The Weekly Edit: Schrodinger’s Virus

Mar 12, 2020

Last Tuesday, I was suddenly struck by a high fever and a sore throat.  The next day the cough was dry, but mild, and my chest felt like someone dropped a brick on it.  I was trying to assess my symptoms free from panic but, with the 24-hour news coverage laser-focused on coronavirus, it was hard to keep the little voice in my head from overreacting.

I called my doctor’s office.  I followed the receptionist ‘s advice and called the public health district.  They told me that I needed to speak to my doctor.  And the cycle began again.

Without a history of foreign travel or a confirmed case in my orbit,  I wasn’t a priority for testing.  I’d been in the Seattle airport the week prior.  Eaten in restaurants, visited an office building that was closed due to suspected cases.  Not good enough.  But if I got worse and required hospitalization, then I could be tested. Excellent.

I decided to quarantine myself — skipping my husband’s birthday party, missing brunch with friends — the common activities of every day life stopped.  I recovered within a few days, but opted to stay home for a a while longer.  I was Schrodinger’s patient — I both had the virus and didn’t have the virus.

Today, I feel fine.  Run down, but fine.  Was it just a cold?  Probably.  But the question lingers.

And as Facebook acquaintances and social media follows talk about the ‘pathetic overreaction’ of closing the NCAA tournament to fans and the ‘media created hysteria,’ I am overcome by one thought:  It’s all an overreaction until someone you love starts coughing.

Our lives are about to change dramatically in the short-term.  But I’m hopeful that in the longterm, life will return to normal and that this crisis will teach us something about what we value, about what’s important.

Until then, we all need to learn how to wash our hands properly.

Every time I get sick, I become addicted to hot beverages.  Pour me an Emergen-C, an Earl Grey tea, a hot chocolate, and a lemon-honey water for good measure.  And every time, I think how much easier it would be to keep the hot liquids coming if I had an electric kettle.

I spotted this Stagg gooseneck kettle and loved the design, but not the price.  So I bought the Amazon-recommended Cosori gooseneck kettle, and I love it.  It has different setting for brewing different beverages, from white tea to black coffee.  It also has a setting to keep the water at the perfect temperature.  Kyle’s been using it for his daily pour over coffee, and I am in hot beverage heaven, especially with my double-walled mugs to keep things warm.

The Devil in the White City is in my Top 5 favorite books of all time.  Larson’s other books have been hit or miss for me, but I am very excited to dig into The Splendid and the Vile this weekend.  Give me all the Winston Churchill.

I lived this entire week in these Super Soft Terry Slim Joggers from Gap.  As a pear-shaped woman, I resisted joggers for as long as possible.  I’d buy a pair, wear them a bit, realize they weren’t flattering, and donate them.  But the slim shape on these makes them a bit more flattering, esp. after I used my rudimentary sewing skills to remove the pockets and whip-stitch them shut.

Also not happening when I’m sick?  Wearing thongs.  This is no-show hipster time.  The Gap pair come in several ‘nude-to-you’ shades.

Season 2 of Dirty Money has arrived just in time for a weekend of recuperating.  With the true stories of scandalous greed, Season 2 covers Jared Kushner’s dilapidated properties, Wells Fargo’s new account financial malpractice and more.  It’s an insightful and interesting series about the things people do for money.

Kyle does most of the cooking  in our house, but earlier this week, he complained that maybe I had ‘forgotten how’ to cook after such a long hiatus.  So as a reader put it, I cooked a ‘spite meal’ of Half Baked Harvest’s Korean Sheet Pan Chicken.  It’s spicy, delicious and quick.

One tip though, skip the metal pan and make it in a shallow Pyrex dish.  It made it easier to get crispy, sticky chicken.

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  1. Andi says:

    Halfway through the Erik Larson book (I’m a huge fan of Dead Wake and In the Garden of Beasts) and it is GREAT.

  2. sara says:

    I live in Seattle, and the lack of testing is atrocious. I’m glad you’re feeling better now, and that you were responsible in quarantining yourself.

    These are very odd times, indeed.

  3. Kate says:

    Thank you for taking your symptoms seriously and self-quarantining! We definitely should have more tests – but given that we don’t, I appreciated advice I heard from a public health expert the other day “if you’re sick enough that you’re asking for a test, you’re sick enough that you should be self-quarantining.”

    • Jenna says:

      This sounds like excellent advice worth repeating! “if you’re sick enough that you’re asking for a test, you’re sick enough that you should be self-quarantining.”

      Glad you made a quick recovery and were responsible enough to limit your exposure to others. Maybe a future blog post on how to use self-quarantine time productively? My office doesn’t have remote access and I’m not sure what I will do if I get stuck at home.

  4. joy says:

    Glad you are starting to feel better! I so appreciate you being responsible. My mom is currently in rehab in a nursing home, and I have to admit I am terrified of her getting coronavirus and not making it through. It is so hurtful to see people reacting to this as “no big deal” when it’s not their loved one whose life could be on the line. We are all in this together, and we need to act accordingly. Thank you for leading by example.

  5. Mary says:

    I am glad you are on the mend! Thank you for posting your story! I am in my 30s and look healthy but I live with someone whose immune system is, shall we say, not entirely up to snuff. I am so tired of people being like, oh, it’s not a big deal, you don’t have to take so many precautions, just becuase I haven’t told them the medical history of my entire family. Also, I myself am unenthused about getting ill, beyond the family threat. Sigh, sorry for the rant.

    • Belle says:

      I agree. Kyle was giving me a little of the “calm down face” last week, then I got sick. Then, everything went to shit yesterday. Oh, now, we’re on the same page.

      • Sarah says:

        I actually got the swine flu back a decade ago. I was never so sick. This makes this feel a lot more real to me also.

        • Belle says:

          Same. I had it in 2009. Couldn’t breathe well for weeks. Would run out of breath when having a regular conversation and find myself gasping for air.

  6. kelly says:

    Just put a hold on Devil in the White City. I’m searching out books to read on vacation next month…even if with all that’s going on I’m not quite sure I’ll be going on vacation next month.

  7. Staci says:

    Years ago, when SARS was a thing. I got really sick. I went to the doctor with a cough and fever. I was working front desk at a hotel, exposed to international travelers.i had not traveled myself and there were no reported cases in the state.

    The doctor told me I had to report to the ER. They were expecting me. If I did not go, they would send the police to my house. I went to the ER and was tested. Turns out I didn’t have SARS.

    We knew covid-19 was coming. There’s no excuse to not be able to test everyone who needs it here when South Korea has drive through testing. It’s irresponsible.

    My boss attends state EPI meetings. He told us last week that there were 80 test kits available in our state, for the whole state. We would not be getting any more until we had a positive case. Of course we aren’t getting cases when we aren’t testing people.

    Given Trump’s comments about not wanting the cruise ship people being let in the country because it would effect our numbers, I wonder if this whole testing debacle was done on purpose to keep numbers in the US down. There doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for it.

  8. Christina says:

    I am so glad you are feeling better! Quick question about Devil in the White City, is it a little slow to start? I was very excited to read it about a year ago but couldn’t push through the first couple chapters and then my library hold ran out. Just wondering if I should give it another chance!

    • Belle says:

      It’s a little bit of a slog, but the interesting parts of the book are about the exhibits and people at the fair and those are toward middle-end.

  9. caitlin says:

    I’m glad finally people are taking this seriously. You can catch the virus via a fairly long chain of transference, so if I was to come in contact with it, become a carrier, and not show any symptoms… pass it on to someone else, who becomes a carrier, and doesn’t show any symptoms… who passes it on to someone who really is vulnerable.

    However, people are panic buying out entire grocery stores, which puts another vulnerable population – those with food insecurity – at great risk. What if someone can’t afford to stock up? Many businesses are closing or at reduced capacity, which is great for imposing quarantines but is cutting into tips and paychecks. Additionally, if someone loses their job and potentially health insurance as a result… also a huge risk.

    All of this to say, this crisis is really showing a lot of the cracks in our society. Healthcare should be a human right. I hope all will be well in the short-term, and that this whole crisis opens some eyes.

    • Kate says:

      It definitely shows many of the things we need to do better! All the people who are one paycheck from their lives being upended, folks who lack social support to help with childcare or if they themselves become sick. Only 20% of a person’s health outcomes are directly related to their health care. The rest is a result of the social determinants of health.

      I’m a social worker who currently works for a large, public healthcare system in public health. If this all seems like a massive overreaction, then mission accomplished.

  10. Rebecca says:

    I’m about halfway through Larson’s new book, and I’m really enjoying it. I like the detailed look at what’s happening over the course of a year. I also enjoyed “Dead Wake” (about the sinking of the Lusitania), if you’re looking for another good one by the same author.

  11. David says:

    Love the book. Can’t believe a non-fiction could be such a page-turner. Get well, soon.

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