Wednesday, September 2, 2020

This New Step of Covid

When The Great Covid began earlier this year I was one of those people who was constantly telling you that actually we really had a lot to learn from this experience and "in a way" it was totally valuable and shouldn't we be kind of grateful that we had to slow down?

Then some months passed and suddenly I found myself screaming in my mind and becoming willing to kill for movie theater popcorn.

Ok, not totally. I still feel those early things about sunshine and rainbows. But the working from home all day every day business has started to wear on me in a way I had not previously anticipated.

When we started all of this, Sky was in regular classes at school and since The Whole World got canceled starting March, he was suddenly sent home, just like I was. So we'd both work from the house every day together, occasionally yelling to each other from neighboring rooms "WHY ARE YOU SO FREAKING LOUD."

Duncan would wander between us, sometimes happy for the company but usually looking more annoyed that we were disrupting his all-day nap, which, to be fair, would be an important part of my schedule as well if I had no bills, someone fed me every meal, and I got to poop outside without shame YES I THINK THAT SOUNDS LIBERATING DON'T @ ME.

So, things were fine and well. I felt like I was sequestered with my family, checking the news and worrying, but at least having someone to worry with.

And then, without a single person consulting with me, suddenly Skylar was stripped away and sent off to something called "rotations" which I'm still not sure isn't code for "affairs."

Rotations happen in hospitals and I know it's shocking, but those are like the one thing that hasn't closed in 2020. So, since Skylar is a life-saver or a camera-butt doctor or something, he can no longer work from home. I should really get one of those "a medical professional lives here" signs for the front yard and I probably will the next time we see one on one of our walks.

The first day he left for his rotations I stood on the proverbial front porch and waved a white handkerchief I periodically used to wipe my eyes, like a heartbroken mistress bidding farewell to her Civil-War-bound beau. I say "proverbial" because I was actually in bed and not even aware he had gotten up for the day since he was required to report to the hospital at illegal o' clock.

And I felt like we were living a romantic story amid a world-wide pandemic.

One week later I found myself following a dog around my house begging him to talk to me and saying things like "you've been a real bitch ever since you got that new collar."

The point is, being alone all day every day turned out to be a struggle for this extrovert who previously has never understood how or why any human could ever enjoy being alone for any amount of time. And y'all, I think I might be losing my mind.


Skylar started noticing I was spiraling into some level of insanity a few weeks ago, or so I suspected when various friends began calling me out of the blue to ask me how I was doing and to invite me to come work from their kitchen tables "so you at least won't be alone all the time."

It was really very sweet that he noticed and cared, but it also felt very much like those moms who try to get their outcast children invited to the birthday parties of the popular kids.

The point is, I've entered a new phase of Covid loneliness, and even though I'm grateful to be healthy and employed and etc., I'm trying to figure out how to navigate this next step. So if y'allall'all have any advice for me, I'm all ears (and hair).

Covid Uniform
Covid Uniform

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Literally, this post is me except I’m not even an extrovert! I’m an introvert and I’m losing my mind with loneliness now that everyone is suddenly gone. AND i don’t even have the dog OR the job so I kid-you-not wander from room to room and wonder what to do with the hours. Yesterday, I went to the mall and just walked around there wondering what to do with the hours. Bought a subway sandwich, came home. SEND HELP, even the introverts are losing it.

  2. So, long time lurker, first time commenter. My husband actually is a camera-butt doctor (I call him the poopsmith, from the old comic homestarruner. It's fine, It's fine.). I used to say back when he was doing rotations that my life was like that fairy tale, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," where the maiden has to sleep next to someone for a year and a day and never see who they are or ask any questions during the day. But, I have two suggestions, since we have been together during the whole medical journey, starting from youthful optimism, moving past burnt out cynicism, and finally arriving at rock bottom--camera-butt doctor. Anyway, here they are: 1) Find some folks who are doing this at the same time as you to commiserate with because very few other people will understand. I like this facebook group called, "Lives of Doctor's Wives" (maybe there is one for husbands, though I am certain it will be entirely different). I like this group because there is always someone whose life is demonstrably worse than mine. I could go on there feeling pretty low and come away thinking, "Welp, at least my husband didn't secretly cheat on me with a nurse for five years!"2) Netflix and wait for it to end. I coined that phrase back in 2015, but I think it applies even better during these Difficult Times. So, there you go. My best wishes to you and Skylar, and his intern year will probably be far worse--so you have that to look forward to :)

    1. The Poopsmith is a good guy. He's just got a crappy job. My husband and I quote this episode to each other all the time.

  3. UberEats delivers MegaPlex 🍿 popcorn! Just saying...

  4. You're not alone with this insanity. I'm an introvert and am usually perfectly content to be doing my own thing, but this has gotten to be a bit much, even for me. I can't imagine how much worse it is for you extroverts of the world. I'm single, so it's just me, wandering around the house aimlessly, talking to the dog and cat... and to myself.(Its only a problem when I start answering myself, right?...right..)
    My advice:
    *Nap often- catch up on any and all of the naps that you have missed in your life time.
    *Work on a new project or hobby to focus your attention on (I just repainted my porch and have been sewing) Anything is better than just staring at a wall.
    * Go outside and soak up as much fresh air as you possibly can. Winter is coming and I feel like we will all end up as some version of Jack Nicholson in the Shining by the end of this year..
    *Hang out with those friends in your social bubble. Even if it is prompted by Skylar, any bit of social interaction helps to distract from this trainwreck of a year.

    This won't last forever. It will get better eventually. You're not alone, you got this 👍

  5. I'm a serious introvert, so this doesn't affect me quite the same way. Plus I have two kids (and since mid-COVID, two cats) and my wife, so I'm not really feeling much need on the social front.

    But there's so much lacking from what was my normal routine that I still feel like I'm going crazy.

    Things to keep busy helped for a while (we painted our kitchen cabinets, weeded our yard, bought new couches and reorganized our family room, I learned to knit and finished a bunch of projects, etc.). What's kept me fairly sane for the last while is finally getting into a D&D podcast I'd meant to start a while back. Listening to and occasionally watching people meeting together to play a game scratches an itch for me. I think it's because you're getting to know not just the characters they're playing, but also the actors themselves. And so it's like sitting in on a bunch of friends, more so than watching a normal show on Netflix or what have you.

    And when I'm not in the mood for giant-killing, I check in on Brene Brown's podcast, just so I can scream agreement at my phone while tears pour down my face because Brene just GETS me.

  6. I'm an introvert and would be perfectly happy if my husband and son and the 3 additional 14-yo girls we invited into our home for a Learning Pod weren't here with me. Yes, I'm certifiable - I did indeed invite 3 14 yo girls to come to my house to do online school with my son 4-5 days a week . . . and they don't shut up . . . and on Tuesday they watched a BARBIE movie! Seriously - the only reason I want to be in my office is to get away from people right now!

    On the other hand - movie theater popcorn. Don't lie - you would kill for it. So would I. Movie trailers feel like a cruel and unusual form of punishment right now.

  7. How to make movie theater popcorn at home according to knowledgeable Amazon reviewers and confirmed by myself

    Obtain the following:
    1. Microwaveable Silicone Popcorn Popper
    2. Coconut oil
    3. Flavacol popcorn season salt
    4. Bulk popcorn kernels

    Put like 1 Tbsp coconut oil, 1/4-1/3 cup popcorn kernels, and 1/4 tsp Flavacol in the bottom of the popper and stir together. Place lid loosely in popper and microwave till about 2 seconds between pops. Enjoy. Send me gifts in appreciation for this precious knowledge

  8. I'm very lonely and I have 4 other people and a dog with me in my house every day. Two kids, a nanny, and a husband. I love them, I really do. But I need a break from them. The only way I can get work done is hiding in our bedroom with my laptop, but I am so tired of this bedroom. There is no separation of work and home here, and it's hard to concentrate. I told my husband today that once it cools down, I'm going to go find somewhere outside to sit and work where I can see other people (but not be too close). I never thought I would say this, but I miss my coworkers. I miss other adults. I miss conversations that don't revolve around monster trucks or what else needs repairing in our house. I miss meeting friends for lunch and hearing about their lives. I miss it all. Your hair looks much better than mine; I have given up on brushing it mostly. Nobody cares how it looks now!

  9. I told my husband I wanted to go see a friend for my birthday. He said, "You don't want to spend your birthday with your family?" Sir, that is literally ALL I have done for the past six months. No. I want to spend my birthday with an adult I like who likes me and hasn't been in my space constantly for a thousand days. I am lonely but never alone.

  10. I've been following you since your Palau days when I had no idea that I would also have a spouse going through medical training. We're in the residency application phase now but 3rd year was so, so hard. My key to happiness was seriously low expectations. My mom said that was a terrible way to live but I stand by it. If my medical spouse joined us for dinner, great! If not, no big. If I got to see him, great! If not, well, maybe another day. Also, it is so hard to plan your life when you don't know the rotation schedule a month, week, or even day in advance and when the lovely attending will finally let him go for the day. But still, it was and is really important for us to intentionally plan things to look forward to each week or month and especially during his 1 week of vacation that year. My other mantra was that I could do anything for one month or whatever the length of the rotation was. Similar to the pandemic, I really have to find little things to look forward to each day and make a conscious effort 1. to talk to somebody at least once 2. get out of the house for a walk.

    As others told me, it does get better but it also just stays busy but just a different kind of busy. I've found other medical spouses "get it" when my non-medical friends and family just don't and I need friends on both "sides" (especially when my social media medical spouses group overwhelms me with fear of the future).

    Thanks for keeping a bright spot on the internet during this stupid year.

  11. I'm an introvert who has worked from home, alone, for 10 years. It was glorious. Then Covid hit. Then one day we had to drive 12 hours to get out daughter who is a sophomore in college 2 states away and who had "no intentions of ever living in this God forsaken state again" to bring her back to the aforementioned God forsaken state to live... indefinitely. And our 14 year old son was no longer in school. No longer burning energy at track practice or being forced by some other adult to do school work. And neither could have jobs. And my husband was doing way more work at home because his shop base was closed.
    It nearly broke me. I'm not kidding. So I feel your pain although on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Everyone is now back in their respective places and they're happy. And I'm just starting to feel a tiny bit normal again. I hope you start feeling a tiny bit normal again soon, too.

  12. I’m so sorry you are so lonely! That sounds like my worst nightmare. I’ve never lived alone and I have absolutely no desire to, thankyouverymuch. I started homeschooling a year ago just so I could have my children around all day and never be lonely! Ok so that wasn’t the real reason but it’s been effective, haha. My homeschool groups from last year have just started up again (all outside and distanced, but we are hippies and most stuff was outside pre-COVID anyway, so this is not much of a change), we are back to our normal “school day” routines, and it feels like I’m taking a breath of fresh air!!! It also feels strange to be busy from sunup to sundown again, but I’m grateful for it. It’s good to throw yourself into work and not have time to dwell on how insane the world is and end up in an anxiety/depression spiral. Hahahahahaha.
    Best of luck to Skylar!!! I have many many med student friends/spouses and it is not easy at all. I am in awe of doctors.

  13. My friend shared this when her husband was in residency.

    Hang in there.

  14. I am a confirmed introvert who has been furloughed for six months. It was fun at first but quickly got old and boring. Although I do most things alone, I like to get out into the world and see what is on offer. This year, there has been nothing on offer and I am getting depressed, lethargic and sad.

  15. Is it bad that these comments are the best 'Coping with Covid' support group I've seen on the internet? Covid gave me 6 unexpected months of the best kind of quality time with my daughter. Having her ripped away from me to go to grad school may be my undoing. But I hear the phenomenon of spending 24 hours a day in same house and literally never seeing your spouse is surprisingly common. And unsettling. We live in weird times.

  16. I loved being able to work from home with my husband during our lockdown. We hosted zoom parties every week for people to get together online and play games, watch movies, or just have a cocktail hour together. We've moved to a couple of days a week in the office now, and the kids are back in school (Germany) full time for now. I kind of miss not caring about when we woke up or how many video games we played or Netflix we watched. Looking back though, planning the weekly get togethers gave me a goal for the week, something to look forward to. I'm also the team manager for my smallish company, so I spent a lot of time reaching out to make sure other people didn't feel isolated and lonely...I think that sense of responsibility for other adults really helped me feel anchored. (My kids were fine. A little rough for the month the playgrounds were closed, but otherwise they really seemed to enjoy the "vacation".)

  17. I am an introvert. I'm an "essential worker" so I get to go to work (in a 2-3 person office where we stay 6 feet apart and wear masks and don't interact with the public, I do not need a sign). My husband has worked from home for the past 4 years. I have been content to participate in outdoor, socially distanced trivia once a week and see my sister's family twice a month, and honestly, I've been happy to not have to make excuses for why I can't hang out with people every weekend. However, the isolation has gotten to my husband. And last weekend I had a melt down because I've only been alone in my house for 6 waking hours since March. I don't have any advice (except maybe, get city chickens. We did and we love them and checking for eggs might be the highlight of my husband's day).