Day 67-SIP-Best Day Yet

Clearly this is by far the best day of 2020 from a weather standpoint. The sun is shining, the temperature is approaching 80 degrees F, and there is a slight breeze. Because of all the rain last week the high humidity is the only downside. Because of the RH indoors I had to actuate the AC.

My day has been quite normal, only broken by a phone call I made to my step-daughter. She and I have not spoken for several weeks and it was my turn to spend the dime. We had a nice chat, and since then I have not had any human contact other than that which I encountered along the bike path. There was a time, back in the nineteen nineties when I owned the bike path. I couldn’t be out there for more than a few minutes when I met someone I knew or someone who became an acquaintance from our daily passings. Very often they were people from Folks On Spokes bike club. If so, the chat would turn into an ice cream or a pop followed by a side-by-side ride.

After Barb died, I spent hours along the path riding to forget my grief. There was one one lady, a member of FOS whom I have known for many years who became a regular rider by my side. Even though she worked a full time job, she managed to meet and ride with me several times a week. She and I took longer rides along Lake Michigan and she also showed me haunts in her part of town. We began dating off the bikes. She introduced me to Second City an impromptu comedy club known for spawning many famous comedians,  including Bill MurrayGilda RadnerJohn CandyJohn BelushiDan AykroydDel CloseEugene LevyCatherine O’HaraNia VardalosRyan StilesMike MyersSteve CarellTina FeyAmy PoehlerStephen Colbert, and many others. The performance we saw that night included a skit about the Chicago Cubs and their failed attempt to win the World Series because of a questionable foul ball, and a fan interference The cast blamed it on the infamous goat from the Billy Goat tavern.

Second City Comedy Theater

Bike Riding Friends

It wasn’t long before we became more than friends. An evening in front of the TV watching movies turned into what most would euphemistically refer to as an affair. For me, an older man, it was a great time to be hooked up with a woman fifteen years my junior. It all ended when I left town to spend the winter in Arizona. We have not seen nor spoken to each other since that time seventeen years ago. It wasn’t long after I returned from the three month hiatus in Arizona that I met and began courting Peggy.

Peggy and I hit it off because we had a common denominator, we were both widows, she for four years, and me for two. We were both Catholic. She lost her husband just a few weeks short of their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and I lost Barb just shy of our forty-second anniversary. Our politics were the same, she loved to talk, and I loved to listen. I loved going to parties and shows, and she loved being with me even when she didn’t like the program. We both had kids who we learned to love as our own. We spent two years courting before we married and began a new life together. Our marriage ended just three months away from our fourteenth anniversary on June 29, 2019 when she died from Alzheimer’s disease. I call it dying ugly.

Maybe these recollections are part of my grief process and writing about them is cathartic. Hopefully it is. I need the world to reopen to be able to live the life I want to lead. Although I enjoy being an SIP hermit, I can only take it for a short time before I need to associate with people. Actually, the only thing different about my life during SIP and before SIP is the complete isolation without the knowledge that I can go out if I want when I want. Under SIP, I have felt it my responsibility to avoid being a carrier.

I anxiously await next week when Illinois officially goes into Phase Three of reopening. Another side of me keeps whispering into my ear not to rush into society so quickly. The virus is still out there waiting for people my age to pounce on and take out. My experience with polio tells me that I should be very wary of contact. Yes, I will social distance, and I will wear a mask and I will not go near sick people. I did the same thing in 1957, the year I got the polio virus. I stayed away from crowds, I didn’t swim at the beach, I didn’t do swimming pools, but I got the virus anyway. Looking back on it not a single friend or relative that I associated with got the virus, but I did. I am special, and COVID-19 might see me that way too.

Day 46-Quarantine, or Stay In Place, SIP

After a month and a half I’ve decided to change the opening title of my posts from Quarantine to Stay In Place, (SIP)

Why? It has always been Stay in Place and not Quarantine. There is a huge difference between the two types of actions. Quarantine refers to a strict protocol that keeps one totally separate from others. There are no sojourns allowed to go the the grocery store or for a walk outside. When one is quarantined he is in a prison like atmosphere. True, there are no bars preventing you from leaving, but there are definitely locks on the doors and many people watching to make certain you don’t enter society and spread your malady.

Stay in Place is a wimpy form of isolation designed to minimize the spread of a disease. A quarantine is a strictly adhered to isolation of a person to absolutely prevent the spread of a disease. I lived under quarantine, but was so sick as to not care that my freedom was totally violated. My rights were violated as they say ‘for the good of the general population.’

Today, as part of my SIP routine I went for a walk which took me an hour to complete. I had visitors to my house who wore masks and we sat six feet apart. We skipped the usual hugging and kissing that is normal for family members to practice. While under quarantine, I was allowed visitors once per week for two hours, and the visitors were only allowed to see me through two glass walls. My parents were checked at the entrance to verify who they were. I don’t remember any of the staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They did wear the outfits of their nursing profession and doctors wore white lab coats. They did not use gloves, (I don’t think polymer gloves were invented yet) nor masks. I was not allowed to leave the quarantine until such a time that I was temperature free, and able to handle my self independently. In my case that meant I could feed myself without the aid of a feeding tube, and I could breathe without the need for a ventilator (iron lung).

I was transferred to another hospital for physical therapy and hot-pack treatments. I didn’t leave that facility until such a time as I could walk on my own with the aid of crutches, and I could hold my head up with the aid of a stiff neck collar invented for me by the prosthetics staff. Without the collar my head kind of flopped from one shoulder to the other, or worse from my chest to my back.

Looking back on it, those were the good old days. Compared to the COVID-19, I believe I will choose polio to the death of Covid.

Illinois Governor Pritzker Extends the Stay In Place order to May 31

In recent days I read about demonstrations going on all across the country protesting the loss of liberty imposed by Stay In Place. After getting more data from all over the world than anyone can handle we are now able to voice our complaints and threaten to storm the statehouse to overtake the governors about their strict policies causing us more harm than the disease. It is easy to think that way today but was it easy to think that way 46 days ago when the public health people warned us about truck loads of bodies having to be disposed in gross ways? I didn’t hear a peep from anybody about why we had to do what we did. The photos from Italy and Spain were enough to convince us that we’d better play it safe. I remember President Trump suggesting that maybe we could end our SIP by Easter. He was stormed by protestors that that timeline was way too early. The virus will kill too many people if we let that happen. People did not demonstrate, but they did object to the idea of removing the cautionary policies.

Now that we have actual experience to know what the virus does to us and how fast it does it we have changed colors. The idea of starving versus taking a chance getting the virus and maybe dying leans toward loosening the chains. Thus the political protesters come out of the woods to spread their rhetoric about how badly our president and governors have handled the situation. The tone has shifted to blame Trump for everything. The only thing I blame Trump for is caring about us too much. I’ll gladly continue to wear a mask and to stay at home out of the virus’ way for the next two years if that what it takes. And for damned sure I ‘ll never cast my ballot for a liberal pansy like Pelosi, Biden, Clinton, or any other career politician that doesn’t know his/her anus from a hole in the ground.

Day43- Quarantine-Depression

The word depression puts me into a morose mood. Today, is the complete opposite of yesterday which was up, sunny, bright, warm, and happy. Today, it is raining, dark grey and depressing. It was a good day to spend time in my shop, which is what I did. I am making great progress on my latest piece of art. Soon it will be finished and the chore will be to find a space to hang it. My walls are covered with pictures. This work will most likely be a give away, since the schedule of summer art fairs are cancelled. No sense making it just to store until such a time as the world is ready to live again.

COVID-9 has done much to dampen the spirit of Americans. We are becoming restless with hiding from the virus. My attitude is becoming one of “I’d rather take my chances with the virus latching onto me than to stay in hiding any longer.” I’ve told the story many times about the polio virus which caused a national concern between nineteen sixteen through nineteen fifty-six again (History of Epidemics) Not one president issued a stay in place order. Of course none of them had bureaucracies filled with scientists the could use mathematical models to predict the probable outcomes of said epidemic. Oh the woe that science begets us.

In most of the epidemical events of our country the scourge was conquered by the development of a vaccine and or a treatment using anti-biotics. The Corona virus does not respond to antibiotics therefore we are stuck with a need for the vaccine. In the case of polio the vaccine took a very long time to develop, like forty years. I remember it all too well. I hit the jackpot in 1953 and became one of the 57000 cases. I thank God that I was not one of the 3000 deaths. I did get a benefit from the virus. i.e. anti-bodies. Luckily my paralysis was minimal although it affected my neck, chest, arms, and legs. For the longest time I could not swallow because my throat muscles were affected. Try eating an all fluid diet that gets poured through a tube that is routed through the nose into the stomach. I lived.

The big difference I see between Corona and polio is that the corona kills easier than polio did. Corona affects the lungs which in turn stop feeding needed oxygen to the vital organs which then shut down and die. Polio affected nerves which sent the signals from the brain to the a muscle. Which nerves the virus attacked depended on a lot of things, none of which I remember anymore. Some people lost control of their legs, others their arms, or neck like me, If you were really unlucky it affected your chest muscles and your ability to breath. Back then the medical miracle was called the Iron Lung and you lived in a tank which did the breathing for you. Only your head was exposed to the outside. Corona is more merciful, it kills quicker and more efficiently.

If I recall correctly, Polio hit younger people more often, while Corona strikes old people harder. Maybe I’ll get the chance to beat a second virus in my lifetime. Like I said the weather has affected my thinking and my attitude. I’ll take my chances, but play safe at the same time.

Day 30-Quarantine-Target On My Back

Wow! The news today has certainly shifted from reporting how many deaths are occurring due to COVID-19 to how soon can we stop the madness created by shutting down the economy. Let the political bickering begin. At least for the past thirty days we didn’t have to endure the constant Trump bashing and democrat accusations about Trump killing people with his new weapon COVID-19. The joke of the day is VP Joe Biden accusing Trump of not taking any responsibility for all the deaths. If anyone in the country took responsibility, it was Trump. He shut off the flights from China, Europe and caused the commerce in our country to nosedive. He warned early on that we would reach a point where a dead economy will cause more harm than the virus, He worked and still works diligently to provide resources to all the fifty lame-ass states that were caught unprepared to handle their citizens. Blame, blame, blame is all I hear today. All of it points at Trump. None of the blame belongs to him.

There is an important fact that we must all remember from our second year high school civics class, i.e. States Rights. Each State is in charge of keeping their residents safe from harm and to provide essential services. States do an outstanding job with police, firemen, and EMT’s but it all stops there. Ask any governor how much he budgets for emergency management. Most likely it is a number close to zero, or the salary of the Emergency Management Czar he appointed to the job.

Democrats place blame on Trump for everything, Republicans accuse him of redistributing the wealth better than a socialist. There doesn’t seem to be any happy medium. In the meantime the president continues to do what he believes is important which is to save our ass from the grave and to restart the engine that drives us all.

The one thing I want to see happen is a continued effort to test people for COVID. I saw a news bit yesterday that praised the Iranians for inventing a COVID meter that detects the virus within 100 meters. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

What a great idea if it really does exist. If it does, why did Iran have to dig mass graves to dump all the COVID bodies? Since I’m in the target age group the virus loves to kill I am concerned. All of  you going back to work with strong immunity and me without any. All I have is social distancing and face masks. I figure by the time we finally get a vaccine for COVID, ninety percent of seniors will be feeding daisies.

My experience with a virus that does not have a vaccine goes back to the polio era of the nineteen thirties to the the nineteen fifties. For twenty years all we had were guidelines, stay away from crowds, stay away from beaches, stay away from people who had it. I don’t remember how many more there were. What I do know is that I didn’t frequent the beaches and I never congregated in crowds, and I still got it. The funny thing is that none of my family, who I  lived with got it, none of my friends that I hung out with got it, nor did anyone I knew got it. My body just couldn’t resist the damn thing. The same will occur with COVID until the vaccine arrives. Our lives will be a crap shoot, on some days we’ll roll seven, or seven-eleven, and on other days we’ll roll snake-eyes. Life will go on, people will die everyday from a thousand things and some will die from COVID. Now that we know how the big-bad-monster behaves it won’t be as scary.

Day One Of My Corona Quarantine

Never in my lifetime has the government been so worried about a virus threat. Today, begins a shutdown of many public spaces. My Lions Club activities are shut down, the library is closed, all bars and restaurants are closed, only drive through windows will be open. For the first time in my life I missed a Sunday mass because the church was closed. Food suppliers will remain open. Hopefully, they will have stock to sell. I’m not sure about banks.

Back in the nineteen forties during World War Two we experienced shortages, and blackouts, but I don’t recall shutdowns of any sort. My parents were issued a ration booklet with coupons. The coupons were for food items, gasoline, etc. I know my Mom used them to barter food with friends. Dad did the same with his gasoline coupons. Back then we were fighting Germans and Japanese not an invisible microscopic virus. The Civil Air Patrol watched the skies for enemy airplanes and the Coast Guard patrolled our shores to ward off enemy ships. I remember when we traveled by car to see my grandfather in Michigan we raced PT boats along Lake Michigan shores. Every car trip involved fixing flat tires on the roadside because tires were not available and our car had some pretty bald tires. When we reached the bridge over the St. Joe river there was always a huge navy ship tied up there.

In the nineteen fifties we did have a serious virus attack, Polio was the enemy. It was headlines everyday in all the newspapers, and on radio news. Because we didn’t have TV’s we didn’t have 24 hr news programs spreading panic all about the world. The pictures of people in iron lungs were enough to get our attention. The government recommendation was to stay away from crowded beaches and from mosquitoes. It was August, and I just turned fifteen, I was invincible. That morning I played golf at Jackson Park GC with my buddies, in the afternoon I delivered groceries for a grocery store that was several miles from home. I rode my bicycle to get there. After work, I hung out with the neighborhood gang until ten. The following morning I couldn’t wake up, I had a headache that felt like my skull would blow up, my throat was on fire, and my neck was so stiff I couldn’t bend my head. Mom took my temperature and called our family doctor. He came by at five o’clock after his office hours. An ambulance arrived within two hours to haul my sorry ass to the Contagious Disease Hospital on 26th and California. That is where I existed until October. It wasn’t fun, and I am one lucky man because I recovered with a minimum of paralysis. I thank God for that everyday. The vaccine for polio came a couple of years after I recovered from it. I still think about all the kids I met along the way that didn’t make it. I laugh when reporters question medical authorities for how quickly will a vaccine be available. During polio the vaccine took years to develop. In fact it didn’t happen until the electron microscope was invented and researchers could finally see the virus. President Roosevelt started a private enterprise called the March of Dimes to raise money for research and help for victims. He did that because he had first hand experience with the disease having been paralyzed from the waist down from polio.

At this moment I have two workers in my house sanding my wood floors to refinish them I am sealed off, and by myself in self quarantine. This time I believe the warnings are valid and pertain to me. I am in the primary age group for this bug. I must do everything in my power to stay healthy and away from contagion, or face the music. At the end of February, a close friend of mine died. I went into shock when I learned of it. She got sick suddenly with a lung infection that took her out.  Her family swears it wasn’t Corona, but in my heart I believe it was.

Pray, pray, pray that we will stop this virus in its tracks.

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