Monday, September 7, 2020

My Harrowing Quarantine Experience

A week ago as I headed to bed, my throat felt a little sore. Because I've been semi-regularly stricken with 12-hour stretches of OH MY GOD I HAVE COVID I CAN TELL BECAUSE OF THIS [ONGOING MINOR SYPTOM] episodes over the past few months, I assumed I'd be fine the next morning. At least I'm a reasonable hypochondriac.

But Tuesday when I woke up I still had a sore throat. And Wednesday I still had a sore throat. And both of those days I had phantom Are Those Chills? Do I Have a Headache? Am I Dying? moments. So when I woke up on Thursday still with a sore throat, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go in for the Q-tip into the brain test.


10:00 am: I arrive at the county testing facility and am ushered to a back "for the symptomatic" entrance. There is one person ahead of me in line.

10:05 am: I am reminded that it takes three to five business days to get results. As I am not planning on going anywhere, I am unconcerned.

10:10 am: I've filled out my paperwork and am given a little brush to insert into my nose to swish around. I've been dreading this, but it turns out to not be so bad. Did all those people who were so sad about this test have it administered by masochists who pushed up extra hard? Because I did it myself, I was gentle. Bedside manner = A+

10:15 am: I leave, only to be pursued by one of the testers letting me know that I hadn't checked my printout. Then he made me take a photo of it.

Photo of gloved fingers holding a paper with test details on it.
It is unclear why.

Noon: I am at home sitting on my couch when my phone rings. It is my sister, Ann. She is a doctor. I make the mistake of telling her that I recently went in for a Covid test. She immediately starts listing the draconian steps I have to take to isolate myself from my family until I get negative test results.

Noon-15 pm: After a whirlwind of activity, I am sitting in my bedroom with my computer, my book, my work files, my iPad, two sorta confused cats, and a vaguely surly husband downstairs who has just been promoted to room service clerk.

12:16 pm: I realize that three to five business days on Labor Fucking Day Weekend means that I could potentially be all alone in my bedroom from now to next Thursday.

1:00 pm: Awesome! I'm going to take a nap!

3:30 pm: Wake up. Don't wanna piss off Alex by texting a list of demands so I search my bedroom for food. Find a container of pretzels. Munch away while watching my cats discover the bag I brought all my stuff upstairs in. The rest of the weekend for them could be summarized thusly: Sleep on the bag. Look annoyed that the other cat is sleeping on the bag. Sit on top of the other cat on the bag. Shove the other cat off the bag. Repeat.

Photo of a white canvas bag on a bed with a white cat lying on it.
For the life of me, I can't figure out what is so great about the bag.

6:00 pm: I'm starving. The frozen burritos I am served for dinner come without the soda I'd ordered. I diplomatically decide to drink water instead of sending back the entire meal in protest. 

7:00 pm: What now? TV I guess. But what? Oh, that's right, I've been meaning to watch Little Fires Everywhere. I watch four hours of Little Fires Everywhere and force myself to go to bed at a reasonable time. Stretch out over entire bed and listen to Alex sadly shuffle up to bed in the guest room.


10:00 am: Today is a work day! I have several hours in which I don't have to wonder what to do. I enthusiastically do my job, delighting in wirelessly sending things to my printer downstairs. I imagine that I am still affecting the downstairs environment even without my actual presence.

12:30 pm: I try to order lunch. Everything that I knew was in the fridge is now gone. Alex sends a shrug emoji when I ask him what we have. I sigh and ask for more frozen burritos. 

1:00 pm: My cats are not what you'd call super motivating.

Photo of two white cats stretched out on a bed/white canvas bag. One is asleep and the other's eyes are barely open.
You might notice that they are still on the bag.

3:00 pm: I give a little nod of thanks that my Peloton bike is in my bedroom and thus under my quarantine purview. Turns out I don't feel that sick anymore. Work out for one and a half hours.

4:45 pm: Text all of my kids to tell them I miss them. No one responds.

5:40 pm: As Alex brings me delicious taco dinner, I text him to tell him that I am fine and that I should be able to come downstairs. As if she can sense our resolve breaking, my sister texts me at that moment to ask how I am. I tell her I am 100% fine and that I should be allowed to break quarantine. She tells me no.

Screenshot of a text between me and Alex. Me: I feel fine. This is stupid. I WANT OUT Yum!!!! (dinner had been served) Alex: ok Me: ok what Alex: Come out Me: Ann JUST told me I can't Alex: What a bitch. Me RIGHT???
I don't thrown around the phrase "worse than Hitler" lightly, but...

7:00 pm: Before I settle down to watch several more hours of Little Fires Everywhere, I check my step goal for the day.

Screenshot of a walking emoji guy next to the words: Reach your step goal. A little slider tells me I have walked 42 steps.
Yep, that's about right.


8:00 am: I've decided to take advantage of my confinement to join some people from my online Peloton group for a two-hour series of rides starting at 9 am. I want to eat breakfast before I ride. Alex has just woken up and is still in bed. Why do these room service hours suck so bad? I should talk to management.

12:30 pm: Spend my post-workout morning reading, eating pretzels and occasionally texting "HELLO!!!!!!" to my three kids, all of whom ignore me.

3:00 pm: I've watched all the videos of school meetings I didn't attend but swore that I'd watch the recordings of. I've done step one of my election worker training and scored 38 out of 40 on my quiz. I've realized that Saturday is most likely not a business day and that I'm probably halfway through my quarantine at best. I check the internet to see how long after I no longer have symptoms that I can leave isolation. It's 10 days. No help. I do some conniving about how I could maybe eat dinner with my family but on the other side of the backyard maybe? Or I could wear a mask and sit across the room from them. Ann doesn't need to fucking know.

3:30 pm: Wallow.

4:00 pm: My phone rings. It's a local number, but there is no other ID. Normally I would ignore the hell out of the call, but I have a feeling about this one. I do a very un-Stimey thing and answer it. It's the county! Saturday IS a business day! My test is negative. I AM FREE!

4:03 pm: I've gathered all my things, knocked my cats off their favorite new sleeping bag, and departed the bedroom. Alex is happy. Katie comes out of a distant room to say yay and then retreats. Jack gives me a hug. Quinn doesn't turn away from his video game. I delight in the semi-warm embrace of my dumb family and think about how grateful I am for them and for my health.

Selfie of me and one of my cats from when I was in my bed.
Scene from my confinement.


  1. Very entertaining account. So glad you're ok and it's great to hear from you again.

  2. Maybe you just had a throat cold or some such? Sometimes I have that, like a cold in my throat, as I call it when I have only the throat symptoms of a cold.

    1. This isn't the latest blog post from you, but I have a relevant-ish comment. I help with a girl's club and one of the girls had a sore throat some point after last week's meeting and tested positive. I'm a contact, but have no symptoms as I type this 8 days after exposure. Neither does my mom, who also works with the girl's club, but we can't be with anyone except each other for a week, if we stay this way. Got contact traced a couple days ago and haven't tested. Mom and me had masks on, but not the girls. The positive girl seemed her normal at the meeting, so we didn't know until the call Tuesday morning.

    2. It's scary how it can spread. I hope you've stayed symptom free!!


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