Hello from pandemic land! 😫
I am struck at how quickly vocabulary words and phrases enter the lexicon. COVID19. Social isolation. Flatten the curve. It’s reminds me of the world after 9/11, when Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden became terms used on a daily basis.
This is going to be rather text heavy I think so here is a nice picture of a deviled egg I enjoyed on March 12th, the day when things were starting to go nuts but I didn’t realize how bad it would be (that was approximately March 14th). The boy and I went to a restaurant and sure we hand sanitized after touching the beeper, and got our meal to go, but when I ate this hard boiled egg the thing that was being discussed was the NCAA tournament being canceled. Bummer to have big events banned, but the world wasn’t ending or anything.
And then everything went nuts!
I don’t pretend that I have anything particularly useful to contribute in this pandemic (though for all means if any of you have any registered dietitian content you want, ask away).
But, looking back on this Blog That No One Reads is something I do fairly often, because it’s like a journal of my life. The edible parts anyway. And the way some people hear a song and are immediately taken back to a moment, I look at a meal and remember it and it has the same transporting effect haha. If and when this pandemic is over, we will all (God willing, still living) look back on it.
And, I’d like to believe putting my thoughts and words out on this corner of the internet provides a moment of unconventional human connection, which is what’s the name of the game these days.
My cat is cute and stoked to have me around (this picture not withstanding)
The animals of This Cat is Chonky (a private but very-much-worth-joining Facebook group) have lifted my spirits enormously. Ditto my Instagram feed which is HIGHLY HIGHLY cat centric.
Ditto bird’s rights activist.
My cousin also gave me a rude coloring book for Christmas a few years back 😂 I’ve been doodling with crayons during stressful conference calls. (My lunch was homemade date hazelnut scone + green pepper slices with buffalo hummus+ yogurt)
I was also doing puzzles like a fiend for a few days there. I recommend it for being very tactile and distracting. BUT you must be careful how you position yourself because I definitely threw out my neck at one point.
I’ve also been VERY consistent about daily exercise for mental health. Blessedly I live in a home that’s walking distance to a trail and boy oh boy if I ever house hunt again that feature will be non negotiable. Being able to walk every day, maybe chatting with family, maybe listening to a podcast, maybe just thinking, has been huge. I’ve also utilized Youtube, like everyone else, to do some yoga and things.
But, all the cute things above notwithstanding, shit is serious.
On the one hand, social media is the way we can connect with others new when those in-person connections are missing. On the other hand, the nastiness and vitriol is so much more devastating to me than it already was (and it was. It was.)
I cannot fathom a world in which:
- People believe a disease is a liberal conspiracy
- People believe people of a given ethnicity can be blamed for a pandemic
- People think that other people’s lives are disposable, certainly less important than the economy, and that we should just stop quarantining and social distancing
- People think that stopping quarantining and social distancing will magically revive the economy at no cost, and will not result in the spread of the pandemic
I also think that if I had one big dramatic genie-like wish, it would be that everyone in the world immediately had an understanding of the scientific method.
Yeah, be a person of faith. Yeah, it’s okay to believe in “gut sense” when making some personal individual decisions that don’t affect others.
But WHEN WE DEAL WITH PANDEMICS PUBLIC HEALTH IS WHAT WE HAVE. SCIENCE IS WHAT WE HAVE. SAY YOUR PRAYERS AND THEN LISTEN TO THE &#*@%@)!#%& SCIENTISTS!
Public health starts with surveillance. It starts with having an eye on each and every corner of the world, because we are a globalized society and a germ can span the entire planet in a matter of days. When things pop up in other parts of the world, we PAY ATTENTION.
Then, when we start seeing indicators, we overreact! That is the goal! In one year, we want to look back at Spring 2020 and say “We did such a good job overreacting! The effort we put in was super extra, and as a result the outcome was boring!”
Now, we’ve reached the point of no return where the outcome will not be boring. People have died and are going to die in frighteningly large numbers. Providers of care in hospitals are going to have to make horrible, gut wrenching decisions that will probably traumatize them.
But guys, please. PLEASE. Do the next right thing. Stay the eff home.
I have a master’s in public health in a rather specialized nutrition corner so I’m not here to give any epidemiology lesson, but if you’re interested in being pointed in the direction of some of the best scientific content, just holler and I’ll send a link or two your way.
Finally, as someone who spends my whole professional life working with low-income, chronically ill, often low-literacy people… My patients are going to die.
I’m always struck by my privilege but… I have paid sick leave. I have my own car to leave the home and run errands if I need to. I have job security. I have a safe house with no abusers in it. I have money for groceries. I have a kitchen I can cook in. I have health insurance.
Please please if you are questioning the steps that are being taken right now to try and protect people, try to imagine yourself in the situation where you did not have one of the things above. Okay, how about any of the things above. We are all in this together. I’ve always believed it, and I hope the people who don’t are starting to recognize that denial of humanity’s interdependence doesn’t work.
Anyway, a few more scenes from pandemic-land.
Trader Joe’s kinda killed it!
I arrived and initially was a little thrown by the line of people stretching past the door, each individual or couple separated by six feet.
But, I got to the front of the line and was immediately greeted by a cheerful staff member who had a cartful of cartons of wipes. They informed me that there was a maximum of 40 people allowed inside the store at once, so I’d get a cart and go in when a returning shopper returned theirs. I got in and there was plenty of food and breathing room.
As I was being rung up I mentioned to my cashier how smart they were being and he said that doing the line outside wasn’t the corporate policy but their management at their store had just decided to do it. It was such a good idea to protect all of them and all of us and it actually made me feel comforted.
Also this sign:
Seriously, a central law of humanity should just be Don’t Be a Dick. Always true, especially true now.
Probably the next time I post I’ll go back to talking mainly about food. I’ll talk a little bit about food and pandemics now:
I feel for people who have issues with their relationship with food. Being trapped at home, having to make complicated decisions about what to buy in bulk, limiting little trips for going out what you crave, limiting your ability to break bread with others or have others cook for you, or you cook for them… it’s hard! Anyone who is at home fighting the urge to binge and/or restrict and/or cause yourself harm in another way in the arena of food, I am sorry and I hope you feel better soon.
I myself have a history of weird drama with food and generally feel recovered, joyful and good (<< this is a blessing more enormous than I can convey with words). However, I spent a few days feeling a bit unmoored when my boyfriend very casually and not at all meanly said “You’re looking kinda skinny lately!” to me. And I realized I had been having fewer meals out to eat, fewer elaborate coffee house concoctions, etc., and maybe I was down a few lbs. And then I felt a little nutty for a few days and was like “Let’s keep riding this train and eat less! Yes, yes, skinniness can be mine! There’s no temptation!”
Blessedly, I was able to say to myself “Restriction is always followed by bingeing! Always!” And I was able to remind myself how good it feels to listen to my body. To honor my hunger and eat, and to honor my satisfaction and pursue non eating pursuits. I don’t want to give that up for anything.
Meanwhile, in my professional life, I am frenetically coordinating with anyone I can think of to try to get my patients some food. Many don’t have cars and rely on public transportation and/or rides from friend. Many were already food insecure and are now dealing with food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and congregate meals temporarily shutting down or changing their accessibility. Many are scared to leave the house and be in a public food distribution- or even a grocery store- because they have COPD. Or asthma. Or cancer. Or HIV. I’m sincerely hoping I’ll be able to help connect people with some solutions because it’s a crazy time.
Anyway, I just got into heavy so I want to end this post with a little more lightness.
I decided to be perhaps a bit selfish and extend my quarantine to include my boyfriend. I take social isolation very seriously and the only interactions I have had with others have been more than six feet away. But if the only touch I was allowed for the foreseeable future (two months? More?) was that of my cat, I think I would have died of loneliness.
So, I’ve seen N. He and I are both in good health and have not had symptoms (well, I’ve had symptoms of the pollen explosion that is North Carolina in March, but no coughing, fever or shortness of breath). We’re not seeing anyone else, and when we’re out together in public we keep a 6 foot bubble around us.
But gosh I am grateful for it. He’s a good one.
He’s just begun a week together with his kiddos, and is now one of the parents experiencing the absolute lunacy of full time teleworking whilst full time parenting/ home schooling. I imagine he is quite tired, though he’s already sent me a series of pictures of scooter adventures that look pretty great.
Before we parted, we made one of those fun self-sufficient DIY meals that has been one of the genuinely unexpected pleasures of quarantine life: pizza made with homemade dough!
One pie was topped with avoiding-food-waste-herb-pesto (made from some slightly battered but no less delicious parsley and cilantro), avoiding-food-waste-roasted-tomatoes (their wrinkliness disappeared in a hot pan), cheese and caramelized onions. The other had tomato sauce, more caramelized onions, hot peppers, bit of regular pizza cheese and bit of feta.
Anyone who’s reading… how are you? For real. Let’s talk.