Lent 2020, Days 14 & 15: When anxiety spreads faster than COVID-19.

A screencap taken by Z earlier as she was playing Roblox. Even the “shools” online are closing.

I got a mani and pedi yesterday. I left the shop incredibly stressed. The place, normally in full-swing, only had 4 customers, including me and Z. As I sat getting my nails filed, the phone rang repeatedly with people calling to cancel appointments. The first time I can recall, I saw the nail techs scrolling on their phones, no work to do but looking overwhelmed.

I snapped to attending my nails when Lee, my usual tech, yanked at a cuticle too hard. I pulled my hand away. She apologized. Later I had to ask her to refile a few nails. I wanted an almond shape. She had made three in the sharp stiletto style. They looked like little daggers.

The Uber driver who took us to the shop greeted us wearing a surgical mask. He pulled it off upon taking a cursory glance at us. He got out to open the trunk of his SUV and place my rollator in the back. “You two look healthy, but I just don’t know who I’ll get,” he said apologetically. I asked him if he was sick and he nodded. “Oh, well, I was going to say to pull your mask up over your nose. You were only covering your mouth.” He looked at me appreciatively. He thanked me and then launched into all the ways he’s protecting himself: Lysol, Clorox, hand sanitizer, alcohol, gloves. I nodded to him as he looked between the traffic ahead and the rearview mirror to maintain eye contact with me. I looked away and saw a familiar steepled church through the window. I realized just then I hadn’t been breathing. I exhaled.

I realized just then I hadn’t been breathing.

By the time I got home, I was feeling anxious. After the poor mani, I had watched one of the shop owners snap at the woman, M, who did my pedi. He was angry that she hadn’t been at her station to greet me. I hadn’t been waiting more than 30 seconds before he noticed I was alone and he began yelling for her to come from the back. He was so wound up that I began to try to speak up for her. No matter. She was wrong, he was right, and I wanted to go home. Instead, I sat for the pedicure, getting burned by a file when M rushed to get my toenails in shape. I shut off the massage feature on the cushy seat that had been kneading at the knots in my back. It wasn’t going to help.

I FaceTimed with Kiki from my dining room table an hour later, feeling the tension in my shoulders, neck and head. She became a one-woman news team, updating me with the headlines. Increasing numbers of cancellations and closures, plummeting stocks, more COVID-19 positives across the country.

“Is K making you self-quarantine?” she asked. “Huh? Oh, no, no, he’s not,” I said with knitted eyebrows. She explained that her husband was insisting she do it. He didn’t want to take any chances as she has M.S. “I don’t even know if that would be necessary for me,” I explained, “I’m not on any steroids or any other immunosuppressants, and I’m out of the danger zone post-HSCT.” She shook her head in the negative. “You have an autoimmune disease. Your body is weaker.” I felt a flash of frustration. She couldn’t say with certainty how at-risk I am. I can’t. My doctors aren’t even sure. Everybody is different. Every body is different.

While talking to her, I noticed some of my words were coming out jumbled. After our call, I went to the bathroom as my stomach filled with gas and became sour. I began to feel hot and cold at the same time, and my legs felt weak. I managed to wash the dishes in the sink before taking to bed. Upon arriving home from work and seeing I wasn’t okay, K was concerned. I took deep breaths as I slowly recalled my day, adding that I kept getting texts from friends full of Coronavirus links and Instagram is almost all full of more virus posts.

“What are you scared of?” he asked while sitting at the foot of our bed. “I’m not even scared of the actual virus. I’m scared of everyone else being so scared! People are clearing out stores, running around scared if anyone sneezes, and they’re being mean. The owner snapped at the nail tech and she cut me. It’s like a real time, real life example of people’s fear going viral.” I realized at that point I was speaking normally again. High-pitched and nasally normal.

“And you know what? Most of them, even if they got it, would be fine! Oooh, look at the normies get scared of being sick for a couple of weeks, Well, I’m about this life, this life of illness, and they couldn’t handle it.” I pushed myself up and yelled, “King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me!”

Okay, so yeah, I didn’t say that last part. I did say that part about the “normies,” though. I, in fact, had said something similar to Joe earlier in the week which prompted him to start singing:

Anyway, referring to able-bodied folks so derisively is not one of my finer moments. It’s unkind. It’s also proof I’ve caught the anxiety bug, and I’m vomiting out ugly.

I opted to take last night off from blogging, while keeping my phone off. I couldn’t sleep well, but I didn’t wake up feeling frazzled. I also spent less time reading news sites throughout the day. I washed my and Z’s hair. I then set to work untangling, conditioning and styling. I talked to Joe about interpreting Scripture and how he had told me floating dust particles were actually little fairies when were kids and I believed it until I was 8. And maybe I still kind of do.

I think Kiki may be on to something. I need to self-quarantine. I need to stop the spread of anxiety. Physically, my damaged nerves don’t process it well. Spiritually, it can be downright deadly.

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