House Arrest

House Arrest

No one enjoys the lockdown process. And now that we’re “celebrating” the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown orders, it’s hitting home with a lot of people. We’ve spent one year donning masks, focusing on washing our hands, and avoiding contact with our human beings. For some people, that’s an endless lifetime. For those of us of the introvert persuasion, it’s more like business as usual (more or less). And while I won’t admit to being a FAN of everything, I haven’t hated it as much as other people.

Until last week.

I’ve been battling issues with my sinuses…well, since I moved to Virginia. As anyone who isn’t a native will tell you, this is the state you come to to develop allergies. I have no idea WHY that’s the case, but you’ll find stories from one end to the other. And I’m no exception. My ENT has changed my medication routine so many times I can’t remember what we’ve tried and what we haven’t (short of injections, where I draw the line). Finally, we decided to run a CT of my sinus passages to check for potential problems. Considering my neuro issues were also undergoing changes – and the fact that the trigeminal nerve sits near the sinuses – it made sense to cover the bases.

Surprise! Turns out my sinuses aren’t normal. (If you know me, this isn’t much of a surprise. Very little of my anatomy is normal) My turbinates were out of alignment AND overly large, I had air trapped within them, and my concha were too big. It led to a natural environment for trapped inflammation – and made me a perfect candidate for a balloon sinuplasty.

(So much for my plan to avoid surgery this year)

If you haven’t ventured into an OR in the past year, there’s a new test required – even for inpatient procedures. That’s right: the COVID test. As someone who hasn’t needed one this entire time (not counting the antibody test they perform each time I donate blood), let me say one thing: that test fucking HURTS! I’ll concede it may not be so bad if you have normal sinuses, but I don’t. I handed over a bloody swab to the nurse who looked at me sideways. And then she dropped the hammer: I wasn’t allowed to set foot outside until my procedure. Which happened to be TEN DAYS away! No one warned me about THAT fact!

Granted, I wasn’t going out a ton. But the weekly trip for groceries let me BREATHE! To suddenly end up trapped in the house, with no chance to shop for the new curtain rods, or pick up my own medications felt like the worst kind of house arrest in the world. I hated it. I’d stand in the window and watch my husband drive off on our basic errands and grumble under my breath. Maybe they were tiny (necessary) trips, but they were my lifeline to the outside world, and now they were gone. I felt like a criminal. Ten days was the worst life sentence. And my mental health took a major hit.

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

I was MISERABLE! No walks around the neighborhood. I couldn’t even set foot in the backyard since our neighbors were outside working in their yard (couldn’t risk the possible “contact”). Ten days in the same walls. I didn’t want to do anything. I mean, I did (I needed to write), but I didn’t WANT to. It was a rebellion against the confinement. All I wanted to do was go to the stupid grocery store! My one little outdoor venture! I never thought I’d look FORWARD to a surgery!

Of course, then the procedure happened, and I got a new shock. I knew it was inpatient. I also knew I’d stay awake the entire time. (For the record, listening to your sinuses crack and pop is a level of disturbing I don’t have words for) But they assured me I’d go home and be back on my feet by the next day. So I planned accordingly with my clients.

Never trust doctors.

Within 20 minutes of hitting the recovery room, I knew I was in trouble. The “pain medication” they prescribed may as well have been Tic-Tacs. I almost broke my husband’s hand, and I couldn’t stop the tears. As the staff are using that half-laughing soothing tone that indicates they don’t believe your face was just smashed in with a boulder. It took me more doses than I care to admit (when I got home) to reach a point where I didn’t want to actually bang my head into a wall to make everything stop. And I realized there was no way I could sit at a computer the next day. (Balancing a laptop over my head while reclining sounded a little risky) I had to swallow my pride and send messages to my clients, requesting a “day off.” (Remember, freelancers DON’T get sick days)

Recovery presented a new “normal” for me to cope with. By Monday, I had no choice but to work. I didn’t feel 100%, but I had assignments. If I didn’t get writing done, I’d have no paycheck coming in. Not to mention that I’d end up letting clients down. I had to find the balance between feeling like someone ran over my face and concentrating (it’s fun – I highly recommend it).

As the week progressed, I felt better and better, but things weren’t “normal.” I’ve been exercising five times a week, but my post-op instructions said not until my recheck. And while my body was dragging (it DID just go through an ordeal), I noticed the lack. My legs started cramping in the middle of the night, and my foot would twist – issues I haven’t had in MONTHS. (Not to mention my FitBit giving me crap) I struggled to sleep through the night (part of which, I admit, was due to the fact I couldn’t breathe through my nose).

I felt like shit.

Now, I’m sitting at the beginning of a new week. The majority of the packing has dissolved, letting me breathe like a normal human being again. I’ve got the all-clear to return to exercising, and I’m starting a new program this afternoon (we’ll see how well I do). I’m back to sleeping again – though I still spent most of the weekend unconscious. And I’m allowed to venture into public again (as little as we do that). I’m starting to feel like a human being again.

It’s strange how little it takes to erase those feelings of “normal.” We take them for granted. And I’m not about to say the restrictions need to get lifted (that’s stupid – people are still dying). But I finally understand what the extroverts feel. It was a new perspective on things. Which is never a bad thing. Though I’m still glad to get back to my “normal.”

Plague Planning

Plague Planning

My wedding planning notebooks

“And your plague policy is…?” With just about three months to go, we find ourselves asking that question more and more often. Not a question I ever anticipated coming out of my mouth. Certainly didn’t expect to utter it behind a mask (a really cute mask, but that’s beside the point). NEVER thought I’d ask the question in regards to my wedding. (Thanks a lot 2020)

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m organized. (Yes, I realize that word isn’t strong enough, but I’ve yet to encounter a word that encapsulates my actual state of mind) I read through every word of my wedding planner, which I bought the same week I got engaged. There weren’t enough tabs to my liking, so I added more (if you can’t find something in the binder, you’re not looking). My Pinterest boards are carefully broken down into every aspect of the wedding. I have white board calendars for tracking appointments, with additional color-coded check boxes for what needs accomplishing. The calendars went up a year prior to the wedding date.

Someone forgot to tell me to plan for PLAGUES.

In all of the advisories, warnings, and extra suggestions, nowhere does it mention pandemics. COVID-19 threw off my schedule, prompted an insert for the invitations, caused me to orchestra Plans B-Z (just in case), and led us to cancel our honeymoon (for the time being). We inserted that plague question into our interviews (once the state reopened and interviews were possible yet again). We recognized that our already small wedding might dwindle to just family. And we learned gratitude for every small business that smiled, laughed, and assured us they understood.

No one expects the plague.

Before, getting my fiance’s suit wouldn’t have been a problem. Now, setting foot in the mall took grit, nerves, and a lot of hand sanitizer. Neither of us have done so in MONTHS. We know people don’t listen to the state order for masks. We have no idea what people do on their own time, if they follow social distancing or not. The number of cases in our area is climbing. Even avoiding the mall proper and sticking to the store in question didn’t make us feel safe. But the suit wasn’t going to buy itself. Something that was supposed to be fun and involve laughter felt akin to a military operation.

(Mission accomplished, by the way)

I watch the days trickle away. I should be excited, and some days I am. Other days, I want to hide. I re-read the inset I wrote for the invitation and imagine everyone declining to attend. I fret over coordinating so many Zoom attendees. I look at the bins under the bed in the guest room, filled with favors and table decorations, and my depression asks why I bothered (not that they’re returnable at this point). I open my binder and look at the confirmed cancellation of our honeymoon cruise.

This virus stole away the joy from the event.

Then I remind myself that the wedding is STILL happening. I’m still marrying the most important person in my life. That cruise will happen eventually. I flip through my list of music to play throughout the ceremony and reception. I think about the beautiful cake and the thought I put into the decorations. I look at the pattern for my dress and all of the accessories. I glance through the images of the beach house and remind myself our families will be there.

What else do I need?

Yeah, COVID-19 sucks. It’s ruined a lot of 2020, and I have no doubt it isn’t finished with all of us. I can either focus on the fact that it made my wedding difficult, or I can choose to look at it that, years from now, I’ll look back and say, “Remember how we got married during the plague?”

One definitely makes for a better story.