I first noticed the wet patch in the carpet next to my bed earlier this evening. Thinking that I must have tracked water in from the bathroom or kitchen from wet slippers, I applied a towel to sop up the water. Then a second towel, after which I observed, to my horror, that the water was actually seeping up from UNDERNEATH the carpet!
That was when I opened the door to my interior storage closet, to see a pool of water underneath my hot water heater. After hastily moving some boxes to dry land, I called the emergency number of my apartment complex.
And so it is that, as of 10:08 p.m. this evening, I am firmly ensconced on my sofa, surrounded by piles of my pandemic preps, wearing an N95 mask, and typing this blogpost entry into my iPad, while a plumber (similarly masked) works to remove my busted hot water heater and replace it with a new one, tasks which he tells me will take an hour or two. (He tells me I’m lucky my water valve didn’t break; otherwise he would have had to shut the water off to the entire apartment building.)
But I am not feeling particularly lucky. That rested feeling I had after my staycation evaporated today, only my second day back at work, and even before the dam burst in my apartment, I had been feeling unwell, anxious, and depressed. I took the afternoon off sick, went back to bed, and slept until 9:00 p.m., when I woke to discover I had other problems.
I am feeling exhausted, afraid, and angry that despite essentially making myself a prisoner in my own apartment as the pandemic crisis goes from bad to worse, that this has happened, and that this puts me at risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection from another person, the plumber who is now invading my personal space, my man cave, my safe place. He is the first person I have let inside my apartment since mid-March, when I started working in self-isolation from home for my university library system.
(Hang on a minute…the plumber’s welding just set off my smoke alarm.)
I am NOT a happy camper.
UPDATE 11:32 p.m.: After the plumber packed up his things and left, I pulled out my Clorox wipes and disinfected anything and everything he touched (my water taps, my smoke alarm, my circuit breaker box, all my door handles, etc.). Unfortunately, he and I have been within 6 feet/2 metres of one another; my apartment is so small and so cluttered that it was unavoidable at certain points. I have been liberally applying hand sanitizer to my hands throughout, in an overabundance of caution.
After he left, I opened the patio door of my bedroom and a window in my living room, put my parka on, and let the cold air circulate through my apartment, just to be on the safe side. I laid down several towels in succession to sop up the water in my bedroom carpet.
As I was stamping down the final towel, I looked up, and saw a deer—an antlered young buck—staring at me through my open patio door. I stopped, and we stared at each other silently for a full minute, until he turned and wandered away. (He left before I could grab my cellphone to take a picture.)
This is not an unusual occurrence; I live close to wooded areas they frequent, and I have sometimes seen a wayward buck or doe in in the vicinity of my apartment, or during my pre-pandemic evening commute from work, usually in the late evening or early night.
But I took it as an omen. Whether a good omen or a bad one, I cannot yet say.
◙ Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
◙Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
◙Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
◙Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
◙Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
◙Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
◙Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
I filled out a Trump survey trashing him a week ago, and in the NAME field I put Fuck You as my name. Forgot about it. Then just got this email out of the blue. And I’ve never been more baffled or laughed as hard as I just have. I thought he emailed truly addressing me like this:
Brian followed up with:
For 10 minutess I stared at my phone in awe—thinking this crazy man just tried to connect with supporters by droppin F-bombs in a campaign email! I was shocked. Mad. Sad. It was so unbelievable [yet] believable at the same time. Then the wave of laughs, realizing I just pranked myself so hard.
And the whole time, I was sitting at my computer, reading through all the posts, just absolutely HOWLING, with tears of laughter running down my face! (I’m quite sure the woman who lives upstairs from me in my apartment complex thought I had completely lost it.)
It was the best laugh I have had in months, people, perhaps all year. and let me tell you, in the middle of province-wide, code-red pandemic lockdown, I very much needed that laugh.
I have learned, over the years, that my subconscious sends me messages through song lyrics. At that precise moment when I become aware that I have a particular song running through my head, the lyrics usually have some sort of meaning—something that I’m not consciously thinking about, but which my subconscious is trying to tell me.
For example, this morning (feeling distinctly unrested after a fitful, disturbed sleep filled with nightmarish dreams), I was thinking about the fact that I have not had a dental checkup or cleaning since the pandemic started. And at that very moment, I became aware of that the Foreigner song, Cold As Ice, was running through my head. And, at the exact moment that I became aware that that song was playing in my memory, the lyrics were:
Some day you’ll pay…
—Foreigner, Cold As Ice
Sometimes, I have to spend a little time puzzling out what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but not today! It’s rare that I get such a clear internal message, but it does happen.
Of course, I have recently been listening non-stop to the Spa music stream on CalmRadio.com. Ironically, I first learned the existence of Calm Radio when it was playing as the background music stream in a Second Life store, while I was busy doing a little virtual retail therapy! It was so soothing (even the commercials were soothing!), that I purchased a subscription when the pandemic started, an additional tool in my anti-anxiety arsenal.
And, of course, I now become aware at times that I have an instrumental song from Calm Radio’s spa channel running through my head—but alas, there are no lyrics to puzzle over to figure out what it means, though! When it does happen, I usually take it as a signal from my subconscious that I am feeling stressed out, and that I need to listen to more Calm Radio, or do something else to seek some inner peace.
Along with dentist appointments, I have also cancelled regular sessions with my hairstylist. My hair is now at an irritating middle ground: long enough that my bangs hand over my eyes at times and even touch my nose, yet still too short for a proper ponytail or man bun!
So, among my online purchases from Walmart, I ordered a set of two plastic headbands, which will at least keep my hair back and out of the way in the interim. I may yet decide to attend my next virtual work meeting in Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, or Zoom rocking a Pebbles Flintstone look!
I have now worn out not one, but two manual can openers since the pandemic started. It is now a frustrating struggle to get a can of soup open for supper, spending several minutes going back and forth between the two worn-out, dull can openers, trying to get a tin open! I ordered two replacement can openers in my last grocery pick-up trip to Walmart, but I still have to dig through the bags of groceries I unceremoniously dumped next to my kitchen table to find them. I did a cursory initial search, but no joy. (I might have accidentally left them in my car, or perhaps Walmart screwed up my order. If I cannot locate them today, after unpacking all my groceries properly, I will place an order for replacement can openers via Amazon, and make do with what I have until they arrive via Canada Post.)
Oh, and I am not going on strike this year. The latest proposal from the university administration was approved in a ratification vote by members of the faculty union. Whew! So I have one less thing to worry about, at least.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic is going rapidly from bad to worse here in Manitoba, and all across Canada (except the Maritime provinces). The town of Steinbach, which last weekend held a now-infamous anti-mask rally which I blogged about here and here, has been especially hard hit. CBC News reported yesterday:
Manitoba health officials say there are 438 new COVID-19 cases Friday and listed nine more deaths, including a man in his 20s, bringing the provincial death toll to 207…the man in his 20s is the youngest person to die of the illness in Manitoba.
A record 281 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, with 43 of them in intensive care.
The 10-day test positivity rate in the Steinbach health district is at 40 per cent, and there have been 24 Steinbach deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, Roussin said.
Winnipeg’s test positivity is at 13.7 per cent.
“When you’re looking at something like 40 per cent … this is a very concerning number,” Roussin said.
It’s weird that the same people who want to be able to shoot trespassers on their farm property think that Costco stores shouldn’t have the right to tell people that they have to wear masks on Costco property. Pick a lane.
Today is officially Day 249 since I began working from home for the University of Manitoba Libraries due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am still on holidays this week; I “go back to work” on Monday (while remaining in self-isolation in my apartment).
food, beverages and food preparation products; personal care products such as soap and dental care products; health-related products such as prescription drugs and vitamins; mobility or assistive devices; baby and child-care accessories such as diapers and formula; household cleaning products, safety devices, batteries and lightbulbs; outdoor winter apparel such as jackets and boots; personal protective equipment for the workplace; pet food and supplies; postage stamps; cellphones and cellphone accessories; parts and supplies for all types of motor vehicles and watercraft; major household appliances; hunting, fishing and trapping supplies; tools and hardware; materials for home maintenance, repair or construction; and property maintenance products such as shovels.
Non-essential items refers to any good and products not set out in the orders. This includes jewelry, flowers, perfume, consumer electronics, sporting equipment, books and toys.
Also, the document takes great care to note that “liquor and cannabis stores may continue to open and sell products” (you don’t want to have to deal with people going through withdrawal on top of everything else that’s going on, I guess!). And it looks very much like there will be no Black Friday sales in Manitoba next weekend.
New restrictions in Manitoba will limit the number of people allowed to gather in private homes to further halt the spread of COVID-19.
The enhanced orders, announced on Thursday by Premier Brian Pallister and chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin, will take effect on Friday, Nov. 20th.
The orders come one week after strict public health measures were put in place to get Manitobans to reduce their contacts. Roussin has made repeated pleas for Manitobans to stay at home and has warned of stretched hospital capacity in the province.
“Despite that, we saw people gathering at rallies, we saw crowded parking lots at big box stores, we saw people continue to go out for non-essential items — so we are left with no choice but to announce further measures to protect Manitobans to limit the spread of this virus,” said Roussin.
Under the new orders, gatherings at private residences, including homes, cottages, and other vacation properties, are restricted, and nobody is permitted aside from the people who live there. There are some exceptions to allow for child-care, health-care and home-care services, tutoring services, construction, repairs, and emergency response services.
The new orders also prohibit people from gathering in groups of more than five people at any indoor or outdoor public space. This includes the common areas of a multi-unit residence with the exception of a health-care facility or critical business that adheres to public health measures.
The new rules also allow for people who live alone (such as me) to have one person from outside their household visit their home. If I were pressed to choose, that person would probably be my best friend John, but we communicate regularly using Face Time on our iPhones, and I am satisfied with that.
Yesterday, I went and did my grocery shopping on the Walmart website, and first thing this morning, I donned an N95 facemask, got in my car, and drove to the grocery pick-up parking spaces at the rear of the my neighbourhood Walmart store, where someone wearing a mask wheeled out a cart with bins, and loaded up the back of my car, and I drove away. Thankfully, the Shopping Cart Gods smiled upon me, and there was a wayward shopping cart in the vicinity of my apartment, which made for only two trips ferrying my groceries between my car and my home. I am now stocked up on enough food to last me at least two months. I have also just had all my prescription medications renewed for another three months and delivered from my local pharmacy to my doorstep.
I have zero plans to set foot outside my apartment, unless it is to throw out the garbage or to go for masked, socially-distanced walks in my neighbourhood. As I barely leave my apartment as it was, the latest restrictions will not affect me very much. It does mean that I not be able to visit my mother and stepfather in their seniors life-lease condo, but I did pay a visit to see them the day before the Nov. 10th restrictions came into effect, and it was good to see them (again, socially distanced).
My mother wants me to commit to coming over for supper on Christmas Day, which she considers an iron-clad tradition, but I only told her that we would have to wait and see what happens between now and then. The way things have been going lately, I will not be surprised in the slightest if I spend Christmas alone in my apartment. At our face-to-face last week, we discussed Christmas presents. Mom usually gives me gift cards, but she worries that she will land up buying me gift cards for stores that will go belly-up because of the pandemic. We agreed that cash would be an appropriate gift instead, which relieves my mother of at least that one worry.
At the moment, as I write this, I am sitting in a Zoom meeting, my microphone and video muted, listening to my faculty union executive report on the results of the most recent round of bargaining with my employer, the University of Manitoba. This virtual meeting will be followed by a ratification vote over the next 24 hours by the 1,200 union members: professors, instructors, and librarians (again, this will be conducted securely, remotely, and online). So the results of the ratification vote will not be known until late Friday evening. There exists the possibility that I will be out on strike come Monday.
I am learning—trying to learn— to become more comfortable with all the uncertainty swirling around me, and I am working, every day, all day, to make sure that I do not allow my circumstances to drag me back down into the bottomless black pit of clinical depression. Some days I feel as if I am drowning.
So I take naps, and go for walks, and sit cross-legged in obliging patches of warm sunshine on my bedroom carpet. I go hide out in Second Life, or Sinespace, or Sansar, and find places to visit, and people to talk to. I take my antidepressant and anti-anxiety prescriptions, and I talk with my psychiatrist on the phone, and chat with other safe, supportive people, both in real life and in my many virtual worlds. I binge watch shows on Netflix. I read books. I cook. I clean. When I cannot sleep, I brew a pot of black coffee, get up and sit in front of my computer, and I blog.
I do whatever it takes to get me through the day, one day at a time. That’s really all I can do, all that anybody can reasonably ask me to do.
Tomorrow will be Day 250 since I started working from home, and it will be a day much like today, with its uncertainties, fears, and worries. I will get through it.