Quarantine Diary: Week 9

Sunday 17th May

Despite falling asleep knackered half an hour earlier than normal, the kid was up at 1.30am and took a while to go back to sleep, though when she woke up again at 6am she came into my bed and we both slept til around 8.30am which was nice. After breakfast we got in the car and went back to Port Meadow, this time to meet a couple of friends from London who haven’t left the city since lockdown began. Was SO lovely to see them and go for a socially-distanced walk (we stayed 2m apart the whole time). It felt so normal to finally be able to see friends again, and go for walks etc.

It was a lovely day, and we got to see all the horses and cows up close this time which the kid loved.

Back home for lunch, but I had a killer headache again so went to lie down for a bit. Couldn’t sleep so just lay there for a while and then came back down. I can’t tell if these headaches are from stress, tiredness, or my sinuses as my hayfever has been really bad this year. Or maybe because I often clench my jaw at night and grind my teeth – who knows, but it’s annoying.

Mum kindly took the kid out for a walk and left me to chill out for a bit, and I made some more bread (I am VERY pleased with this one – my breadwanker status is getting worse….).

After updating my Covid Symptom tracker app, which I have been doing every day since it launched (they ask you to report every day, even if you feel well so they can track outbreaks in locations etc), I got an email. It said that I was invited to take a Covid-19 test and could book one via the Government website. Apparently they are trying to research more asymptomatic cases and as I had reported a headache for two days, they invited me to book a test. Interestingly reporting back to them the outcome of the test is optional, but I guess they are trying to see if people who just have a headache and no other symptoms might also have it.

So I decided to do it, as although the Gov are prioritising key workers at the moment for testing the email said it was ok to book it, and I have had a headache for a few days. Plus now that my mum is here, if I turn out to have it I want to know immediately.

I looked up where my local testing centre is, and amazingly it’s just down the road at my local park and ride, very close and easy to get to from my house. And although it was 3.55pm when I was booking it, they said they had lots of spaces still left for today, and I could book it immediately. So I booked a slot for 4.30-5pm and hopped in the car, while mum stayed at home with the kid.

It was a really impressive operation, and there was no-one else there, no queues and they clearly had capacity to test a lot more people but weren’t getting the demand in our area. There were lots of very clear signs directing me where to drive and plenty of signs asking me to keep my windows rolled up. At the entrance they asked me to show the barcode I had been emailed once it was booked, and they scanned it through the window, and then I drove up to another person who also scanned my barcode, and then collected a plastic bag with an elastic band which he attached to my wing mirror (see below) and directed me to drive on to the next stop. As it was at a park and ride there was plenty of space to make it all one-way and lots of parking bays, so it was really well thought out.

At the next stop a man held up a piece of paper in front of my windscreen with a phone number on it, telling me to call it. I did and the man standing there answered and said “Good afternoon, welcome to the testing centre, etc” and he then asked me to roll down the passenger window just 2-3 inches so they could post my testing kit in. Sadly my passenger window doesn’t open so I managed to roll down the back window on the opposite side of the car instead. Then they told me to drive on and reverse park into a bay. Then another man held up a paper with a different number on it to call, and then told me to put the phone on speaker so he could talk me through the test.

He got me to take out the stickers with barcodes printed on them and stick one on the test tube and another on the outside of the biohazard bag, and then put gloves on and get out the swab. I had to rub it on my tonsils, trying to avoid my cheeks and tongue, for 10 seconds, (impossible to do without gagging so I gagged after 2 seconds and then kept trying). Then after that, take the same swab and shove it up your nose as far as you can and rub it around for 10 seconds. Also pretty unpleasant. The man helping me kindly turned around so I had a little privacy to do it, which was nice.

Then I put the swab into the test tube, snapped off the end, and sealed it, and popped it back in it’s original bag. Then he asked me to place it on the dashboard and drive to the next stop. There I called another mobile number and another cheery bloke looked at everything through the windscreen to check it was all in order before instructing me on how to seal it all up correctly, and then a man in full PPE came out with a large cool box, and I opened my window a few inches to drop it into the box. And that was it, I was waved off.

The whole thing took about 10-15 mins and was extremely professional and well organised, I was really impressed. I stayed in my car with the windows rolled up pretty much the whole time and only opened the passenger window once to receive the kit, and my driver’s window once to give it back.

While I don’t think I have the virus, as I just have a headache that is almost certainly related to my overall tiredness and exhaustion, it was a very interesting experience and I will now stay at home, just in case while I wait for my results, which should be in 48 hours or so.

Monday 18th May

Last night was ok, up very briefly at 3am, but at 5am when the kid woke up my mum very kindly got up so I could sleep for a bit. Felt much better in the morning, though the low-level headache came back again in the afternoon. Could be hayfever related, and have been drinking tons of water just in case.

Mum (and the kid) helped me to re-arrange all the furniture in my spare room in the morning. I had originally set the room up as a spare room primarily, and a home office as secondary use, as I was only using it occasionally to work from home. However I have realised that I am likely to be working from this room every day for months, and possibly indefinitely, and I don’t have visitors staying the night that often, so it now needs to be better laid out as a home office first and a spare room second. It means the bed is a little less accessible and slightly harder to use as a double bed, but my desk is now out in a sensible place where I can get to it easily and comfortably. I think this new set-up will make working from home much more comfortable and easier all round.

After that we watched a Disney movie and the kid had a nap, as she’d been up since 5am, which is early for her! Then we had lunch and puttered about in the garden for a while, and in the afternoon I had to take a work call so mum and the kid went out for a walk. I received a text message around 2pm to tell me my Covid-19 test was negative. Extremely efficient as it was less than 24 hours after I took the test, and they also emailed me as well as texting me. So as expected, my headaches are more likely tiredness/hayfever related, but it’s also a relief to know I am not infectious and can’t spread it to my mum while she is here.

Nice to start re-engaging with work a little bit – I listened in on a technical working group call to start understanding what the priorities are for our team. Unsurprisingly it’s all Covid-19 related so once I go back to work I suspect it’ll be 24-7 talking about Covid (even though I’m already sick of it dominating the news and everything we do every day). There’s an interesting proposal being developed by a large consortia of humanitarian agencies calling for a global fund of $90 billion to benefit 700 million of the poorest people affected by this crisis, as so many livelihoods have disappeared and lockdown has had such huge financial implications for a number of very poor countries, as well as rapidly-developing guidance on conducting remote market assessments and monitoring, and how to deliver more cash remotely and get rural communities linked up to electronic cash payment systems. And a shift in all of our research policies to focus on Covid-relevant themes. And mapping out and monitoring which countries’ social protection and state welfare systems are likely to collapse or need shoring up to keep people fed… All very interesting and also very depressing.

The evening was fine – we ordered really amazing pizzas from a local pub for dinner and managed to keep the kid awake until bedtime, so hoping she’ll sleep through tonight as she was knackered again. One really lovely thing about having my mum here is just having normal adult conversations throughout the day. I’d forgotten how hard it is only having a 2-year old to talk to, and relying on phone calls to friends and family for conversation is hard when the kid won’t let me talk on the phone during the day and in the evenings I’m too tired for much chat. It is SO nice just to have someone to talk to – especially for me as I’m such a chatterbox I have been really deprived of someone to chat to (though my lovely neighbours are filling the void a little).

Tuesday 19th May

Had a really good night – went to bed at 10.30 and the kid didn’t wake up til 4.30am, then went straight back to sleep in my bed til 8am, so we all slept well. Lovely morning pottering about with mum and the kid, and we went up to Shotover for a big walk in the woods before it got too hot.

Still not much clarity on what is going to happen with the kid’s nursery. Technically early years are included and as well as Year 1 and Reception classes going back they will re-open nurseries and childminders, but there are so many unknown factors. The Government guidance says to prioritise 3 and 4 year olds (my daughter is 2 and a half), so she may not be prioritised to go back. Some local authorities are simply refusing to open schools against the Gov guidance, so no idea what my local authority is thinking. Also many parents may refuse to send their kids back yet, so some nurseries may not find it financially viable to reopen, though if they are half-empty this might make safety much easier.

I’ve been sent a questionnaire to fill in from the local council about whether or not I plan to take up my nursery space when they re-open, and if not why not, and so on. I’ve also been in touch with the childminder I had lined up originally for one day a week, but she is not sure if she will accept any children attending different settings so if my daughter goes to nursery on some days, the childminder might not be able to take her on the other days. Lots of questions and not many answers as we creep closer to the 1st June…

Nice quiet afternoon and evening, we watched Paddington 2 and pottered around the garden – starting to really feel human again!

Wednesday 20th May

The kid slept through until 5am so I got a really good night’s sleep again, and feel rested. It is making such a difference to my mood and the kid is SO happy to have her grandma to play with and engage with, and thankfully the kid isn’t interested in playing with me so I’m leaving them to it!

Today we took the kid out to the park on her bike and had a good little walk around and a play. It was really lovely and hot and sunny. I left the kid with my mum watching Disney while I went to the shops. It was the most relaxing shopping experience I’ve had for months! I felt so calm and zen, drifting around the store with my trolley, listening to some tunes. It was amazing!

In the afternoon, as it was so hot, we got a couple of buckets/tubs and sat outside and soaked our feet and gave each other pedicures, which was nice, and the kid loved it. We scrubbed our feet, cut toenails, moisturised feet, and painted our toenails.

After putting the kid to bed I made us a stir-fry with more of my home-grown pak choi, which was delicious, and we had a couple of nice phone calls with my sister and my mum’s partner.

Today was our 60th day on lockdown and I feel a million miles better than I did 10 days ago. I feel rested and relaxed and I am so grateful for all the help my mum is able to give me. It makes the world of difference. Still no idea if the kid can go back to nursery on the 1st June, but the nursery did tell me today that some other parents have said they won’t be coming back, so there is space for her to go back full time when they do re-open. Which is great as I don’t need to combine it with a childminder, so that’s one less thing to worry about!

Tonight it is very hot, so hoping the kid will still sleep, but who knows….

Thursday 21st May

Last night the kid woke up around 4am ish, and my mum suggested she try to settle her in her bed, so off I went back to bed and fell asleep. Woke up around 7am and discovered that poor mum hadn’t been able to get back to sleep so they had got up and gone downstairs and napped a bit on the sofa and basically been up for ages! Poor things! Nevermind, we had a quiet morning, and I took over so mum could go back to bed for a bit of a rest, and then later on I left them watching Disney and walked up to the post office to mail a few things. Stopped in to check in on a friend from her driveway, and was very glad I did as she was terribly upset and having a really hard time so we talked for a while and then I carried on to the shops.

Came home and we had a lovely lunch in the garden as the weather is so nice, and I found a tiny cheap paddling pool at the shop for £3 so the kid had fun sitting in it (she could BARELY fit into it, it’s so small, but she liked it and frankly we haven’t got room for anything much bigger anyway!). In the afternoon I had another work call so mum took the kid for a walk and they played in her bedroom for a bit, and then after that it was time to change the bedsheets and get some laundry done and think about dinner. I really feel so much better and more rested now, I’m like a completely new woman, and the days suddenly seem to fly by where last week they were dragging and dragging on.

Both of the roses in my garden are in full bloom and they are showstoppers.

We’ve had pak choi and asparagus from the garden to eat, and my carrots and green beans have put up tiny shoots so if I can keep the slugs, snails and bugs off them we might stand a chance! The cat defences have failed – in spite of all my careful research and hard work cutting myself to shreds the cats still shit all over it anyway, but now it’s harder to scoop up, so I’m going to have to admit defeat and take up all the chicken wire. I even put out the litter tray for them but it hasn’t made much difference.

I have bought a new book on a recommendation from a friend called The Curly Girl Handbook, to try and help me learn to manage the kid’s hair, which is getting thicker and curlier by the day. I had to review what we had in the bathroom and get rid of certain products with sulphates and silicones and oils in, and instead buy some new bits and bobs, but I have heard from a few people that the method works well and so decided to try it on myself too. My hair is not really curly, but a little wavy, and often goes curlier at the beach, so I thought I would try to deliberately curl it by following the method and see how curly it will go. Here it is on day 1. Stay tuned for more on that….

The kid is definitely having a growth spurt and is looking much taller, and aside from her hair, her feet have grown up to the next size. She is SO happy to have her grandma here to attend to her every whim and is enjoying being spoilt rotten. Normally I might attempt to keep more routines in place and be a bit stricter about her not being carried everywhere, but right now I’m just letting them enjoy each other’s company and leaving them to it, as I am loving having a rest, and it might be a while til we can see her again so may as well enjoy it!

Friday 22nd May

The kid came into my bed around 4am, and then woke up again at 6.30am, so we played on the bed for a bit before going to wake up Grandma.

We planned to go for a little walk in the morning but it looked like rain so we didn’t go far. I found someone to take my rocking chair just up the road, so we carried it up to their house, as I am continuing to re-arrange the furniture in the rooms, and I popped out in the morning to run an errand, and then we had a good go at trimming back the trees behind my garden to let a bit more light in over the summer.

It was physically quite a busy and tiring day, but felt good to be doing lots of things, as we haven’t done that in a long time! Made some more dough this evening to bake on Sunday morning, and it feels like we achieved a lot today.

Saturday 23rd May

Busy morning – we did a few more errands around the house, cleared out some cupboards and de-cluttered a bit, and my mum helped my daughter make me a birthday card and a cake which was lovely!

I dropped off some stuff to a friend, and managed to have a nice cup of tea in her driveway and a natter, and have sent my sister some of my sourdough starter so was showing her how to feed it and make the dough. Had a lovely catch up call with my brother, and later on with my dad. All in all a lovely, busy day!

I am incensed by Domonic Cummings’ trip up north with symptoms that has been all over the news – furious that the PM is standing by him, and furious that they are saying it’s perfectly reasonable to go to your parents if you are worried about who will care for your child. I have been worried about that for weeks, and so has almost every single parent I know, and it took me getting to breaking point before asking my mum to come and help. Had I known it was acceptable to do that earlier I might not have waited so long, and it seems to me to be a completely different message to that which the rest of us were given at the time. It has really really made me very angry.

In the evening one of my neighbours invited me round for a socially-distanced drink in her garden, which was lovely and felt so nice and normal to be sitting in a friend’s garden having a drink and a catch up. A lovely end to a lovely week.

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