Day thirteen in isolation – only 2 days left including today! I have had my second Covid test and fingers crossed all will be well, and I get to be ‘released’ on Saturday. The lovely nurses who check my temperature every day said I’d be carted of to quarantine by now if it was positive so I can feel quite relieved about that one.
From time to time I have let the frustration of confinement get to me, but have managed to pull my ego back into line and remember to be grateful for everything the New Zealand Government has put in place to care for me for two weeks. However it hasn’t always been easy.
Basic needs are met here in isolation.
My health progress is checked daily, usually by a temperature check and a short discussion about noticing any symptoms each morning. No one came to do this yesterday, but finally well after dinner around eight o’clock a solitary nurse turned up. If I had Covid I could have been gravely ill by then, but luckily I don’t as far as I know. I keep being asked the same questions every day, which are actually difficult to answer because they have only once ever got my dietary requirements right for a whole day. I choose to be grateful and try not to dwell on these things. I could order my own food in at my own cost.
I have a hotel room all to myself. I have seen families with tiny babies and energetic toddlers, and pouty teenagers. God forbid I could have been made to share with a screaming baby for a fortnight. The littlies have the tiniest cutest face masks and struggle a lot with social distancing. How confusing it must be for them.
Above: Views of the hotel plaza from my floor, out my window in two directions, and of the Auckland Sky Tower nearby.
My hotel room has the best shower, a bed like a cloud, a television with all the local channels and sky movies, tea and coffee making equipment and a fridge. I have been able to get my own breakfast things so at least I start the day with the right food going through me, and everything else is incidental so I can pick and choose. I am in a room catering to disability needs, so there are lots of railings and a walk in wet room in the bathroom. I didn’t need any of this but I guess it was the room they had free. It does mean that I have to dry the floor down each day because I can’t work out for the life of me how to keep the water from escaping the shower area. However it also means I can hand wash some clothes because I have a good space for drying my things. I’m entitled to have two bags of laundry done for free but they’re very small so I’ve reserved them for the items I can’t wash myself. I just wish I’d hand washed a favourite jersey. It will never be the same again.
I get to exercise. Now this can be hard to be grateful for. There are two areas available for just walking. The first one is the Sky Deck which is a huge wooden decking with a pebbled garden surrounding it looking over Auckland’s famous sky tower. About ten people can be out there at once to walk around it for forty five minutes. This has to be booked in advance because it’s controlled by the Army who meet and escort you there, and remain to make sure everyone behaves. I guess after the meals for a few days it’s tempting to jump off! I shouldn’t joke, I have no idea about people’s situations coming here, and repatriation is not an easy choice for anyone, and they have had a few escapees so far, but not from this hotel. I have only been out on the Sky Deck twice because another person cancelled, and finally a free space this morning. It has become obvious that I would need to be up at six in the morning to book the two days ahead successfully, but I’m sorry that would make the day terribly long here. The other option is any time I like I can walk around the hotel entrance area for as long as I like. This unfortunately is under the floor above it, is outside but awfully dark, right by the road so a bit smoggy, with a building sight crazily noisy across the street. I have yet failed to see how this can be good for me, but for the last few days forced myself to get out there walking briskly for a good half an hour, and I do feel a bit better. I had to abandon it the other day though because someone was out there coughing and sneezing, they sounded miserable. How on earth did they get that past the nurses? Well it might have been hay fever, or even Asthma, but I just couldn’t risk it for Mum. I abandoned that one and went back later when the coast was clear.
We haven’t had a television in Bermuda for two years. Occasionally I think I miss it, but then get a half hour of ‘you will get ill if you don’t do this right now!’ on CNN at the laundry once a week, and realise I don’t miss it at all. I thought it would be exciting to watch New Zealand TV, but really it hasn’t got any better since I left. I watch the news, and The Chase because it challenges my general knowledge in a fun way and then I could take it or leave it. I find I put it on, then mute it when I get sidetracked doing something else, and turn it off later realising I haven’t really watched it at all. If you want to get anything done in life, turn off your TV. You will have so much more time.
The meals have turned up at my door three times a day without fail. I have only had one day that all three meals actually were to the specifications I ordered. For someone like me, it’s terrifying. There is no ingredients list, the supplements used are also things I can’t have, and the hotel is tired if my questions. Considering my diet has been out of my control since leaving Bermuda on 2 September, I’m remarkably well, but looking forward to making my own choices again. I got myself a treat the other night after having to throw away flavoured crisps several times – a big bag of plain chippies just for me, yum! They were salt and vinegar when they arrived, which warranted a phone call to have them replaced. I got the ‘not her again sigh’ and the hotel dutifully brought me the right ones. This got me a bit riled, it’s not my fault. Then later in the evening a treat from the hotel delivered to everyone turned up for completing the first week. I couldn’t eat that either so I ended up in tears. The next day, ego reigned in, tears stifled, I actually got what I ordered for the whole day. As I said it’s only happened that once, but it was enough to keep me going. Isn’t it amazing how tiny things can mean so much, when there is nothing else. I have a real problem with food waste, because I don’t believe there should be any. Unfortunately I have had to throw food out every day I have been here, because when they get it wrong, it’s then contaminated, and can not be taken back or reused. It’s criminal, so many New Zealand families need that food and I’m tossing it in the bin. But to put a different perspective on the situation, a lady I met today from Dubai thought the food was wonderful, and couldn’t wait for lunch. I might just order in a pizza!
Then to throw in a diversion, my lovely husband has had to endure hurricane Paulette in Bermuda, without me! A friend asked if I had a sleepless night. Not at all, I slept like a baby on my cloud. I did however wake when I heard the hurricane shutter click to unlock in the very early hours the morning after. He will tell you that it wasn’t at the same time, but I know it was, because even though I hadn’t heard from him yet, I already knew he was safe. Now hurricane Teddy is on its way. How on earth can they call anything as destructive as a hurricane ‘Teddy’? There should be a law against that one. There has been some damage around Bermuda and he lost his power for a couple of days, but other than that, he and little boat are fine.
So with changing hemispheres, seasons, climates, timezones, food crisis, ill mothers, and a hurricane swept husband, it can be difficult to stay on top of stress. For a self check I like to use the SRRS* for self evaluation, and oh crap I scored three hundred and seven! Considering all of this I’m doing remarkably well, continuing to exercise, using Tai Chi and mindfulness. I don’t feel as stressed as the questionnaire implies I should, so I put this down to the fantastic support I’ve had from my friends and family on arriving here in New Zealand. I am incredibly grateful for your messages and calls. They have certainly extended the Chef’s lifespan that’s for sure!
More soon – Sally
How did I get my stresses score? You could try using this link to access the Holmes and Rahe (1967) Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) questionnaire for identifying major stressful life events. It’s really interesting, but make sure you make the right phone calls if your scores like mine and you feel you’re not coping.