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Coronavirus Has Made My Self-Quarantine Lifestyle Trendy

Patch logo Patch 3/11/2020 Colin Miner
a person wearing a hat and sunglasses © Provided by Patch

PORTLAND, OR — If someone had told me the night of Halloween that I'd be in a position to help people deal with what is close to being a pandemic, I would have politely suggested that they had the wrong person. Yet, here we are.

I'm a kidney transplant patient. It is something for which I am forever grateful. No longer do I have to go to dialysis — something that, while it kept me alive, was a truly miserable experience, six hours a day, three times a week.

To keep my new kidney happy, I take a lot of drugs to suppress my immune system.

That leads to several issues that range from the irritating to the profoundly annoying. While others can come in contact with someone sniffling and walk away as if nothing happened, I often end up with a cold.

My better 83 percent teaches first grade in a public school here. She loves her job, and I couldn't be happier for her. That said, I refer to her students as adorable little agents of bioterrorism. She will regularly bring me home a special present from one of her students.

Once I get something, my body's response is not so much to fight it as much as to tell me, "Make sure that we have plenty of soup in the house."

Which brings us to Halloween.

I got an infection in my foot. It got worse. Quickly. My temperature normally runs low, so when it topped 100, my doctor said it was time to head to the emergency room. It was quickly decided that I was in full sepsis and would need to have a partial amputation.

A few days later, I was out of the hospital but confined to my house. The incision would need time to heal. That meant avoiding infection and avoiding putting pressure on my foot.

It took four months.

Over that time, I learned a good deal about living life as a shut-in.

First, understand that being a shut-in does not mean being a hermit.

Find a group of people whom you know that you can trust, whose movements you can trust. Make sure they are willing to change clothes before entering your home and immediately wash their hands when they arrive. These are your new friends.

Make friends with your phone. You will find yourself talking with people a lot more than seeing them. Just because you are trapped inside does not mean you can't have contact with people on a regular basis. Install some kind of videoconferencing software such Zoom or Google Hangouts on your phone.

At first, you may find yourself enjoying a certain distance. After a while, you will find yourself longing for the ability to look someone in their eyes.

Get in touch with your cable/internet provider (in many cases, those are the same company). You'll want to make sure that you have fast internet and a good selection of streaming services.

I don't know a lot of people who truly enjoy going to the supermarket, and being forced to stay inside gives you an excuse to avoid it. Many markets now offer delivery services with workers who understand that they may be delivering to people whose immune systems are suppressed and who take appropriate measures.

There are also any number of restaurant delivery options in most places (thank you, gig economy).

If you live in an area where you drive to get around, you'll discover that being in the car again can be like being on a ride at Disneyland or at the zoo. You can look at the world as you drive by, but you have to keep moving.

If you're in an area where mass transit is the primary way of getting around, consider this an opportunity to drive or, if you want to avoid parking hassles, make friends with some of your local Uber drivers.

Some people may love their family but not necessarily love family gatherings. Not to make light of this, but this is your get-out-of-jail card.

There are downsides. I love going to Powell's, Portland's pre-eminent bookstore. It's kind of off-limits right now. As is the movie theater. I love movies, good and bad. If I could go see a movie right now, my choices would be limited to films such as "Doolittle," "Underwater" and "Cats."

And I'm aware that I have some karma to work out. Clearly, there are forces aligned against me. Why else would the universe wait until I was finally clear to be out and about, after four months inside, to have the new coronavirus force me back in?

Overall, this is doable. Being forced to stay indoors can seem annoying, intimidating. At first. Soon, though, you will get used to it and quickly find yourself thankful that you are healthy.

The important thing to remember: Don't panic. The situation isn't ideal, by any stretch. But it could be worse. You're still here to read this, after all.

A word of warning: If you're home alone and find yourself talking to your dog, cat, goldfish and so forth, that's OK. If said animal appears to start talking back, immediately get on FaceTime or Zoom or whatever and start talking with a real person.

Colin Miner, Patch's manager of news and content partnerships, had a kidney transplant, worries about his immune system, and makes wearing a mask look good.

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