The Amend Corner

Writing from quarantine

Posted 3/19/20

Thanks to the coronavirus epidemic currently sweeping the world, I have decided I’ll be in quarantine for a while.

I’m not really sure how much danger I’m in, but I am among …

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The Amend Corner

Writing from quarantine

Posted

Thanks to the coronavirus epidemic currently sweeping the world, I have decided I’ll be in quarantine for a while.

I’m not really sure how much danger I’m in, but I am among those who are most at risk of being infected. I haven’t reached 76 yet, but I can see it from here, so I’m nearly 16 years past the official threshold of old age. Worse, I’m on pretty shaky ground health-wise, thanks to a couple of conditions that are trying to kill me; consequently, my immune system is suspect.

So, I suppose quarantining myself is well advised, but I’m not likely to be religious about it just yet.

This past week, for example, I wasn’t in church on Sunday, not because of a virus, but because my back really hurt; I didn’t think I could sit in a pew for an hour, let alone stand up long enough at the appropriate points in the service. Nor could I have left the service early if my discomfort worsened. Doing that would raise the ire of my mother, to whom leaving during the service was a no-no, unless I was really sick and didn’t return — which, to her, was even worse than leaving in the first place. Mom has been gone since 2002, but I’m still a little cautious about breaking her rules.

I didn’t go completely churchless, though, thanks to a coffee group hosted by the pastor on Monday, March 9, afternoon. A small group was there for a free-ranging discussion about whatever comes up, an activity I am always willing to join conversations like that.

On Tuesday, March 10, we had to take a trip to Billings so I could undergo a type of dental work I didn’t know existed until last month. I would try to explain what he did, but that would take too long. After the doctor finished, we stopped for lunch — at least for my wife. I was limited to something soft and to me that meant ice cream, since I couldn’t chew anything. Obtaining that ice cream meant standing in line in relative closeness to strangers.

The next two days I stayed at home, but on Friday, I went downtown for a badly needed haircut, which meant, or course, being in close contact with someone who might well have cut the hair of someone infected with the nasty virus. He wasn’t concerned, so I wasn’t either, especially since most of the time he was behind me, and anyway, I figured I’d already blown the protection of quarantine.

I wasn’t done tempting fate — or the virus — either. I made a fearless trip downtown on Saturday, where one coffee shop was celebrating Pie Day, 3-14. Pie to me is something like a winter-killed elk is to a grizzly bear in the spring — i.e something I can’t resist. Obtaining a piece of pie meant more contact with possible carriers of the infection, but I mostly kept my distance from them. My only real problem was disappointment, since by the time of my afternoon visit, the shop was out of key lime pie and I had to settle for mixed berry, which, though it didn’t have the tang of lime, was more than satisfying.

Now it’s a new week, and it seems the whole nation is closing down in an effort to stop the epidemic that seems to be spreading rapidly around the world. I will try to stay more or less isolated from everybody except my wife, who could catch the virus, and Notso, our cat, who if I’ve read the warnings right, is not in danger of getting sick from the virus or passing it on to me. That’s good, because he has the habit of spending several minutes sitting or lying on my chest at night so I can scratch his chin. Occasionally, he even falls asleep for longer periods of time.

My quarantine time won’t be complete, however. I had to go back to Billings on Wednesday so the dentist can admire his work. At least, I hope he will admire it. Otherwise he might have to do it over, and I don’t want that to happen. He might cancel my appointment, but based on what he said about the virus while he had his needle stuck in my gum, I don’t think he’ll do that.

That’s actually OK with me. I know it’s a dangerous virus, and it’s a good idea to take precautions, but still, it seems to me that people, from world leaders on down to us lowly citizens, are in something of a panic. Closing down every activity that might draw a crowd seems like a bit of overkill to me, especially when you consider the costs of shutting something like the NCAA basketball tournament and the impact on people who will lose money because their jobs or businesses can’t open.

But I’m not an epidemiologist or a doctor, so my opinion doesn’t count for much in this case. If they say these steps are necessary to prevent a real epidemic, I will accept that. That means I will quarantine myself, but if I have a good reason to break my quarantine, I’ll take the risk.

If it works, I’ll write again. If it doesn’t, well ...

The Amend Corner

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