normal life" with two feet. Or even one foot. 

UGA is releasing their COVID numbers once a week. Here are their verified numbers:

Week 1: 19 positive tests
Week 2: 104 positive tests
Week 3: 430 positive tests
Week 4: 714 positive tests

That's 1267 positive cases on campus (and, technically, off-campus as well since many students, like me, are only taking online classes). That does not include the 1321 unverified cases (cases reported to the school's COVID surveillance but which the school has been unable to verify since the testing was done off campus or out of state or whatever). So that's potentially 2588 cases just at UGA. Just in a month of school. 

I just wonder about it because my brother works at a university in British Columbia and they are fully online this semester. British Columbia has had 213 deaths from 6962 cases total (with 139 new cases (and no deaths) today). Granted, their population is only 5 million. But Georgia's population is only 10 million (so double the population of British Columbia) yet they have had 6246 deaths from 290,781 cases total (with 1658 new cases and 42 deaths today). 

So by all means let's go back to school.

My friend in Finland's university considered going back to in-person classes by October but recently announced that they will be staying completely online through the duration of the semester. Finland (population 5.5 million) has had 337 deaths from 8512 cases (with 43 new cases today). 

Again, the fact that we have students living in dorms and attending classes on campus is breaking my brain. I feel like everyone in the world has been able to take this disease seriously except us. Which, to be fair, India is really in a bad way right now (with nearly 100,000 new cases a day) and other countries are struggling to keep control of this virus...but still...

I simply don't understand. How many people's lives have to be touched—mangled—by this disease to make us understand?

In addition to my friend whose husband died of COVID, I have another friend whose husband died of not-COVID and have been losing sleep over how to have all our little activity girls reach out to her little girl (her eldest, who is Miriam's age) and support them right now...but, like...while also social distancing. And it's hard. But I think I've about got something worked out.

Additionally, another friend of mine had her baby prematurely and the sweet little thing has been in the NICU and I told her I would bring her dinner tonight. 

And then the electricity in our house went berserk. 

It started in Zoë and Alexander's bedroom. Frankly, it probably started before then, with flickering lights and annoying things like that, but earlier this week Alexander and Zoë's bedroom light suddenly went out. This was frustrating because we'd recently (like in December) replaced their bedroom light with an LED light fixture that is supposed to last 20 years or something like that (their old light fixture was awful and we wanted something simple and bright in place of the gaudy hardly-emits light that was there before). We figured we had just gotten a bad fixture. So Andrew picked one up on Tuesday to replace it. 

But on the wee hours on Wednesday morning when I went in to tuck Alexander back into bed, I realized that their nightlight was out, too. 

Odd that both their light fixture and their nightlight would burn out in such rapid succession. 

So I thought I would just replace their nightlight with the one from the bathroom so that Alexander had a little bit of light for falling asleep with. But when I plugged it in, the outlet sparked quite a bit...which was alarming...and this new nightlight wouldn't glow either. So I tried it back in the bathroom and it worked again. After doing a bit of investigation I realized that their light switch was on and that their light fixture was ever so faintly glowing, along with the nightlight I thought had burned out. 

They had not burned out. They just weren't getting the power they should be getting.

In the morning Andrew replaced the light switch to see if it was a bad switch and had broken the current for the outlet and the light fixture and that really seemed to do the trick! Their light started working again!

I took the kids swimming and when we went home I hopped in the shower and...the power in our bathroom and bedroom went off. This time it was the breaker that flipped and when Andrew flipped it back on he was a little concerned because the fuse crackled. But I took my shower and we got ready for dinner—leftover night!

Everyone warmed up their plates of food and then I went to microwave mine and...the microwave wouldn't work. It would make clicking noises like it was powering on and off (rapidly) but it couldn't seem to pull enough power to actually work. 

We went downstairs to check the fuse box again and by this time the entire fuse box was fizzing and crackling. So we called an electrician (and paid the hefty emergency fee) and he fixed up our box with a temporary solution but said he'd like to put us on the fast-tracked list for a fuse box replacement because it was in a bad way, which we already knew. Our inspector had told us we could expect to replace the fuse box in the next "five or so years." He said that about a lot of things. 

We bought an old house. I get it. 

We just didn't think that everything on the "five or so years" list would have to be replaced this year.

Yet here we are, with a new fuse box.

Really, it's good. Everything is grounded properly now (nothing was grounded properly before (well, it was grounded properly to 1980 standards, which isn't proper for today)) and we feel a lot safer. Nothing has sparked all day...

Oh, that's the part I forgot to say—our oven wouldn't work yesterday at all. The control panel was on but the inside of the oven would do nothing. So I was stressing out about having to get that fixed or replaced as well, but once they had the new fuse box all assembled the oven was able to pull enough power and it works now (phew). 

Still, because we were without power for most of the day we weren't able to make a nice home-cooked meal for my friend. We sent them pizza instead. Which is kind of lame, but who doesn't enjoy pizza?

The kids and I spent most of the day at the pool. We had a math-heavy morning and then because we had no power anywhere and the kids were all jittery because the bathrooms were dark and their bedrooms were dark and everything was dark (Alexander requested McDonald's for dinner and asked if we could play games and take a candlelit bath...merging all of his power outage memories together), I just took them to the pool to hang out until our power was back on. 

It was a very pleasant pool visit. 

On Tuesday when we went to the pool (I think it was Tuesday; whatever day we found the butterfly) we were joined by a horsefly. The kids pointed it out to me but I didn't see it and since we haven't ever been bothered by horseflies at this pool I tried to convince them that it was something else—a carpenter bee or a dragonfly or something. 

"There's no horseflllllllouch!" I the horsefly bit me. 

It pestered us for quite a while before I decided I was just going to kill it. How hard can they possibly be to kill? Brother Wood would kill them at the pool for us like it was easy. And once my brother Patrick opened up a sandwich cookie and caught a horsefly inside, smashing it between the two halves of his the age of two. So horseflies can't be that tricky to kill.

This one was. I tried hitting it with a flip flop and smacking it with a towel and finally grabbed our kick board and slammed it down on the deck, trying to squash that fly. I missed every time but I did manage to jam my finger rather badly. So it's been a bit sore and purply all week (though it's so much better that I'm sure it's not broken or anything; I can even bend it now). 

I felt so silly for hurting my finger because I've had so many whiny-complainy days this month (poor Andrew)! At the risk of being TMI, I've been plagued by my menstrual cycle ever since it so viciously came back (long live lactational amenorrhea), so in the course of about five weeks I had (1) my horrible period, followed by (2) a hormonal migraine (which is apparently my new thing and I love that for me), and then I (3) slept funny and had a sore neck for about a week. I had only just recovered from that when it was time for (4) yet another horrible period and then I spent a couple of days staving off (5) another period-induced migraine, and then I (6) hurt my finger

And also got bit by a horsefly.

When you total it up it comes to...a lot of days (an absurd number, really)...of feeling like rubbish (some of them spent crawling around on the floor—literally dragging my body along—because I lacked the capacity to even stand up).* And then I hurt my finger. It was a small thing, really, but I was just so frustrated that I was finally feeling better and that I had managed to keep that migraine at bay and then I hurt my finger

But it's fine, really. 

I should also note that Alexander tripped yesterday and landed flat on his face, as he's prone to do, and gave himself a bloodly lip and chipped his front tooth. Part of me wants to say that he finally chipped his front tooth because it's been a long time coming—that boy does enjoy a good face plant. So I'm sad about that (but also he's like the third kid of ours to chip their front tooth, so I think he'll pull through). And he pulled a big hunk of wood onto his head by entering Benjamin's fort the wrong way (because for some reason Benjamin had used a big hunk of wood to hold a blanket wall of his fort onto his shelf) and it left a goose egg and a bit of a cut. My poor baby.

Also Benjamin fell down the stairs this afternoon—thud, thud, thud, thud, thud—top to bottom. 

He's also fine.

But I just lack the capacity to even about anything else right now. Like, I just can't even with COVID wear your masks!

* I should note that while I typically consider my period to be a curse (because it is a curse) there are times I have been grateful for it. Like, when I show up at the hospital ready to have a baby and the nurses are like, "Do you want an epidural?" and I'm like, "For this? I'll wait until it gets painful." And the nurses will say, "Wow. Are you sure? Because your contractions are peaking really high." And I'll be like, "Bring it on. I have lived through worse." Because my periods are so awful that I literally can't tell when I'm in labour because labour, in my mind, is "not that bad" because my periods are that bad. But I think that's really the only benefit. I really can't think of anything else remotely positive to say about that part of being a woman.


  1. Wow, what a week. Or month. (Or year?) I am so sorry about your periods. I was soooooooooooo happy to see the end of them! I was lucky--they ended when I was pretty young. Like about 18 years ago. Good riddance. I once went to a doctor--I know; weird for me--and she said, "That's really young.Maybe we should do a test..." and I was like, "Are you kidding me? I would not EVER want to tempt them to come back! They can stay gone!"

  2. Yikes. I'm sorry your periods are so painful - like dragging on the floor painful? Maybe you will be lucky like your mom and have them end early.

    Hope this week is much less painful! :)