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Surreal Living In the Beginning of COVID-19

It is March 26, 2020


I hope you are well and finding ways to stay mentally healthy.  We are social creatures and isolation and distancing are both un-natural and uncomfortable.

I found a song on Youtube that was supposed to be funny, but made me sad. "All by myself, don't wanna be all by myself anymore..."

Those of us that are retired are feeling very fortunate to not be depending on a wage right now, with many businesses closed for a period of social distancing in an effort to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

I woke up this morning having another difficult night trying to sleep.  My shoulders hurt because they are used to heavy lifting at the gym, I think.  Or maybe they hurt from the lack of giving hugs and getting hugs.  This social distancing is physically difficult for those not living with family or pets.

When I descend the stairs to start the coffee, I can sense my tears are ready to erupt.  This is a feeling I am very familiar with, these un-shed tears were often present when I was experiencing the slow loss of George to dementia.

We are all experiencing loss of the life we knew just a month or two ago.  I was doing ok until they closed the Withlacoochee Trail.  Now, disconnected from so many of my friends, and my schedule of regular rides disrupted, the change this pandemic has placed on so many lives is finally touching me a little.  I am so fortunate, but I can still grieve over the changes we are all facing.

Promoting my Alzheimer's books seems silly now.  Though I know they could provide someone with entertainment and a caregiver with comfort and reassurance.

I spend a little time each day on twitter and there are several Alzhiemer's Caregivers and former Caregivers that provide support to each other.  Some are authors like me, some are pod-casters.  Jennifer Fink contacted me this week to arrange a short interview via Zoom.  She wanted to gather ideas and just empathy for all the caregivers and family members out there who are trying to keep their loved-one with dementia safe from COVID-19.  Some of them have their loved one in a facility and are locked out of that facility, unable to visit.

Jennifer's mother is in a home and has already forgotten Jennifer is her daughter, but she remembers she is the nice woman that comes to visit.  That bit of memory will most likely be gone by the time Jennifer gets to see her mom again.  And Jennifer really REALLY wants to just be able to go in and hold her mom's hand.  She worries that her mom will die before she gets to see her again... that she will essentially die alone.

ARG!!!  It is all so depressing!

So you know what I do?

1) I look for funny songs and videos on Youtube in the evenings.

Feel free to share a favorite in the Susan Straley Writes Facebook group.  If you are not a member, just join and answer the questions.  A lot of people like to watch movies and TV shows, but I just can't get into it.  Ever since I had skin cancer in 1989 and realized my time in this life really IS limited, I stopped watching much TV and now most movies don't attract me either.

2) I go for walks and ride the streets.  

When I am walking I might see a neighbor I like and walk with them trying to keep six feet between us.  Six feet is the recommended distance to keep so you don't spread the virus.  Any of us that are feeling well could have the virus and not know it.  Even if we feel fine we need to keep our distance.  The virus is very contagious.

3) I vowed to not go to the store for a full week.

I thought I wasn't a shopper, but man, the grocery store is constantly calling to me... "Come, come now!  Our shelves are almost bare.  You know you would much rather have nachos and ice cream for supper instead of that left-over soup."

I cheated yesterday and ordered some nuts and dried fruits from .  I was going to order dried beans but all of us have become survivalists in the last month or two and all the dried beans are out of stock.

4) I arrange small social gatherings.

This is the best thing that I have found to do.  I have the advantage of sitting outside with folks at a safe distance because we live in Florida which is warm and our area has few biting bugs most of the day.

I think Debra started it by inviting Carolyn and me over on Monday evening.

On Tuesday I sat with my neighbors, Mary and Jerry, Margaret and Zip.  My house-mate Carolyn came too.  We sat in a circle.  Earlier that day Margaret said, "I have so many words in me that just need to be let out!"

On Wednesday I met up with a new friend and neighbor at the pool and we chatted for a hour.  We were going to bounce around in the pool, but the pool heater isn't working.  It was uncomfortably cold at 72 degrees. 

We watched a lovely hawk sit on the fence a long while and then took off flying over our heads.

Also on Wednesday I went for a street ride with Debra and Glen.  We rode through areas of Citrus Hills and wow, I didn't know we had so many hills so close to home.  The trail is pretty flat.

I had to ride the trail a couple miles to get to the meeting place.  I have since heard that the Ranger is stopping people and telling them get off the trail or issuing a warning.

5) I listen to audio books.

I just finished listening to, Before We Were Yours.  I can tell you if you are looking for something relaxing to read, that isn't it.  It was gripping and at times suspenseful.   I hated how tense it made me, but I couldn't stop listening.

My friend Kim shared her audio book with me, Olive Kitterich.  She said it is a nice story.

6) I reach out by phone, Facetime, and text to others.

I am fortunate in that my sister is open to chatting with me almost every day.  We have never done this before, but I think we both need the contact and conversations.  One day we both were feeling down, so we made a pledge to do something to combat the feelings.  Mary was going for a walk in the woods.  I was going to meditate 20 minutes.

Speaking of my sister... she and her husband still deliver meals on wheels.  She uses her hand sanitizer after each home and before she enters her car.  I need to start volunteering somewhere during this... where?

7) I practice backing up my Weeroll.

Ok, I have only done this once or twice.  I also spent some time sitting inside it, thinking of what will go where.  I cut an old yoga mat to be the size of the mini fridge that I have.  It helps to figure out how things will fit.

What a Difference Three Weeks Makes

It is hard to believe that only two weeks ago I was listening to the news reports about COVID-19 (called the Corona Virus back then) and wondering if I should be worried.  I flew to Arizona on March 6th and packed wipes and was a bit on edge wondering if I should cancel my flight.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States was small, I had not been watching the news and didn't know anything about why this virus was unique.  I was thinking of the Swine Flu which hardly touched my life, and I remembered the talks about Ebola.  They both were slowed before they became a problem for my family and friends, my corner of the world.  I was ignorant of any of the science explaining why COVID-19 was different and a big worry.

It is only 20 days later now, and the CDC website reports the number of cases in the US is over 68,000.  The number of deaths almost 1,000.   It is still kinda small numbers in the big scheme of things until you realize that those numbers happened in just three weeks and are doubling every 2-3 days.

Here is a video giving you a view of exponential growth.

Here is another video.

I have heard people argue that we are making too big a deal out of this.  That it hasn't killed as many people as the regular flu each year.  They are probably not taking into account that this flu is brand new and in just a few months has spread to pretty-much every country and started to grow from there, over coming the ability of the medical system to care for the victims in many places (New York City and Italy especially).

Well no sense in worrying.  "It is what it is," George would say.

I found some bean seeds and planted them.  And I see I have a couple potatoes in my cupboard sprouting... I will try planting them.  Who knows how long this pandemic will go on.

Please share some of the things you found to help you stay connected in spite of social distancing.  Are you pitching in to help somewhere?  Tell me about it, I would like to hear!


  1. It's a shame they closed the Withlacoochee Trail. So far, the Pinellas Trail remains open and the number of trail users has risen noticeably since the safer-at-home order was issued in Pinellas County, which permits getting outside for walks and bike rides as long as users maintain a 6 ft separation. Tina and I are both working from home now, and being able to go for a walk on the Trail just across the street from our house several times a day helps to maintain sanity.

    Hang in there! I enjoy reading your blog posts, and look forward to the day when we can return for a ride on the Withlacoochee Trail.


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