The Journey Home, Part 3


I took a deep breath and said, “Excuse me sir, I have just returned from China and am wearing this mask for both of our protection, I just wanted you to know that. Feel free to get up and move if you would like. I won’t be offended.”

He looked at me, leaned forward with his arms on top of his thighs and said, “Nah, it’s ok. I will just stay here and talk to you, it’s ok”

“Ok, I just wanted you to be aware. I’m really surprised nobody is wearing a mask in here but me!”

By now the lady on the other side of him has become interested in the conversation but never says anything. I can tell she is listening as we make eye contact several times. She smiles.

At that moment, I had so many thoughts and feelings.

What a very kind man!
(I might have moved to another seat!)

Maybe this virus isn’t as bad as it was starting to sound! Neither of these people seem concerned about me sitting here.

Should I have stayed in China after all?

Isn’t anyone concerned about the virus, where are the masked faces?

People don’t mind if I sit amongst them, even with my mask covering my face and my visibly obvious bag of bleach wipes, disposable gloves and shoe covers?

What the heck? So then $$$ signs flashed through my head. If you remember, I had chosen to stay in China to save money over the holiday. Shoot! I guess I should have stayed there!

Then quickly shifting to “No, I needed to leave for my sanity.”

Then “How much is a one way ticket back to China going to cost?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m almost home”

I’ve had some pretty good discussions with myself over the past 5 weeks as I have sat in self-imposed and now mandated quarantine.

Well, back to the man who surprised me by staying and offering to talk with me. He lives in Dallas but grew up in Enid. He was going to see his wife in Tulsa who is taking care of her father while he is in the hospital. We had a great conversation until it was time to board. Other than the customs and immigration officers and the CDC workers, he was the first person to actually speak to me once I was “home.” I will always remember that act of kindness.

The next piece of good news was the American Airlines announcement, “Passengers, we have a very full flight, so if you would like to check your carry on, please come to the counter now and we will check it for free.”

I just about ran to the counter to get rid of that bag. I was so happy! The guy behind the counter placed the tag on the bag and bent to pick it up. He said, “Ohh…” and walked a little lopsidedly to put it with the others.

It was a full flight to Tulsa. I always choose to sit near the window. I feel it is “safer” in regards to catching fewer bugs on a flight. Fewer people can make contact as they pass by in the aisle. I know I bump into almost everybody when I board a plane as I am usually carrying a huge bag or two.

I wiped down my seat, arm rests, seatbelt and tray with my few remaining bleach wipes and buckled up.

trying to read this book on my inhales, as my glasses fogged over on the exhale

As it is not a long flight, I thought I would read a few more chapters of my book before I made it to Tulsa. This didn’t last long though. I could only read the pages on my “inhales,” as my glasses would fog over with every exhale, due to the  mask on my face. But it would clear when I inhaled. It didn’t matter how I adjusted my mask, I couldn’t clear my glasses, except for my inhale. Do you know how many pages you can read on an inhale? Not many, it is more like a paragraph and if I got to a really good part on the page, I held my breath so I could finish the paragraph before I exhaled again. I thought I might choke and then have a coughing fit and have all kinds of attention that I didn’t want.

I finally gave up on the book and just listened to the many people sneezing and coughing on this flight. I just cringed and tightened my mask every time they coughed. I didn’t come all this way to get sick now! Besides, I MUST stay healthy!

I wondered at that time, “If the flu kills more people in a year than the Coronavirus (up to now) why don’t people take more precautions? Where were their masks?” I just hunkered down in my seat and hoped the tall guy next to me didn’t start coughing or sneezing. He didn’t talk to me. I’m sure I was a sight. It had already been a 24 hour journey from China door to Tulsa, I traveled with my mask, goggles and gloves, and my hair was sticking up and out every which way, around my mask, over the straps that hold the mask in place, hair was everywhere. Mascara running down my face, eyeliner smudged.

While descending, I looked out the window thinking, “I’m glad to be home.” I wondered why it took me so long to decide. But of course these are just thoughts that go back and forth in my head all the time. I quickly remembered it took a long time to make the decision to go home because I didn’t know if traveling on a plane was safer than staying on self imposed quarantine. I didn’t know what the reception would be like once I arrived. Plus, I was helping Heather with the baby.

Walking up the jet way seemed so free-ing. Mainly because I wasn’t dragging that dang bag behind me, but I was home. Fresh air. Water from the tap. Friends and family. Of course, I didn’t really know what would await once my luggage was in the car and I was home.

So who was brave enough to pick me up from the airport? Don’t worry! I didn’t ask anyone to pick me up. I wasn’t going to UBER or taxi and potentially expose anyone to what I knew I didn’t have, but I guess couldn’t be 100% certain. I was and continue to be very cautious and aware of people around me.

Remember my friend Shack who offered the words of encouragement during the snowstorm and my luggage fiasco? We had pre-arranged my transportation. He and his wife, Annie went to my house to pick up my car and drove it to the airport. My flight landed at 7:35 pm. They were gong to have my car at the curb about 7:45/8:00p.m.

The luggage took a little bit of time but I saw my car outside and went and tossed my 15 pound bag inside. I had to go back inside and retrieve the rest of the bags. Shack waited in the car, and Annie in their truck behind my car.

My 75 pound bag that I hauled all over the place was first to come out. The zipper had ripped open! There was a flip flop and a card from John 3:16 mission placed on top of my bag. It made me laugh for just a second. I can understand how someone might think the flip flop would have been mine since my bag was open, but just the way the flip flop was placed on top of my partially opened bag with the card placed on top of that, was funny to me.

At what point did it get placed on top of my bag? How did the flip flop and the card remain on top of my bag when it came flying out of the baggage claim chute and down the little ramp?

Anyway, I waited for the next two bags, hoping they made it in one piece on the long flight, too. They did. I gathered them up and started pushing them toward the revolving door. One of the wheels on one of the suitcases had come loose by now and it was hard to maneuver. I left the flip flop on the floor for its rightful owner to claim it.

A nice couple saw me kicking my 75 pound, ripped bag, and yelled at me,”Hey you lost something,” while holding the flip flop in his hand. I told him thanks but it wasn’t mine. He dropped it.

I rolled the good bag and dragged the broken one behind me, while kicking the other one to the revolving door. Again, I must have been a sight to see. I waited until the revolving door was void of people trying to exit then pushed, pulled, and kicked my way into the revolving door. I had to keep the bags moving with me. I got to the other side and the one with the loose wheel fell over. I quickly had to get the other two bags out of the revolving door and that one upright. I did it!

The nice couple said, “Bless your heart! Why don’t you ask one of the workers for help? I am sure they will help you.”

My bag that I dragged, pulled, and kicked thru two airports has seen its last airport, it has a hole in the bottom now

“Thanks, it’s ok.” I’m almost home now. I continued to push, pull and kick my way to the curb. It was nice to not have that 4th bag. At that point Shack yelled instructions from a distance about my key fob not working, he had left a Valentine’s gift at my house and yelled, “Welcome home!” He ran toward his truck! I don’t blame him a bit. I was so thankful that they took their Valentine’s evening to rescue me at the airport.
I hoisted the suitcases into the car. Climbed into the driver’s seat and rested my forehead on the steering wheel. It was over. I was home and Blake Shelton’s song, “God’s Country” was playing on my CD in the car. I didn’t remember what I left in the CD player two years ago. It truly is God’s Country. I then flipped it back to K95.5 Tulsa’s New Country Leader Radio station, which is what it was on when I got in the car. Cash and Bradley, the radio hosts gave me a shout out while I was in China.

I drove toward home and for a brief moment thought, “It’s over.”
By the time I reached my street, reality set back in and I thought back to what the CDC officer told me. Someone will be in touch if there is any problem.

By Sunday, I had contact with the local Health Department.


The Journey Home …part 2 (this is to correct the link that wouldn’t work)


As if the face masks, goggles, gloves and such weren’t enough of an ID that we had arrived from China, the unbleached lanyard was then around my neck. We just followed the “From China” signs.

It led us right along and next to the people who were arriving on other flights, not from China. The only thing separating us was a retractable queue rope set on two posts to organize the lines.

We just plodded along in the line walking up to the counter where they took our temperature again. They took the forms, asked where I was going and said, “ok.”

I didn’t have my boarding pass as Air China could not issue American Airlines boarding passes so I had to go to the counter to retrieve that first.

I was excited when they told me I had the whole row to myself! Yea! No one to cough on me, I can lay down and get some rest!

After my brief moment of excitement, I just walked along with the rest of the population scurrying from gate to gate or just sitting and eating dinner waiting on their flights.

There were some people in the airport with masks and some without. I was surprised to see the ones without. I went to the bathroom to scrub my hands, which are so dry now from my continued use of bleach wipes.

I just sat by myself, as I didn’t want to be by anyone who might cough or sneeze and I didn’t want anyone to be by me, just in case! I sat down next to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels to wait for my flight. I wasn’t going to be last call this time!

The smell of Auntie Anne’s is so fresh and delicious that I just couldn’t sit there. I decided to have a lemonade and a pretzel. I went back to my seat. I book off a piece of my pretzel to take a bite. Well, it hit the outside of my mask. I forgot to take my mask off!

I threw that piece in the trash. I didn’t know what kind of germ might be on the outside of that mask. I started to take a drink instead. ARRGGH! You guessed it, I didn’t take my mask off again.

I threw the straw in the bin, (that’s my new word) I learned it from the New Zealander’s I work with in China. Finally, I lifted the mask, took a bite and put the mask back down. I never touched the pretzel with my hand. Finished both the pretzel and the drink and headed to the gate. The line was long. It seemed like it was going to be a full flight. I was concerned about my empty row.

Envying the people i first class as I walked by with my 75 pound carry on and 15 pound personal item in the tight and narrow aisle, only hitting a few people along the way with my bags, I made it to 26A. The window seat. Ho Hum. The two seats beside me were taken. It was ok, the guy redeemed himself when he asked if I needed help with my carry on. He lifted to the overhead compartment. It just so happened the Kansas family from the previous flight were right behind me on the flight. The Kansas husband saw my seat mate take my bag and said, “So you found another person to help you with your bag!” “Yes,” I replied, if I walk around with a sad and pathetic look on my face someone will usually help me!” Though, I guess it was difficult to tell if I was sad and pathetic with my mask covering my face.

Truly, he was just a nice guy offering to help!

He was a young guy traveling with his girlfriend who also had just left Beijing. We had been on the same Air China flight previously. He was from New York but living in Columbia. She was from Columbia. Their stories were much for dramatic than mine. They lost their income due to the virus and couldn’t afford their housing anymore. Their city was in total lockdown only allowing one person in the family to leave the apartment at a time to go to the store.

It was a long flight from Seoul to Dallas, one of the designated airports to allow US citizens entry who had been in China. Bu the conversation was good, yet unbelievable at times.

Upon landing at DFW, the nice New Yorker lifted my bag down from the overhead and even continued to carry it down the aisle. SO HAPPY I WAS! He commented on what must be in the bag as it was so heavy. “How do you carry this?” A girl’s gotta’ do what a girls gotta’ do! I had packed like I wasn’t returning to China! Though, I know I will return as school has to open eventually, I would imagine, and I have to finish my contract. But even if it doesn’t open, I would still have to get final paperwork sorted and such so I could get paid.

Eh. Who knows at this point? No need to speculate. We will all find out in due time.

The New Yorker turned out to be quite the kind soul and gentleman. He carried my bag all the way to immigration where he and his girlfriend were stopped. I guess because she was from Columbia. I thanked him profusely and carried the bag thru the line.

We stop at kiosks now to complete our entry information rather than filling out a card on the flight. GO GREEN! I knew once I entered my information and it spit my “receipt” out, I was in trouble. I had a BIG BLACK X on my receipt.

I guess this was a better way to ID China travelers over the used lanyard in Seoul. I proceeded thru the line, waved to the Kansan’s and continued on. It was my turn at the counter. I took my passport and receipt out of my bag and handed it to the kind man behind the counter. I asked him why he was not wearing a mask. He started off with some story about a vacation and then got sidetracked. I guess he realized the BIG BLACK X meant something more. I had to lower my mask for the photo op. Also, by the way, the mask had to come off at each security check point as well. The “Body handlers” had to inspect the mask. They didn’t touch it, just had to look inside the mask.

The nice agent told me to follow him. I was his first BIG BLACK X. He took me to room and told me to sit down. I waited. He came back out and said come on back. A lady jumped up quickly and said, “NO! She can not come in here.”

Ok! I decided to stay where I was until they hashed it out. He took me back out and around the corner to another counter. He told me to wait until they called me . The man next to the counter waved me over. I am not really sure of his job, other than to wave me over. The guy behind the counter took my temperature and I filled out another form. I didn’t have my passport or my receipt with the BIG BLACK X anymore. I wasn’t too worried since I was in the USA. I didn’t need a passport to travel any longer.

I was beginning to sweat. So I pulled my mask away from my face a couple of times to get some airflow to my face. The guy behind the counter, who works for the CDC apologized and said he would be finished soon. He was. I went and sat and waited to be called again.

Next, a nice young lady called my name. She even pronounced it correctly. Most people do not. I walked to her counter. I dropped my big heavy bag on the floor. I just couldn’t carry it one minute longer. She had my passport.

She asked me some questions. She already knew my emergency contact persons name. I must have written on one of the previous forms, I didn’t remember, or they are THAT good!. She asked and verified my address, asked where I had been and why? Had I traveled to WuHan? and all those questions. She was very friendly! She asked if I had any questions: My first one was, “Why are you not wearing a mask?” She said as long as I had one, she was ok. Hmmm. Ok.

I asked, “What will the next step be?” We will contact your daughter since she is your emergency contact to relay any information that is important regarding your status.

“Like what?” If anyone is contagious on this flight we will notify you immediately.

“How immediately?” Oh it will be really quick. Within a day or so.

“So, if I hear from anybody it won’t be good news?” Well, not necessarily, it just means you were on a flight with someone who was contagious.

“That doesn’t sound like good news to me.” I thanked her, took my passport grabbed that dang bag and headed to security, again.

Unpack, bin everything, repack. Move on. Each airport is different as far as screening goes. I carefully packed all electronics and such in my 15 pound bag. But this time something was of concern in the 75 pound bag. Unpack. They didn’t find anything. Repack. Drop the bag to the floor and just drag it behind me. There were no wheels on this bag, and the handle was just long enough that I didn’t have to bend over too far to drag it along. Remember!!! I DO NOT PUT THINGS ON THE FLOOR! Disgusting!

I didn’t care anymore. I dragged that bag all over looking for the sign that would show me my gate. I walked forever looking for it. Where was the sign? No clue. Finally I found an open counter and they looked up Flight 2400 to Tulsa. It was in terminal B, gate 12. I walked to the sky train, dragging that bag along behind me, mask on face, sweat pouring down my forehead, armpits beginning to smell a bit, but kept plugging along.

I got a few stares, but this time there was no Kansan or New Yorker to help me. I found my way up the escalator and onto the train headed to B terminal.

Oh dang it, what number was it? 24? Yes, I thought it was 24. So I got off the sky train at gates 21-30. I walked down to try and find another board with the gate number. I’m not sure why they are so difficult to find at DFW, but again. No board in sight. No counters open. I walked left then turned and walked right. Closed counter. No board. Closed counter.

Oh my word! Did I really need what was in that bag? I stopped and had a rest. When I was ready, I traded arms with the bags, and carried both of them again. I finally found an open counter. I asked if she could look up FLIGHT 2400 to Tulsa. She said, (well you, the reader already know which gate as I mentioned it above) “B12.” I was at 22. “It’s just right down there,” she said.

Oh no, it wasn’t just right down there.

I dropped the bag and continued to drag it through the airport. Finally I saw B12. I couldn’t get there fast enough. I found a seat and sat down where I wouldn’t be next to anyone. I was so thirsty because I hadn’t had anything to drink on the flight. I didn’t want to use the plane’s toilet, just in case. Crazy, but that’s me. I don’t like germs. I don’t even use the exposed part of the toilet paper that hands from the dispenser. I tear it off and pull down a clean hidden piece.

I debated going to get something to drink but that meant I would have to drag that dang bag with me especially considering they had just announced “Do not leave bags unattended…..”

Should I get a drink? Should I not get a drink? Do I take my bag? Do I leave my bag and take my chances? The counter to the burger place was so close. I could still SEE the bag if I left it. But at this point, they can have the bag!

The battle was going on in my head again. Just make a decision. I got up and walked to the counter leaving the bag behind. I got my expensive drink and returned to my seat. Thank goodness. No problems.

I sat there alone with my cold drink and messaged my friend to tell her I had just dragged my bag all the way across the DFW airport. She was surprised I would do something like that. I would always get onto her when she would put something on the dirty floor or ground.

Uh oh! A man just sat beside me. What do I do? I have a mask. He does not have a mask. He probably hasn’t been in China. I have been in China. I think I should tell him.
I would want to know if I were the man.

I took a deep breath and said, “Excuse me sir, I have just returned from China and am wearing this mask for both of our protection, I just wanted you to know that. Feel free to get up and move if you would like. I won’t be offended.”

He looked at me.

In The Journey Home, Part 3 you will see what his response was to me.


The Journey Home..Part 2



The Journey Home


 

“I’m going to go home,” said with more certainty than the previous couple of hundred times as Heather and I discussed staying in China or going home.  Heather is my friend upstairs on 18.  I’m on the 15th floor of the apartment building.  She is the one with the little boy who rides the little truck who comes to my door with his music playing from the steering wheel mentioned in a previous post

I had decided to stay in China and help her as long as she stayed.  She couldn’t take the baby outside and go to the store, walk the dogs, etc.  So when she did those things, I watched the baby.  So, this certainty in her voice this time sounded like it was a done deal.  I replied, “Ok, if you are definitely going, then I will get my ticket, too.  We can go together and I can help you on the plane.”

We had talked about flights. I found one to leave on Friday, February 14.  I finally, after much indecisiveness and turmoil, hit the submit payment button and selected my seats.  Done! No more debate.

I messaged Heather the next morning and told her I had my ticket.  Did she have hers?  No.  The baby had developed a fever.  And a rash.  Of course, it was a terrible situation. It was frightening to think where she would go, what would she do, and most importantly what did he have?

Once she got him to a hospital, one that did not accept virus patients, she learned he had roseola.  Much better than the virus!  He was covered in a rash by now. She wasn’t going to be on a flight anytime soon. I felt so bad for them.

The day I left, it began to rain. I love the rain and it so rarely rains in Beijing.  I wasn’t excited about hauling my luggage in the rain, though.  I kept gathering my things and putting it all by the door trying to debate when I should call a taxi.  I looked back out the window and it had begun to snow.  And snow. And snow. 

Ugh. Will flights be delayed? or even cancelled?

I finally head downstairs having packed like I wasn’t going to return to China, though I still have quite a few things there. I had two 50 pound suitcases, a 75 pound carry on, and a 15 pound personal item.  I got them all on the elevator, down the elevator and out the door.  To get to the street, we must walk up a car ramp. It is the only way out right now as all other gates are locked.  By now, the rain had frozen and the snow was coming down in a very wet snow.  

From the parking garage I was able to push one suitcase up the ramp along with the carry on. 125 lbs.  I was slipping all over the place.  I left them sitting at the top of the ramp and walked back for the rest.  I pushed the next one up the ramp along with my bag that had two laptops and an iPad, chargers, a book, passport and everything else I could get inside the bag.  The wet snow was filling my bag with the laptops inside.  I stuffed a blanket over the top to keep them dry.

At the top of the ramp is a gate.  It is just short enough that my bags won’t go underneath it.  I can’t take them around it, either. Arrgghh… 

If I let go of the larger suitcase, it will fall over. Everything else is getting soaked. By now I was sweating and breathing heavily.  If someone comes and takes my temperature now, I’m doomed. 

Finally I was able to tilt the luggage under the gate, one by one and get it to the other side. But now, I had to lift them over a little one foot wall, or walk thru water that was quite high.  I chose to lift them. I got them to the other side. One 75 pound carry on is on one shoulder, my 15 pound bag is on the other and I’m lugging to suitcases behind me. There is now so much snow on the ground that as I pull the luggage along, the snow builds up under the wheels and I am pulling all the snow with me until I can not pull them any further.  

I have to stop and put my bags down. Anyone who knows me, knows I DO NOT put things on the ground or floor.  NO WAY!  So this was painful for me.

I kicked the snow off the wheels and move the luggages to a new path, pick up the other bags and start again.  Ten steps more. Repeat.  Ten steps more. Repeat.  I’m nowhere close yet. 

Finally, I stop and take one piece at a time, pulling the luggage with two hands while kicking the snow away.  I got it to the curb and walked back.  

I needed to call the taxi.  So I did that and it would arrive in 6 minutes.  Hopefully I could get the rest to the curb by then.  

Next piece of luggage wasn’t much easier. It  was still picking up snow. Finally a guard came over and pulled it to the curb making a new path. I was thankful. I Went back for number 3 and 4.  Finally, all were at the curb.

I mentioned it was a wet snow?  I’m drenched. My hair is soaked. My shirt is soaked and my jeans are well on their way to being soaked, too.

I hope the driver doesn’t turn into the McDonalds parking lot because if he does we won’t meet at the right spot, which would mean I would have to haul everything across the parking lot.  He turned into the McDonalds parking lot.By now,

I could not even think about pulling all of those bags over there.  I left all my things there and walked over and pointed to my luggage which had fallen over, so it was hard to see and gestured for him to drive around to the luggage.  Luckily, he gets my game of Charades and pulled around.  Finally, we got everything in his car. 

By now, I am at wits end and I’ve only just left the apartment. I got out my phone and messaged my friend, Shack who is dropping my car off at the airport upon my arrival.  “I’m about to lose my shit!”  And of course, Shack being Shack says, “Keep breathing, Cath. You got this. Think about your grandkids and Amy and Eric and all your friends. It’s worth it, keep your head up and keep moving toward Tulsa.”  Always a breath of fresh air. OK.  I can do this.

It was really snowing then.  The roads were so slick and we didn’t slow down.  There was accident after accident on the highway.  We were all over the place.  We finally made it in one piece. I went to get a cart for my luggage, but first wiped it down with bleach wipes and pushed it back to the taxi. I gathered my things and headed to the airport entry.  

Going inside they stopped me to take my temperature.  I’m wet and cold so I thought I would be ok.  I was.

Now the entry is a downhill ramp.  The cart and I were rolling quickly.  My feet just slid all the way down to the bottom.  The girl at the bottom of the ramp looked a bit nervous as I rolled toward her.  She was motioning me to go left.  I finally got the cart to slow down and turn.  I stopped for another temperature check. It was ok!

Ok, to the gate. I made it and got my boarding pass, unloaded two pieces of luggage and headed to security.  This was such a hassle this go round, as I had two laptops, an ipad, camera, phone, chargers, etc.  All of which need to be unpacked and placed into individual bins.  At least there was no one there, so I wasn’t rushed.  

Unpack, scan, repack. Lug that 75 pound carry on and 15 pound bag to the gate. I looked for my friend, Craig who was supposed to be at the gate near mine.  I could not find him. I called him and he said he had been kicked out.  Now he is a prankster, so I thought he was kidding, but…he wasn’t.  He had booked a flight to New Zealand where he is from by way of Australia.  Australia would not let him transfer through there because of the virus.   So he could not travel.  

I went and sat down to charge my phone.  I wandered around a bit after that. Then went back to my gate.  I sat down. There were quite a few people at the gate. waiting.  I heard “Flight CA 125 last call to Seoul.”   “What?”  Last call ! I never heard the first call.  I never saw anyone move.  Oh My Goodness!

I ran to the gate just in time.  Though it was not far to run as I was right there! How did that even happen?  Oh well, I’m on.  

I’m soaked, I can’t breathe in my mask, but I’m on.  A couple from Kansas and their two kids came on just after me.  They didn’t hear anything either until “Last Call.”  So bizarre.

We are given so many forms to fill out, all health related.  My pen didn’t  work. I tested it before I left, but nothing.  The Kansan gave me a pen from her bag.  I had to wipe it with bleach first.  She understood.  She had some interesting stories to tell, too.  Every region, it seemed had different scenarios playing out.  

An hour and a half later, Air China flight CA125, was about to land in Seoul, South Korea.  We made it out of China. What awaits us out there?  How will we be treated? We are all arriving from China, after all. The rest of the world isn’t accepting many passengers from China.  The nice Kansan husband helped me with my 75 pound carry on. He got it down from the overhead.  We disembarked.

We walk up the jetway and saw a person who could easily be headed toward Mars with his/her white space suit and helmet.  As we arrived to the top of the jetway, we were given a lanyard to wear around our necks identifying us as arrivals from China.  

Wait, who else wore this on their neck?  Ugh, too late, it was now on my neck.  I didn’t get to bleach it. We followed the arrow that read, “From China.”  Where would it take us?

The Journey Home, to be continued. 

I can barely keep my eyes open.


Dark Circles Go Away


 My friend Buster is teaching a class on the “Legal Aspects of Terrorism and Disaster Response” and looking at the legal issues that may arise relating to the Coronavirus outbreak. He has asked me to write about my feelings related to being right in the middle of this viral outbreak while living in Beijing.

I should begin with the first received  advisory from the US Embassy by email ,alerting US citizens of a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan China,

I didn’t really think much about it. Pneumonia didn’t sound so intimidating. After all, this advisory was about Wuhan.  I’m nearly 1000 miles from Wuhan.

Bold dates below reflect an email message from the Embassy.

 

January 7

Health Alert Update – Novel Coronavirus in China

Location: Wuhan, Hankou area

Event: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Watch Level 1 Alert (be aware and practice usual precautions) for an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, preliminarily identified to be caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.

 

January 15

Health Alert Update: Level 1 Watch regarding pneumonia

Location: Wuhan,  Hankou area

 

January 17 

Health Alert Update: Level 1 Watch regarding pneumonia

Location: Wuhan,  Hankou area

 

I wasn’t traveling to Wuhan, so I didn’t think so much about it.

Our last day of school before Chinese New Year was January 17.

Many teachers were headed away and out of China for the holiday.  I chose to stay in China to save money this holiday due to some unforeseen expenses that occurred at home.  Hindsight reveals not the best holiday to stay in place.

We (remaining teachers) didn’t really do too much outdoors, really.  We had gone to see Chairman Mao’s body, (not sure why) went bike skating on the frozen lake and ate at a very delicious dumpling place for lunch.  I went twice for lunch because it was so good.

As the days went on over the holiday, we were starting to hear word about this pneumonia.  People were now dying.

Each day, more dead. Many infected. But what was causing it?

Bats and snakes.  People are eating bats and snakes?  Now, pangolins have been linked to the  spread of the virus. Some Chinese people believe the scales of the pangolins have healing powers.

We are starting to stay inside our apartments more.  We do however, walk the park that is across the street.  There are very few people there. After the walk, we retreat back to our apartments.

The death count is over 100.  WOW!  

Repeat. 

Eat, Sleep. Take a walk.

200 dead

Eat. Sleep. Take a walk

214 dead  

We see an ambulance driving down the street with its sirens on and lights flashing.  This is unusual. We never see an ambulance here.  

Eat. Sleep. Take a walk.

230 dead, thousands infected.

We now wear masks while we are outside.

I don’t remember the exact date, but our school said teachers didn’t have to return from holiday until later in February. So, the teachers who were on vacation, just got an extended stay.  The rest of us were left wondering if we should join them.

Nah, let’s save the money and stay here, we will be safe inside and “We have each other” was our mantra.

January 22 

Health Alert Update: Level 2 – referring to travelers to Wuhan

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Watch Level 2 Alert (Practice Enhanced Precautions) for an ongoing outbreak of pneumonia first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.In an effort to contain the novel coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in Wuhan.Be aware that planned travel within China may be disrupted.

 

 

Ok, still not going go travel to Wuhan.  I’m ok!

 

January 23

Health Alert Update:

Same as January 22-see above

 

January 24

Level 4: Do not travel to Hubei province, China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China:

There is an ongoing outbreak of pneumonia first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.In an effort to contain the novel coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan.On January 23, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Hubei province.

Chinese authorities have imposed strict travel restrictions in the area around Wuhan.Travelers should be aware that the Chinese government could prevent them from entering or exiting parts of Hubei province.Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Warning Level 3 Alert (Avoid Nonessential Travel) due to an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person.

 

Still doesn’t concern me. I’m not traveling to Wuhan and I am avoiding non-essential travel.

 

January 26

 Relocating Personnel from Wuhan:

The Department of State is making arrangements to relocate its personnel stationed at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan to the United States.  We anticipate that there will be limited capacity to transport private U.S. citizens on a reimbursable basis on a single flight leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on January 28, 2020 and proceeding directly to San Francisco.  Interested U.S. citizens in possession of valid passports should contact BeijingACS@state.gov with the information listed below.  This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus.

 

The Department of State is evacuating their people from the Coronavirus epicenter. Interested US citizens can jump on but you have to travel to Wuhan to get to that airport.  Travel has been restricted. Couldn’t go if I wanted!

 

January 27

Reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

 

 

Well, I’m not traveling TO China, I’m already here and I’m staying inside. I’m limiting non-essential travel as they advised. 

 

January 29 

 Level 3 traveling to China

Level 4 traveling to Wuhan

 

January 30

Event: On January 29, 2020, the Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees.

January 30 issued a Level 3 Watch to travel to China.

 

February  2 

Level 4

Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.

 

Travel restrictions?  I’m not going anywhere.

February 3rd comes and goes. Teachers did not return but we began teaching online from numerous time zones around the world.  This means for us who stayed, we are inside all day. Focusing on our work but still taking breaks to read about the virus.

February 3-8

These days all conversations are based on what are you going to do?  Are you going to stay?  Are you going to go?

We are going to stay.  Too much money to leave. The virus will be gone soon. School will open. Let’s just stay. We’ve got each other, we will be ok.

February 4

Travel Alert from the US Embassy:

Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.

Those currently in China should attempt to depart by commercial means. U.S. citizens remaining in China should follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Chinese health authorities’ guidance for prevention, signs and symptoms, and treatment. We strongly urge U.S. citizens remaining in China to stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others, including large gatherings. Consider stocking up on food and other supplies to limit movement outside the home. In the event that¿the situation deteriorates further, the ability of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates¿to provide assistance to U.S. nationals within China may be limited.

 

By now, I’m following the advice of staying home, limiting contact with others and stocking up on what food remained at the time. Several teachers have decided it might be safer to stay here rather than board a plane with everyone leaving right now. Who would we sit next to? Would they cough on us? Are they infected and don’t know it?  People were leaving as fast as they could. Too much of a risk!

“Limit contact with others.”  

Feb 9-10 

More than 900 dead. Many are infected on cruise ships, people have been evacuated from China and quarantined. The virus is spreading to many more countries.

Now what? Major cities are on lockdown. Travel is restricted. Flights are limited leaving from China to the USA.

February 11

So how do I feel?

Frustrated. Frustration manifests itself into so many more emotions such as sadness, anxiety, fear, exhaustion and so many more emotions. I looked in the mirror today and saw a very tired looking person, dark circles, tired eyes. It is mentally exhausting. I don’t like to wear my glasses but now I keep them on to cover the dark circles.

Frustrated with whom? Frustrated at what?

Frustrated with myself for not leaving? Frustrated with the messages and the advice to restrict travel to Wuhan? Frustrated that I (and others) were trying to do the safest thing? limit contact with others

Each day is a bad game of tennis in our heads with the back and forth of should we stay or should we go.  One of us decides we are leaving and the other says, now just wait a minute. It is going to be costly to get out of here and as long as we stay we still have each other. Plus it seems safer to stay in our apartments than it does to board a plane. The Embassy advised us to limit contact with others. Being on a plane does not follow that directive. Plus several of the other teachers were traveling with children and an infant. I don’t know how the infant would have or will keep a mask on his face during a flight. 

Recently, after weeks in the apartment, I noticed I was pacing back and forth. I must have looked like a caged lion walking back and forth looking for a way to get out. I sat down and looked at flights out of China. One Way!

Again, the next day we talked ourselves out of leaving.  Is it really worth spending the money and subjecting ourselves to what MIGHT happen on the flight? We would spend that money and might get sick, spending even more money, plus our insurance plan is good everywhere in the world EXCEPT the USA. If I get sick, THEN WHAT? I will be bankrupt! I will have spent the last two years in Beijing for nothing. I was trying to get ahead as I don’t see that ever happening as a teacher in Oklahoma, getting ahead that is.

Feb 12

This has been the worst day so far.  

Why?

Dark circles are worse!

I woke to many messages from home. What is happening? What do they know that I don’t? 

Three people have been investigated by the health department in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus.  This may be why people are contacting me since I am from Oklahoma. “Investigation” sounds kind of harsh and somewhat scary. But it is required now.

The author of the book, The Coming Plague, has stated the virus is out of control and is bigger than SARS and the HIV outbreak.

I probably shouldn’t have read that.

It is really difficult to know what to say or what to do. I tried to be safe by staying inside, not traveling and exposing myself to others on a plane, train, or vehicle. Should I have followed the first part of the directive of Feb 4 “leave by means of commercial flight” or the second part “limit contact with others?”

Wuhan was far away and I didn’t travel there. Did anyone on the flight I may have taken travel to Wuhan?  I guess they had to “sign a paper” stating they didn’t travel to Wuhan but anyone can lie. I’ve certainly learned that lesson in life. 

Will I die like so many others?  Will I not die? Either way, I have children in both places, Heaven and Earth. So I will get to see them wherever I end up.

I honestly don’t feel as though that is even remotely possible considering the precautions I have taken. These are just some of the thoughts that enter my head while being caged up inside day after day. I just wanted to share what it is like to feel so many emotions throughout a day when the unknown surrounds me.

If I fly home now, I would imagine there will be fewer people on the flights. (limit contact with others)

Friends who have left from Beijing Airport have described it as a “ghost town.” So maybe now is the time.

Did I make the right decision? 

 

(We recently received a message from our school stating that if we contract the illness and need to be treated, it would be covered under the plan.  I immediately replied, “Even in America?”  The response, “YES!”  )

Dark circles can start to go away now.


Will the Fear of the Unknown break us?


Will the 5 positive reasons for staying in Beijing that we mention every time we walk the park keep us here through the virus outbreak or will the virus eventually break us, due to the fear of the unknown? Riding this wave of the unknown is mentally exhausting.

Are we living our lives to the fullest by being locked in our apartments day after day? We do take a stroll around the park once or twice a day, but then we retreat back inside to check the death toll and watch and read what we can about the virus. Healthy?

Friends are beginning to leave Beijing now, one by one, two by two….we aren’t going to be able to have our walks in the park any more and come up with our list of 5 daily positives about being here.

This is sad, but understandable.

We walked the park today and it is becoming more active with people as many are starting to filter back into the city of Beijing, though there were very few people wearing masks.

I dont understand. Ting bu dong (that is about the extent of my Chinese)

Maybe they haven’t heard the news?

I do know there is a shortage of masks world wide so maybe they don’t have masks. So why not stay inside? Perhaps they don’t think the masks really work. 

There are different types of masks that may be more effective than others.

N95 masks vs surgical masks

There is the N95 mask which is a three dimensional mask that is supposedly ideal for protecting against the coronavirus. 

Surgical masks are two dimensional and allow for air to get through, in and around the gaps since they don’t fit securely on your face, so maybe they deem them pointless. Ok.

Is covering one’s face and nose necessary if there is good ventilation? I don’t know.

The death rate is rising daily, as of this writing more than 900 have died and the infected are 37,000 worldwide. Most are dying here in China. This death toll exceeds the SARS outbreak of 2003.  

With so many dying and infected, why is there so minimal protection? Not only no masks, but no gloves or glasses are seen on the people at the park.  Some of these people are children.

When the foreign teachers go outside, we are protected up! We have our N95 masks, gloves and I even sported a pair of goggles on top of my glasses today to avoid any cough and spittle entering my eyes with the addition of so many people now in the park. Plus it is a practice for a potential plane ride. 

I do have two pieces of luggage packed to 50 pounds each, sitting by the front door. They have been in my living room for two weeks, just in case. I’ve packed and repacked. I put things in and take things out, replacing items with something else that might be more important. I have packed all my winter things as I’m not going to need those for much longer, but then I pull out all of the winter-wear  and pack all my better clothes in case I leave and don’t come back.  All electronics are packed along with anything of value.

On the other hand, I’ve washed the sheets on my bed so when I go to bed tonight they are nice, clean and smell fresh, or did I wash them so they will be clean upon my return to China should I  leave? It’s always nice to come home to clean sheets on a bed. 

I’ve sorted the cabinets, thrown things out, given stuff away and am ready to leave China, or is it just Spring Cleaning and I’m going to stay? 

 I went to the grocery store twice this week and stocked up. With 8 million people returning to the city of Beijing this week after their extended Chinese New Year,, I thought I should get a few things before the crowds descend upon the stores. With two trips to the store, maybe I am going to stay after all and I can unpack the luggage at the front door. I certainly have enough food to last a while.

I’ve put chicken in the fridge to thaw. It is a big package and it will take several days to eat it. So I have plenty of food for the week. Or, did I get the chicken out of the freezer because I’m cleaning it out before I leave?

It is a constant battle, and a continued conversation between the remaining few foreign teachers here.  More and more people are becoming infected. The WHO director is tweeting “we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.” and they are sending their top experts to China to learn about the virus.

How many of you have masks, gloves, and alcohol wipes at your front door?

Is trying to save money a good reason to stay here with so many unknowns?  What would the flight be like on the way home? Will I be quarantined upon arrival? Is it still a self imposed quarantine of 14 days in my own home?

I have no fever, I have no cough, though I coughed several times on Saturday and panicked for a moment. But I was only cutting up a very strong, red pepper and some onions. I couldn’t help but think, “Oh no, I hope no one hears me cough!” I was doing everything I could to conceal my coughing spell.  I didn’t want the government to pound on my door again and ask, “Are you sick?”  There was no way I could hide my watery, red eyes and continued coughing spell should that happen again.  I would only be able to bring the pepper to the door and let them have a deep inhale and hope for the best. Difficult and costly decisions lie ahead. 

Stay Strong Wuhan-Stay Strong China (written on one of my student’s papers on Friday during online learning)


Should I Stay or Should I Go?


 

Stay in Beijing   VS    Fly home

Continual Debate in my head:

 

Go Home:

Expensive

No Internet

Work From 10pm-5am (online teaching 14 hour time difference)

14 day quarantine

It’s cold there

Who would I sit next to on the plane? Where have they been?

US Embassy says go home

No Medical Insurance

Stay Here:

Cheap

Can take the DK’S (daughter’s kids) on a fun trip (maybe Disney would be fun) with the money I save by not going home

Safe in the Apartment

Listen to the kid upstairs all day long

It’s cold here, but I don’t mind it

I have medical insurance

Help Heather with the baby

Daily walks in the park with friends

Risk temperature being high, becoming the first older, white female quarantined due to hot flashes and can’t explain otherwise : )

 

Back and forth everyday, it’s like a tennis match in my head.  It’s boring being cooped up all day, but is that any reason to fly home?  I chose not to go anywhere for the Chinese New Year Holiday this year to save money.  I was originally going to go home for this holiday, but those plans changed back in September, so I decided to go to Italy during this holiday, but those plans changed in December. So, here I sit.

 

It’s hard to explain the feelings and emotions of being in China right now.  Yes, it is a tragic turn of events for the thousands who have been infected and those who have died leaving their families behind. I understand the pain and suffering that goes along with being the bereaved.  Nothing compares to the anguish, desperation and sadness of losing a child, nothing!  So I wonder why I have this debate knocking around in my head?  I can do this.

I have a decent pay check each month and a gratuity at the end of my contract so I just need to keep my eye on the prize and stay put!  I only have 181,188 minutes to go!

But tomorrow when I wake up, I will be looking at flights home again, and so the debate continues. 

life sucks if you let it, but I have options so it’s not all that bad!


Addendum (to Fever)


Addendum:

(to Fever)

I wasn’t going to take any chances tonight.  I was wondering how I might get back inside the gate after my walk in the park with the remaining teachers who are here.   I didn’t want a repeat of last night at the gate. 

I decided an ice cube might work!  I wrapped an ice cube in a washcloth and headed out.  We took our lap around the park, talked about our first day of online teaching, and of course listed our “five positives of staying and being in Beijing” before we headed back. 

As I was headed to the apartment gate, I placed the ice cube on one wrist, then the other, followed by dabbing my forehead.  I just couldn’t risk being taken back to “that building” again. 

Now, please understand if I really DID have a fever, I would truly not do this. But I do know my body gets hot and most recently, at the wrong time!

But as I get to the gate, I notice the guards are gone, the table is closed, the tent is down and I have carried an ice cube around the park for nothing. 

It’s 28 degrees Fahrenheit here! 

Somewhat diligent in the day time taking temperatures, but after 5? forget it! You are inside! You don’t even need to jump over the fence as nobody cares at night.

Awesome! The menopausal over 50 aged woman with hot flashes that cause an increase in the temperature of my skin won’t go to the fever hospital tonight!!!

Trying to explain menopause and body temperatures at the gate to young men would prove to be a futile attempt in getting them to believe I don’t have the virus fever.  Thank goodness the google translated conversation didn’t happen tonight!

That there, is another positive!


Fever


 

Are the Chinese “saving face?” It seems as though saving face is the first thing the Chinese think about before acting. This is hugely a part of their culture, often leaving the foreigners shaking their heads and thinking “Boy you just can’t make this stuff up!”

With the outburst of the Novel Coronavirus are they trying to make things look good? There have been changes over here in Beijing, Daxing District to be more specific.  If you look around outside there are new visuals that you see in place now due to the virus but are they helping to combat the virus like they seem to want us to think?

It looks good! 

For instance, prior to the outbreak we could have food and grocery delivery to our door.  Now we can not.  I understand that.  That is clearly a change for the positive in trying to contain the virus by less contact with the public.

There are guards stationed at the entrances to our compounds now.  Our particular apartment  complex has 7-8 entrances.  We can only enter through two of them now. The gates are locked. 

Fire hazard? yes! Virus Control? Doubtful.  

If you look over at the fence people are jumping over right in front of the guards and getting inside, anyway.

Currently At each entrance, there are guards stationed with a thermometer, and a sign in sheet.  They stay out there for most of the day. I wonder if they are out there at night time? and are they awake?  Today was a bit colder as it snowed this morning, so I know they were cold, perhaps allowing more people to enter without proper measures as their hands were too cold to pull out of their pockets to use the thermometer. I saw many people just walk past the guards without a check.  Often times though, when they see a foreigner, they don’t want to risk trying to speak to us, so we get off the hook quite frequently.  

 My luck finally ran out.  They did make me stop for a temperature check this afternoon. My temperature was 24.8 celsius.  They took it again, same.  That is a severely low body temperature. They let me go after looking at it and tapping it on their hands a couple of times. I did not have to sign in. It appeared I did not have a fever.

Later in the afternoon, they stopped me again. This is good, they are becoming more confident in their jobs I guess, or at least they are taking it more seriously.  This time, the temperature would not register. It only said LO.  They took it again, LO.  So they told me to sign in.  I didn’t want to touch the pen so I held it with my jacket sleeve and signed my name and apartment number. I walked on inside.

This evening was a whole new ballgame!  They have become a bit more diligent in enforcing stops, temperature checks and registration.  They even had a tent set up with their table sitting beneath it.  They took my temperature.  37.8 celsius. He took it again, 37.8 celsius.  

I was quickly trying to calculate the fahrenheit equivalent in my head.  

The guard translated on his phone, “Do you have a fever?”  I quickly said, “No!”

He took my temperature again.  37.8  

Are you sure you don’t have a fever is what translated on his phone.  “No, I do not have a fever.”

He took my temperature on my wrist.  He tried my other wrist.  37.8  

He took my forehead.  37.8

“You have a fever, come with me.”

YIKES!  My heart started racing, palms started to sweat, my bag became extra heavy and by then I knew my temperature was rising, but not because I had a fever.  I remembered I had sneezed twice today. No coughing, no, I’m not sick.

Where were we going, I wondered.  I just followed along.  We got to the community center.  He told me to go inside.  I said I didn’t want to go inside.  There were many other people in there and probably because they had a fever!! 

He went inside the building and in the meantime, I’m pushing up my sleeves, taking off my gloves trying to cool by body temperature.  I knew I wasn’t sick and I knew I didn’t have a fever.  My temperature stays higher these days anyway, but not because of the virus. 

A lady came out and asked if I have a fever.  “I do not have a fever.”  

“Where have you been?” she asked.  Amazingly she spoke English.  

I pulled a few vegetables out of my bag so she could see I had been at the store and not returning from Wuhan.

She asked if I had traveled out of Beijing recently.  Of course, I had not. She brought her thermometer over to take my temperature.

LO is the reading on the screen.

She shook the thermometer and tried again, LO.

She hit the thermometer on her hand and tried again.  32.4 C on my wrist.  29.7 C on my other wrist. 26 C on my forehead.  She hit the thermometer on her hand, tried to warm it up by putting her hands around it, and even tried taking the temperature of the guard.  His temperature was LO.

Round 2.  Different readings this time, with a rap on the hand to get a reading, but still not in the fever range.

She  finally said,  “I think you are ok, but if you have any problems or get sick call me at this number,” handing me a card.

I told her I would and suggested she get a new thermometer.

They yelled over to the gate to let me in.  I walked over bypassing the registration area and walked inside.

I went inside and messaged Heather to ask her if she had a thermometer.  Of course she had one for the baby.  I asked to borrow it.  I took my temperature because now I was curious.  

98.2 F on my forehead, 96.3 F on my wrists. Twice, the same reading.  Perfect!!!! almost…

People’s tempers are beginning to flare.  Just yesterday, I watched a guard and military personnel taking people’s temperatures.  One man became so angry.  He was yelling at the guards. The more he yelled, the easier it was for him to get inside without a temperature reading.  So, in he walked, without a temperature check.   

The guards, thermometers, military, sign in sheets and tents look impressive but are they really keeping people with fever out of the compound?  It doesn’t seem like it!


We Have Each Other


grey skies in Beijing

“Let’s look for something positive,” we say as we stroll around the park while the skies are blue.  Good thing we strolled then because the skies are now grey as I look out over the subway into the park from my Beijing bedroom window.

Jayne, Simon, the boys and I think about the positives as we walk around the park.  It takes a while to think of something but we come up with the following:

  1. The skies are blue
  2. The birds are chirping
  3. There is new growth on the rose bushes
  4. Not many people are outside
  5. We have each other

We have each other!  There are a handful of us (teachers) who stayed in Beijing for the Chinese New Year for various reasons and now often times feel “Stuck,” which is hard to explain and understand unless you live here, I guess.

We talk about leaving but then where do we go? The virus is spreading beyond China.  As long as we avoid crowds, wear our masks and wash our hands, maybe we will be ok. Besides, is it safe to fly with other people sitting next to us? Have they been to Wuhan? Have they been near people who have been in Wuhan? Did they eat bat or snake?  

If we leave, the smart thing, (maybe?) would be to go somewhere in the same time zone as we will be E-Teaching beginning Monday February 3.  If I went to the USA, I would be working online with the students from 10pm-5am due to the 14 hour time difference. But it is an option. Though it may be a time-limited option as flights are being cancelled out of Beijing.

All teachers are supposed to be back on February 10th for a 14 day quarantine period in case school starts again.  So if I left now, I would have to return by the 10th. So, I’m not sure going home is the smart thing to do at this point.

But on the other hand, we are not allowed into the school to get supplies unless extreme precautions are taken, such as: wearing a facemark and goggles, disinfecting hands and shoes, narrowing the area we will walk to and when leaving follow the same path as we used when we came in. The cleaning lady will sterilize the area behind us as we leave.

I can’t imagine school opening any time soon if they have to go to these extreme measures for just one person picking up a few things. So will we report to school anytime soon? Too many unknowns.  From what I understand, Beijing Public Schools are closed indefinitely. We are not a public school. 

If I do go home there are some positives:

  1. I’m home
  2. I can work on the house 
  3. I don’t have to listen to the people above me in this apartment
  4. Braum’s milk 
  5. So many good things!

No, I didn’t list seeing family and friends or most importantly, my daughters kids (the DK’S).  I wouldn’t want to risk seeing anybody without a quarantine period. I wonder how all the people who were evacuated from Wuhan are doing?  They were right in the center of the outbreak.  If they seem to be ok, then maybe I can go home, too.  

Or, maybe I will stay here and wait it out.  As mentioned earlier, we have each other and that is worth more than the price of tea in China.  I’m thankful for my friends here who are experiencing the same emotions and feelings as me.

I am running short of masks, so I guess this is an option

I will continue to ponder these things as I listen to the ambulance pass down the street with the sirens blaring, which is unusual. I don’t think I have ever heard an ambulance siren here.  I can’t help but think….is that number 214? 

life sucks if you let it….find a friend and think positive thoughts!

 


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