Quarantine: Day 2

I know I am like many of my blogging counterparts in that we don’t want to turn our blogs into personal diaries, and like them, I’m finding that these are new and different times. I’m hoping to record much of my experience here and turn it into a book, at some point.

My youngest son is currently a manager at our local Walmart. This is not the first time (and am fairly sure it won’t be the last) that Walmart has pissed me off. (That’s another story for another time.) He stocks, oftentimes fruitlessly, as the store shelves empty faster than he can fill them, right now. He is not masked. They are not controlling social distancing, unless you count the Goldsboro PD guy manning the TP aisle. No lie. He isn’t there, tonight. No more TP to guard, again, at this point.

At any rate, in spite of the state’s “Stay-At-Home” order, this particular store was packed, again, today. WHY is this particular store so danged greedy? WHY are they not pushing social distancing? WHY are there sooooo many people in that store getting into employees’ personal spaces without any regard for their health or wellbeing? I’ve always said that the more I know people, the better I appreciate my dogs!  #staythefuckhome! (That’s a legit hashtag for a legit website, by the way.) Check it out. Seriously.

I sent him the following screen grab from a local news:


From a WRAL news story. http://www.wral.com 

He texted me a few hours later and told me they will be metering customers, starting tomorrow. (About damned time, Walmart!) He also said that tomorrow is going to be crazy, but at least he won’t have the hoards up in his space. He also just shared with me that he is going to check out a semi-truck driving course after this is all over. He’s always loved the big trucks, even as a little! April 1st is April Fool’s day for everyone else, but for us? It’s Big Truck Day. This comes from 2002, when he was 8, and we were out running errands on April Fool’s day and he noticed an extremely large number of semis on the road that day, so we dubbed it “Big Truck Day,” and it stuck all these years later. ❤

In other news, I am feeling a marked improvement in my person, today. Temp is almost normal, sore throat and chills are gone. Headache is almost gone. I did experience something more often today than I did, yesterday, which I’ll share more about if it becomes an issue, at a later date. My Bonus Daughter dropped off a couple of double layer masks last night while I was in the tub. Had to run them through the wash cycle one time before use, but very cool! Two fabric layers and pleated:


So, excuse my bed head. I’m on PTO, but this mask is killer! ❤ And yes, that is a camo jacket I have on. Don’t judge me! 

Today was mellow. I got up, had coffee, phoned into our Safety Huddle, relayed all info to my office. Chatted with my work-wife, who was on her first of two days on/two days off for the second time this week. I did a very low-energy work-out. It wiped me out. Probably too much, too soon. We ate a very early dinner, then I downloaded a new book to my Kindle and half read/half dozed in my hammock this afternoon. I got up and called my friend, Brenda (who is my former boss, four bosses ago, LOL), and had a much overdue conversation with her.

That; THAT! That is one of the blessings of being “Stay-At-Home” and/or quarantined. We are literally FORCED to slow down. This gives us the time that we should have been making, all along, to reconnect with our friends and loved ones. I’ve had more back and forth PM’s from my friend, Sherrill, in Raleigh, whom I haven’t seen in almost a year, because LIFE. When life hands you lemons, make the lemonade because now you have the opportunity to slow the hell down and appreciate how it tastes!

I stumbled upon a live YouTube feed about calming fears during the Coronavirus. I learned a lot. Focusing on the negative creates more negative, but on the flip side? Focusing on the positive, creates more positive. Feeling the negative feels is okay, but vocalizing them and releasing them is crucial. I get that many of you will consider this “woo-woo,” but I simply ask that you give this a go. It’s made a change in my thought process. I’m concerned, but no longer scared to death. Speak of what you are grateful for. Also, take the time out for self-care!

My state, North Carolina, now has 2,230 positive cases reported, up from 2,016 cases reported last night when I posted. If I understand correctly, my county now has 11, up from yesterday’s report, which I think was seven. We also now have 25 deaths, up 6 from the 19 reported last night about this time. I’m tired and really don’t feel like going though the backlog of posts for the week.

Be healthy, stay healthy, STAY HOME!

Until next time…


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Quarantine: Day 1


My “new normal” at work, as short-lived as it was…

So, yeah. It’s been kind of a wild week.

Below you will find my journal entries for the past week and then I will catch you up with the whole quarantine situation. Please do not confuse “quarantine” with “stay-home orders.” They are not the same.

March 26, 2019:

The single thing I most stressed over happened today. I had to take all of my full time workers down to 30 hours weekly. 😭

I’d been working 7 days a week (over the weekends I’d been phoning it in, but was in very regular contact with my team) to let my folks voluntarily leave early. This worked for the first two weeks, then the novelty wore off yesterday when I shut down my first shift at 2pm. One of my team went ham on me. 😢 Bless her, I know she and her family are living paycheck to paycheck and putting one daughter through college, and has another at home. Today she apologized, after having called MY boss, who backed me up 100%. I’ve encouraged them to apply for unemployment .

This sucks mighty hard, right now.

I want to go replace my mom’s laundry room light, but I can’t. She’s high-risk and I’m exposed to God only knows what during my day. It is what it is.

March 28, 2020, wee hours of the morning:

I had a meeting with HR Thursday morning because I knew I needed to slash hours for my team. The first couple of weeks everyone wanted to leave early or stay home. This week? Sh*t got real and people fought tooth and nail to stay at work. When I got home Wednesday I texted my boss and told him I wanted to go down to 32 hours a week and wanted to keep him in the loop. He is also the Emergency Prep guy and he’s going on his third week with no time off because he is still in mitigation mode. It was under his direction that I met with HR.

We cut hours back to 30/wk. I had to re-do entire schedules for a team of 16; three 8 hour days and one 6 hour day. Team was not impressed, although a handful had my back and supported me. I’m considered essential, so my days have been running about 9-10 hours/day, and working Sunday for a bit to train a dispatcher and may have to go in Saturday (today). I’m salaried and don’t get overtime, so they are getting their money’s worth out of me this past couple of weeks. 😂 I’ve been helping my team file for unemployment, because in our state, they can do that, now. Some of my team is now in float pool to temp scan employees coming in for 12 hour shifts.

We have over 800 cases in the state, four deaths, and one positive in our facility. Governor is imposing a stay-at-home rule effective Monday at 5 pm.

I am mentally falling apart. We were supposed to see our therapist last Monday, but that was cancelled, along with our hair appointments, lol. Leadership is in the same boat. We are all tired, stressed and dealing with angry and scared teammates.

At the same time? The entire facility has come to realize we are all in this together.

Also March 28: 

We’d been watching three tents go up in out ED circle for several days and this was the day they went live. Nobody has actually told us the function of these tents, but if you watch for a bit, it comes together. 

First tent: State your business. Either go park, drive around to the admitting door or go to the next tent.

Second tent: this has to be a preliminary screening tent. We can’t tell exactly what’s going on at the second tent because it’s blocked by the third one, but we figure some temperature taking and a rundown of symptoms. Vehicles either turn around and leave or go to the third tent.

Third tent: this is where the health care team all decked out in face masks, shields and caps and gowns descend upon the vehicles like a swarm of locusts. This is generally where the paperwork is generated sent into the admitting area. Then the vehicle pulls around to the ED entrance and one individual gets out and is screened yet again at the ED entrance. everyone looks like they are in the movie “Outbreak.”

This was also the day the governor issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 30 at 5 pm.

Today, April 2, 2020 – 8:23 pm:

Yesterday I woke up with a headache, and not my usual sinus-related junk; I’ve been taking Augmentin for a sinus infection (ENC pollen-based) since early last week.

Johnny texted me, yesterday, to let me know that we are getting a chunk of change from the insurance company for our flooring, which ALL has to come out; bedroom, living room, dining and kitchen areas and the entire hallway. I figured it would be a while, with the stay-at-home order in place.

After doing my oxygen inventory, I noticed that my throat was sore. I chalked that up to the whole allergy-thing. By 12:30, I was experiencing chills and sweats, as well as body aches. I texted my boss and told him what symptoms I was experiencing and told him I was heading home and that I would keep him posted. He texted back that he hoped that I would be feeling better, soon. I went home and crashed on the couch for several hours. I woke up and had a low-grade fever. (My normal is in the mid-97’s, and last night I was at 99.1.) I was feeling as if I’d been hit by a truck.

I ran my symptoms through both the Mayo Clinic’s and Apple’s symptom checker. Both were different, but both advised me to contact my PCP (Primary Care Provider) within 12 hours. My PCP opens at 8am, so I was up early, because I’d gotten used being at work at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Shortly before 7:00, I got the following image from one of my team. The line to get into work was crazy! As I mentioned in a previous post, they are temp scanning us as we go in and asking all the appropriate questions.


Photo Courtesy Tomekia Butler

Took my temp out of the gate. 99.1. Still had the headache, sore throat and chills, so I called at 8:00 sharp. My PCP is part of the UNC Healthcare System, so they told me to contact the UNC Coronavirus Helpline. I did. I got an actual person within a minute! I explained what was going on with me and they immediately put me on a 14-day self-quarantine.

She asked, “Do you have any questions or concerns?” Oh, boy, did I ever! I told her that I supervise our Transport department and taking me out for two weeks is going to create a bit of a situation. Now, I’m no better, no worse than anyone else, but I’m in healthcare, so I’m kind of essential. That changed everything! She told me that she would have a nurse contact me, but because of high call volume, it would probably be late today or early tomorrow before I got a callback. I thanked her, told her to be well and stay safe, and hung up.

I called our Occupational Health office to let them know what was going on and was told it would probably be later today before I heard anything, so I called my mom. I am of the fortunate few in my age group to still have a mom, so when I need her, I can call her. While we were talking, I got another call from UNC, so we disconnected and I answered the call. An awesome UNC nurse was on the line and confirmed my job, symptoms and a good callback number. Apparently, being in healthcare put me in the “essential” group and she told me someone would be calling me to schedule testing within the next 8 hours or so.

I phoned into our Safety Huddle, and about 8 minutes in, I got a call on my cell from a Chapel Hill number, so I answered it. I scheduled my testing for 10:00 this morning. I finished the Huddle call and learned some pertinent info about our staff elevators that I needed to relay to my team, so I did that.

I went outside to our outdoor living space and had another cup of coffee, got ready to go and went to my testing appointment. I would only wish this on my worst enemy, and even then? I would think twice about even that.

So I showed up to my testing area and am greeted with a Nest-like camera at the door. I rang, stated my name, and was asked for my cell contact number. Gave it and was instructed to go back to my car to await further instructions. At this point I’m feeling like I’m living in an apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Shortly after my car-quarantine, I get a call, and register. I was told to mask if I had one, or pick one up in the intake area. I had one. I went through the door, foamed in, and waited to be called in. Under thirty seconds later, I was called into “Room 2.” I got a rapid flu and strep test. Both negative. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. The flu swab really made my eyes water, more so than previous flu tests. The COVID test sucked balls. I’m sorry, but I really felt like I needed band-aids on the backs of my eyeballs. That shit hurt. I’m not gonna lie.

These wonderful UNC nurses (one was an NP) told me, after I mentioned that my anxiety was really high, that we all just needed to let it to and let God (or our personal higher power of choice) handle it because stressing would weaken the immune system. I was down with that.

They gave me a bunch of paperwork; my work note excusing me until 4/13 as well as guidelines to follow and sent me on my way.

I only cried a couple of times today, as I see our NC death toll rising. At the current time?  North Carolina is reporting 2016 positive cases, which is 1,216 more cases than the amount I noted on March 28 We currently have 19 deaths in our state. I’ve been in the loop as far as work goes, in that I’ve had and made a LOT of phone calls, some of which came two bites into dinner and about three snores into a nap. It is what it is.

I’ll try to check in tomorrow.

Also? Primal scream therapy? Evidently, it’s a real thing. And it feels AH-MAZING in empty house. Twice. Just saying.

Love and light!

Until next time…

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Part II – COVID & Healthcare

Photo forthcoming…

March 21, 2020: I posted the following on the COVID Prep thread on My Fitness Pal:

So it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to post here. Second line healthcare worker dealing with staffing.

In N.C., I’ve been keeping track for a series of personal blog posts.

This morning @ 1100, reported cases statewide were 196.
This morning @1135, reported cases statewide were 231.
At 14:30 they were 241.
At 19:12 there were 262.

Today, my hospital had a patient census of 88, down 20 from 108 yesterday, when I sent all my first shift workers home by 1330. Our normal census this time of year averages 150. I called my team (I’m off most weekends) to tell our dispatcher to send all of first shift home when the two from second shift came in. I didn’t go in, as I’d planned, as I had a sore throat and a temp of 99.

We are all getting temp scanned upon arrival and have been asked to self monitor. I’m happy to report that my temp tonight was 97.7, which is my normal. I also suffer from seasonal allergies and chronic sinus infections.

Our facility has severely limited visitors. On Monday? I see me stopping by non-precaution patients’ rooms to visit patients that can no longer have visitors. Especially oncology patients that are already scared and feeling even more isolated than before; you can make a difference from a doorway. ❤️❤️❤️

Our local grocery stores are out of many of the essentials; milk, eggs, lunch meat, meat, canned goods and bread. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I’m hoping and praying that y’all are safe and healthy, and for those of you experiencing self-quarantine because of positive family members (or being positive, yourself), hang in there and fight the good fight. My prayers are with every single one of you❣️

Also posted that same day on my My Fitness Pal (MFP from here on out) March Accountability Challenge:

What’s on my mind today? A whole lot, actually.

Yesterday I had to tell my entire first shift to go home. Our patient census was 108, which is very low (today it is 88). I told one of my 3 second shift team to stay home, and one of the two remaining was instructed to leave when transport requests stopped, leaving one on shift to cover any remaining requests.

I am self monitoring temp and symptoms twice daily, per work instructions. They scan our temps at the door when we come in, and I’d been running anywhere from 97 to 97.7, which is the norm for me. Took it last night and it was 98.6, with no symptoms, beyond my annual seasonal allergies. Woke up with almost a headache this morning, and a sore-ish throat. Called work and instructed our dispatcher to send all of first shift home when second shift arrived. Started coffee and took my temp. 99!

I am tired. My energy level is zip, and for the first time in over two years I feel like I may not be able to close all the rings on my watch. I’ve usually closed the Move and Exercise rings by this time on any other Saturday. My appetite is non-existent, but I am going to go fix something in hopes that it will give me the zing I need to get those rings closed, even if it is VR exercise on an easy level.

I’m worried about things I have no control of, which is a big no-no, but one of those worries is for my team, who got hit hard with the flu this season, in spite of mandatory flu shots, and burned a lot of their PTO time, and when I am sending them home more days than not, they are burning through what they have left, and I fear that if they have to isolate for two weeks that this is going to cause them financial issues. They are like family to me, and it’s hard NOT to worry about family.

The one silver lining in this is that if they test positive due to patient contact, it should fall under workman’s comp. If they haven’t had contact with a positive patient, though, I don’t think it will, which makes no sense. The only places many of us go are work and home, so where else would we be exposed?

Sorry for the novel.

I hope all of you are well and taking the appropriate precautions. ❤️

Last night, again, my temp popped high at 99 and I internally started making plans; what would this mean to my husband/best friend who is getting over the flu, who would be my mini-me in my absence work? Who would be willing to send the list of names to the Labor Pool so that those who needed to work would have a chance to do just that?

God bless him, while all of this was going on internally, my husband was telling me to CALM DOWN. He told me this so much that I finally retorted that if he he told me to calm down one more time? He’d be pulling. pair of scissors out of his head. I know that isn’t funny, but I’m a hair warped and it just came out. (Not that I could EVER, because the sight of blood and tissue injury has me running to the commode – and not the one still on my front porch!) But he kind of got my point.

I took my temp again, and it was a manageable 98-something (on the low end), so I wasn’t too concerned about that.

I went in at 6:30 this morning, 90 minutes earlier than I’m usually scheduled. Got temp scanned at the door at 97.4. (Silent YASSSS!)

Got the paperwork to the Clinical Administrators (CA’s) as promised for my team’s availability, got the oxygen inventory done, then huddle by phone at 8:30. *whew*.

Contacted two second shift staff and gave them the day off, much to their delight and crunched some numbers. It isn’t looking great for the home team, so I got them in small groups and took an informal poll. Days off at a time or a few hours a day off per week? And what do y’all think is a fair way to go about it. My awesome team nailed that!

Posted this on my MFP forum:

I’m starting to see a trend. When I am stuck at home on the weekends, I find that I’m at the mercy of whatever the news wants to share, but when I am at work, I feel much more plugged in, even if our safety huddles are via conference call.

There is also the commonality of our “shared predicament,” if you will. Our hospital used to be kind of clique-y, in that there used to be a perceived hierarchy of importance by most of us. Those barriers are gone, almost overnight! ❤️ It’s as if we all woke up one morning and realized, “We are healthcare! All of us, from Environmental Services to Support Services, to Transport, Imaging, NA’s, RN’s, Admin and doctors! We are in it for the long haul and we are in it TOGETHER!”

There is much more co-mingling within all the ranks, albeit at a safe distance. Scrubs of all different colors are now seen together, and it is wonderful! We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, different religions, cultures and political affiliations, but this virus has brought us all together with common fears and most importantly a common goal. I don’t ever think I’ve been as honored and proud to work in healthcare as I am at this moment!

At the time of this blog? North Carolina”s total positive cases are posting at 386 (+/-).

Stay calm, People, and be one!

Until next time, yo!

Posted in COVID-19, Creativity, Family, Friends, Health, health care, Hospital Stories, Hospital Workers, Life Changes, Personal Opinion, Random Acts of Kindness, Random Thoughts, The Day Job | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments