Life in the Time of Coronavirus

IMG_4210Hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago that I took my little trip, but I’m really glad I had that chance to recharge my batteries, however briefly. Came back to the same crazy amount of work, plus more because of coronavirus. You see, in addition to my other responsibilities, I am also chair of our health and safety committee. And so, the updates to our 350 staff depended on me researching and composing messages on an ongoing basis, while still juggling regular work. Just to be clear, I am trained as an accountant, not a public health officer. While others had input, I really felt like everything was on my shoulders.

This week, with worsening statistics and more stringent guidelines coming from our federal and provincial health authorities, our executive team (including myself) took on the responsibility jointly and the messages began to be drafted by the communications person and sent out from the CEO’s office. So, strangely, despite my work load not decreasing at this point, my stress level has gone way down. What a relief not to be carrying the burden alone.

I know that many of you have been staying at home recently, but our organization only began transitioning to work-at-home mode over this last week, as our health authorities were not suggesting that previously, as there had been no indication of community spread. Now, despite the fact that much of our organization’s work is face-to-face service and that that method of contact been discontinued, we are trying to keep everyone working as long as possible, and our funders have been very supportive of that.

My team is responsible for payroll, finances, facilities, and IT, and so within our organization, we are an essential service. People still need to be paid, facilities still need to be managed (particularly where our funders have not yet allowed full closures), and there is a ton of work in IT as we try to come up with solutions to allow a workforce that was not working remotely to do so in a hurry. In addition, it is our fiscal year-end and we are in funding negotiations and having to sign funding contracts for the new fiscal year. So, yeah, my work has not slowed down.

Here are some thoughts and questions I have had over the past week:

  • Introvert’s dream: Is it wrong to be enjoying working with less than 30 people in an office that usually houses 90, despite the cause?
  • No physio: This was the week I was going to finally try to go to physio to do something about the constant pain in my right leg and hip. Who knows when that will happen now. Constant pain isn’t good for either mental or physical resiliency.
  • No exercise: I tell myself that I was going to start going to the local pool to swim lengths, but I can’t because it’s now closed. Probably I wasn’t going to go, but now I have a good (bad) excuse.
  • IMG_4249Is that you coughing? Having a pre-existing condition that makes me cough makes me very self-conscious. I have irritable larynx syndrome, which means that my larynx is hypersensitive to triggers, including scents, food touching my throat, vinegar in my food, cold air, etc. I am actually coughing more, now, because of all the hand-sanitiser and disinfectant in the air, not to mention the flowers and trees that are now beginning to bloom in Vancouver. Sometimes my coughing causes a laryngospasm, in which my vocal chords slam shut and I can only cough out and can’t get a breath in. It’s happened three times in the last three days. It’s scary, and it makes me wonder how my body would handle the new coronavirus.
  • Can a night person become a morning person? Normally, I don’t get to work until 10 a.m. or so, depending on what I have going on. With a 9 a.m. COVID-19 response team meeting every morning, maybe my internal clock will shift? (I hear that morning people are more productive.)
  • With no restaurants open, will I finally lose some weight and save some money? That remains to be seen, but so far we’ve had some really good meals at home and are making sure that nothing goes to waste.
  • Can I actually live without Starbucks? As of today, Starbucks Canada has gone to drive-through locations only, as well as locations frequented by hospital staff and first responders. Of course, I realized today that the Starbucks closest to my house and on the way to my office is next door to both a police station and a firehouse. As of today, I have no plans to go there soon, though.
  • Is 60 a magical threshold for vulnerability? They seem to throw that age around a lot. I guess I might only be safe, then, until my birthday in May.
  • What is an essential service? For the first time ever, I noticed that the massage parlour near my office is closed. They say there are no sexual services, but at $150 for 30 minutes, it’s no ordinary massage. (After I noticed the closure, I saw that the health authority in British Columbia has now ordered all personal service businesses to close, so maybe the owners did it because they had to rather than out of a concern for the women’s health.)
  • Will everything old become new again? While out walking the dog, I noticed that the neighbours were playing charades with their kids. And my husband watched an old James Bond movie (Live and Let Die) with my younger son. My son found it very racist, though, so maybe not.
  • What will the world be like after all this? I think that a lot of our habits and ways of interacting and of working will be changed permanently. Especially if this goes on as long as I think it might. I can’t quite imagine where it will all end up.

I’ve decided to start working from home beginning Monday, only going in when I have to (for cheque signing, for example). It was a really difficult decision for me to take — as my husband says, my attitude is that the captain(s) go down with the ship. We’ll see how I adjust to being at home and how my husband adjusts to me being there, after me having been gone most of the time for a long while.

My husband is also working at home, but he has often split his time between office and home. The difference now is that he will not be seeing clients, except if unavoidable. His income may eventually be affected, too, as he is paid per mortgage signed and the housing market is bound to slow. My younger son is doing his classes online from home now, too, as of last Monday. He doesn’t much like that, but he’s glad not to be riding the bus every day. My older son moved out on his own in December, so will not be isolating with us. His workplace is still operating for now — he does autobody paint and is paid by the job, so with less people driving, his income will definitely be affected.

My dog… well, he’s pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

Dog relaxing

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

34 thoughts on “Life in the Time of Coronavirus

  1. Sue
    Great questions:
    1. No not wrong at all! I have always worked in a practice of less than 20 people you will love it!
    2 my hips hurt my lower back has a pinched nerve I use a heating pad every night
    3 my gym has closed until March 29 hopefully the chain won’t go under
    I wanted to run today since it was cold and sunny but my hips hurt too much 😉
    4 my allergies are in full load right now with everything blooming and I am worried allergies will be mistaken for being sick
    Do you have a med for the cough?
    5 I’m a morning person all the way so kudos to you for being a night owl
    6 60 is the new 50 you’ll be fine ! 😘❤️
    7 no StArbucks may be a blessing and no restaurants as well
    8 my hair colorist emailed me yesterday that her salon went bankrupt 😢😱so I told her to hang in there and I’ll follow her to the ends of the earth
    9 bless the Dog he’s got it all figured out!

    Lots of hugs to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wouldn’t it be great if we could get older without our bodies feeling it? Oh well.

      No, the treatment for irritable larynx is actually behavioural. So learning to breath with your throat open, taking a sip of water when you have an urge to cough instead of coughing, square breathing (in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4), etc. Of course I am not very diligent.

      I managed to get my hair cut on Saturday before the province declared that all personal service businesses must shut down. It is going to be really hard on those small business owners.

      Stay well!


  2. This working at home thing is good for me as a night person. Before I had to be out of the house at 8 am so I could be at the office well in time for 9 am meetings. Now I can sleep an hour longer. 🙂
    I too wonder how the world will look after this…
    I’m glad you are able to share some of the responsibility for the whole Corona messaging thing. Good luck with the whole isolation thing. Stay safe and stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well that’s true. My commute time is much shorter. My husband always says that his commute is great unless the dog gets in his way! Today I miscalculated and joined the video meeting without my mascara on… I don’t wear much makeup, but I don’t feel complete without it. Yes, sharing the burden is a relief. You stay well, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to love the weekends when our huge building in Austin was locked to all but faculty — it was usually just me and two or three other people. So calm.

    night owl vs. morning person: dad’s stroke has forced me to get up between 6 and 7 but I will never be a morning person. Huge productivity loss. The stroke also put me into “mostly eating at home” mode. It really is better for us but I haven’t lost any more weight since dad stopped his physical therapy. I’m thinking :less salt, less added sugar, less bad fat.

    can I live w/o Starbucks? Yes, but it’s a sad life. This is actually the thing I currently miss most. Not the coffee as much as the (lost) routine.

    We don’t have a shelter in place order yet, and our governor keeps denying that it’s necessary, but I’ve seen several epidemiological estimates now and I don’t know how he gets around it without a frightening level of carnage. I almost wish he’d do it now, but if he doesn’t do it in the next five days the window of opportunity is lost. I figure this has to last until July if the strategy is to work at all. And yeah — then we’ll have to see what exactly is left. Probably many of the mainstays of my daily life will have been erased.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always love going in on the weekends, too. Today was a good first day at home, though. Wasn’t sure how it would work, but it worked out fine.

      Today I woke up before my alarm.., but then slept a bit more. I know what you mean about productivity. I feel almost like a switch has flipped on as I go into the evening. But it’s dangerous, because if I’m on the computer, then I get wired and can’t sleep and have trouble making it to an early meeting. The world is not on my schedule, unfortunately.

      Eating at home, you’re right, also doesn’t help unless you change what you eat. I made mini meat loafs last night. They’re really good but they’re made with beef, pork, ketchup, and brown sugar. Probably I need to rethink the menu.

      As for Starbucks, I always call it my cup of happiness. But I seem to be able to do without it when the routine changes.

      We’re up to 472 cases in British Columbia now (that have actually been tested and reported) and almost 1,500 Canada-wide. They were doing a really good job of isolating and tracking close contacts, but it’s spreading now. I think the more we can self-isolate, the better. The estimates are scary. I was reading about the Spanish flu today. There were several waves of the virus and of course the death toll was massive. I don’t think we want that, even if the economy is hugely affected. I’m sure in the end we will find new mainstays and routines that hopefully will still make us content.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always thought I just needed to move to a different part of the world — just adjust the planet to my schedule. But wherever I am, within a few weeks I am a night person on the local schedule. Grrr.

        We’re theoretically getting a shelter-in-place order tomorrow. The governor’s been (unusually) a little hard to pin down on the details.

        When I started reading estimates about this, which I guess was about 2.5 weeks ago now? approximately, I was reading estimates from 100,000 to 500,000 additional deaths in the US due to CV. Which doesn’t really compare with the Spanish flu. OTOH 500,000 is still more Americans than died in WW2 and ten times the US casualties in Vietnam. (And the latest estimates I’ve seen are much higher.) It’s definitely something that’s going to change us all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I expect our internal clocks readjust to sunrise/sunset etc. I guess we can’t get the rest if the world to change, instead. I still need to be at my desk for the 9 a.m. video meeting, unfortunately.

          Hopefully you have enough supplies. We managed to get a package of Toilet paper yesterday. Whoo-hoo!

          Yes, it’s not quite the Spanish flu, but those are still high estimates. Let’s hope that we can actually flatten the curve.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We live in an area where a lot of toilet paper is produced, so I’m not super worried. I did buy a two months’ supply, but we know a lot of people who work in paper mills. I think where we’re going to struggle, oddly enough, is in canned chicken soup. This is what dad wants for his lunch most days and the store’s been out of stock for a while. I have half a case still.

            I really hope the current measures help and the US president doesn’t f*** it up. Worrisome.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Actually that’s really funny. That’s one of the things I’m enjoying about being at home — being able to heat up some canned soup! Cream of mushroom is my favourite, but I do have a can of chicken noodle, too.

              I wonder if the pres is really going to open everything up by Easter… seems like that would not be prudent. Hopefully he is advised against it and takes that advice.


              • I primarily use cream of mushroom in casseroles. I don’t like most canned soups but I think dad likes them because they are so salty. I found another case of chicken yesterday — so we should be good until June, now, I suspect.

                I think the danger is that although all the epidemiological analyses are showing fairly clearly that infections function exponential, you can’t see that from on the ground, especially at the beginning, when the numbers multiplying remain very low even as proportion increases. (I remember when this was explained to me, back in college, by my boyfriend — that assuming a bacteria in a test-tube that was squaring its population every 24 hours, 24 hours before the resources in the test-tube were gone, it would still look like everything was fine.)

                We now have (essentially) a shelter in place order that’s set to expire on the day when the state would have exceeded its surplus hospital capacity (projected at about 6,000 beds) if we’d only done social distancing — April 24. So I assume they will know a few days ahead of then better what the trajectory is. The thing is that (see above) I doubt they will know by Easter. Well, maybe NYC will be able to say. The other thing is that if shelter in place works, that means we will “only” be using 1,000 additional beds — so there’s the risk that someone decides we’re not in a dangerous situation precisely because the measure is working. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to lift the measures just because so many people live so close to shipwreck — they get through their financial lives on a two week basis.

                Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a lark…even though im not working now I’m still waking up at 6.30 am everyday.
    See, my job is not possible to do from home as I’m as dental hygienist! So I’m now unemployed…and being self employed there will be no more money coming in! But hey ho. ..just got to try and keep myself busy.
    I think the world will change but I also think humans are habitual and we will slip back into old habits very quickly. Though I’m kinda hoping it’s a wake up call from consumerism.
    UK went into lockdown yesterday. small town seems to be taking it pretty serious..I had to go get meds today and they had tape on the floor ,etc. Also the small supermarket had a security guard and was on allowing a small amount of people in the store at once. I’m hoping we only need to pop out once a week to get some fresh fruit and veg.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 6:30 feels like torture to me. 🙂
      We’re lucky in Canada. The government has announced emergency relief of up to $2,000 CAD per month for workers, even those who are self-employed, with the money to start coming through in early April. Hopefully, you will have enough to get by.
      I’m actually enjoying not going out and spending money. Maybe I’ll develop better habits for the future!
      We’re not on lockdown, but people do seem to be trying to stay at home and create space when they are out. My husband went to the grocery store today and they were limiting how many people could go inside at a time. Probably a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.