Cabin Fever Chronicles

Snapshots of everyday life in Omaha quarantine, May 2020


My New Workspace, photo by Tessa Adams

 My family of five is a lucky one

My husband and I can work from home and our kids are in classes during the weekdays. We worry about our friends who are hairdressers and waiters, waiting for their unemployment to go through. In turn, we worry about the grocery store clerks and medical professionals. We think of them while we maintain social distance in all areas of our public lives.

I’m not sure if I’ve embraced the five workstations in our home and teaching all of my classes in my basement, but I do know keeping pants on my middle child so his classmates get the respectable version of him and keeping the other two kids motivated can get challenging. We’ve come up with new vocabulary while hiding from this silent threat. Our 8-year-old is a quaran-queen, dressing to the nines despite having nowhere to go. Our quaran-teen’s angst is heavier to carry without his high school sports, and our middle guy can only kind of get clean enough for his Zoom classes. We call it quaran-clean. Besides these small inconveniences, we’ve enjoyed seeing each other more, cooking meals together, and creating new projects to keep us busy at home.

 While we wait out this silent killer, I can’t help but wonder about the good things that will stick when this is over. I hope we still cook together. I hope Fontenelle Forest’s trails stay as packed, and I pray Omaha families can rebuild what they’ve worked so hard to create in our beautiful city.

Submitted by Tessa Adams, Omaha

Putting a Positive Spin on Things

After a visit to an acute care clinic in early March for something totally unrelated to the virus, I asked the doctor point blank, “Am I at high risk for getting COVID-19?”   All of the news reports at that time were saying that only people with underlying health conditions or the elderly were at risk. I had recently been joking with my adult children about whether or not I would be considered “elderly.” 
 
“They don’t mean me!  I’m only 63, for God’s sake!” 
“We-ll . . .” my son responded. Then my daughter-in-law casually mentioned that our local grocery store offered online shopping. “I’m not ready to start quarantining just yet!” I snapped. 
 
Still, I had been diagnosed with diabetes about seven years ago. Surely that didn’t put me at increased risk? After all, it is very well controlled. But a little seed of doubt had been planted. 
 
I started having trouble getting to sleep at night. I’d wake up just before dawn, my thoughts churning about the virus and my plans for the day. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t turn them off. When I finally went back to sleep, I overslept. I’d awake feeling hungover, and all my plans for the day had evaporated. 
     
I finally decided it was time to get some professional advice, hence my question that day in the doctor’s office. “Well, you are definitely at higher risk if you contract the virus,” he told me. “You’re over 60, and you’re diabetic. My advice is—just don’t get it!” 
 
What in the heck kind of advice was that? But after some consideration, I concluded I should do everything I could to avoid putting myself in any potentially risky situation.  
 
I could order groceries on-line with curbside pick-up.  Since all schools were closed I would no longer substitute teaching.  My primary responsibility seemed clear to me now—I needed to practice self-care by staying home and eliminating my risk of contracting the virus, and at the same time keep others safe. 
 
I really needed to focus on managing my mental health. My Seasonal Affective Disorder had started to abate with the recent onset of spring, and I didn’t want to relapse. I needed to establish a daily routine for myself. First, I would make sure to get outside every day to take a walk or go for a bike ride with my husband.  With nicer weather outdoors, I could also start preparing flower beds or raking up last year’s leftover leaves.   
     
Second, I needed to maintain my social contacts, making full use of technology. I set up some telephone conferences with small groups of friends. From there we branched out into Zoom meetings. It took stretching our non-tech-savvy muscles, but with persistence we were able to get it done!   
  
I reached out to everyone in my address book through texts. I connected with several childhood friends who I normally only correspond with through Christmas cards, or infrequent visits to my hometown.  And I made a commitment to make at least one telephone call each day, whether it be to one of my children, grandchildren or close friends to replace the time we would usually spend face-to-face. 
 
I needed to nourish my spirit as well. I made sure to read a spiritually-based daily reader each morning. I also read the sermons my pastor emails each week, and started meditating using a phone app.  It’s a great help when I’m having difficulty sleeping.  And I try to do a meditation first thing in the morning, or sometime during the day when I’m feeling out-of-sorts. 
 
All of these things have made an enormous difference in the way I’ve been handling the decision to stay at home for the past month. I have not felt depressed, nor have I felt trapped in my house. I remind myself that I have made the choice to stay home.  The disease is not in harge of my life—I am.   
     
I look at this time in my life as a time to slow down and take stock of where I am at this moment.  It’s a time to count my blessings, to catch up on the little projects I never find time for.   One of the things I’ve done has been to resume writing. This unique time is also a chance to reach out to others who may be struggling, and band together for strength.  
 
Out of every trial I’ve faced in life, there has always been good that resulted. I believe that, upon reflection, great good will come out of this crisis, too. 
Submitted by Valerie Robert

Making masks helps pass the time.

Helping Others and Getting Healthier

Please, excuse my writing. English isn’t my first language so I would like to apologize in advance if you notice some unusual spelling or grammar.
When there was an announcement that flights between countries will stop and borders will be closed my first thought was that I would be so far away from home in case something happens to me. But then I decided to use the time to improve my health.
  
On my last visit to my doctors office I was told my blood sugar is too high and I am considered pre diabetic. So when I began preparing and shopping for the pandemic I concentrated on sugar free, carb free or low carb foods. I also experimented, and to my surprise, I was able to cook some amazingly tasty and healthy dishes. I noticed how my glucose levels began to drop at first very slowly, but then very noticeably, and just today my levels were the same as a healthy person.
  
I had to find some additional activities to keep myself busy and productive so I began making face masks. Several of my friends from Texas, Florida, Kansas, and Missouri kept requesting more masks for their families and friends so the first few weeks I was very busy and ended up staying awake very late several nights so I could complete the orders and ship the mask first thing in the morning. I knew it could prevent the virus from spreading and it could possibly save my friends and their families from a lot of trouble.
  
For the last few days I have been updating my camper trailer because it makes me feel like I am not at home and it seems to be a great way to play a trick on my mind and to keep my sanity. On a funny note, I don’t think I would make it on a mission to Mars. I can even make it in my house for a few weeks, let alone on a mission to Mars for 6 months. It would be great to read what others are doing during self isolation. Thank you for reading about my experience.
 
Submitted by Vlad Rangotchev, Omaha
 
 
 


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