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Post by Amanda Walker

Reflections of Quarantine from a CF Mom

As evening falls, again, I find myself outside on our back covered patio watching a fire burn in our fire pit. Just like I have for many evenings of this quarantine. The sweet smell of burning cherry wood fills the air as I think about the last 14 weeks. It has been 14 weeks since my kids have played with any of their friends, been to church or been inside of a store or restaurant. The days for the most part seem like the day before and the day before that – much like the movie “Groundhog Day”. On and on and my mind wonders if most days will feel the same until there is a vaccine.

Before the Coronavirus we were a family that was on the go. Always had evening sports, church or activities after school. In one sense this quarantine has really helped us slow down and enjoy the time with our kids that maybe we had been taking for granted. We started new routines of playing outside, riding bikes, and just taking an overall change of pace of life. We baked quite a bit at the start. We would bake cookies and make pies, check out Pinterest for new dinner recipes. I think it was the idea of comfort food trying to help ease the uneasiness. We planted a nice garden as we have in previous summers, but this summer, we actually have the time to tend to it! Quarantine is a much slower pace of life, not in a totally bad way, just a different way. The joke is on me for writing my last article on travel tips. Who knew 2020 would hold very little of that? Our oldest daughter adapted to virtual learning and had weekly zoom meetings with her teacher and class. Our middle daughter did zoom meetings to close out the rest of her dance season. Softball season was cancelled, soccer was cancelled, our church services went virtual, and Emmett’s CF walk was cancelled. 2020 has brought a lot of cancellation. I think that is one of the things I hate the most about it. I think it’s sad the great memories we will miss out on from events being cancelled. On the flipside, it does (did) give us an opportunity to make great memories in different ways (Like car parade birthday parties)! It has been inspiring to see the way some people have adapted to the situation.

My feelings since this all started at the beginning of March have changed greatly over the course of time. In early winter I remember thinking how terrible the Coronavirus sounded, but I doubted it would find its way all the way across the sea to America. Boy, was I wrong! So very wrong. It seems like it arrived here in middle Tennessee very quickly. By the second week of March, our state had shut down completely. I was nervous and anxious to see what the future held and hoped my toilet paper supply would last a while. Initially I believed it would just be two weeks. I bought into the two-week time frame to flatten the curve. Not only did it take way longer than two weeks to flatten the curve, but I also didn’t think out the fact that just because the curve flattens doesn’t mean the virus goes away or is any less contagious. Again, how wrong I was! I kept telling myself two weeks, we can do this for two weeks, not a big deal in the scheme of things. Here we are on month four. Time kept dragging by, and I would have to only allow myself to think about the next day or two. I could only think in the short-term sense. If I thought about the situation long-term, I couldn’t handle it. Some friends and I got together outside, six feet apart, in our camping chairs and brought our dinner and chatted a few times during the last four months. That really helped my mental state and it did my heart good to have a chance to talk with friends about how they were dealing with it all, too. I would highly recommend it, if you are struggling with all of this (and are still physical distancing), to seek out a friend who you can sit outside and talk to! We live over 2000 miles from my family in California and my kids still have a very close relationship with my parents. We took the biggest risk two weeks ago with the virus when my parents flew from CA out to Nashville to visit for a week. It was much needed for us, my kids and my parents. We all remained healthy and I am so thankful for that time with them!

Nashville just entered Phase 3 of our opening plan. A couple of weeks ago, our CF team sent guidelines for the summer. The guidelines they gave us are still extremely strict: no indoor group gatherings, no eating inside restaurants, church services have shown to be high risk for spread, wear a mask if coming within 6 feet of others in a store, avoid any crowds. We have not allowed our kids to play with any other kids and it is wearing on not only them, but also me as their mom. This situation is so hard! We also haven’t even taken the kids swimming for fear that the individuals there would not maintain a 6-foot distance from us. Every summer we usually go swimming at least two days a week minimum! Since Nashville has eased restrictions some, I feel torn. If Nashville schools open August 4th and our girls go, they will bring any potential Coronavirus exposure home to our son with CF. Why can’t we become more “lax” now? What difference is exposing ourselves now or in a few weeks? However, maybe it buys us a few more weeks to ride out what seems like a surge in our area and let the numbers settle down some. I am not surprised at all by the growing number of cases around us. Many are not heeding to social distancing guidelines or wearing masks while out. It is hard for me to sit here and judge them, though. If we did not have a child with CF, I would probably be doing the same, which is hard to admit.

So, the last four months summed up in one word: different. Sometimes bad, sometimes good. But I will keep doing whatever is in my power, and whatever Emmett’s doctors recommend for keeping him and our family safe, because they are more than worth it! Stay vigilant and stay healthy, friends!

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Our Community Column is a home for thoughts and opinions of members across the cystic fibrosis community. Sometimes serious, every so often lighthearted, but always engaging. It is our duty and privilege to listen to these stories and to share them with others.