A friend in Covid is a friend indeed

On my first day in quarantine my German friend asked me if I would write about my two weeks of home quarantine – the one many thousands of people around the world are experiencing right now. That she likes my posts. As I was going into two weeks of doing nothing, I felt that was a bit exaggerated, what would I write about? I felt that would be an incredibly short and boring post, just one of those people write these days about the same story we’re all in. And since I didn’t want to copy those who do home videos, write self help recommendations or give tips for anything and everything, I felt my blog would go a bit like this at first (events are very close to observable reality):

Part one: the diary

Day 1 – I’m starting this quarantine alone. It’s gonna be fun! I will crochet, learn some new knitting projects, do exercises at home every day, cook some new dishes, it’s not bad at all.

Day 2 – My boyfriend joins me in quarantine, now at least I have somebody to talk to. Still on vacation – we should have been in Canada now. Boyfriend starts playing computer games.

Day 4 – I have nothing to do and now I have to work remotely. A colleague brings me work computer. Yay, work, finally something to do.

Day 5 – Boyfriend plays games on computer while I work from home. He keeps striking the mouse and one key on the keyboard. We have an argument and decide to search for apartment separately as soon as our quarantine ends. If we’re healthy. If we still have our jobs.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Anne Frank

Day 5 after work – Maybe we should have some rules, like not to fight for the rest of the quarantine. And who cooks meals. Who cleans. Ah, who cares about cleaning now.

Day 6-10 – Working and cooking, sleeping, some chats with friends who have not forgotten me yet. I finish writing one of my blog posts. At some point we order a big TV screen for easier work from home. It should arrive on Day 10. I do yoga once through Zoom with a friend. That feels great – I will do it every day. Friends feel great – some people surprise me by being friends and others by not being – friends.

Day 10 – We have been experiencing some cold symptoms, higher temperature, a bit of a sore throat. We call to get tested for Covid-19, we are quite afraid we have it. This drama deserves a blog post.

Day 11 – We are waiting for the results of the Covid-19 testing. They come back negative. I made really good herbal infusion.

My herbal infusion during quarantine

Day 12 – My mind plays tricks on me and I have a meltdown. I scream a bit and cry a lot. 3 days to go. I want out now – I don’t care about rules anymore, social distancing my ass. I want to go to my car and just drive to the nearest lawn, lake or forest. And I decide never to write #stayathome hashtag, because it just sucks and people who write it, they usually do it while running or swimming in a nearby lake, so #notstayingathome. But I try to understand healthcare workers and all the people affected by this strange virus. I don’t go outside after all. Somebody steals our doormat with a sign that says ‘Welcome’.

Day 13 – I get that big TV screen. I have never seen a bigger TV screen and I have no idea how to work on it – plus we ordered it in inches. I don’t understand inches. But it feels kind of cool. It says it is especially made for watching UEFA EURO Football championships 2020. Really? Are we having that now? I tell all my friends I got a big TV screen. I feel like Puff Diddy when the screen takes half of our living room and I can control it remotely. We decide to stay in this apartment after all and we will search for a new apartment when needed together. Not with Diddy, with boyfriend.

Day 14 – It is finally here. I can’t even remember what I did. That’s right, nothing. No self development, even work from home is also not as rewarding as I thought. The next day I start with a new job. I go get my new work computer and leave my old one at the old department. The manager is happy to see me. I guess meeting any living being is a party for people now. I feel like coming from a party when I get home as well. I make three new acquaintances that day and it feels great.

Dear diary, I just want a life worth writing down. Me

My day to day life in quarantine was nothing special and I did not do as many things as I could have or wanted to. I did not see those fights coming, but they made sense. They got resolved as well. I have never been in such situation without being sick. And even when I was sick I could go out if I needed or wanted. But now I was the one who had the Schroedinger’s virus and didn’t have it. The only time this quantum superposition changed into another state was when we went to get tested. That day could be described as something like this:

Getting tested or not getting tested?

We got symptoms and were afraid that we might have the it and we thought there is no reason not to get tested for Coronavirus now. So he called the Corona hotline. He was supposed to go the next day to one of the points around Vilnius. How, he asked. By car. But I don’t drive. So ask somebody to drive you. So, my girlfriend can drive me and can she also come to get tested? She is a foreigner. Oh, no, she must call 112. But she lives here and works here, has all the papers needed. No, different rules for her. So, as I called that number, they said the ambulance will come and pick me up right away. It was 7 pm. Can he join me? No. But when the ambulance really came, we both managed to go in our own car, following the ambulance. (Makes sense, right? They use the precious ambulance to get us, then ask us to follow them in our vehicle. Not wasteful at all!)

As we exited the building, some neighbours sitting in the playground outside started filming us and I got so angry I shouted at them. Of course this neighbourhood never has any other action but an ambulance paramedics in spacesuits and two people with masks. It pissed me off!

We didn’t know where they are taking us, especially so late in the evening. We arrived to the infection clinic of the central hospital and had to park our car in the garage nearby. And wait in the waiting room full of people with who knows what infectious disease. Some of them not wearing masks correctly, some visibly sick. Doctors passing by, taking a patient in only every 30 minutes. How is this possible when everybody says the test takes a minute, we were angrily wondering. We both got quite angry with the situation, because it just didn’t feel safe with potential Corona patients arriving every 20 minutes by the ambulance and the waiting room not getting any emptier. Then I asked if I could go to the restroom. It’s outside (Toi Toi chemical toilet, those that are use on construction sites or festivals). Really, don’t you have one inside? Yes, there is one also around the corner of the hall. Once I got through the initial shock of being faced with the possibility to go outside in the cold toilet at night, I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by the equally dirty restroom in the hospital itself. I will survive, this is really not the biggest problem right now. After waiting for about 3 hours, we both went into the ordination together. All I could feel at that point was huge respect for the doctor who even spoke some English. She took my anamnesis and the test that was pretty painful as she stuck the cotton buds deep into my nose and throat.

I wanted to cooperate as much as possible, but I asked her if the window of the ordination could be covered with shades or curtains, because at that point everybody could see everything through it as if we were on stage. Oh, she said, I didn’t even notice we have no curtains (half of them were broken lying on the floor). But anyway, you don’t have anything others haven’t seen before.
So went the patient privacy down the drain as many times in Lithuania before. Does it have to do with the perception of the human body being a public ‘property’? Honestly I am not even sure how to form this question so that it would not offend anybody and that I would get an answer. One of the doctors I visit doesn’t even have a whole wall between the waiting room and the ordination, so that everybody can hear what she is doing. I feel naked and exposed, but here nobody seems to mind that sort of medical controversy.

We are happy we got tested and that the results came back in one day negative. I am grateful the doctor helped us. I feel grateful to all the staff at the hospital that work day and night to get us through this virus pandemic – even more so, because I am aware of their miserable salaries – while I can work from home. It is not fair they have to work in such poor conditions. That’s why I am grateful they still work.

The next day this realisation came very strong – what it means to be truly grateful. This is what everybody keeps repeating we should do. Practise gratitude! It seemed so imperative. Until I realised what it meant.

To me it means to be grateful for every friend and family member being close, calling or texting and asking how we were. To see a colleague helping me in need, bringing me a work computer while I could not even invite him to stay for a cup of coffee. It means to be able to work from home without problems while so many people were either unable to do that or even unable to practise social distancing (can you imagine how many people living in poverty have absolutely no chance to self isolate?!). It means I have Wi-Fi and the connections it can bring. It means having the last huddle with a group of colleagues who have taught me a lot during the last 2 years. It means so many friends who talk to me daily. And lastly, it meant that I could see also who are not my real friends – those who never even responded a text or called back to ask how I am doing, not even for a minute. I am grateful for these realisations and I have no regrets, because now I can understand the meaning of a ‘friend in need’.

P. S.: Day 5 post quarantine – Somebody replaces the stolen doormat with an old black car doormat. We should definitely install a camera to the door.

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