Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Relief: June 4 - 30, 2020

June 4 Dan was discharged from the hospital with a prescription for Doxycycline. That seems to have cured him, fingers crossed. All bloodwork was negative so it’s very much a mystery why his fever kept coming back. For now, an unsolved mystery, but Dan is feelin' fine.

First meal after hospital food - BLT and Diet Coke

This week felt like a return to normal with eye doc, dentist, car service appts. Knowing what day of the week it was for something other than trash day was wonderful. While we were free, we enjoyed lunches out in Sacramento. Less traffic and fewer people in these places, but it was nice to be out getting something accomplished. Mask wearing appears to be taken much more seriously in Sacramento than El Dorado County.

Mid month we walked the 8.8 miles around Jenkinson Lake which took us 5 hours. Our miles/hour are always slow around that lake, but this time we must have been crawling. We made it but our bodies definitely aren’t used to that amount of exercise. We both need to build up our endurance.

Since the park/lake had recently opened, it was packed with people like it was a holiday weekend. The trail was bustling and camping and day use sites were full. Way before we arrived at the waterfall, we could hear children's shouts and loud voices. I have never before seen so many people here.

We’re hoping to take a road trip in September with the goal of canoeing on the barrier lakes with Dan’s cousin Gary and his wife. Because I’ve never canoed we returned to Jenkinson Lake several days later to rent a canoe and try it out. I have kayaked several times and except for the method of paddling, canoeing didn't seem too different. It was so hot and a great day to be on the lake.

Seeing the shoreline from the waterside was so different from hiking the trail around the lake. We saw so many water birds--the usual like mallards and Canada Geese, but also a female Wood Duck and her babies sunning themselves on a log. Wood Ducks are not normally found here. Sadly, my photo of the family was taken with my cell phone which doesn't hold highlights very well. Next time ...,
Wood Duck Mom and Babies

We celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary at the end of June with a fabulous dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants in Sacramento. It felt safe and comfortable to eat there knowing that whatever precautions needed to happen did happen.

The visiting pregnant doe gave birth to a fawn somewhere beyond our cleared woods. One day when we were walking our cats, Pandora began doing a low-predator crawl down the hill while I held on to her leash. I stopped her when I saw the doe and her almost newborn fawn just inside the wooded area quietly moving away. The fawn was so new that it couldn't straighten its legs. A few days later we were walking our cats in the cleared area but trying not to get too close to where I'd seen the mom and baby. But somehow, we were too close and suddenly the cat-sized fawn began running around in a panic sometimes falling down as its legs gave out. Pandora was straining at the leash while I wondered if she wanted to play with the fawn or chase it down like a cheetah and feast on its little legs. The fawn disappeared into the woods. Since that time, we've had no fawn sightings but we've seen mother deer when she visits our apple trees.

Dan is still clearing/thinning our woods. Pandora and Syd find a lot to interest them in the piles of brush waiting to be chipped. 

Our garden, so far, is a success. The three tomato plants have ripening tomatoes. I've already harvested a handful of Sungold cherry tomatoes, basil, and a little arugula. The larger tomatoes will be ready very soon. I'm still working on sourdough bread with occasional success and have added pan pizza to my repertoire.

With June came the lovely gardenia fragrance scenting warm mornings and evenings. While most of our blooming plants are finished by the end of May, June brought flowers from the chaste tree, butterfly bushes, more rose blooms, and the deep blueness of hydrangea flowers. 

Subsequent to the killing of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, rumors of violence were flying around the internet even landing in small town Placerville. Many merchants boarded up their windows and doors just in case. When we drove through Placerville headed to the hospital on June 2, the shops were still boarded up. By the time Dan was discharged on June 4, the boards had begun to come down. All protests in Placerville were nonviolent.

In prior journals I've mentioned the hanging man dummy as a remnant of the Gold Rush era. In 1848 at the start of the 1849 Gold Rush the town, now known as Placerville, was a mining camp called Dry Diggins. In 1849 after being found guilty by a jury, three white men were hanged together for murder, robbery, etc and the town became known as Hangtown perhaps as a warning to would-be thieves and murderers. By 1854, the city was the 3rd largest city in California and since residents had been lobbying for a name change since at least 1850, it was given the more presentable name of Placerville. Many mining camps that became towns had quirky names. The city of Ione was once called Bed Bug, until the miners realized they'd never get a woman to come to a town called Bed Bug.

The hanging man dummy, which is private property, may have seen its last days. Unfortunately, a noose is part of the city seal and also shows up on several downtown businesses. It is time for those symbols to go. Even the 1854 residents weren't happy about the Hangtown reputation. 

The Placerville Farmers' Market opened on June 6. It was a month late in opening due to the pandemic. Most shoppers and vendors wore face coverings of some kind. So glad it's back.

So, how did El Dorado County's Covid numbers do in June? The number of positive cases doubled from May, and there were increases in all age groups. Mask wearing seems to be a rare event in Placerville amongst both merchants, restaurants, and visitors.

I took the below photo on June 4, the day Dan got out of the hospital, the day we had to pick up his prescription from the pharmacy on Main St. There was not one mask on any of the people shown here and no social distancing. They are all in the fastest growing demographic of rising Covid-19 cases.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Worries - May 1 - June 4, 2020

Audrey III
May was pretty much like April with cat walks, photos of cats, and photos of our yard. The weather was odd for this late in the Spring with alternating periods of hot days, rainy days, a thunderstorm, and days cold enough to fire up the woodstove. The cats are well and the yard is progressing toward its summer state. One big difference is that Dan became ill--multiple times.

Since the beginning of our March 15 shelter-at-home phase, anytime either of us coughed or sneezed it was cause to wonder was this it? Had it found us? The thought was fleeting, but still it was there. Something more fleeting found us in the first week of May. Around May 6 Dan became extremely fatigued. He napped a lot during the day which didn't seem that unusual because while Dan is normally the Energizer bunny, after a long spurt of activity, his body crashes forcing him to take it easy.

After two days of intense fatigue, we decided check his vital signs. Unfortunately, our thermometer was dead. Amazon was no help as every thermometer I tried to order wouldn't arrive until sometime in June or July, but our local pharmacy had thermometers. I masked up and headed out. The pharmacy until recently was open only for drive-up service. Park in a space, call, and a pharmacy employee would bring your medication out to you. Now, it is open for walk-in customers, but masks are optional. Inside I bought a thermometer and, happy day, a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Back at home, a 101.2 fever was confirmed Thursday evening.

With his fever and a racing pulse, the cats and I moved into the guest room after a discussion with the on-call advice nurse and the on-call doctor. Friday morning we spoke with our fabulous doctor who as luck would have it was working the "sick" clinic in Folsom. It was one of her two days a month that she was scheduled to be there. She put us on the books for 10 am.

The Dignity Health parking lot of the "sick" clinic was a triage zone with a person directing patients to either the sick clinic, well clinic, ob/gyn clinic, etc. We parked in the "A" space for the sick clinic and stayed in the car. Very shortly our doctor and another medical professional, both completely covered head to toe in protective coverings, N95 masks, and face shields came out to get Dan. I had to wait outside. It felt a lot like taking Pandora Cat to the vet in March except scarier.

Dan said they took his vital signs and did an invasive Covid-19 swab test in both nostrils. Then, our doctor delivered Dan back to me at the car. Our doctor advised that I also have to behave like I have the virus at least until we know the results. This episode, no matter how it comes out, has made me realize how frequently these dramas happen and that we have no idea what is going on in other people's homes or how the drama concludes.

Dan's fever continued through Saturday night. All weekend he remained fatigued but not as bad as earlier in the week. His pulse and blood pressure were normal Sunday morning. Even still, we remained in separate bedrooms. I delivered his breakfast to our bedroom. Lunches and dinners were consumed about 8-10 feet apart on our front porch. To watch a bit of TV, we sat distantly, both masked up, in our living room.

While still not completely recovered on the weekend, Dan continued his brush clearing and yard work. Even a virus can't keep this man down for long.

On Tuesday, May 12, El Dorado County Covid-19 statistics showed that our zip code had its first positive Covid-19 test. Countywide numbers showed that there was one additional person added to the 65+ category. At this point, we still had no confirmation regarding Dan's test but hoped he wasn't the one messing up the previously perfect record for our zip code.

Midday on Thursday, May 14, we finally received the results--NEGATIVE. Dan hadn't had a fever since Sunday and his strength was returning, but before the confirmation we felt that in good conscious shouldn't leave our house/yard. To celebrate the results we ordered a curbside meal pick up from Farm Table. On Friday morning we put on something other than our stay-at-home uniforms and made a trip to the grocery store. It truly felt like a festive event.

So, with all the social distancing hand washing we've been doing, even Dan, how did he pick up a illness that arrived with a fever and zapped his strength? He always says cleanliness is overrated. He said his protective germ layer must have been washed away making him more susceptible to new germs.

About two weeks later a second round of sickness found Dan. It was Memorial Day weekend. At our doctor's suggestion, we went to Mercy's Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic in Sacramento. After blood work, urine tests, and another Covid-19 swab, we were told to stay away from others until the results were available. Three business days later, the results were again NEGATIVE, and Dan seemed to be getting better.

Because of Dan was better, a couple of days later my brother, Leland, stopped by for a breakfast on our porch. He was on his way from California to Michigan to begin a new job with an electric car startup. In between jobs he had been "sheltering-at-home" for about six weeks with another brother (his twin) who lives in Antioch. He was our first visitor since at least mid March.

The next day, a Saturday, Dan's symptoms returned. On Monday, June 1, we had a video conference with his doctor. She ordered a bunch of things to be done on Tuesday (June 2). Before heading out that morning for a chest x-ray, I emailed an update on Dan's condition from the night before. As a result, she directed us to go to the ER at Mercy Hospital in Folsom where all the tests she ordered would be expedited. I delivered Dan to the ER and we were told he would be there at least two hours. They allow no visitors inside. The only way into the hospital is through the ER. The main entrance is now an exit. There is no access to bathrooms for non-patients, and outside there was no shade. I went home to wait. Many hours later Dan called me to report that the hospital was admitting him for observation and testing. I went back to the hospital to deliver a charger and his fleece jacket because he was cold.

Wednesday morning, June 3, Dan said his fever and uncontrollable shivers had returned. He's had many blood draws for testing as well as CT scans and an ultrasound of his spleen. They're keeping him at least another night and will be sending some of his blood to the Mayo Clinic to be tested/cultured. So far, nothing has been identified as an answer as to why his fever keeps returning, but he was discharged from the hospital on June 4 and presently feels good and happy to be home.

In the meantime, virtual visits include playing a digital game, Word Chums, with Dan who is also playing two simultaneous games with our friend Janette, who introduced us to the game, and phone calls. As many others before me have experienced, it is terrible to not be able to visit in person, hold your loved one's hand, or advocate on their behalf because you're not there. The not knowing, the worrying from a distance has been thrust upon us because of the pandemic and the "new normal."

After two nights in the hospital, Dan was released on June 4. Now, we wait for results and answers.

As for me, after about nine weeks without yoga and the gym, I've finally begun to "dabble" with my yoga. I've used yoga as an exercise for over 25 years so I certainly know what to do, but I really liked the mindlessness of losing myself in a class - not having to think about what comes next. So, I hope I can become more regular about yoga and other exercises because I am already losing ground in my fitness level.

Between health crises, I have been looking back at past photographs that I never had time to spend much time with, and I still enjoy marking the progress of our landscaping and garden. With the hot days at the beginning of May the wild lupines in our front yard quickly went to seed. By the end of the month they were dry enough to remove and distribute seeds elsewhere. The sunset rockrose, yellow yarrow, matalija poppy, the yellow hybrid peony (one flower-opened on Mother's Day and lasted one week), spice bush, and rhododendron are all blooming.

Two matalija poppy plants were planted two years ago in the flower bed next to the stairs leading to our front porch/front door. They get just one-gallon of water each week even during the hottest days because they are drought tolerant. Anyway, they have overgrown the flower bed and now almost completely block our porch stairs. I am a little fearful that they are related to Audrey in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and want blood instead of water.

The hundreds of self-seeding coreopsis all over the outer bank of our property came into their dazzling full bloom.

Our snake finding, lizard hunters constantly make me smile with their persistence. Both Syd and Pandora are amazingly forgiving even though their trophies are taken from them. Lizards dive off trees when there is no other way to escape the hot pursuit. A couple have climbed Dan's legs to find sanctuary. We even found one in Dan's pants--after he was already in the house.

Sometimes, we don't get to collect the trophy and it becomes dinner in a beyond our reach spot like the culvert under the road.

So far, our garden is shaping up to be the best ever. We've had a lot of past failures, but maybe with being around, touching the leaves of our tomato plants, giving them sufficient water, handpicking off the tomato hornworms (found about 15 small ones the other day) they are just happier with all the attention. We can't wait to have tomatoes. When I was growing up, we always had a garden and there is nothing better than eating your own juicy, warm-from-the-sun tomatoes.

When it's hot, there's a lot of resting in the shade. There's not a lot of walking when walking cats.

Pairs of House Finches are filling our mornings with song and a pregnant doe has once again decided to use our front porch as a maternity wing.

Janette got me into writing "Vote By Mail" postcards. I've discovered that my handwriting, which used to be lovely, is now horrible. If you don't use it, and I rarely write anything by hand except a check or a grocery list, you lose it. I'll continue writing postcards as long as it's needed. Your vote = your voice. VOTE!

I have continued to make bread, both a no-knead wheat and a sourdough. My handwriting is a lost cause, but I feel I'm getting better at bread making. This month Placerville Food Coop had a full complement of King Arthur Flour.

We're still very cautious about where we go. If distance isn't possible, we wear a mask. As much as possible, I avoid businesses that don't require masks. The CDC's best guess and pandemic scenarios  have found that 35% of those who test positive for Covid 19 show no symptoms. If you wear a seat belt or do anything else that protects yourself or others, why is wearing a mask such a big deal? Think of all the essential workers that need to be protected because the government refuses them any protection.

El Dorado County entered May with 44 cases (4 cases for those 65 and above). By the end of May there were 90 confirmed cases. There is a new age category because mid month 7 children from the same Diamond Springs household tested positive. There was more testing and increases in all age categories. Seems like caution is still advised. The curve hasn't bent or flattened.

Be well, be safe, be kind. Yo soy tu.