Thursday, Day 22

This morning I wrote about how shockingly well I am handling all of this. Tonight, I’m crying about it. I think this is kind of typical of everyone right now.

I’m sick of being stuck inside and am dying to go on a normal date, missing my family and friends, and would love to be able to look forward to the beach this summer — or even just spending some time outside. I am scared for the health and well-being of loved ones and strangers alike. I am dying to go to Trader Joe’s to get my usual favorite snacks, and I don’t want to keep seeing how different life is by watching the news. It all feels like a weird dream. The beginning of this feels so long ago now.

All of this is incredibly confusing. Like, how did we get to a point where people can’t go outside? Anyway, this morning I wrote a much more lighthearted draft, and want to still offer some of that sentiment, even as a comfort to myself right now.

First, I have done the whole quarantine thing before — or at least it felt similar to me. When I first got sick with POTS I could barely sit upright, much less go do my normal activities. I created a new normal that gave me as much joy as I had in my 22 years before getting sick. It wasn’t always easy and I often missed things about having a healthy body, but I was still able to be happy, despite the earth-shattering change. This change was actually even bigger than the pandemic feels because I was so used to being an athlete and out in the world, but literally could not leave the couch or go from floor to floor in the house more than once in a day. Now I at least can stand up to cook, go to the basement to exercise, and play hide and seek with my dog. Lesson one, you can have joy in the face of adversity.

Another thing POTS taught me is that circumstances change. That’s lesson two of learning to deal with a life-shattering change. The first year I was so sick even going to the grocery chore was a difficult to impossible task (read: me lying on the aisle floor until I could stand again without passing out). Over time I was able to run errands. Then I could go out to dinner. Then I worked my way up to doing things like trips with friends or walking around the beautiful city of DC. I still can’t run or anything, but I can walk for an incredibly long time without feeling dizzy, my pain is decreasing astronomically, and I can drive for an hour at a time! I’ve really come a long way. My new normal did keep changing, and I’ve been able to work with it every step of the way. Things change, and even if they’re slower than you’d like, you learn a lot of lessons along the way and can still be joyful.

Finally, the most important thing in life will always be your loved ones. For this I am sure (Insert Nunzio voice here, Robert).

I’ve always known this, but having any kind of health scare definitely changes your outlook. It’s funny because I do definitely think taking things for granted is in our nature. When I was really sick I always thought I would never take little things for granted if I was lucky enough to get better, but sure enough, things like going out on walks with my dog weren’t aren’t appreciated and I haven’t taken advantage of the fact that I can do yoga now. It’s weird being so separated from everyone, and I think this experience will change the way we spend time with others. I hope we are more present and cut more time out of the day to be with people, and take the time out of the year to travel and visit our long distance friends and family.

Anyway, I think we all need to remember that this is going to ultimately be just a blip in our lives if we can all come together and support each other. I pray that we can get things under control sooner rather than later, and that we can all be tough together. I know this isn’t easy, but I feel like it will be similar to my past experience in that we will appreciate more in life, worry less about trivial things, and learn to be joyful through every stage in life. There are a few things I’m incredibly grateful for right now, and I know I’m being looked out for and taken care of, which is really comforting in this strange time. I hope you can find some things you’re thankful for in this transition time, too!

Sunday, Funday

Today is Sunday, but it feels like Saturday or Monday or Wednesday! Let’s face it — they all feel the same at this point.

Yesterday I decided I need to have a little more of a routine through all of this. I woke up at a reasonable hour today, and started my morning with some of the new assignments I have. I’m going to learn new skills in the kitchen a few times a week — two days ago I learned how to use the InstantPot, and tomorrow I’d like to learn how to make a quiche or other breakfast food involving spinach and eggs — and have a set workout routine that I must stick with. I decided to take up Pilates again, and found a good little YouTube video yesterday to begin. Something I really like about Pilates is that your workout just feels so dang good while you’re stretching. It’s composed of such tiny movements that Pilates work some muscles that you don’t even realize are there, and the next day you’re shocked with how sore some of your little muscles are.

Some things on my to do list this week are:

  • Finish cleaning out my closet, and find someone to donate all my clothing to.
  • Bake a healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy at all.
  • Find one new small business to support.
  • Spend 10 minutes/day refreshing my memory on some good, elementary US history.
  • Try a new food. This week I discovered that I do, in fact, like Caesar salads, despite refusing to try them for 29 years.
  • Call one friend or family member every day, just to catch up.

These are all super doable and will make some of the time spent indoors feel more productive. What are you doing to make your day feel worthwhile?

Dying of Boredom?

I kind of think the definition of “privilege” is worrying about what we can do to be entertained while being forced to stay inside. Trust me, I know it sucks being cooped up inside when there’s a great big world outside to explore, but it will not kill you to stay inside for a few days, weeks, or however long it takes to get a hold of this situation. There are people who are sick, dying, and in a lot of pain right now. There are people who are losing their jobs and livelihood. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and are healthy, you are blessed.


I can offer you a little personal experience about being stuck at home for a long period of time. Six years ago when I got sick with POTS I did not go out at allĀ unless it was to a doctor’s appointment or my daily trip to the gym for my rehab. I tried going on small errands, but always found myself lying on the cold tile floor as I propped my feet in the air to pump blood back to my brain. Having the room spin in circles around me while I frantically tried to stay standing or avoid fainting in front of strangers was not fun, so those trips to the grocery store were cut real short.

I spent well over a year in really bad shape and on the severe spectrum of POTS. Research POTS a little and you’ll find that POTS patients’ quality of life is “comparable to patients on dialysis for kidney failure.” Before all of this I was active and played just about every sport, had a very busy social life, and was working hard to begin climbing the ladder in the journalism world. I hated sleeping in, and could rarely be found just sitting around at home. In 2013, my world flipped upside down and I physically could not do anything because I always felt awful. I very slowly got better and better, and now have added many more normal things back into my routine. I still am not “normal,” but am close enough that I am so happy and grateful for all of the wonderful freedoms I do have.

So, what does any of this have to do with the Coronavirus pandemic?

A lot, actually. I know what it’s like to be stuck at home for a long period of time, but the only difference is that now 1) I do not feel insanely sick literally all the time, and 2) we are all in this together. I remember crying when I looked at my Facebook feed because everyone was out in the world pursuing their dreams, and all I could do was monitor how my health was and celebrate the tiny joys in life. Nobody my age could relate to what I was going through, and I couldn’t participate in anything a normal 22 year old would enjoy. I watched friends go out dancing, get promoted at their jobs, and support themselves like a normal twentysomething. I wanted so badly to be able to function normally and be able to take care of myself the way they all were.

Now, we are all stuck inside, and I feel like you can relate to my 22 year old self in a way. I know you’re not asking for advice, but I’m going to share some of the things that helped me be joyful throughout every stage in my life — even when I couldn’t go out or really “do” anything.


The first piece of advice I have is to surround yourself with loved ones. Not physically this time, though — emotionally. We need to take this “social distancing” stuff seriously. A big reason for this is so that hospitals are able to treat every single person who comes to them — whether or not it’s Coronavirus-related. Italy is moving towards 1,000 deaths/day. We absolutely do not want to get to that point, and by staying home we are helping to flatten the curve so that hospitals can treat people who need help. A good option for keeping in touch with people is FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or even an old fashioned phone call. The biggest thing I enjoyed when I was home for such a long time was just sitting on the couch and visiting with friends and family. That will look different now, as I am staying home and not seeing anyone new until we have gotten everything under control, but I still look forward to chatting with my friends and family every single day I am stuck at home. Experts are now recommending only interacting with the people you have been at home with, so if you’re lucky enough to have someone at home with you, cherish the time you have with them. If not, utilize technology to the best of your ability to have as much — or as little — company as you’d like. Luckily it is not hard to find someone to talk to during this quarantine.

Second, find something little to look forward to every day. During my POTS recovery time, my favorite thing was watching MasterChef and MasterChef Junior with my family. I loved learning more about cooking and having a steady show to watch. Now that I can stand up again, I love to cook and use some of the techniques I learned from the show in my kitchen. I actually have really fond memories from every stage of my illness, whether or not I could actually get out of the house and do anything.

Third, remember that this is temporary. This is not a luxury I had six years ago. I had some doctors speculate that I might grow out of POTS, and others who told me to get used to my new life. It turns out, there was a little truth to each of those perspectives, but it is best to remain positive and know that things can and will get better. One day all of this isolation will be a weird story to tell, and we will all be able to relate to the giant quarantine. In the meantime, finding little things to make you happy is important. There are lists all over the place of ideas of things to do indoors, and we are smart enough to get creative about this. We also have so much technology that being stuck at home is easier now than it would have been a decade ago. The worst thing to do is always self-pitying or constantly complaining about things we can’t control. We are lucky to be alive and healthy, and have access to so much, even from our living room couches.


The reason I keep talking about POTS is also that being at home with a chronic illness is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I don’t think it’s easy for a healthy person who hasn’t ever had complications to realize just how difficult it is to adjust to having a dysfunctional body. I appreciate the fact that this quarantine hasn’t begun to drive me insane because of my past experience, but I wish everyone else could feel this sense of gratefulness too. All I can do to help is say it will get easier, and any of us who aren’t currently sick can really appreciate the fact that we still feel well while being stuck at home.

I know I ranted a ton in this, but I decided my blogging right now just needs to be a little journal of this time spent at home. Not only does it give me another activity, but it will also be interesting to read back on years from now. I encourage all of you to journal at this time so we don’t ever forget what it was like all being in the same boat during the 2020 quarantine.

Shows to Binge

The Internet is going crazy with things to do while quarantined, and now the quarantine seems to be mainly people who feel healthy but are are trying to *flatten the curve* since they could still be carriers. If you have not heard that phrase yet, please read this article on The Washington Post. It’s a really amazing illustration on why it’s important to use social distancing (another phrase that’s blown up this week) until we’ve got a handle on this. Luckily I am finding more people finally taking this seriously now that it’s really blowing up (WHY couldn’t we have done this a week ago?! You live and you learn, I guess).

In the meantime while we are being careful, being inside and away from our normal activities is incredibly difficult! I think back to when I first got sick with POTS and had to spend months finding things to do in a reclined position, and am realizing that it’s pretty ungrateful of me to be complaining about feeling pretty good and just being stuck in my house. As a former queen of television, here is a giant list I compiled of binge-worthy shows. I should note that you should just skip reading this if you’re not into reality TV, crime, or comedies.


NETFLIX

The Office, Comedy
This is a really obvious choice. Whether you’ve seen it a million times like me (It’s the only show I always know

Parks and Recreation, Comedy
If you like The Office, you’ll probably like Parks & Rec. Give it a few episodes. It gets good!

Fuller House, Comedy
I just realized I have not seen the newest season of Fuller House! It wasn’t the best show ever, but I’ll be happy to have something lighthearted to watch. As a side note, if you have Disney+, you should watch Boy Meets World. I never saw it until a few months ago and shockingly think it’s really funny, despite thinking it was going to be a show for kids.

The Stranger, Suspense
The Stranger is such a good show. There are only 8 or 9 episodes out right now, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching it a few weeks ago and 100% regret not saving it for a rainy day like this. If you like all things suspense, you’ll love this thriller.

You, Suspense
You is a little gross and super creepy, especially if you’re a girl who might be afraid of something like online dating. The main character, Joe, is

Love Is Blind, Reality TV
LIB has been super popular on all social media platforms the past several weeks. The idea behind it is simple — you go on the show to try to fall in love with someone you’ve never seen before, then end the show with a new husband or wife. A group of men all live together, and a group of women all live together. They take turns going on “dates” with each other in these little things they fondly call “pods.” A pod is basically a personal living room with a wall that divides the opposite sex’s living room from yours. You speak through the wall and learn about people’s personalities to try to fall in love with someone you’ve never seen before. It’s very interesting, has a decent amount of drama (Which I love), and is super bingeable now that they taped both the finale and reunion. No waiting around to figure out whether each couple ends up with one another!

The Circle, Reality TV
The Circle gave me Big Brother vibes, with a Love Is Blind twist to it. Basically, people are all in the same apartment building but can only chat with each other via a Facebook-type app. They have to vote to eliminate someone every couple of days, and the last (wo)man standing leaves with $100,000. Spoiler alert: your favorite person in this show is going to be Shooby.

Gilmore Girls, Drama
Gilmore Girls is kinda cheesy, but a good show to binge. I’m not going to watch it yet, because I think it will make me miss my mom, but saving it for a later date maybe!

Hart of Dixie, Drama
I watched this show a little with my parents a few years ago and first, I love Rachel Bilson, second, I liked having a lighthearted show that gave me Hallmark vibes to watch. I think this might be one of my next shows.

PRIME

Psych, Comedy with a side of crime and suspense
Psych was a show on USA when I was a teenager and I haven’t seen it in years, but it is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. I love that they mix suspense along with two of the arguably funniest characters on television. Shawn and Gus are such a great dynamic duo; you’ll fall in love with their goofy, quirky ways. Plus there are a bunch of seasons, all of which are nestled on Prime!

Law & Order, SVU, Crime
Even though it isn’t true crime, some of the episodes were created after famous cases and I think it’s interesting to see how the detectives on the show deal with figuring out crime scenes. The show is heavily criticized by law enforcement, but being a regular civilian I enjoy watching it.

HULU

The Mindy Project, Comedy
PLEASE WATCH THE MINDY PROJECT. I’m telling you; it’s hilarious. If you like The Office and are a female, you’ll love this show. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kelly on The Office, but always loved Mindy Kaling. She has the BEST sense of humor and is so lighthearted and fun.

Nathan for You, Comedy
NFY is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. I haven’t watched it in a few years now, so want to start watching it before I go to bed now. Nathan is super awkward, super goofy, and super funny. He kind of is a mix of Michael Scott and Jim Halpert, but even more extreme. Watch it if you need a good belly laugh.

Seinfeld, Comedy
Wait, Seinfeld is on Hulu?! What?! I always just watch it when it’s on cable, but it would actually be fun to scroll around and find some of my favorite episodes to rewatch. Noted.

The Bachelor, Reality TV
This season of The Bachelor was a little controversial, but overall got decent reviews from viewers I think. Peter was not the best bachelor we’ve seen, and we figure out why in the last few episodes. In my opinion it was the best season we’ve had in years.

Catfish, Reality TV
Guys, I just discovered that Hulu has 7 seasons of Catfish!!! This show is great for a little bit before taking a break to something more lighthearted. I always feel so bad for the people who get tricked online, and sometimes even for those who are pretending to be someone else. It’s fun guessing whether or not someone is real or a catfish, and some of us can even relate to being catfished on a dating app.

90 Day Fiance, Reality TV
Still haven’t watched this, but several people I trust have said I would like it, so I’m excited to see the series on Hulu. From what I understand, people meet each other and have 90 days to get married. I don’t know how or where they meet, and if they’re set up with a bunch of people or just one, but it involves love and reality TV, so I’m all for it. Will report back after binging some!

Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Reality TV
Don’t judge. There are 8 seasons of Keeping Up on Hulu right now, and this is great mindless background noise. Plus, there’s something soothing about the show that is perfect for a pre-bedtime routine.

And finally, I saved the best for last,

ON AN APP

Big Brother Canada, Reality TV
Obsessed with Big Brother in general, and BBCan is basically the same as the US version of the show. Big Brother is the best show to start following right now because if you’re not watching the normal episodes, you are able to still watch the live feeds of the show! I will post a link to the show when I find a good way for anyone to watch it. This season is so good so far; I’m only on the 5th episode, but am eager to catch up!

For those of you who don’t know what Big Brother is, it’s a reality show where the contestants are taped 24/7 and all locked inside the same house. It’s kind of like Survivor, but indoors! The players compete for $500,000, and each week they vote someone out of the house. There are a million different strategies, and it’s a great social experiment. The interesting thing about this season is that none of the players have a clue about the pandemic that’s going on in the outside world. They’ll definitely be shocked when they get out of the house. They’re also the safest right now since nobody new goes in to the house!


That should all last you a few weeks. Add video games and board games to your itinerary and you’ll be good to go! I’ll write more about other things to do later, but let me know if you watch and like any of these shows. Stay healthy and safe. Wash your hands and don’t go out unless necessary!