by Valerie Nusbaum
In January, we began hearing and reading things about a mysterious new virus that had reared its ugly head in China. Randy and I didn’t think too much about it then, but by February and early March, the doctors, scientists, and politicians in the United States were warning us that things weren’t looking good. Italy had already fallen prey to the coronavirus that was now being labeled COVID-19, and the United States was being invaded by way of Washington state.
Somewhere around the middle of March, we were told that self-quarantining was the best way to keep from being infected by what was now a very deadly foe. Because lots of people can’t follow directions or refuse to take things seriously, the President and Governors of various states began enacting mandatory stay-at-home restrictions. Businesses were being forced to close, and we were told that we could only venture out for essentials like groceries and medicines. Some businesses and agencies were deemed necessary and were allowed to stay open, but were urged to have employees work from home whenever possible.
At this point, Randy and I discussed the situation and realized that not a whole lot was going to change for us. We already both worked from home, and we didn’t go out a lot. We felt that things were going to be okay for us because we had a full freezer and pantry and were stocked up on most essentials.
Day 1 — Randy worked all day in his basement office. I worked in my office and studio upstairs. We thawed and cooked chicken for dinner, watched some television, and went to sleep, hoping that the state of the country would improve rapidly.
Day 5 — I went to Brunswick to take food, groceries, water, and supplies to my mother. I assumed that this was an allowable excursion since I’m the only caregiver my mom has. When the quarantine began, I asked Mom if she wanted to come and stay with us for the duration. “Heck no,” was her answer.
Day 8 — We began hearing that toilet paper was in short supply. Randy counted our stash and declared that we had 24 mega rolls and we’d be fine. We congratulated ourselves for buying in bulk and on sale.
Day 13 — People were starting to wear masks out in public. My friend, Gail, offered to make masks for us, and I took her up on her offer. In turn, I offered to pick up some milk for Gail’s husband, John, on our next trip to the grocery store. Gail and I arranged a “meet and greet” in the parking lot at Roy Rogers in Brunswick to exchange the milk for the masks. She stayed in her car, and Randy put the milk in Gail’s trunk and retrieved a bag containing our masks. We exchanged a few words from a safe distance. To anyone watching, this may have looked like a drug deal among senior citizens, but in these tough times, no one questioned it.
Day 15 — We celebrated Randy’s birthday and Easter. There were two cakes, a ham, and macaroni and cheese. None of us cared too much about eating healthfully because no one knew what was in store. We still had 20 rolls of toilet paper left.
Day 20 — Randy had to go to the post office. He came home laughing because he’d worn his mask, some rubber gloves, a hat and dark glasses. No one questioned his attire when only a short while ago the police might have been called. Things had gotten worse out there. People were scared, and the nasty virus had started claiming victims right here in Frederick County.
Day 21 — We were once again able to buy eggs and milk. Meat was available, at least here in Thurmont, but toilet paper and canned baked beans were scarce. Randy wondered if those two item shortages might be connected. Oddly, COVID-19 presented as a respiratory viral infection, and not a GI bug.
Day 26 — Randy baked a loaf of pumpkin bread. I made biscuits, homemade pizza, apple muffins, and several pasta dishes. Mom was cooking and baking, too, as fast as I could get the groceries and supplies to her. Every week, she talked with Randy and rattled off a long list of items that she needed for her pies and casseroles. Our stomachs were too full, and we were getting low on toilet paper.
Day 32 — We were forced to do a virtual doctor visit, but it was just to get some test results. I guess a virtual visit is better than nothing, but I really fail to see how some issues can be treated that way. We were all thankful to be virus- and symptom-free as far as we knew, but who could be sure, as we hadn’t been tested.
Day 40 — I’ve been cutting my own hair, and it doesn’t look too bad, if I do say so myself. Randy’s hair had gotten out of control, so I took my shears to it. It’s good that he enjoys wearing a hat. We were able to buy some off-brand toilet paper, but still no Charmin.
We’re somewhere around Day 50 of this mess now. Some restrictions have been lifted, but we’re hearing dire predictions of things to come. There are more symptoms than we previously knew and maybe some long-term effects of COVID-19. The economy is in sad shape. My heart aches for all the people who’ve lost jobs and income. I’m hoping and praying that the coming weeks bring us some hope and good news. Most of all, my wish is that all of us stay safe and healthy. Also, if any of you have an extra roll or two of Charmin…