Katrina Stonoff


Well, I didn’t get to make the rib-eye steak. Last week, I developed a sore throat and cough, so I am spending two weeks sequestered in the guest room with a dedicated bathroom.

As far as I know, I have not been exposed to COVID-19, though it is rampant in Fairbanks. But I haven’t left the house in several weeks, and we have a strict regimen for when Mars leaves the house.

When Girly Girl was newborn and weighed less than four pounds, Phoenix was experiencing the worst RSV season ever. Like, ever. More about this in a moment. They sent her home on oxygen because it was safer than keeping her in the hospital.

We developed a regimen based on what Girly Girl’s pediatrician was doing to protect her own infant. I stayed home. Nobody was allowed to visit, much less hold the baby (which really annoyed one of my sisters, I think).

Mars still went to work, but when he came home, he removed his clothes at the front door, put his clothes straight into the washer, and went to shower without touching anything. Only after he was clean and in new clothes, did he greet us.

We dusted off the regime for this pandemic, to reduce the chance of bringing it into the house.

So I’m pretty sure I don’t have COVID-19. Plus, I don’t have a fever. I don’t struggle to breathe, and my cough isn’t dry.

I don’t want to risk making my family sick, though, so I’m spending two weeks alone in the guest room. I miss my piano, my kitchen, and my office. And my family too, though I still talk with them through the bedroom door.

Mars brings food and sets it right inside the door on a TV tray. I pick it up after he’s gone—straight to the bathroom to wash his hands.

It’s made me a lot more empathetic to folks who live in places like New York City, where you can’t even leave your home without exposing yourself to elevators and stair rails and other potentially deadly surfaces.

In a bit less than a week, I can leave the room and go back to cooking furiously. And maybe actually leave the house to play Pokemon as long as I stay in the car.

In 1997, despite our strict routines, Girly Girl got RSV anyway (probably from the hospital, but that’s another story). It is SO contagious, and it was literally everywhere that year. Everybody had it.

Remember when I said it was THE worst RSV season ever? When Girly Girl got sick, the hospital was full. They called every other hospital in Phoenix, trying to find an available pediatric bed. There was none, so they widened their circle.

In the end, after calling every hospital in the region, they told us there was not an available pediatric hospital bed anywhere in Arizona, New Mexico, southern California, Nevada, or Utah.

So we spent the first 24 hours in a cordoned off area of the Emergency Room, waiting for a bed. Then we spent a week in the hospital. GG was given nebulizer treatments, meds, and percussive chest therapy. And despite her tiny size and failure to thrive, she got better.

When I think, though, about how hard we worked to keep her from getting sick—and how she got sick anyway—it makes me start to despair about COVID-19.

But I gave up despair for Lent, so I’m choosing hope instead. And a whole lotta hand-washing.

P.S. Never give up despair for Lent. It’s like waving a “Dare ya!” flag in front of the universe.

Categories: Corona Virus health