It is now Day 11 of self isolation in the Walker-Brook house. My anxiety levels are at an all time high. I am struggling to get to sleep and on some nights I have resorted to tablets to knock me out but that means I struggle to wake up the next day. The logical part of my brain knows that stress reduces my immunity and that it helps not at all with the situation but the illogical part of my brain keeps spinning that hamster wheel.
I worry about whether I would survive if I caught this virus, I worry about the health and safety of my children, their partners and families, about my mother, and about my friends all around the world. I worry about my daughter and her husband’s business and I even worry about the fact that I am worried. If I am not worrying then I am thinking about the constrictions of movement and living conditions of the people who live in tiny little shacks in the townships, the economy and the many people who will be out of work and all of the businesses that may not survive this period of isolation and lock down.
Many people in the townships do not have running water or toilets or facilities to do their ablutions in their shacks and have to share these with others, thereby increasing their risk of exposure. Most do not have fridges or freezers to store food and usually go out daily to do their shopping. Many are daily or hourly paid and if they are not working they may not be earning, so how will they provide for their families? Some children only get fed at school, if they do not go to school how often will they get fed? This is an international dilemma not isolated to poor countries such as South Africa but for SA especially this virus will be almost impossible to manage.
What effect will being in such cramped quarters have on those who suffer from domestic violence? The increased proximity of their family and the stress of being confined can lead to an increase in these types of incidents. Perpetrators may attempt to deal with extra stress and anxiety by imposing stricter and more unrealistic regimes on their families’ activities and behaviours. The perpetrator may become even more controlling of his victims if he feels out of control of the situation. If anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse please make sure that you check in on them often.
They say that bad things always come in threes and we experienced house drama number 3 last Sunday night. Norm noticed a lake of water in front of the house when he let the dogs outside before bed and he discovered that we have a burst pipe so he had to turn off our water. Most of Monday was without water until the plumber could arrive, I hate to imagine having to cope with that as a regular state of affairs.
Dealing with isolation without water left Norm so discombobulated that he forgot to feed the dogs on Monday morning. Panda kept slamming into me and barking as he tried to tell me but as I was not aware they missed their breakfast I was unclear on what he was saying. Eventually when Norm had to go into the garage at lunch time he realised that the dogs had been forgotten. Poor pups, they are also victims of this chaos.
Then on Monday afternoon in the middle of a Skype call with my team we lost electricity. We are not sure what caused it to go off but Norm managed to get it back working again but by then the meeting was over.
This pretty much sums up my life at the moment.
As well as my Skype meeting being cut off I had also been downloading Microsoft Windows 10 and the download failed. As I was 3 hours into the process I was not very happy. I spent most of Tuesday faffing around with it until I finally gave up and Norm dropped it with a colleague who is also a friend who lives nearby to resolve. He managed to sort it out and on Wednesday morning Norm popped down to collect it. I missed an important client teleconference but there was not much I could do about that. I had been doing skype meetings on my phone but this meeting was held via Microsoft Teams and I did not have that app on my phone.
President Ramaphosa gave another address to the nation on Monday evening. He announced a national lock down which began on Thursday night at midnight. No one is allowed to leave their home other than for essentials such as food or medication. Essential workers such as medical staff and people who run the banking services and other required functions will still be going to work. The full transcript is HERE.
The key points were:
- All South Africans will have to stay at home.
- Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
- People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, to seek medical care, or to collect a social grant.
- All bars, coffee shops and restaurants will close and alcohol will not be sold nor can it be transported from one location to another.
- Guesthouses, game reserves, resorts, and many hotels will be closed.
- The South African National Defense Force has been deployed to assist police in enforcing the lock down.
- Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
- All businesses will close – only medical facilities, pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open.
- Essential transport services will also continue.
- All borders will be closed to human activity except for essential services such as food. This includes the closure of all airports, the Gautrain system, all land borders, and all ports. All international and domestic flights after 23:59 Thursday will be canceled.
Here is the full speech:
From midnight on Thursday night we were officially on lock down, however so many people do not care about the law and are just treating this as a holiday from work.
The South African statistics published today are that of the 28,537 people who have been tested, we have 1170 positive cases. 31 of the cases have recovered.
We have had one death from the virus. The woman who died was 48 years of age and had a pulmonary embolism and was being treated for this when she caught the virus.
The impacts of the lock down on small and medium enterprises could be devastating. Many of these businesses run on a month to month basis with little cash reserves and this could result in the permanent closure of many restaurants, bars and businesses. The potential saving of lives has to take precedence. There is a financial rescue plan being put in place for some of the businesses so let’s hope this lessens the blow.
I am glad that my daughter Caitlin flew home on Tuesday afternoon and is now safe in her flat. I was so worried that the lock down would happen sooner and she would not get home or that she would get exposed to the virus while travelling. We have 14 days until we can be sure that she is OK but so far she is feeling fine. Our friends Trish and John managed to get home to Scotland but it was a bit hit or miss. When they arrived in Schiphol airport the majority of flights were cancelled so we were all worried they might not make it home.
After reading up a bit and making up the rest I am now wondering whether Norm, my mom and I had a mild strain of Coronavirus when we were ill in January. (Not Covid-19 but a less deadly strain. People keep saying this pandemic is due to ‘Coronavirus’ but it is actually the Covid-19 strain. Some arsehats keep calling it the ‘Chinese Virus’ and this right wing agenda has led to many Asians getting battered and abused but that is another story in itself). The symptoms we had in January were the same as some of the Covid symptoms except I also had a runny nose and nasal blockage and I think Covid19 is all lung based? (Caveat #IAmNotADoctor) If that is the case I hope that this previous virus may have given us all a wee bit of immunity. At least that is what I am telling myself.
My GP recommended that anyone who has any risk issues or is over 65 should get a flu shot. Norm and I are on a waiting list to get that as I am trying to cover as many variables as I can.
Here is a video of a guy who lives in Cape Town who tested positive and is self isolating. He fell ill in LA but the doctors said he was fine as he had not been in China. As a result he flew back to SA and then attended a festival, thereby potentially spreading the virus among the other travelers and the festival attendees.
There are so many people who do not report for testing for various reasons. The reported statistics are vastly under-estimated globally. I personally know of 4 people who had the virus and tried to report it but were deterred. They were told they could not be tested unless they were hospitalised or unless they wanted to wait in a 3 hour queue with other people who are showing symptoms. In case you do not have it why would you risk getting exposed to it? Insanity. Many other people say that when they phoned their GP they are asked whether they had traveled to China and if the answer was no they were told they ‘could not have Covid-19’. You would think that doctors were a bit less ignorant.
Some people are buying into the Trump propaganda that this virus is a hoax or that it will just blow over with minimal impact and sometimes this is resulting in their death or to them becoming carriers and spreading to those who are more vulnerable.
U.S. Pastor Landon Spradlin who claimed the virus was a hoax and it was all just ‘Mass Hysteria’ has died from the virus. He said “the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good. It will come and it will go.” Denial can get you dead.
Life goes on for the lucky and like all good survivalists I am trying to use leftovers and avoid any food wastage so Sunday night I made what I decided to call ‘Deconstructed Cottage Pie’. I sliced the other half of the cabbage from Saturday night‘s dinner and fried a couple of carrots, the cabbage and an onion in a pan. I fried a packet of minced beef in another pan. Once the meat was browned I added it to the vegetables, then added 2 big tablespoons of tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, spices and some beef stock and stirred it all through. I left it to simmer while I reheated the potatoes au gratin left over from the previous night.
It tasted really nice together. I love it when I create things which taste nice. I am rubbish at following recipes which is probably why I am so bad at baking.
The next night Norm and I both had leftovers. I made some pasta and chucked the leftover mince into it and it was yummy. Norm finished off leftovers from another night’s dinner.
On Tuesday night I cooked dinner for us. I baked pork chops which I covered in a teriyaki sauce. I chopped onions and peppers to pop on top of them. I fried mushrooms in garlic butter, steamed some baby broccoli and roasted some sweet potato rounds in olive oil.
On Wednesday evening we decided to get our fave take aways as we would not be able to do so for 3 weeks (at a minimum). Norm opted for Eggplant Parmigiana from Cassarecchio and I opted for sushi from K1 in Hout Bay. I felt like a prisoner receiving his last meal from his jailer.
Thursday night I cooked pork sausages, the last of the meat we had from our previous shop. I decided I could not be bothered to stand over a frying pan in the heat and I had some peppers that were going soft so I wanted to use those up. I decided to cook the sausages in the oven and I sliced the peppers and covered the sausages with them and added mushrooms to the same pan. I baked them for 45 minutes, turning them halfway through and adding sliced onions on top (the onions burned when I did this with the pork chops so I decided to add later than the peppers and it worked perfectly). I made mash and gravy and fried red cabbage in balsamic vinegar and loads of butter.
As we are both working from home I decided to make us a healthy lunch and put together some tuna mayo with pickles and red onion and served it on a bed of green salad.
We normally always have take aways on Friday but as that was out of the question we cooked together. Norm had done another small shop the day lockdown started and bought meat and booze. We cooked fillet steaks. We sliced and fried mushrooms then added cream to them. We sautéed a bag of baby spinach and then puréed it and added cream and grated sharp cheddar. I had a tiny baked potato with mine but Norm stayed low carb. As I was putting the oven on for the potato I roasted the cauliflower in olive oil. It gives it a yummy nutty flavor. It was all divine.
I have been chatting a lot to my friends who are also in lockdown or self-isolating and I was having a laugh with one of them as she was wearing her Pilates gear but had not done any Pilates and I was wearing a swimsuit cover up and had not been swimming. If no one is going to see you then why make an effort? Comfort is top of my list with being cool in this heat second.
On Wednesday I showered and tidied up my hair and put on a presentable dress for the virtual meeting that did not happen. I was not sure if it was a video meeting or just a teleconference. I did not put on makeup as I could not be bothered. I sat outside to have my morning coffee.
While sitting on the porch I heard a little voice from the gate and looked up to see my lovely neighbour Kate. Kate was dropping off some chilies from her garden. How sweet was that?
We did a long distance exchange, Kate dropped them and backed up and once she left I grabbed them. It felt a bit like an illicit drug deal.
It was a cool and overcast day. I could not see my mountains at all.
It makes it much more comfortable to work from home in a non-air conditioned house if it is not so hot. I remarked on how lovely it was and Norm said ‘but it is better if it is hot to reduce the spread of the virus as it does not like the heat’. Everything we do these days is reflected through the lens of Covid-19.
We got a bit of rain that night which is welcome in our drought ridden country. We are always grateful for any rain.
For me I know that much of my stress is based in lack of control. I felt a bit better on Wednesday when I got my laptop back and got it operational and my sleep meds were delivered. I take CBD oils to sleep and I can take extra if needed when feeling a lot of anxiety. Norm went to the chemist and got an extra month of all of my chronic meds too so I do not have to worry about that for another month.
I was able to dial into the second meeting we had on Wednesday except Pixie decided that I needed a pedicure and tickled my toes the entire meeting.
Lola decided she was chilly and needed a cuddle so she wanted in my lap. I put a cushion in my lap for her and she settled in. It was cosy but made it a bit awkward to try and reach my keyboard. Lola did not care.
Navajo is far less needy and settled in on the stairs halfway between Norman and I with his eyes on the door. He is so protective of us.
He is a beautiful dog with such a loving heart.
My colleague brought home the desktop from our client’s office late on Wednesday afternoon. We had been working through a VPN to a virtual machine (this desktop in my case) but it was too slow to be practical. My colleague spent most of the day at the client sorting it out but it was chaos there as everyone is prepping their laptops for the lock down. I got it all set up and thought that was me good to go and be productive.
However I could not connect to their network or database. After trying a million things we discovered that the desktop is also Windows 7 and I cannot connect unless it is Windows 10. Whyyyyy?? After much too-ing and fro-ing, phone calls, WhatsApps and emails with me refusing to leave the house my colleague agreed to go back to the client offices and get a Windows 10 machine for me. Again it took him all day and he dropped it off for me late afternoon. I have now been trying to upgrade my MS Office and have had endless issues with that too. Today I see that the internet issues are due to the breakage of an undersea internet cable which is critical to SA’s global connections. It is sooo slow just when the majority of the country are working from home. Bloody typical.
Since we are unable to go out at night (not that we ever do anyway but still) we have been watching a lot of telly.
I am loving the show Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime.
It stars Bryan Cranston and Giovanni Ribisi. The basic premise is that conman Marius (played by Giovanni) is in debt to a gangster (played by Bryan) and when he is released from prison he changes his identity to try and hide out. He impersonates his cell mate who is the real Pete and embeds himself into Pete’s family who had not seen him in twenty years.
There are so many plots and subplots going on that in order to keep it all straight I felt like I needed one of those pin boards detectives set up to try and solve crimes.
I have always been a fan of Giovanni since he played Phoebe’s brother, Frank Jr. in Friends.
I wish there were more seasons of this show but I am enjoying what there is!
When I am feeling stressed I have been watching a series called ‘When Calls The Heart‘ which is a Canadian based series produced by the Hallmark Channel. It reminds me a bit of Little House on the Prairie, wholesome and non-traumatic so it is perfect for my current levels of stress. It does not make my heart jump in fact it soothes me with it’s gentle nature. Norm thinks it is nonsense and fluff and he is probably right, but right now fluff is what I need.
In getting the info for my blog I spotted that Michael Landon Jr is the Director, so that may be why I get the Little House on the Prairie feel! He got it from his Daddy 🙂
Today the sun is shining.
I am so much more fortunate than many. I have a cosy comfortable home with a garden and amazing view, I have running water, a shower, an inside toilet, Netflix and enough food to last for a few days. We have social media to distract us and allow us to communicate with the outside world and I know my loved ones are all safe.
Do not take your blessings for granted and think of those who do not have these advantages. Keep a positive thought for Mother Earth and her inhabitants and be grateful. Stay home if you can and please be careful if you have to still work.
Much love to you all.
Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox