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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chronic, Cleanliness and COVID



It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Thank you to April co-hosts: Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard. 

This month's question: The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

I’m not great at housecleaning but with bi-weekly professional assistance things stay in good shape around our home. That said, the value of cleanliness took a huge uptick lately due to my husband’s chronic illness and COVID-19. Our virus from hell stopped world-wide operations at the same time he was scheduled to enter the hospital for life-prolonging treatment.

In thirty-five years of marriage, we’ve been apart for a week at a time only twice, each of us taking work trips years ago, he to California, me to Japan. But now, he’d be spending a week in a critical care unit, a week or so at home recovering, and then another week in. Depending on results, the whole thing may be repeated a month later. Last month, when he received the blessing from his doctor to proceed, a nurse reassured me. “He’ll be in a big room. There’s a cot. You can stay the night if you wish.” 

That was when COVID-19 was happening elsewhere. But as we got closer to his treatment date, it was as if the arrival of COVID in the US and his hospitalization were on the same clock. We agonized. Would they postpone his treatment? The answer was no, they would not. But days before his admission date in what now feels like the virus's infancy here in the US, an email related to his upcoming hospitalization spelled out new rules. “No visitors to the 11th floor.” In fact, I couldn't even enter the hospital.

Oh Lord. 

Pretty quickly, we became grateful for FaceTime. After months of trying to get him healthy enough for this treatment, this was a hiccup, right? Easy-peasy. On the day he was admitted, I dropped him off at the hospital, blew him a kiss and watched helplessly as the  doors swallowed him. Then, I drove to work, planning on burying myself in it.

The next day, the governor announced non-essential employees needed to stay home. I brought a laptop home and worked from there as best I could. Life morphed to “social distancing” in my house alone, knowing my husband was undergoing grueling treatment without me, while my options for finding something, anything to distract myself became sorely limited. My job? Phone calls and emails. But then what? The library? Not only was it closed, there appeared to be a run on online books. It was too early in the season to garden. The grass didn’t need to be mowed. Facebook, Twitter and the like were filled with dire prognostications, or worse, pictures of folks who believed they’re immune to the virus walking side-by-side, crowding beaches. Predictions that every hospital bed in the city would be filled at the time my husband was scheduled for his second week of treatment left me wanting to scream, so, no social media.

To get through those long days, I planned to give my so-so cleaning habits a work out. Windows? Vinegar and hot water to get rid of winter grime. Kitchen cupboards? Murphy’s Oil soap and fine steel wool to remove ancient grease. Lemon and baking soda to eliminate stains on kitchen counters. Pantry closets emptied and swept. Bleach everywhere. But how would I distract my brain? 

Thankfully, I remembered this. Years ago, when I suddenly lost my job of 23 years, I wrote my way out of the shock. Every morning I drafted a five-hundred work essay, went for a walk, came back and finalized the results for Middle Passages. It worked so well that since then, five days a week, I get up an hour early to write. So, cleaning-schmeaning. I stuck to my normal practice, forcing myself to sit down at the computer first thing each morning to lose myself in my novel draft. When I resurfaced, I’d done something routine. Something that helped me stay whole. And during that God-awful, lonely week, I learned yet again, as bad as things get, writing will always be there for me.

Then, I scrubbed and disinfected our house, all the while praying my husband's treatment would succeed and COVID-19 would disappear, imagining a future in which we're together again, his body, our home and the entire world, cleansed of dangerous pathogens.

Wishing good health and offering prayers for you all. I know we're all touched by this.

18 comments:

Jan Morrison said...

Thank you for this. With this post you bring us all in together, one world, one love. I'll be thinking of you as I write today, all of us alone, together.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Will be praying he is home with you soon and the next procedure goes as planned. Just fill your day with writing and don't do more than glance at the news. Fortunately, bloggers have not gone the doom and gloom route.

Joanne said...

wow - that's a lot to be going through. My heart goes out to you. Sounds like you are writing through the darkness (and cleaning) and will come out the other side. Sure hope your husband is gaining strength daily and will be fine. Words...they don't always do enough, but know I care from TX.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I am sending positive thoughts and prayers to you and your husband, Liza. Please continue to write and to take care of yourself as best you can.

Natalie Aguirre said...

My heart goes out to you with your husband's chronic respiratory problems and being in the hospital without you. I was with my husband through all his illnesses and it would be so hard not to be with him. I doubt very much my husband would not have gotten the virus no matter how isolated he was, and he would not have survived it. Glad you are finding good ways to cope.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thank you for this!
I agree with the need for writing right now - to lose ourselves in a daily habit of words building into something more - fiction or non-fiction, essay, story, or poem. Thank you for sharing.
Praying for you and your husband - hope that's okay.

mshatch said...

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you and your husband, Liza, and I hope everything goes according to your plan! Stay well :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh my goodness. You have to lose yourself in writing or you'll be a bundle of nerves. Hoping everything goes according to plan for your husband.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I will add your husband to my prayer list. We all know someone who has health conditions that make them more vulnerable. I think not being about to visit and support family in the hospital is a horrific side issue with this crisis.

David Powers King said...

Wishing for peace on your home, can't imagine those with medical needs other than the virus right now and what they're going through. Glad you got that deep clean in. Stay safe and well out there! :)

Karen Baldwin said...

Wow...that's tough not being able to be with your husband during his procedures. You have a fantastic attitude and I love that you turn to writing (and cleaning) to cope. Saying prayers for both of you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - I do hope all will be well with your husband, and obviously for coping as best you can. Good to get the cleaning done - however slowly ... I'm doing that as well - and clearing things out - a necessity. Take care and enjoy writing your next book ... all the best - Hilary

Diane Burton said...

Liza, I can feel your distress. I hope your husband will be home soon, better than before. Not being in the hospital for him must have been agonizing. I'll bet you have the cleanest house around. I like your solution for keeping your mind from emotional battering. Take care of yourself. Hugs.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Oh Liza, I’m so sorry that you and your husband are going through this. I hope he’s discharged from the hospital soon, so he’ll continue to get stronger than ever with you in your immaculately clean and happy home. He’s so lucky to have you and you both deserve to be healthy and safe together.

Julie

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

My heart goes out to you. My hubby's been going through all kinds of surgeries, chemo, and radiation for nearly a year now, and I've been able to be right there with him, holding his hand, every step of the way. It's gotta be horrific for you and your fella to be separated now because of the virus. Understandable, but horrible, nonetheless. When we went to the medical center earlier this week for what was to have been the first of six weekly prophylactic treatments to deter his bladder cancer from coming back again, we were sent home. Because of the virus, the treatments are being pushed back twelve weeks. He's supposed to get a brain MRI the end of this month to see if the radiation killed all of those booger cancer cells... I sure hope that doesn't get postponed, too. As you well know, we all pin such high hopes on getting positive results sooner rather than later. Hang in there, kiddo. I'm sending all kinds of healing thoughts your way. (P.S. Don't forget to take care of YOU, too.) Feel that? It's a great big virtual hug.

Bish Denham said...

Oh, Liza. I can't even imagine... I do hope your sweetie is back home with you, and that you are both safe and sound. Many (((hugs))).

Carol Kilgore said...

I will be praying for you and your husband, Liza. Stay strong. Keep writing, stay positive, and stay safe.

Connie said...

Thinking of you and sending prayers on behalf of you and your husband. I'm sorry to hear you are having to deal with so much in addition to all that is going on in the world.