Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.
In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.
Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.
This piece is by Karen Zey, writing on Thursday, April 23, 2020.
Today is Day 46. Two weeks since the clinic visit, and hubby is symptom free. The knot in my stomach eases. I scratch a checkmark on the kitchen calendar, then settle at the computer to write down my stress.
I’ve got this. Hubby is a senior with chronic health conditions, and I’m a middle-of-the-night worrier. All we need is a plan, just like everyone else. Focus. I’ve got this. Two of us in self-isolation: check. Order groceries online: check. Lentils, root vegetables, tinned fruit just in case: check. Brisk walks at a safe social distance: check. I am a loving, well-organized, do-everything-possible-to keep-him healthy kind of wife and—I’ve got this.
Everything will be okay. Hubby and I settle into pandemic routine. Read, write, phone family and friends. Cook, tidy, Zoom with family and friends. Teach my library workshop online. Indulge (together) in too much Netflix. Obsessively watch the news (together), then limit the gloom broadcasts to once a day. Walk the neighbourhood (together) and look for rainbows in the windows. Read those pale pink, mint green and sky blue messages of hope children have chalked on their driveways. Everything will be okay.
The dermatologist calls. Hubby’s January biopsy shows a small melanoma on his chest. Nothing serious. She’ll remove it in the office. A routine, 20-minute procedure. Postponing more than a couple of weeks is not a good idea. Okay, we’ll come next Thursday at 8:00 am. First patient of the day. He can enter through the back door of the clinic. The doctor reassures us she’ll be wearing a mask and gloves.
Worry slams into my gut. Not about the quarter-sized spot of cancer. He can survive that. But how many patients has the doctor seen in the last few weeks?
We arrive early. The only car in the parking lot. I can’t go in with him. I try not to sound like a nag as I nag him about the protective steps he needs to take. Remember, hands off your mask. Purell if you touch anything. Call me and put me on speaker phone so I can listen to the steps for post-procedure care.
Hubby is patient with me as I go over this. He knows it will calm me down. Twenty minutes later he’s out. She froze him twice. Didn’t hurt too much. He takes off his paper mask in the car and puts it in the plastic bag I’ve brought along. He Purells thoroughly. When we get home, he changes clothes and washes his hands. Any viruses on his skin vanquished by that 20-second swirl of soap and hot water.
But any airborne viruses in the doctor’s breath—they could be already travelling inside his body, invisible for up to 14 days.
I begin the countdown until day 46. Until I can say it again. I’ve got this.