The slow approach of some kind of normalcy

Davis greenway on my trike ride, winter 2021


It is starting at the opposite end of society: those vaccinated most urgently are the older people, who otherwise have an appalling death toll from Covid-19 if they get sick.

The fear has been very real among those of us with co-morbidities, who in normal times could look forward to a bit of retirement and the presence of children and grandchildren at the end of a life of labor.

This community went from people who had dinner with other people in a catered dining room several times a week to an entire building of people whose food was delivered in takeout containers every day. For almost a year so far. We have accumulated (and tried to recycle) countless containers, with the dining services having trouble, it seems, buying the same container shapes every day.

There is only so creative one can get with plastic takeout boxes.

Why the light at the end of the tunnel?

Because, if all goes well, most of us – of around the 250 people in Independent Living in one main building, 15 cottages, and 16 ‘garden apartments,’ will receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine this Thursday, and two weeks later will achieve the maximum protection that can offer us.

We’re not sure yet what will change once there are a bunch of us in that state: the precautions will still be in place, a few people won’t have been vaccinated (including some staff – I don’t understand why they are not jumping on the chance to be protected), and the fear that ANY encounter with another human being might end up being terminal will be muted a bit while we wait for the rest of the world to catch up.

A reversal – normally vaccinations are for the young, and we elders have a lifetime of toughness to protect us.

Anyone who was alive for the 1918 flu is now over 100 years old.

I’m writing now because the suspense is at its maximum

None of us want to be the ironic case of the last old person to get Covid-19 and die from it – that won’t happen for a while but it’s worth pondering.

So those of us who believe in vaccines and modern medicine, however imperfect, are being very careful for the next three weeks or so.

I have a doctor’s appointment in March, and it will be the first time I’ve gone off campus feeling safe in over a year.

I desperately need new glasses – but have refused to make optional medical appointments with people who will be close to my face and body while their breathe could be my end.

Ditto dentists – you won’t believe how carefully I have been brushing my teeth so as to avoid any unnecessary visits (and have eschewed the necessary cleanings) for this year: I don’t want someone, even someone masked, gowned, and with a face shield, that near to me.

I have some experience, having caught the flu in 2018 from the only time I’d been out of the house in months, but decided to accompany the husband to his eye-doctor appointment: someone left a flu virus in that waiting room for me.

So the stress level is still high

And we look askance at the crew of men painting our halls and installing new carpets (first upgrade in 20 years) – and going home to their families every night. They need the work, the facility needs the facelift, but we don’t need all those people we’ve never seen before (thanks, guys!) wandering our halls.

This last Friday was the first time testing of all the staff revealed no new cases in quite a few weeks. It may be just random luck.

Or it may be that the staff have already had their two shots + two week wait, and are now as safe as they can be. I hope so, for their sake. They are very nice people. And there are almost as many of them as there are residents (we have higher levels of care in the same building, which increases our staff requirements). 200 or so.

(Still don’t understand why any of them would refuse the vaccine against a deadly disease they could transmit to the older people they work for.)

The public stress changed

From worrying about the election and the devoutly-wished disappearance of the previous mob, to wondering how the current administration is going to manage to reverse so much damage.

But I no longer watch – it’s politics as usual, the grownups are in charge, and I can’t do a thing.

The grownups are at the helm of the current actual focus on getting control of the pandemic. Another place I have limited reach and scope.

Since I’ve blocked all the people who are science-deniers, my only remaining advocacy point is to remind them that THE DISEASE IS MUCH WORSE THAN THE VACCINE.

A few have legitimate concerns; most should just make sure their doctors know their problems, and they are watched for a time after the actual injection to have a quick response if they have the exceedingly rare anaphylactic reaction. EXCEEDINGLY RARE.

But I’m so tired

Months and more months of stress have taken a real toll on the writing (and the other parts of my life, which I try to ignore).

I have only just regained some semblance of a normal sleep schedule with melatonin in tiny amounts at bedtime and my Daylight therapy box in the morning as soon as I get up. Now I’m wondering when I can get off the regimen, because the melatonin always makes me a bit groggy, and that is the enemy of me writing fiction.

A couple of weeks of better sleep is not enough for a year of stress, but I’m getting there.

The work proceeds apace

Yesterday I managed to take all the notes I had accumulated in 2016 on the critical medical topic which is an intricate and ineradicable part of this section of NETHERWORLD’s plot, and make sense of them: they were very badly written in the original source – and that is now behind a paywall!

So I’m feeling proud of myself for documenting everything so well that I was able to figure out what I needed, from what I gathered over four years ago in another state!

When I do research, I carefully retain the link or other source information, in the great fear that I will forget where I found something and fail to attribute it correctly, so my paranoia has served me well.

And some form of exercise occurs occasionally

I got a trike ride, a short one, this weekend – because the outdoor pool has glass in it from a broken table top during last week’s windstorm, and is unusable, even in the mild weather we had (they still haven’t told us how the heck they’re going to clean it up, they who put glass-topped tables near the pool in the first place!).

And I get out of the apartment to pick up lunch or somesuch on Maggie, my MAGnesium Alloy Airwheel S8 (a bicycle seat on a hoverboard – google it) a couple of times a week. Not nearly enough exercise for anyone, even disabled and chronically ill, but all I can manage.

The great outdoors in California in the wintertime is still great.

So that’s the report from a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) for today

I can feel, on re-reading my words, that the stress is lower.

How goes it with you?

If you are offered the vaccine, and don’t plan to take it, I’m curious how your thinking is going. I promise to be civil.

And otherwise, along with MY children, I hope everyone will be protected by a vaccine as soon as possible – I’m tired of living like this.

Not tired enough NOT to continue to take every precaution, but you know what I mean.



14 thoughts on “The slow approach of some kind of normalcy

  1. joey

    I will take the vaccine. So far, I only know people in their 60s and up who’ve had it. The Mister told me he’s in the next release group, as he’s 50.
    I’ve started thinking many more hopeful thoughts about the future.
    I’d like to get to a point where everyone is tested routinely, because then I think we’d catch the asymptomatic, but that’s a dream, eh?
    I’ve had medical & dental appointments and they’ve been thorough in pre-screening and precautions.
    Hoping you all stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks. It’s lovely to be only 4 days from being as safe as we can be – two weeks after the second dose – and now I’m on tenterhooks until my kids, late 20s and early 30s, are protected.

      That’s the only good thing about so many misled people refusing the vaccine: the rest of us who believe in science, even remember polio when we were children, will be vaccinated sooner.

      I hope they will change their sources of information – and stop being virus depositories, ready to pass it on easily.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Widdershins

    Congratulations on getting out and about, getting your shots and getting new carpet! 😀 … I most certainly getting my shots and Mrs Widds is coming round to the idea – she was skeptical at first, but trusts the science, just not the politics behind the science. Our age groups are scheduled for sometime around the middle of summer, depending on whether the EU keeps on having hissy fits and blaming everyone else for their lack of, well, let’s just go with lack of foresight.

    Here in Canada our government is finally putting money into reestablishing vaccine mass-production facilities, which should’ve been done six months ago, but again, governments tend to enact their governing reactively rather than proactively.

    I’m finally enjoying my writing as well 🙂 and the habit of writing daily is becoming more ingrained as each day’s word tally grows. Any break in my routine though, (we had an electrician come in the other day and track down why we were experiencing power drop-offs in half the house, I now know more about the inner workings of domestic wiring than I ever knew I needed 🙂 ) and it takes me a day or so to get my groove back again.

    Emotionally, I’m still not doing as well as I’d like. The past year has taken a toll that I’s still coming to terms with, which hasn’t been helped along with this new ‘vertigo’ variant of migraines that have decided to invade my skull on an annoyingly regular basis.

    In spite of the above, I do feel like I’m moving forward though, and that’s worth celebrating … with a festive cuppa tea and another chapter started. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m glad you’re getting your groove back a bit. Hope you learned enough from the electrician to be worth it – you never know when you’ll have to electrocute someone, fictionally, of course!

      As for the vaccine not being available until summer, well, that’s not as far away as it was before – and your dear wife should be able to look at reams of data if she needs that to reassure her. By summer we should all know a lot more.

      Governments are made of politicians and public servants. The politicians want to be reelected, and the public servants are below them in the hierarchy, like it or not, so money is not spent as you or I would, logically, because there is a chance these politicians won’t be here in the next cycle.

      If it weren’t for some truly abysmal royalty in the past, that form of government would make more sense; but it doesn’t.

      I don’t know how to fix anything!

      The past year HAS taken a toll: no two ways about that. We get our second shot tomorrow if all goes well – and I never would have had to say ‘if all goes well’ about a vaccine before.

      I have no idea when our kids will be safe, and my whole family in Mexico is in the middle of a mess, with my sister saying the younger people don’t know anyone their age who has died, and over half of my nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews having had covid. And possibly one of my sisters (nobody ever tells me anything!). These are all healthy people. I hope they stay healthy. The vaccine is not available in Mexico, people are being told by the government it’s no big deal and are being lied to about the death toll, and the educated people are finding way to go abroad and try to buy the vaccine. It’s a royal mess. Their president is worse than 45 in many ways, and his term lasts four more years (of six), and he hopes to be pronounced king, or to steal enough not to need to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. marianallen

    Having grown up during the Polio scourge, I’m totally in favor of vaccines where they’re doable. You only need to visit one friend in her iron lung to be a whole-hearted vaxxer.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Our family had another family in Mexico as friends. My grandfather insisted we get vaccinated, they didn’t vaccinate their child, and he ended up in a wheelchair.

      And that was a long time ago. Vaccines save so many lives we take them for granted, but the world used to be very different, and many babies and small children died.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory

    Here in Australia we have virtually eliminated the virus, but it does keep cropping up via hotel quarantine – i.e. someone flies in [mostly repatriated Aussies], goes into hotel quarantine, and before they show symptoms, they somehow pass the virus to a security guard or cleaner via just a little bit of inattention. So we keep getting mini outbreaks with the latest being in Western Australia. We think/hope the authorities there squashed it before it had a chance to spread – 5 day hard lockdown almost instantly.

    My state has been infection free again for over two weeks, and my paranoia is slowly reducing too. We still maintain strict self-isolation at home – all groceries washed or allowed to decontaminate outside for 3 days, hand hygiene when we touch said groceries etc etc. But I’ve been out a number of times now, still masked and gloved, but /out/, buying little treats like fresh, bakery bread. Even the Offspring is relaxing a bit.

    Will we get the vaccine when it becomes available? For now the simple answer is no. Not because we’re anti-vaccers but because the Offspring is not supposed to have any vaccines due to a depressed immune system. I could still get the vaccine, but until I know that it protects against /infection/ as well as disease, I can’t take the risk of inadvertently bringing the virus home because I feel safe.

    Not sure how all this is going to work out. We may have to wait for vaccine enabled herd immunity, or more results from the vaccine rollouts, here and world wide. Having lived in virtual isolation for close to a year now, we know we can wait. Better a life on hold than no life at all.

    High Five on the research/writing. I’m terrified of jinxing myself, but my writing is suddenly enjoyable again. Fingers crossed it stays that way. 🙂

    Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Hope your fears re the vaccine are allayed by more science – they’ll know all the answers to your questions soon enough – and you can safely get it.

      Glad your writing is getting back to fun. Mine is still a hard slog until I get into it, and then loosens up – and then I can keep at it for a couple of hours and no more.

      When I’ve had the second dose, and the two weeks have passed, I may be able to relax just a little bit more, and that might help. Hope so.

      Hope your son is safe!

      You’d think they’d figure out how to do the quarantine safely, since the results are so draconian if the virus leaks out, wouldn’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. acflory

        I hope so too. We need the vaccines to work, especially now that the virus is mutating. Fingers crossed we won’t have to wait another year.

        I wish ‘they’ would do away with the hotel quarantine idea all together. It’s better than nothing, and I suppose it keeps those hotels funded now that the tourist trade is dead, but what we need are dedicated facilities, far from population hubs like Melbourne and Sydney etc. Quarantine should be Fed. govt responsibility but they shoved it off onto the states. We have a baby trump in charge at the Fed. level. :/



Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.