Two Months Later . . . (COVID-19, part . . . I don’t know, five?)

Wow. Time really got away from me.

The most pressing thing is that they’ve opened the city back up and we’re still getting gobs of positive COVID-19 tests. The number for June 6, 2020? 147. Why are we opening up? No good will come of this.

I met with Evelyn for a while today, afraid that there’d be lots of people all spreading COVID. It was 12 million degrees out, so there was basically no one out there to get COVID from. And even if there had been lots of people on the greenways, it’s very hard to get an infectious dose of COVID-19 outdoors anyhow.

And, since it was 12 million degrees, and Evelyn had just come off an 8-day workweek, *and* since one of my warning lights was on and I was afraid that I might be looking at multiple thousands of dollars to repair my car (spoiler alert: I don’t know for sure, but the computer at AutoZone thinks I’m going to get off fairly cheaply), we didn’t stay out long enough to catch anything from anybody, I don’t think.

Speaking of COVID-19, Alex and I had to self-quarantine for almost a week at the beginning of May.

Well, let’s start at the beginning. On April 21, I came home to find one of my two remaining cats was acting like he’d had a stroke. We took him to the emergency vet, who transferred him to their critical care team, one of whom said that it was probably time.

I brought him home for a week, and we gave him antibiotics and nausea medication, and subcutaneous fluids, and I needed to take him back for more bloodwork, so I planned to do that on May 2.

On May 1, Alex woke up with a fever and we scheduled COVID-19 tests for ourselves. While I was getting ready to self-quarantine for a few days, the cat began to have seizures. My own vet and the other critical care vet all agreed that it was time.

And so, I had to watch my baby be put down on Skype rather than being there with him at the end. Damn virus.

It took five days to get my results back. Five. Days. Alex and I were both clear, of course. Otherwise this story would’ve started saying that Alex and I had to quarantine for at least two weeks when we had the virus.

And now we’re opening the city back up.

June 6th’s 147 positive tests would’ve been administered on or around June 2. And those 147 people would’ve gotten it somewhere between May 19 and May 26. May 26 was Memorial Day, and lots of people have parties, so maybe this is an isolated event just because of Memorial Day.

I really do think it’s too early to open up. I’m afraid that things are going to get sharply worse and we’ll be seeing numbers much higher than 147 in the next two weeks. And then the cases from people being crowded together at the protests will start rolling in.

We’ve had over 3,000 cases in San Antonio so far, but I’m scared that soon we’ll be finding out just how lucky we’ve been.

Exercise and Immunity (COVID-19 series)

I was on a real roll there for a while, wasn’t I? Well, I’m not sure if what I have to say at this point is enough for an entire blog post or not.

San Antonio is, like most of the rest of the country, encouraging people to stay home as much as possible. “As much as possible” gives one quite a bit of wiggle room, however. Acquiring food, for example, is one of the things one can leave one’s home for. That includes both grocery shopping and going to restaurants. Restaurants are allowed to have drive-through and curbside service. Getting one’s car fixed is included, as is medical care, and, of course, one is allowed to go out if one is an essential worker.

Then there is outdoor exercise and recreation. They have closed the places where people have to be close together, like playgrounds and basketball courts, but the walking paths and greenways are open, and if you’ve been on my blog very long at all, you know that I spend a lot of time on the walking paths and greenways. I have *never* seen as many people there as I have in these last couple of weeks. We’re able to keep a proper social distance from one another (I admit that I had to step off the path a couple of times to get six feet from family groups a few times during my most recent walk), so this is wonderful to see. And when I drive to and from work, I see people jogging, riding their bicycles,* walking their dogs, riding skateboards, I’m really impressed. It is, as the man said, an ill wind that blows no one any good. Hopefully and the people of San Antonio will end up healthier than they used to be.

And there are proven links between exercise and immune response. My oncologist told me that I should exercise for at least half an hour at least five days a week in order to benefit from this connection. If all goes as planned. I should be cancer-free for a long time on this plan. While pondering this post, I even found that there is a journal specifically dedicated to the connection between exercise and the immune system — Exercise Immunology Review. I’m tempted to subscribe. And my mom said that I’d find scientific writing to be dry and boring. (I literally rolled my eyes as I typed that.)

Well, I guess I had enough in me to write a short blog post. I’m thinking about branching out into a medical blog and/or a book blog. If I could get my brain together enough to alternate among travel, medical, book, every day, I’d get 10 posts per month. I’m not sure what I’d do for the Gratuitous Amazon Link for each.

Speaking of Gratuitous Amazon Links, where was I? I completely missed the last post. I was starting on Ally Carter, so here’s the first book in her Heist Society series, called um, well, Heist Society. This is Carter’s international art thieves series and it’s awesome. There are three books in the series and I certainly hope she’ll keep going on that series.

*One of my coworkers was riding her bicycle last week and she fell off and broke her foot. She is now having to take a three-week leave of absence.

Pokemon Go and COVID-19

With so many people in isolation, or quarantine, or social distancing due to COVID-19, Niantic has had to change up some of how Pokemon Go plays.

To begin with, they postponed March’s Abra Community Day. This was frustrating for me, personally, because one of my coworkers had asked me to work for her the day that Community Day was originally scheduled. I finally worked out a way I could do both (by eating Granola Bars for my lunch hour while getting at least some Abra caught) and agreed to do it. However, the activity that my coworker wanted to do was cancelled because of the virus, and so she didn’t need to trade after all.

I got to enjoy the idea that I would be able to do Community Day for, like, 12 hours before they announced that they were postponing Community Day indefinitely.

As areas started being locked down, Niantic made changes to gameplay. They sold boxes of 30 incense for 1 coin (I bought one immediately, but haven’t used any — more on that later), increased the number of gifts one can carry to 20, changed it so that every Pokestop or gym you spin gives you a gift, and halved the amount of time it takes to hatch an egg. There’s something else, but I can’t think of it right now.

Oh, along with the postponement of Community Day, they’ve canceled Raid Hour until further notice. Wednesday (the day of Raid Hour) is the only day I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be out early enough to socialize with my Pokemon Go friends, so that’s a bit of a bummer.

Now, as a pharmacy technician, I’m an essential worker. This is good news for me financially, and potentially bad news for me as a living, breathing, human being. You see, my job puts me at elevated risk (not nearly as high as for hospital personnel working with COVID-19 patients, of course, but higher than average). I have mild to moderate asthma, so I’m at ever-so-slightly elevated risk for serious effects from COVID-19 if I do catch it. So maybe someone here is looking for information on me after my unfortunate demise from COVID-19, in which case, “Hi! I washed my hands really excessively and tried really hard not to touch my face and worked really hard to keep at least 6 feet from anyone else and got moderate exercise to stimulate my immune system and apparently that wasn’t enough. Sorry!”

And that’s why I haven’t used any of my incense and why I spend one of every two coins I earn from holding gyms on Poffins. Because I may get this thing and I may have a very bad time with it. If I feel well enough to even mess with my phone, the Poffins will give me six hearts per day (double hearts for feeding my buddy) for five days so that’s 30 hearts right there, and if I can keep from getting it until after . . . Tuesday? that’ll be a sixth Poffin. If I feel well enough to actually play, then that’s 50 hearts with Poffins (six per day for feeding my buddy plus two per day each for playing with and photographing my buddy) plus another 24 for 12 days of play with your buddy and take a picture of your buddy for a total of 74 hearts? and I can burn two incense per day during my confinement. And if I can hold off on getting it until they have a vaccine or a treatment, well, then I have extra supplies.

However, since I don’t know whether I’m going to get it at all, and don’t know how I’ll fare if I do get it, I’m taking full advantage of the fact that I go out into the world and I go to the park to collect my full 20 gifts almost every day (I only got 18 today, however), so that I can make sure that any one of my friends who is not an essential worker or who lives in an area that’s really locked down gets supplies regardless of whether they can get to a Pokestop or gym.

By now, I also can, ironically, work Community Day (whenever it ends up happening) because I’ve kept my Abra as my buddy since March 4 or 5 (I see announcements of Abra Day both days) and I now have over 300 Abra candies. That’ll be enough to evolve my buddy and a shiny (25 candies to evolve an Abra to a Kadabra and another 100 for Kadabra to Alakazam) and I’m getting close to being able to evolve a third Abra, so I don’t need to catch Abra the whole three hours. I mean, it’d be nice to be able to do so, but I don’t have to be able to.

So, in short, three cheers to Niantic for making Pokemon Go easier to play for those in locked down areas. I don’t have COVID-19 yet, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t get it. I may make a kind of political post next complaining about the rates of testing (maybe with a side order of body horror about the testing process?) because that’s the freakiest part of this whole thing. We don’t know who has it. A week ago today, one of my coworkers took a script from someone who told her that he’d had a positive test *after* handing her the script. We had a guy with a bad cough today, too, and ended up disinfecting everything in the area after he left.

But, for now, it’s bedtime. See y’all tomorrow, probably.

ETA: Wow, I really screwed up the math last night. I think it’s correct now, though.

I Had Some New COVID-19 Thoughts

But I can’t remember half of them.

I’m getting better at taking more time to wash my hands. I’ve always been acceptable about washing my hands; I’m not the “splash-and-dash” type. I nearly always use soap (the only times I can think of not using soap is if I’m literally rinsing something I can see from my hands, like if I was making a pasta dish and got sauce on my hand and just need to remove those drops) and even if I didn’t scrub each finger, I at least rubbed my hands together and wrung them a bit. Now, I still wring them, but I also scrub the backs of my hands, and the way I wring my hands together, both sets of fingertips get soaped up, and so does my left thumb, but my right thumb is on the outside during the whole process so I’m taking the time to wash it.

I bought cheap 18-packs of washcloths and I’ve opened two of them. I use them to dry my hands after I wash them, so that I don’t get any virus that escaped the soap onto a communal towel. I wash the washcloths every other day or so, so I’m washing my hands 18 times every day, give or take. And that’s just when I’m home. I’m an essential worker, so I wash my hands every time I touch something a patient has touched (cash, an insurance card, a prescription), so that may be another ten or so a day. I’m washing my hands 1.75 times per hour while I’m awake. I realize that it’s probably hopeless to think that my family can avoid this just by washing my hands enough, but everything I’ve read says that hand washing is terribly important in combating COVID-19. If everyone did a good job of washing their hands, the virus would be passing much more slowly than it is. So, if this is correct, and if I can keep from getting infected, then I can go a long way towards preventing my dad from getting this. Alex assures me that he’s washing his hands every time he touches cash or anything as well. So we’ll just plug along the best we can.

Thank God for e-scripts, though. The vast majority of transactions we undertake don’t involve any physical contact from the patient to us. The doctor sends in an electronic prescription, we already have the insurance on file, the patient pays electronically or with a credit card, we hand them the script, and send them on their way.

They’re supposed to be putting sneeze guards in our stores to protect us from, well, the patients sneezing or coughing on us. They started this past Monday, and as I’m writing this, it’s very, very early on Friday. Let’s see what comes first — the sneeze guard, or our first case of COVID-19 among our patients.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Wow. I’ve read so many books, and there are so many that I just love, and I’m drawing a complete blank. I’m checking my Goodreads account for inspiration.

Ooh! Have I done any of Ally Carter’s series yet? Does it matter? No, it doesn’t. So, here we go, with the book that started it all (for me, at least), I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, the first book of the Gallagher Girls series. There are two more series where those came from and I think there’s at least one crossover story. That should get me to the end of the week.

COVID-19 Update

They keep fooling around with the hours at my pharmacy. They’re currently looking at 9 am to 7 pm. This means that on Friday I’ll be working 10 am to 7 pm. Let’s see how that works out.

I really need to work harder on my target languages so that if it does drag on for at least 18 months I can work on something that might not kill me, or my dad, or my son. I don’t know if I can get good enough at any of them to work as a translator by then, but let’s give it our best shot.

They’re starting new restrictions on the activity of citizens of San Antonio starting at 11:59 pm tonight. We can only leave our houses for essential or exempted activities. This includes both Alex’s and my jobs, so there’s that. Outdoor recreation is only allowed if we stay more than 6 feet from others participating in outdoor recreation. I walk pretty fast, and I’m pretty sure I can legally pass people on the path. The greenway path, where I measured it, is 10 of my shoe lengths wide. My shoe is about 10 inches wide (I just measured one), so that’s, what, 8 feet? So, I guess that if I cross over to the other side of the path when I’m at least 6 feet behind the person I’m passing and don’t go back over until I’m at least 6 feet in front of the person I’m passing, I’ll be okay.

I really want to know if this is going to lessen the number of people on the streets. I had the day off today and when my dad and I drove through for dinner, traffic didn’t seem appreciably lighter.

I’m trying to isolate Alex and me from my dad to the extent possible while living in the same house. We have our own bedrooms, bathroom, and living area. I bought a bunch of cheap washcloths and we’re using those to dry our hands. I was using the dish soap bottle to wash our hands, but yesterday I bought our own pump bottle of liquid soap so that we aren’t getting our COVID-y hands all over the dish soap bottle. I try to remember to wipe down the doorknob, refrigerator door handle, and light switches daily. Is there anything else that we touch that he touches? I’m sure there’s something, but I can’t think of it right now.

And it’s been brought to my attention that I need to put something like ” As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” somewhere on my page. So I just added a widget to the sidebar that says just that, just in case my usual chatty Gratuitous Amazon Link stuff isn’t “substantially similar” to ” As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Speaking of Gratuitous Amazon Links, hmmm. What book series have I posted already? I know I did Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Kane Chronicles. I think I’ve done Young Wizards, too. Have I done Heroes of Olympus yet? Well, just in case I haven’t, here’s the first book: The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan.

New Theme. Is it a Keeper?

I stuck the picture that Alex liked better in as my header image. I think it’s kind of busy, personally, but it might grow on me.

I’m working on getting a good picture of the Arsenal Street Bridge with the Pioneer Flour Mill in the background to see how he likes that. He liked this image because it wasn’t just a bridge and thus is more “travel”-y.

I think that I’m too short to get the picture I want, though. Maybe I can get Alex to drop me and the stepstool that we refer to as the “fish stairs”* off there and go around the block while I take a picture from a slightly higher elevation. Or, even better, maybe we could find a place to park and we could walk down there together, so he can keep me from getting so wrapped up in getting the perfect picture that I fall off the stepstool and break my leg or, worse, fall off the stepstool and into the river.

Will I be able to do this before the end of the COVID-19 outbreak? Will I need to wait until the outbreak is over? I look it up pretty much daily and everything I read says that outdoor recreation is still acceptable, even for people in the most locked-down areas of the US, like in San Francisco, just as long as you don’t get too close to strangers. Going out with people in your family is still acceptable. I guess that if I could get Alex to go with me during a work day or very, very early on a Sunday when we’re not likely to bump into strangers we could do it.

Of course, both Alex and I are “essential workers” right now. This means that we both have to go to work until we get infected. Alex is working for a restaurant with a drive-through, so he’s providing people with food. I’m a pharmacy technician and providing people with medical care. So I guess we’ll see if/when we get this thing.

Oh! A new-today discovery about COVID-19! It seems that one of the first signs of the illness is a decrease in ability to taste and smell. This may also be a symptom of a subclinical case (one that never develops really obvious symptoms). So I guess I need to keep something with a strong taste or smell around and test myself daily just in case. I had Indian food for dinner and could taste and smell it just fine, so yay!

Crap. I’m not sure what to do about my Gratuitous Amazon Link. Amazon has announced that they’re going to stop accepting non-essentials in their warehouses. I still want to hopefully be able to make a few cents (and maybe someday dollars) from this, so I hesitate to skip the Gratuitous Amazon Link. However, choosing an “essential” might not work long-term. And what would I pick? N95 masks? That might be useful for anyone who stumbles across my blog right now (and can wait until April 14 for it), but long run, maybe not. Maybe an electronic delivery. A downloaded music album, maybe? A Kindle book? Is clothing an essential? I’ve got it! Lupin Leaps In, by Georgia Dunn, the creator of the Breaking Cat News comic strip. Hers isn’t really the sort of small business that is likely to be affected by COVID-19, but a small business it is, and we really should support it.

* I had to stand on it to take care of Alex’s aquarium when he was little.

Coronavirus

I went to bed extra tired last night. We had a rough day at work yesterday. We filled and sold about 125% our usual number of scripts. Meanwhile, our boss was giving us our annual evaluations. So, for the early part of the afternoon (when we take our lunches) we were generally at least one technician short and, at one point, we were out of pharmacists because our boss was evaluating us while the other pharmacist was at lunch. This, of course, required us to close the pharmacy down, so we lost a half hour of prescription filling time. I was really shocked when we reached the end of the day and I saw how much work we actually got done.

I walked around the sales floor on my way out after work and I noticed how low we were on things like Clorox wipes, hand wipes, hand sanitizer, beans, rice, pasta, ramen noodles, water, etc.

And, yes, I believe these two things have something in common. That something is the coronavirus.

I fully expect to still be here after the coronavirus has run its course. However, I have asthma and I work in a retail pharmacy. These are two things that will leave me at elevated risk during this whole event. I don’t know if it’s a crisis yet. Or even if it will ever be a crisis. But it’s definitely an event.

For those who just came in, I live in San Antonio, home to Lackland Air Force Base, which is where the coronavirus patients are being sent to be quarantined. And yesterday we found out that one of the quarantine patients left quarantine, checked into a hotel, and went to the mall. She’s back in quarantine by now, but people are certainly worried about the quarantine being here in our city. This is making people panic about cleanliness and about food supplies and, I think, is driving them to doctors for symptoms that they might otherwise just live with.

My dad and son are worried as well, just on general principle. They’ve asked me to lay in a supply of food to get us through two weeks just in case we do come down with it, so that we don’t have to go out for provisions. I don’t even know if we’ll get the virus, much less if it’ll be that bad, but I’ve taken the food supply request as a challenge. Two weeks worth of food for three people at 2,000 calories per day is 84,000 calories. Last time I added it up I was at 22,000 calories and that was several pouches of tuna (if I survive coronavirus, I’ll die of mercury poisoning), little plastic tubs of applesauce, a can of salted almonds, a box of granola bars, a bag of frozen green beans, and a bag of cheesesticks ago. I really need to get a plastic tub to put it all in so that I can keep track of what I have.

Making things worse is that I’m trying to stick to things that Alex and I would eat anyhow, so that if we never get coronavirus or if it’s really mild or if the whole thing blows over without us getting it at all, it won’t go to waste. This is why I haven’t boarded the beans and rice train. I love beans and rice, but Alex isn’t really that much of a fan, so they’d probably go bad before we ate them.

I’m also trying to practice good hand hygiene. Every time someone gives me cash, whenever I get away from the register, I go back and wash my hands — fronts of hands, backs of hands, wringing my hands together, then rinsing under hot water. Then I go and put some hand lotion on, because I don’t want a bunch of broken skin from where I’ve been overdoing on the washing. Alex now has a job where he runs a register, as well, and he’s going to start doing the same. My dad’s 88 and we have to protect him as much as possible.

I’ll be posting more as things happen. Or, you know, not.

How do I follow this up with a Gratuitous Amazon Link? Freeze-dried Food Supply? On-topic, but no. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Brazilian Blossoms Scent? Ooh! I’m going to bookmark that just in case I decide to go whole-hog on the OCD thing. Let’s stick with books and start a new series. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power , by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, et al. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has run its course, and I’m putting off buying that last volume because if I never read it, the series never has to end, right? I know that isn’t how it works, and I will buy it. Someday. Probably not for a while, though. I promise to buy it if I come down with coronavirus, though, for reasons that I go into above (my job, my asthma) just so I know how it ends.

I Ended Up Working Today

I was planning to go downtown with Evelyn and two of her dogs today (and maybe get some pictures of the Arsenal Bridge), but one of my coworkers is having some kind of crisis at home so she asked me to switch. Since I did already have plans, I asked if she could find someone else, and if she couldn’t, I’d do it.

She couldn’t, so I worked today. Work wasn’t too bad. I got a bunch of stuff done, including finding something that we’ve been looking for for days. I still wish I could’ve gone downtown.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be off on Friday, so I’ll probably walk for distance from the Pearl again. I want to get up to the point where I have the time and energy to complete a marathon of walking in one day (13.1 miles down and 13.1 miles back up). I’m up to about 6 miles max. I actually am more likely to run out of time than run out of energy, though.

Speaking of running out of energy, one of Evelyn’s dogs has taken to dashing out of her apartment and into the parking lot. I did some research and found that sometimes dogs dash out like that when they don’t get enough exercise. So I hope to take that dog out for a jog (I’ll be walking but she’s tiny and so she’ll end up jogging) to see if that helps.

Well, it’s 11:00 and I have work tomorrow, so I’d better give my dad his eye drops and start getting ready for bed. Have a good night and I’ll hopefully post something new tomorrow.

I’m Not Sure What to Say

I guess I’ll just post to say that I don’t know what to say.

I worked today and worked on my foreign languages. I don’t know if I’ve talked about the graded reader things that Duolingo has now but Duolingo has all of these short stories divided by difficulty. I’m in the middle of Set 3 in both Spanish and German. I suspect that I won’t get to Set 4 in German without some more studying, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near my upper limit in Spanish yet.

I left my podcast phone at home, so I didn’t get any podcasts done today, which is a pity because that’s where I get most of my money saved up for the day. I pay myself $0.02 per minute for podcasts but only $0.015 per minute for songs, including radio, because songs are more repetitive. I figure that hearing the same song two or three times per day should pay less than spending those same six to nine minutes listening to a unique podcast. So instead of more than $2, I barely broke $1.30 for today. But that’s okay. Tomorrow is, after all, another day. Well, okay, today is technically another day, since it’s after midnight, but you know what I meant.

Tonight’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is from Allie Brosh, another humorist who is also a mental health icon (for my generation, at least): Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. I haven’t read that book in ages. Maybe I’ll dig my copy out and reread it soon.

Just a Few Words Before Bed

Today didn’t end up anything like I expected. When I got up this morning, I planned to leave work at 5, meet Evelyn about 6, have a couple of sandwiches for dinner, and head to the McNay Art Museum for the evening. Just before bed last night, Alex said that he didn’t have any plans for the evening, so he might join us at the museum.

When I checked with Evelyn to see if sandwiches were good for her, she told me that someone had called in, so she would have to work too late to make it.

Then when I asked Alex if we were on for the museum, he said yes. A few hours later, when I asked Alex if he could pick up filling for the sandwiches, he said that he’d just been told that he had a school project due this evening, and that he had to go to a foreign food restaurant.

So between talking to coworkers and texting Alex, we eventually decided that “foreign” largely meant Asian cuisine. I researched Asian restaurants near the McNay but it all seemed like such a gamble. We eventually ended up at the Indian restaurant that my dad and I go to when we go out for Indian.

After years of me telling Alex that he’d like Tandoori chicken, we split a platter of fish, chicken, shrimp, and lamb cooked in the tandoor. It was amazing. And now Alex likes Indian food. Ta-da!

Unfortunately, Alex’s after-school nap, picking a restaurant, travel to the restaurant, waiting for the food, and eating the food all took too much time and so we never made it to the museum at all. It looks like I might be off on March 12, so we’ve tentatively scheduled an actual museum trip for that date. Let’s see what happens then.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time: The Lost Hero, the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. The kids from Camp Half-Blood return, this time with some new friends from a different kind of camp.