Coronavirus in a 450 sq ft apartment

First, I felt a headache and then came the fever. It felt like a normal, “I’m not feeling very well sort of situation,” but a few hours later, after some rest overnight, I was in the worst pain of my life. My body ached like I had gotten into a knock down drag out fight the night before. Then came the nausea, and body aches, and that was just the beginning of this uphill battle.

It was Friday last week. I reached out to my employer to inform them that I couldn’t work remotely, because I felt too lightheaded and foggy to be able to concentrate. I spent much of the day in bed, only getting up to make my kids meals and help them when I could, as best as I could. They enjoyed more television than they ever have. I felt like every ounce of energy had been drained from me. I messaged my doctor, and we arranged a video chat appointment.

As we talked, I checked off quite a few of the symptoms except for coughing and shortness of breath. Since I wasn’t in a moment of crisis, she recommended the usual flu treatment which is, staying hydrated, lots of warm liquids, warm showers, continuing proper hand washing, wearing my mask and isolate. When the conversation ended, I just kept thinking, how does the CDC or anyone for that matter think it is possible for everyone who gets sick to self quarantine?

Two problems arise from the mindset that when ill, you can willingly self quarantine. The first premise is that we all have extra rooms in our apartments or homes that allows the sick person full undisturbed use. The second is that we all have help from family and/or friends, so it should be rather easy to navigate this moment in time and history. This is so wrong and devastating in many ways. Both space and help are a privilege that not everyone has.

I live in a 450 square foot apartment with four people. It’s cozy and comfortable and works for the time being, but as I have gotten sick, I realized the expectation that I will lock my family out of one room that they need access to, to fight this virus is damn near impossible. I am also in the category of single-married moms who have to do everything to take care of their children while dad (an essential employee) works. I absolutely don’t get the luxury of rest.

I can’t even get my two year old to stop hugging me. If I closed the door, you’d think a bulldozer was trying to knock my door down, because all my little munchkin wants is her mom. In an effort to protect them, I wear my mask, do lots of hand washing and used hand sanitizer. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I already practiced proper hand washing and sanitized door handles, refrigerators, microwaves, remotes, tables and other high traffic areas as often as possible. Now, it is in overdrive. A lot more labor I clearly don’t have the energy for, but this obsessive compulsive behavior is required.

Currently, no one can come to my home, so I am on my own. So many of us are doing this on our own. We are doing our best to manage our health, our children, our home, our lives and our sanity, all in an effort to come out well on the other side of something that we have never experienced in our lifetime. The guidelines need to be realistic for the lives of everyone and not simply those who have the luxury of space and help. These guidelines need to accommodate everyone.

Maybe someday, someday they will get it. But for the time being, there is one guideline I will not be following. My kids will be watching more than two hours of educational shows until I get better, because that is the best that I can do right now. To all the single parents, the married-single parents and those of us who don’t have the luxury of space and help, we can do this.

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