Yesterday was the first day of my second full week back to work since having had Covid-19. It was also the first week of mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

I left home feeling disconnected and anxious. I had volunteered for a 1:30 p.m. to midnight shift, assuming I would be well rested and up early enough to get to work at that time. Some of my peers had taken on a 12-hour shift— 1:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

They had so many people in the building some of us had to go to pick, which is my favorite role. I haven’t “picked” with any gusto since before my illness.

It felt amazing to be on the warehouse floor. I was peeling off layers and picking at about 21 minutes per cart of eight fixes. Again, not the fastest but decent. I walked 6,000 steps in that 2 hours and there wasn’t a moment of struggle or discomfort among them.

But when I peeled off my top layer, I discovered my tank top was inside out. I had a sports bra on so I decided to fix it. Except I got all twisted up in the pretty straps.

So my wardrobe malfunction impacted my times.

After first break at 3:30 I found myself in QC. I had a hard time getting organized and started— so it was probably 4 p.m. by the time I got rolling. I folded and packed 74 fixes. Which averaged to about 5 1/2 minutes each. I need to get that under 4.

I had told my trainer my goal was 80. I said that because Friday it had been 75 and I hit it. And I felt sluggish on Friday so logically 80 was doable.

My trainer didn’t care. My numbers have been consistent and I feel like my fixes are getting neater, my wraps better and the whole process seems to have a rhythm now.

Thanks to my time in pick, I walked more than 9,000 steps yesterday. I ate deliberately, trying to balance high doses of protein with refined sugary treats so I could get the buzz I wanted.

I took a Tylenol (just one) at one point as I did have some spinal pain. At the end of the night, my favorite nurse commented that I “looked good” and indeed I felt good— not like someone recuperating from a virus and working an 10-hour shift in a warehouse with a malfunctioning body (thanks cerebral palsy). I honestly felt good.

I weigh exactly what I did yesterday after several days of losing weight. I still need to lose at least 15 pounds. Or buy new clothes.

The joys and lessons of 2020

I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.

I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.

2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)

My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.

So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?

Let me share.

  • Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
  • Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
  • Professional and personal growth. I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
  • Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
  • New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
  • We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.

Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

Morning Fog

Routines in this house have changed since I contracted Covid.

Today I have completed the 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC and can now leave the house. I want the teenager to take me to the Dollar Tree and Petco.

It’s 7:40 a.m. Because of my job on second shift and then my illness, I haven’t been up this early in probably months.

Loki and Fog

My room is typically a cat free zone. Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my three budgies (and now three budgie eggs) are in there.

But the Norse Pride ended up with me— in part because the teenager worried the Roman Pride were making them nervous and in her words they were too small to bother the birds.

The kittens, after a month in my room, decided they want to be with the big cats, so when I come in and out of my room, Vale leads a charge.

Because of this I leave my door open more soon they can come back. And now my cats and Teenager #2’s cats like to gather here. Her cats want to watch birds. My cats want to enjoy a warm bed with me and watch the birds.

Now dear Fog was my bed mate before cockatoo and before kittens. He and the three-legged old man liked to rest in my room and minded their own business.

And now Fog has taken to opening my bedroom door and joining me in bed in the morning, which confuses the Norse Pride kittens who don’t understand the magic of how a cat opens the door.

He doesn’t like the kittens— but he wants to be with me as I have my morning coughing fit. He’s got to be checking on me.

But the kittens are fascinated and confused by him and run to me. And it’s been a while since I had an 11+ pound cat in my bed. So it’s a jarring way to wake up.

I’ve also missed my Fog cuddles.

The Tudors, sweating sickness and Covid whiners

Today is day 10 of my post-diagnosis Covid 19 isolation. I am now watching The Tudors on Netflix, struck by the similarities between the Coronavirus pandemic and the 16th Century sweating sickness.

I feel like there is so much not known about Covid-19 and I suspect many people know more than they can admit. But the medical treatments, anecdotal layman wisdom and people’s behavior remind me of these scenes depicting King Henry VIII’s medical crisis.

My symptoms are still dizziness and a dry cough, a congested head and weakness. And chapped lips.

I catch a chill easily, and sometimes the smallest actions wind me.

I think the general populace puts too much security in flimsy masks, and gives not enough thought to social distancing. I think the various government tactics to curb the pandemic cater to major corporations and starve small business.

And it saddens me that people will flock to WalMart or order from Amazon, but not mail order from a small local business or buy gift cards for small merchants.

It also saddens me that so much of society can really on DoorDash or GrubHub, but not call your favorite local restaurant and order take out.

I believe I caught the Coronavirus at work, despite all the precautions to “keep us safe.” Because despite the gloves, the masks, the nurse, the sanitizer spray, and working socially distant, the reality is there are 70 or more of us in one room at the same time, unmasked, eating and talking for each of our three daily breaks.

The vaccine has arrived. And I wish it were — what do they call it— a reactive vaccine vs a mRNA vaccine. Perhaps I am old-fashioned in my thinking.

So I suppose I am grateful to have caught Coronavirus and see how my body reacts. I have had the chance to develop my own antibodies. And no one else in my family for sick so I am also grateful for that.

I am deeply saddened that others have not had the same privilege that I have. I am saddened that people I love have lost people they love.

It is a confusing time.

So my best advice would be to do your own research, think about how viruses work and make the decisions that keep you and your family safe. And care for your neighbors and support local business in ways you can.

Snow Shenanigans

Greetings from day 9 or 10 of my Covid life. We had a pretty sizable snowstorm yesterday that reminded me of my childhood.

If you look carefully in that first picture you’ll see a cute little Nissan 4-door. It had North Carolina plates and like a real Southern Belle the owner tried to drive over all the snow.

My teens are now out back shoveling the garage and I’ve exhausted myself loading the dishwasher. My main Covid symptom today is extreme dizziness. I’m sick of every beverage I’ve been drinking — 1-2 liters of seltzer a day, 32 to 64 ounces of herbal tea and 1-2 cups of coffee.

And while my appetite is fine, I have at least one bowl of soup a day so I can get even more liquid.

Yesterday the teenager asked her dad to bring me a good old-fashioned NY style pizza which I ate for lunch, dinner, midnight snack and breakfast.

The teenager also asked me to record different cats’ reactions to the snow.

Misty: Misty fights the snow and Misty goes for a walk in the snow

Opie: Opie says no to snow

Vale: Vale explores snow (to apply to adopt Vale— visit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Vale’s adoption page)

Fog: Fog in snow

Venom et al: Swarming the snow

In other fun news, the Roman Pride explored the snow from the safe confines of their room: Fosters try snow

And if you’re curious how the Romans are progressing— Romans in the morning

Hopefully these cute tuxedoes will be ready to adopt soon.

And Loki of the Norse Pride acts like a little puppy: Loki plays with the cockatoo (to apply to adopt Loki… Loki’s adoption page

Covid update and holiday greetings from Zeus & Apollo

I didn’t write yesterday because I was exhausted and dizzy and sneezing and fighting the Covid rash that covers my hands and makes me want to slice off my skin with a razor.

I’m sleeping 12 hours a day with The Norse Pride curled up against me like good little nurses and Nala, the naughty cockatoo, breaking dishes that are heavier than she is.

The foster kittens urinated in my underwear drawer. The cool new jean-looking leggings with the pockets that I got at the thrift store for work came out of the wash with a giant bleach stain on the butt. The electric bill came— and last November and December it was $55 each month. The new bill is $130.

I started the day sneezing and even more dizzy than yesterday. And when I blew my nose it was equal parts snot and blood.

So it looks like today might be similar to yesterday— I watched all of Ink Master season 1 yesterday. Today I’ll watch season 2.

But the happy news— Facebook alerted me to a message sent to me last month from Zeus & Apollo’s FURRever mom. So we had a conversation this morning about how they are doing.

Zeus has become a cuddly mama’s girl and Apollo loves his new brother Butter. I’m told Apollo is getting very tall. And Zeus still chirps and cuddles.

Day 4 of Covid isolation

Sunday. Next Sunday at this time my isolation period will be over.

I feel stiff and exhausted, and I have a weird rash that makes my hands burn and itch like crazy but all-in-all Covid symptoms are minimal today.

The most exciting thing we did today was play with foster kittens.

Vale got to wear a sweater.

For information on adopting Vale, click here.

Vale and his brother Loki are both available at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Some fun kitten videos:

Harness training Vale

Hermes and Vesta

The Roman Pride and Hermes

This is really a good amount of fun for me, but as we got Vale into the sweater we got a text that my dear cat-loving former world colleague was bringing her homemade egg nog.

The teenager has taken a liking to eggnog, but as of most of the younger generations, she’s never had the real thing.

I had had some fruitcake for breakfast— her great-grandmother’s recipe made by my mother-in-law. My in-laws have a really delicious fruit add. I brought some to work last year for Mr. Accordion and he shared it with the office Christmas party, a decision he make have regretted.

And now this.

And I used some more of Bill’s gift card to order wings from Deux Wings on GrubHub. I am not a fan of wings, but the teenager is. I rather enjoyed the mac and cheese and amazing French fries.

From Deux Wings, great food

On TV today, I started My Mad Fat Diary and Ink Master.

24 hours in my Covid life

Friday, December 11, 2020

I received my diagnosis this morning, after realizing on Wednesday that the symptoms I had attributed to my everyday health problems.

9 p.m.: after spending most of the day in bed, I finish Netflix’s The Crown and start Hillbilly Elegy because I see Glenn Close is in it.

10 p.m. I turn out my light and go to bed early, struggling to get comfortable because of the muscle and joint pain.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

2 a.m. I wake up, can’t get back to sleep. I play on my phone. I close my eyes and imagine myself drawing healing energy out of the cosmos and suddenly a vision of ocean waves floods me.

Around 3 a.m. I fall asleep again

8 a.m. I wake. I need to pee. But the way my body feels, the walk to the bathroom seems impossible. And I know once I walk out my door, the cats will want food.

8:30 a.m. I return to my room after using the bathroom. The kittens escape. I leave the door open so they can return and cats come in and out.

9 a.m. Some friends text to see how I’m doing. I respond and now I’m exhausted and need a rest.

9:30 a.m. the teenager is up. I asked if she can bring me coffee after I rest. She says sure.

10 a.m. I rest and she brings coffee. And my medicine.

10:30 a.m. I finish the coffee and engage in a Facebook discussion about Covid, sparked by a friend who chastises those who don’t wear masks and don’t want to abide by the mandate of no indoor gatherings. Sobaka’s mom offers to get me groceries at Shoprite. I ask for coffee.

11:00 a.m. I shower and feel human again briefly. I am grateful for these new soap products that contain eucalyptus. My other neighbor texts she is at Dunkin and wants to know my order.

11:15 a.m. I discover one of my closest friends has symptoms of Covid but hadn’t received his test results. I feel awful convinced he got it from me, but he assures me we might have gotten it from the same place. Now he has to cancel his surgery that was scheduled for Monday.

11:30 a.m. I’ve annoyed the teenager. I’m watching the cats frolic and check on the neighbor who came over for coffee earlier in the week. Her son left her home because he’s afraid I exposed them.

11:45 a.m. The teenager is chastising me for having an absurd method of organizing my tea. I’m going out to the porch to wait for my Dunkin’.

12 Dunkin arrives. I go back to bed with Kittens and a sugarplum macchiato

12:20 enjoying my Dunkin’, watching kittens play (Sugar Plum Macchiato and kittens )

12:30 p.m. more texting with friends, despite large macchiato am feeling fatigued. Watching the cockatoo pick through the leftover parakeet food I gave her.

12:50 p.m. done uploading YouTube videos. Debating watching TV versus napping like the kittens. Kitten video: Loki And Vale play

1 p.m. I decide to curl up and nap like my foster kittens. They snuggle up to me but as a side sleeper I find it impossible to get comfortable. As I face my left, my right hip, knee and even ankle burn. I roll onto my back and it feels like every vertebrae in my spine is protruding. I lie still and wait for everything to calm down. My knee is the only thing that refuses to settle.

1:10 pm I’m restless (probably from the caffeine). I remember my neighbor is out grocery shopping with my credit card and that I should have my ringer on in case she encounters a problem. several friends are texting— one had symptoms like mine and is still waiting on her Covid results. The cats are laying on me as if to force me to sleep.

Another friend texts and mentions egg nog and I am excited that my former colleague is making some homemade egg nog and bringing me a quart or two. My knee still burns as does my right sinus under my eye. I need to pee.

1:15 p.m. headed to the bathroom. The birds are oddly still.

1:25 p.m. I watch more of Hillbilly Elegy. There are some intense scenes of drug abuse, domestic violence and child abuse.

1:45 p.m. the teenager brings me some Twizzlers left over from Halloween, I ask her to let the cockatoo out for a few minutes, and my dad calls to check on me.

1:50 p.m. watching more of Hillbilly Elegy. I can’t believe Glenn Close’s performance. She’s magnificent. The older she gets the more beautiful she is. The kittens sleep at my feet. The cockatoo sits nicely on my chest.

2:30 p.m. I finished the movie, which is based on a memoir of the same name. No wonder some of the scenes were so disturbing— real life is often more painful than anything the mind can make up. My cockatoo keeps dozing off.

2:40 p.m. time to use the bathroom again and see if I can get this sleepyhead bird to go to her cage.

2:50 p.m. Sobaka’s mom is at McDonald’s so I try to place a mobile order but the GPS on my phone knows I’m still at home so the McDonald’s app is fighting with me. Gives me a funky code. It really is amazing what one can do from a sick bed with a credit card.

2:55 p.m. sneezing again. Forgot my tissues downstairs

3 p.m. watching some YouTube videos while the teenager finishes vacuuming and cleaning her room.

3:15 p.m. we received our McDonald’s order and our groceries. I distributed food to the teens by dropping it outside their bedroom doors. You can tell Sobaka’s mom isn’t a coffee drinker because she bought the cutest little can of coffee. She bought us orange juice with extra vitamin C and zinc! Now that is thinking! She also got me a big old chunk of raspberry coffee cake.

3:20 p.m. In trying to get the groceries into the kitchen and the food to the kids, I forget that our cat Fog shot past me onto the sunporch.

3:50 p.m. After watching Canadian dietician Abbey Sharp’s review of Kelly Ripa’s diet, I lie down for a nap. Instantly the kittens start playing and my feet become civilian casualties.

4 p.m. The teenager comes into my room to chastise me about the cat. Apparently the Christmas tree (which was unbalanced and the two teens had tried to stabilize it with a rope tied to a plant hanger) is now on the floor. I’m sorry, but the reality is that I don’t care.

4:05 p.m. I don’t think it’s even possible TL sleep but my eyes hurt so I will try. Maybe listen to a podcast. I check my playlist. I see episode #2050 of Car Talk has posted. Yes! I will listen to this!

4:30 p.m. Another friend texts to check on me

4:40 p.m. Despite how tired I feel I can’t sleep. The teenager brings up my clean laundry and I hear chuckles and conversation from downstairs. Both teenagers are cleaning. I am starting to get cranky and bored. I guess I’ll watch more television. Maybe I should try and play a video game on my phone. My favorite comedian at the moment is Jim Breuer. He happens to be next on my YouTube list. (Jim Breuer “Playing with Kids.”)

4:45 p.m. the cockatoo is screaming at me

4:55 p.m. the friend who got me thinking about egg nog texts again

5:05 p.m. more random YouTube. I might be getting hungry.

5:30 p.m. M texts to check on me, inquiring about my oxygen stats. Asks about my fatigue and joints.

5:35 p.m. teenager two comes to ask if I have dirty dishes (I don’t) and makes me a fresh cup of tea

5:50 p.m. Gayle texts. The video I posted to YouTube earlier has reassured everyone that I am recovering.

6:15 p.m. suddenly remembered I never updated the bios for my foster kittens to post online

6:35 p.m. off to use the bathroom before I sneeze

6:50 p.m. made a funny video with Nala and Vale: Cockatoo dancing with kitten

7 p.m. heated up some leftovers

7:10 p.m. eating alone in my room

7:15 p.m. brief text with M— as he is a medical technologist I asked him if the virus starts by attacking the weaknesses I already had in my body. He replied that I have “an excellent understanding of virology.” I also realize that except for tired, I felt normal going down to make my dinner.

7: 20 p.m. my neighbor in the other half of my house texts. The Covid test she got yesterday since I made her coffee earlier this week came back negative. Lots of friends texting all at the same time.

7:25 p.m. teenager #1 comes to visit. She plays with Nala-bird.

7:35 p.m. a crash downstairs. Teenager goes to investigate— Vale goes with her.

7:40 p.m. Teenager brings Vale back. I think I hear my neighbor’s car. Nope. But apparently this is what I do now.

7:45 p.m. I think I might have hives. I’ve been noticing them all day but now I’m seeing them instead of feeling itchy. Suddenly I have a coughing fit.

7:50 p.m. bathroom

8 p.m. guess I’ll watch more TV

The beginning of an official Covid diary

Yesterday my doctor informed me that I have Covid-19, to read about the symptoms that led me to get a test you can review my blog entries from the last few days.

I’m too tired to rehash it all. I sleep a lot and lay it bed watching TV on my iPad. I don’t feel feverish, but I have trouble staying warm.

My main symptom is intense muscle aches and joint pain so getting up and moving is hard and exhausts me.

According to my doctor I can reenter the world and return to work December 21. My employer says I should wait until December 28.