Adjusting to life under Coronavirus


How are you?

Like, really. How are you?

I don’t really know how I am.

I was furloughed at work at the end of March—they’re hoping to bring us back in June—so I have… so much time on my hands.

I wrote a post for Dysautonomia International about ways to stay engaged while quarantined, and I suggested to people that they take Ivy League courses online or and learn new languages and do puzzles and start crafting…

I haven’t done any of these things.

I did laundry the other day. I also did some dishes. My roommate must want to wring my neck because I suck at dishes. She’s so on top of it, and I’m much more a believer in letting things soak for like 24 hours… even if they don’t need it.

I’ve been watching a lot of internet videos.

I remembered an old crush I had on a CollegeHumor writer, so my brain told me, “hey, you should watch… every CollegeHumor video, maybe, ever.”

Challenge accepted, part of my brain that encourages me to make questionable decisions. (You should definitely watch this one about working from home though, and maybe this one too…)

The same part of my brain has been telling me to watch lots of episodes of Survivor on Hulu. I wasn’t allowed to watch Survivor growing up. It wasn’t a moral or ethical thing my parents had strong feelings about—my mom just thought the show was stupid and banned it.

I miss my mom and dad.

Emily and Erin suggested that I move back in with my parents for a little while so that I could quarantine with them, because seeing them is important to me.

That’d be great—except the last two times I slept there since I moved out, I threw my back out on the guest bed. Once, over Christmas where I was in pain for a few days, and the other in February, where I ended up with sciatica, and I thoroughly thought I was going to die. I looked into having the lower half of my body or spine removed but apparently that’s “impossible” and would “kill me” and I would only need the sciatic nerve removed, but even that is not really feasible. Whatever, friend in med school, I feel like you’re just not cut throat enough for my lifestyle.

My POTS is doing horribly.

Turns out, having a job was great for POTS. It gave me the structure I needed. I was on a great sleep schedule. I drank lots of water. I would get up and walk around the office… especially when I wanted to annoy my coworkers or ask my boss, “am I screwing this up?” (a daily occurrence.)

And now?

I’m afraid of leaving my apartment. An ambulance was parked outside of my building on Friday night for a few hours, and all I could think was, “Yep. Someone in this building has the virus.” I tried to argue with myself that maybe they’re like me, and they have a chronic illness and just need fluids or something. Or maybe they had one of those surprise toilet babies because they didn’t know they were pregnant, or maybe they just cut their finger off cooking (because apparently everyone is making sourdough and focaccia and weird coffee lattes and is slicing their appendages off) and didn’t want to risk a trip to the ER—

I don’t know what the people in this complex do and I don’t know if they’re licking the handrails when they walk up and down the stairs (not that I touch handrails anymore) and what if I walk into a spider web that has droplets of coronavirus in it or something like that? Is that a thing? Are you now paranoid that it’s a thing? Is this the equivalent of shouting “fire!” in a crowded movie theater? Is this a Shane Dawson conspiracy theory video?

All of this… is so much.

And I vacillate. Some days I’m great, it’s like vacation, it’s like the much needed “me” time I’ve been longing for. And other nights, I’m up until 5 in the morning because I’m afraid to fall asleep, as though sleep will cause time to start spinning out of control.

Every night I pray to God that my parents and brother stay safe and healthy. I don’t care what happens to me, but please, Lord, keep Mom, Dad, and Mike safe because if I don’t have them, I’ll fade away into nothing at all.

I worry about my chronically ill friends.

We are so well trained in how to handle life in isolation, in missing out on milestones and things we looked forward to. In being denied life’s most basic events, like grocery shopping or going to work or getting dinner with friends.

But now we have to comfort the rest of the world and teach them how to do this. We have to listen to the complaints about how hard this is. And yes, it is hard. It’s so hard. There’s nothing about this that’s easy. But we’ve been trying to tell you about life in quarantine for a while.

I don’t know what the world will look like when this is over. And for some chronically ill friends, there is no “over.”

I don’t know what my personal normal will look like. I don’t know if I want to know yet.

So I’ll keep going with this strangeness.

And in the meantime,

Tell me, how are you?


  1. Wonderful!!! Shannon you make me want to sit down and have a conversation with you.. You is very insightful and articulate. And you express that’s what a lot of us are feeling at this time and about our situation. Thank you for sharing!???

  2. Shannon—- you are the best! Like a ray of sunshine in the mist of a strangling virus. Thanks!!

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