The Lockdown Tag

I don’t think anyone specifically tagged me for this tag, but I saw it on a number of other blogs. The idea is to answer a number of questions about life in lockdown. We just went into “partial lockdown” again, or really are going tonight, but the prime minister delivered the news yesterday evening. I think it’s about time I write about life in lockdown again.

1. Overall, how are you handling the quarantine?
I’m hanging in there. Now that at least some restrictions have been going on for over half a year, I’m coping less well than at the beginning of the lockdown.

2. Have you violated any of the restrictions? If yes, what rule(s) did you break?
Honestly, yes. When the no-visitors policy in care homes was lifted last May, we were expected to still keep our distance from visitors and avoid physical contact. Well, I did at first try, but I just couldn’t resist hugging my husband.

3. What viral recipes have you tried during the lockdown?
I didn’t even know that this is a thing. I haven’t really tried any new recipes, honestly.

4. What activities have you missed the most during quarantine?
At first, of course, I missed seeing my husband altogether, as it wasn’t allowed at all. Now that we’re allowed visitors again, I miss going places, like restaurants, with my husband. Restaurants are closed again for two weeks at least from tonight on, but even when they were still open, I wouldn’t take the risk.

5. Do you wear a mask when you leave the house?
Uhm, no. I don’t travel by public transportation at all or go to public places much. Until yesterday’s press conference, the government didn’t want to mandate mask-wearing except on public transportation, but only “strongly advised” it in public places like stores. As of tonight, a mask will be required in all public places and also outside of classes in secondary and tertiary education. It’s not required when going for walks outdoors. I do think that, when my mother-in-law visits tomorrow, I’m going to wear a mask to protect her, as she’s generally very careful and I’m not.

6. Are you an essential worker? If yes, what is your job title?
No. I don’t work. Thankfully, my staff are classed as essential workers and we didn’t get holiday or weekend staffing levels so far, which I was worried about at first.

7. How do you exercise during the lockdown?
I go for walks, go on the elliptical, do weight training and yoga. Basically, all my usual exercise activities. I was on the waiting list to go swimming before lockdown and had considerd going to a gym too. Swimming was canceled here at the facility and, though gyms are still open, I don’t want to take the risk.

8. Have you subscribed to any new subscription services since the lockdown started?
No. I did briefly restart my Netflix subscription, but canceled it again after a month. I much prefer reading to watching.

9. What did/does your daily schedule look like before the pandemic started?
I’m assuming the question is meant to ask how our schedules differ now that we’re in lockdown, because of course the pandemic is raging so there’s no present tense “does” before the pandemic. Anyway, before the pandemic I would go to the day center at around 9:30AM and stay there until 4PM. Now that we’re provided day activities in the home, I usually don’t start them until 10AM at least. I also take more breaks than I used to. I much prefer the current arrangement.

10. Do you think that the pandemic is getting better or worse?
Worse. It’s all pretty awful. I really hope they’ll find a vaccine soon.

11. What have you learnt/became grateful for during the lockdown?
I’ve become more appreciative in general. For example, I’m grateful for my health, my ability to still go outside for walks, being able to see my husband… lots of things!

12. How do you think the world should learn from this pandemic so that things are better in the future?
I think in general people have learned to be more health conscious. Other than that, I don’t think the pandemic taught us any big lesson or whatever. Of course, I could get all fluffy about people possibly being kinder and more grateful towards each other and the planet, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I’m not tagging anyone, but if you want to do this tag, feel free to.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 27, 2020)

It’s pretty late in the evening already and I had a few gulps of wine. That isn’t a wise idea, as I normally literally never drink. It was one of my staff’s leaving party and the other staff dared me to drink to it. I only had one gulp of red wine and one gulp of white wine, but I was definitely feeling the effect. Call it placebo, I don’t care.

I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The staff who is retiring took the remaining wine home with her, so we don’t have that now. We do have several types of soft drinks and a type of orange-peach juice. We also, of course, have coffee or tea. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, thankfully, all clients who had cold symptoms last week, tested negative for coronavirus and are on the mend now. I am still a bit sniffy but other than that feel fine.

If we were having coffee, I would share that now, unfortunately, my husband is sick. For this reason, I couldn’t see him over this week-end again. I hope he’s better by next week, both for his sake and mine.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I made an experimental soap yesterday. I made it with real coffee grounds and espresso fragrance oil. I was planning on making a soap for the staff who’s retiring, but didn’t have time to make one for myself to try out first. Here’s hoping the staff will like it.

If we were having coffee, I would then go on and on about my new essential oil diffuser and my new oils to go in it. I had a blend I made myself in it yesterday, which I call lime love. It uses lime, lavender and ylang ylang essential oils.

If we were having coffee, I would also share how happy I am with the weighted blanket I’m allowed to try out for two weeks. Last night, I didn’t sleep well due to once again hyperfocusing on a project – my umpteenth attempt at blogging in Dutch. However, I did feel more rested than usual when I woke up.

Lastly, if we were having coffee, I wouldn’t have coffee at all, as I’m wanting to go to bed soon. I love lying in bed with my essential oil diffuser on with a relaxing blend in it, some soothing music in the background and my weighted blanket over me.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

Negative

This is probably going to be a quick post. Like I said on Sunday, I was interrupted while blogging by a staff to tell me I and all other clients with cold symptoms were from then on in room-based isolation. We would be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Thankfully, yesterday morning, the facility’s nurse came to test us. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was okay. I am however pleased to inform you that I, as well as all other clients, tested negative for coronavirus!!!

It was no fun being in room-based isolation. The hardest part, for me, was the fact that staff had to go to each client’s room for individual support rather than combining care activities, so there was effectively less time for each of us. The staff who had come to inform me of the isolation, said I could press the call button as often as needed. Well, press the call button I could, but that didn’t guarantee a staff would have time to come.

Yesterday, I landed in a rather bad crisis. Initially, I had been really upset and crying and screaming. Then one staff came to inform me that she wasn’t wearing protective clothes and the staff who was, would come “in a while”. That’s a rather unclear comment to make to an autistic person. I freaked out and became destructive.

For those asking why that staff wasn’t wearing protective clothes, staff need to change into different protective clothing when visiting each person suspected of coronavirus separately. They also need to leave the protective clothing at the client’s doorstep. After all, suppose my snot gets onto the staff’s protective clothing and they then go help someone who isn’t showing symptoms. Then that person runs extra risk of contracting COVID-19. You see, over half of the clients did not show symptoms.

Thankfully, the staff in protective clothing came about ten minutes later. She was able to comfort me a little.

Today at around 2:15PM, I heard the day activities staff tell another symptomatic client that he was free to leave his room. I thought I heard her say that “all is well again” or something like that, but I didn’t dare hope I was negative too. Well, I was! The first thing the staff asked when telling me everyone had tested negative, was whether I wanted to go for a walk. Of course I did.

We also had French fries at the facility’s cost to celebrate the good outcome. I was almost writing “positive”. It’s a positive outcome indeed that everyone was negative!

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 20, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I want to tell you more about my life right now. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The image above is taken on a bridge over the local channel. I’m not there right now and in fact did not go out for a walk today at all. I did drink coffee. And pure green tea – not the matcha powder type. If you want any, you can grab some. There’s also cold water in the fridge. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that it was my and my husband’s ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. I wasn’t able to visit him though, because I have a cold. At first I wasn’t sure whether just a cold means I need to stay home, but my husband sent me the COVID-19 FAQ from the health authorities that said I had to. Strangely, a staff who has a cold slightly milder than mine, was working this morning anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did send my husband a card with a photo of me in it. He appreciated it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I just got interrupted while writing this post by a staff to tell me several other clients show cold symptoms. I already knew this, but it means we’re from now on being cared for in our rooms. We’ll get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, maybe today but I don’t think so.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am loving learning more about essential oils and soap making. I downloaded three books on the topic of essential oils from Bookshare yesterday. Of course, since I don’t have a microwave or stove in my room, I won’t be able to make soap while we’re still being isolated. However, I do have my essential oil diffuser and oils here, so I can make my own diffuser blends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I requested my staff bring me some coffee cups so that I can make Senseo coffee in my room. I mean, staff do come here to deliver our meals and help us whenever we need it, but they do need to wear protective clothing when entering our rooms. I think that’d be a bit annoying for them if they had to bring me coffee.

What else is new? A lot really, but all seems futile now that we’re in room quarantine. For those who pray or send positive vibes, do get those prayers/healing vibes/etc. coming our way.

What have you been up to lately?

Pandemic Positives

Today, Fandango asks in his weekly provocative question wehther the need to quarantine as a result of COVID-19 has made you a better person.

Lockdown here started in the middle of March with restaurants acutely closing their doors, school closures and, a week later, a no-visitors policy in nursing homes and care facilities. I couldn’t see my husband for nearly three months. Then we could see each other, but we had to keep our distance as much as possible.

Life more or less returned to some sembleance of normal at the end of June. Still, people are scared. I, not so much, though I do take COVID-19 seriously. There are still certain restrictions, most of which don’t affect me too much.

The main thing affecting me was not being able to see my husband. This certainly made me appreciate our very special relationship even more than I appreciated it already. I mean, I chose to go into long-term care last year, of course not knowing that this would mean not seeing my husband for a few months. However, I doubt most marriages would survive even that decision, let alone the consequences. I attribute the success of our marriage mostly to my husband’s everlasting love, but I do deserve some credit for it too.

In general, too, the pandemic has made me more appreciative of what I do have. I am physically healthy and so are my loved ones. In April, a man at the home below me died of coronavirus. Though he was in his 70s, this shocked me a little. My father is in his 70s too, so I’m all the more grateful to still have him.

Other than gratitude, I think the pandemic taught me some level of creativity. Before the lockdown, I found it hard to connect to my husband when I didn’t see him. Now we call each other multiple times a week and text multiple times a day. Of course, I could’ve done that before too, but out of need grew the solution.

I also read somewhere that some people are particularly happier now than they were before the pandemic. I have to say so am I. The reasons may not be related to the pandemic at all, as I’ve also finally settled into the care facility and such.

In general though, I think the pandemic has had and continues to have negative effects on the world, of course. However, if it affected me personally at all, it’s positively. By this I don’t mean my economic, social or health status, of course. Though I’m still financially secure and healthy, no-one knows whether this will remain this way given the huge economic costs of the pandemic. I’ve just become a more positive (or should I say less negative?) person.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 6, 2020)

Welcome to another Sunday and another edition of my #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s past 8PM here, so I’ve had all my coffee for today. Still, if you’d like a virtual cuppa, that’s fine with me. We also have two flavors of Crystal Clear soft drink, neither of which I like, in the fridge, as well as my favorite Dubbelfrisss: apple and peach. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m still a bit tired. Like I said on Friday, I was sick on Thursday with diarrhea, nausea and a low-grade fever. Thankfully, the fever was gone by Thursday evening and so far hasn’t returned (yes, I did get it checked). However, I’m still very tired. I wasn’t yesterday. It could be a delayed case of sleep deprivation, as Friday night I got only a few hours of sleep.

If we were having coffee, I would share that yesterday, we had another online meeting of the cerebral palsy charity’s chapter in my province. It wasn’t as eye-opening as the one we had in July, but it definitely was interesting. We discussed whether COVID-19 has a more severe impact on CP folk than on the general population – the consensus was that, unless you have co-occurring breathing issues, it doesn’t. Then we discussed fear of suffocating and the reasons for our CP. Some of the participants were oxygen-deprived at birth. Some were not (like me) and some had no idea. From there, we discussed whether it’s useful to have access to your birth-related medical information, since CP occurs before, during or shortly after birth. Overall, I loved connecting to other people. In October, the CP charity will organize some online activities in place of the CP day that would’ve taken place on October 31 if not for the coronavirus crisis.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I miss my husband. Like I said on Friday, he couldn’t take the risk of coming by. I really hope we’ll be able to see each other next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there were quite a few new staff, student staff and people orienting at becoming staff at my home this past week. It was a little chaotic sometimes, because the staff need to explain a lot to these new people.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I had ice cream for dessert yesterday and today. There was hardly any custard and no flavored yoghurt, so I used that as an excuse. I could’ve eaten plain yoghurt of course, but didn’t. I loved the ice cream!

What’s been going on in your life?

COVID-19 Reality Check: It’s Still Not Over

So like I said earlier today, I had a low-grade fever yesterday. I didn’t think much of it. I guess the reality that COVID-19 is far from over yet, hasn’t hit home yet. My husband was immediately worried. I may’ve worried him too much by my wording. I mean, there’s a word for a low-grade fever that I should have used, but I said I had a slight fever instead.

I asked my husband whether he could come tomorrow, now that I no longer have a fever. He said no way and got a little annoyed with me for even raising the issue again. He said if I do have COVID-19 and infect him and then his father, my father-in-law could die. Or if I do develop symptoms again when at my husband’s and my house in Lobith, I won’t be allowed to come back to the care facility. I understand, but it’s hard.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic having hit the Netherlands, I was somewhat optimistic about its progress. I mean, I predicted that, by September 2020, vacations would still be discouraged but the virus would pretty much have left anyway. It hasn’t.

Then in mid-May, life more or less went back to normal within the care facility for me. At the end of June, the restrictions on visitors were practically lifted altogether. I mean, I’m supposed to call the facility after having been in Lobith to make sure I’m still symptom-free and so is the care home, but I don’t.

In early August, my mother-in-law came by and we went to sit outside of a restaurant for a cup of coffee. No-one asked for our contact details or checked that we met the 1.5m distance requirement. I later heard the rules were made stricter again at the end of that week, but I still am not seeing much of a difference.

My care facility went mostly back to normal over the summer. I mean, the home a floor below me got infected with COVID-19 in late March. After that, staff were not allowed to work on multiple units and the night staff were to keep their distance as much as possible. After all other homes stayed clear, staff are now allowed to work on multiple units again, even in the same day. Staff, except for the night staff, never stopped hugging clients or holding their hand. Some staff wear face masks some of the time. Most don’t.

My husband commented earlier this evening on terraces being packed full of people in Elten, Lobith’s neighboring town across the German border. He sarcasttically wondered whether they had the vaccine already. They don’t.

My husband is scared. He may be more cautious than most, or at least than me. That’s a good thing though. He wants to protect himself and his loved ones. I understand.

Meanwhile, I want to go back to normal – the old normal. I saw a writing prompts book on coronavirus today in Apple books and decided to get it, even though in my mind, COVID-19 was in March, not September. Yet it is.

Mama’s Losin’ It

PoCoLo

Gratitude List (September 4, 2020) #TToT

Hi all on this fine Friday. How are you doing? I’m a bit tired, but want to write anyway. Today, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list. It’s been a while. Here goes.

1. Hamburgers! On Saturday, my husband took me to our house and we had hamburgers for dinner. I loved them, even though they’d come from the freezer.

2. Reading. At the beginning of the week, I did a lot of reading and had a lot of fun with it. I slowed down a bit (or a lot) as the week progressed, but am hoping to get some reading done over the week-end.

3. Steptember. I started the charity physical activity event for cerebral palsy on Tuesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, I got my 10K steps in. I also collected more than twice the money I’d hoped for already.

4. Going to the marketplace. On Wednesday, my staff took me to the marketplace. We bought chicken and fish for lunch and I bought a lot of candy. I particularly loved the chicken!

5. Paracetamol and rest. The next day, I was ill with a low-grade fever, nausea and diarrhea. It’s probably because I ate too much stuff on Wednesday. Thankfully, paracetamol helped some and so did resting.

6. Soothing music and blankets. I’ve been loving relaxing in my bed with a calming music playlist on on Spotify. I’ve also been loving being able to have blankets on my bed again without it being too hot.

7. Talking to my husband. He most likely won’t come by this week-end because of my fever, but I loved talking to him nonetheless.

8. Feeling better both physically and mentally. I’m slightly depressed and tired still, but the sickness has gone and I don’t have a fever anymore. That’s good, because otherwise I may’ve needed to be tested for COVID-19.

9. My staff. A staff I can’t really get along with well, is leaving at the end of the month. She’s going for early retirement, so really I should be happy. I wasn’t at first, because I’d gotten it in my head that she was leaving because of me. Thankfully that’s not the reason. I had a meltdown on Wednesday because of it and this staff tried to comfort me.

10. Okay weather. Yesterday, it was raining all day, but I was ill anyway. The rest of the week has been okay: not too cold or windy and mostly dry.

What have you been grateful for lately?

My Daily Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

And still it’s incredibly hot here! It did start to rain last night, but it’s not cooled down much in my room. It’s already past 9PM here and I don’t feel like writing. Or doing anything else. But I bet I cannot sleep either. Therefore, I blog.

Today’s #FDDA prompt is “your daily routine”. My daily what, I ask?

Unlike many other autistics, I am not one for clear routines. In the mental hospital, I would just lie around and do whatever, just like I see many people do now during the COVID-19 lockdown. I didn’t have a set time I’d go to bed or get up. I didn’t have a daily personal hygiene routine, as I hated most personal care tasks and there was no-one to say I needed to do them. Well, there was the staff, of course, but it was their view that I was responsible enough to decide these things for myself.

Once I lived with my husband, I did go to a day center each weekday morning. This meant I did have to get up at the same time each day. I did have an okay morning routine back then, as my husband had instilled the importance of personal care into me.

Then I went into long-term care. Pre-COVID, I still had somewhat of a routine, as I was expected to go to the day center each weekday (except for every other Friday). I tried to maintain such a routine when the day center closed, but I cannot seem to really.

Still, I have some set activities I do each day. I go for a walk in the morning and one in the afternoon too. We also have coffee, lunch and dinner at the same time each day. Now that it’s hot though, I don’t go for walks and often skip coffee break too.

These last few weeks, the days have truly been merging into each other like time didn’t really matter. I do still try to blog most days, usually around the same time.

Sometimes, I wish I had more of a strict daily routine. That’s not really possible though and I’m not sure it’s really what would be best for me.

What about you? Do you thrive on routine?

A Year Ago

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to look back at a year ago. Where were you then? What has changed and what hasn’t? Let me share.

A year ago yesterday, I had my intake interview and tour of the care facility in Raalte. We visited the sensory day activities group and snoezelen® room, as well as the home selected for me. At the home at the time was a respite placement for a man I knew from the day center I went to at the time. He greeted me excitedly: “Astrid!” He then went on to babble “respite fun”, “Mommy and Daddy vacation”, etc. I was shown around two rooms, one this man’s room at the time and one another client’s room. I think that client got moved to another room when I came and I now have his room.

Even though I had been invited on a tour of the facility, I didn’t know for at least another month that I had actually been accepted. The reason was that the staff all had to agree they could provide me adequate support and care, given that my needs are in some ways very different from the other clients’. They, after all, all have severe to profound intellectual disability.

Now, a year on, I’m settled nicely into the care facility. I didn’t get to attend day activities at the group they’d shown me. Now though, and for at least another two months, we get day activities at the home.

I think also around a year ago today, my husband had first seen the house in Lobith we ended up buying. I ended up moving to the care facility in the same week we got the keys to our new house. As such, a year ago today, I still lived in the tiny village rental house with my husband.

As I look back, I keep praising God that this whole COVID-19 thing didn’t happen last year. Even though the day center I attended at the time is slowly opening its doors again, community support is still mostly phone-based. I am forever grateful I got my long-term care funding approved last year.

In other news, the weather is drastically different now from last year. Last year, all weather records were broken with temperatures rising to 40°C. Now we’re lucky to reach 20°C and have a few hours of no rain each day.

How is your life different now from last year?

Mama’s Losin’ It