The Virus Diaries: Day Zero

March 15, 2020 at 12:01 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

Here in Canberra we’ve had fire, toxic air, floods, and record-breaking hail (pictured). Now it’s pandemic time.

Trigger warning: discussion of severe depression

I’m immuno-compromised in a few different ways, the most obvious of which is that I’m diabetic. At the moment, that means my chance of dying if I get the covid-19 virus is around 7% (without allowing for fibromyalgia or any of my other health issues).

Things escalated quickly here in Australia over the last few days as thousands of events were cancelled and people continued to panic over toilet paper. Now’s as good a time as any to mention that I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder. Sometimes the experience of anxiety can actually be helpful at a time like this, because I’ve spent many years sorting rational from irrational thoughts (people with anxiety KNOW they’re stressing excessively over minor things, but our bodies continue to send panicked messages through physiological symptoms, which is super fun) and in many ways it’s like I’ve trained for this moment. In other ways, not so much.

My favourite thing about the covid-19 virus is that it doesn’t tend to hit kids very hard. So it hasn’t triggered a full-on Mama Bear reaction, or you know I’d be crash-tackling anyone who coughed in a public place and pouring bleach over them. [It’s worth noting here that I have been coughing in public plenty, due to one of my various non-infectious complaints. Please don’t crash-tackle me or pour bleach over me.]

Obviously, if someone hurts one of my kids, they die. That’s just science.


So Chris (my husband) told me last night that he had a sore throat and felt “heavy” in the chest. We slept in separate beds, having long since agreed that if anyone in our house was sick we’d separate me from the rest (which is now an official recommendation for anyone immunocompromised). He only just woke up (it’s 11am) so we haven’t taken his temperature yet today, but we have already checked him for fever (last night) so it’s a good thing I thought ahead and bought thermometer covers. He didn’t have a fever last night, so he’s almost certainly fine, but of course we’re being careful. I’m not the only immunocompromised person in the world.

I wouldn’t call myself a panic buyer, but I would definitely call myself a covid prepper. (You can judge me or admire me, as you like.) I expected to have more time to slowly build up supplies of long-life milk (and yes, toilet paper) but I do have quite a bit of food. If this is the moment when our family starts a period of self-isolation, we’re pretty well set up.

Last night I found out that some hospitals in Italy are not letting older patients have respirators, because there simply aren’t enough to go around and older patients are less likely to recover and more likely to need respirators for longer. That is absolutely horrifying, and for more than simple human decency. Like I said, I’m diabetic. That means every infection takes longer to heal. And I’m a ‘bad’ diabetic, too. I’m very very overweight, and my eating habits are enough to make any diabetes specialist swoon in horror. There are several surprisingly rational reasons for me to cheerfully continue eating like an Oompa Loompa.

First, chocolate and lollies are delicious.

Second, I’m not coping. With anything, really. I’m literally afraid of spending more than a few hours with my own children (due mainly to fibromyalgia and my average stress level being at around 90% so it’s hard for me to be nice about the 25th request for something the kids are perfectly capable of fetching on their own). I’m afraid to leave my house (heat makes me sick), to see people (I sweat and stink), to stand up (it hurts). I spend most of my waking hours in both pain and fear, mostly fear of more pain. Chocolate and lollies are an essential crutch that helps me do some of the things I really should do each day. I never do everything that I should (eat well, exercise, spend some actual time with my kids, give kids healthy food, deliver kids to school and home again, maybe say/do something nice for my husband, do something that earns money, shower, dress appropriately, brush teeth, brush hair, maintain a moderately clean house) but I do generally manage to shower and to take the kids to and from school, and to not yell or scream or swear directly at anyone, and to organise some kind of dinner for all four of us.

Third, junk food keeps the worse of my depression at bay. If I cut down on junk food, even a little, I get suicidal within 24 hours and homicidal within 48 hours. I lost a little weight before I got married to Chris, and I had to concentrate while driving to remind myself to NOT deliberately cause an accident—and that was when I was physically healthy, childless, not on any weight-increasing medications, and engaged to the love of my life.

Fourth, I’m intolerant of FODMAPS and Salyicylates. Which is to say, dairy, most fruit, most vegetables, any artificial sweeteners, and processed meat. I eat about one serve of fruit a week and one serve of vegetables a day (one or two a week if you don’t count potatoes). That mostly leaves carbs and meat.

So. I won’t be dieting unless I’m also in a padded room with a vitamin drip.

And I’m a little scared that if I get sick at the wrong time, or if ventilators are in short supply, that I will be judged unworthy of full treatment, and will be left to die. And my kids will find out that Mummy apparently cared more about chocolate than being alive to raise them.

That’s a pretty intense worst-case scenario.

(Chris has an extremely calm, naturally content personality. I think he’d cope okay emotionally if I dropped dead, although in practical terms he’s at his best with someone looking over his shoulder a lot because he’s a little TOO calm and content at times. Obviously, for all my faults, the kids are way better off with both of us.)

I’m feeling super panicky today, in case you can’t tell. A part of me just wants to start self-isolating the whole family immediately (partly just to dive into the not-so-nice experiences that are likely to happen sooner or later, instead of waiting in suspense).

Here’s another picture of our cat, Zipper.

Resource of the day: A meal that you can make with rice, frozen salmon, frozen peas, frozen corn, maple syrup, sesame seeds, and sesame oil (ie all stuff that can be stored for months before they’re cooked):


cooked rice

salmon fillets

peas and corn

sesame oil

maple syrup

sesame seeds

1. Defrost salmon and marinate it in the maple syrup and sesame oil (about a tablespoon of each). Anytime between ten minutes and a day is fine. Line a tray with aluminium foil and chuck the salmon on it in a moderate/hot over for 5-15 minutes depending on how you like it.

2. Put leftover marinade in a fry pan with rice and vegetables, and mix/fry it until salmon is done.

3. Put rice on plates with salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Eat.


Recommended donation of the day:

Buy a book by an Australian small press. I recommend Odyssey Books or Shooting Star Press. They will post it to you, so you don’t need to leave the house. A lot of small businesses and small authors are suffering as our fairs and festivals are cancelled.

You can buy stuff from me directly here. I still haven’t recovered financially from the events of last summer (and we were relatively unscathed).

Recommended personal action of the day:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds before leaving the house and after returning home. (If you’re doing that already, good!)

Today’s recommended item to hoard:

Easter eggs. Go ahead and hoard some Easter eggs, since the shops are likely to close at some point (possibly causing a shortage and/or sudden panic buying) and if you have kids stuck at home at Easter, you can easily hide eggs around the house and yard and that will definitely satisfy the little monsters.

[Editor: Shops aren’t going to close. Not even if we go on full nation-wide lockdown.]


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