• Personal

    An Overworked Engineer Husband During Covid-19

    Software Engineer Desk, A Mom's Covid-19 Diary: An Overworked Engineer Husband, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2020/03/17/overworked-engineer-husband/ #Covid-19 #coronavirus #momlife #Seattle #diary #mom #outbreak #pandemic #softwareengineer #overworkedengineer #quarantine
    Sunday, Day 4

    Just as my daughter started to recover from the flu, my husband got slammed with work. He’s a software architect at a large networking company. They make team-connecting software called WebEx. Well, after several governors announced school closures because of the coronavirus outbreak, parents across the U.S. needed a way to work from home. WebEx software became enormously useful and so did my overworked engineer husband.

    In an effort of good will, the company made WebEx free for everyone. That led to an avalanche of new users and the system buckling under the traffic. Needless to say, the software engineers need to ensure the system stays operable for everyone. And so, my husband’s been working from the moment he wakes up until the moment he goes to bed.

    A Job In Demand During an Epidemic

    My husband considers us lucky. He works for a company that provides a service now more precious than ever: teleconferencing. Tech companies, educators, large corporations, banks, etc. all can keep business going if they switch to working from home. But that strains those modern tech solutions. While Zoom and other video conferencing software has collapsed under the pressure, WebEx has remained operational and available, thanks to people like my husband and his colleagues.

    Daddy’s Busy

    In the past, when my husband’s worked from home and we’ve needed the kids to stay quiet in their rooms, we’ve always simply said, “Daddy’s in a meeting.” They can hear his colleagues’ voices banging through his phone’s speaker in our office and know it’s a time to leave him be. Not ask questions, not show him school projects, not practice instruments or even have loud conversations. Just read or do homework, any quiet activity. Well, starting last Thursday, Daddy was in a meeting from about seven in the morning until eleven o’clock at night.

    It was strange to hear the meetings go on and on. They usually end at the top of the hour. And then there are silent intervals. But we heard the voices all day. Once in a while he’d emerge, grab a handful of nuts and an ice tea and disappear. At mealtimes, he dropped out of the meeting and ate quickly with us. In the evenings, he and I managed to watch an episode of Peaky Blinders as he scrolled through his messages every few minutes. On Friday, he went back to his desk for a ten o’clock meeting to roll out an expansion of a database. Thankfully that went smoothly. This last weekend, some relief came as system traffic was of course lighter on Saturday and Sunday.

    A Strange Blessing

    Let me be clear, I’m not complaining. While service workers are being laid off, he’s busier than ever, which means he’s still employed. That’s a good thing for me and our children. But I do worry about others who aren’t so unfortunate. Like my sister who’s an early interventions specialist, mostly for autistic kids, who doesn’t get paid unless she works. She’s been ill. Like the bartender at the brewery we have lunch at. Super sweet guy. I don’t want him to lose his job. Like the lady who owns the cute second-hand shop I often visit in my neighborhood. Or even our big beloved bookstore. They, as well thousands of others, are all in financial pain right now.

    The Future Is Tense and Unknown

    As I look to the future, I have the luxury of feeling our family will probably be fine. My husband still has a job; we have money saved. Our kids are teenagers now, which is much easier than having little kids right now. I feel for those young families cooped up together. Even more for those with special needs children. It’s an intense test of stress and patience for parents.

    I do worry about my mom, my husband’s mom, and all of the wonderful older people in my life. I hate that a senseless flu would abruptly end an otherwise extended time on earth. And I can’t help feel enraged when I think about the politics of it. How this administration ignored the signs: refused WHO tests, told the CDC to order scientists not to test for the virus, and all other mistakes. We could have been clamping down on this sooner and saving lives. But for now, I’ll take the cacophony of colleagues’ voices in our house as a good sign and search for a reputable organization to donate to. If you have ideas, let me know.

    Tomorrow I’ll talk about how I keep my special needs daughter engaged but independent during this sequestered time. Then it will be onto whether I should spend the money to take my ancient cat to the vet, yet again. And how I’m focusing on my next novel, or not, plus an update on my daughter’s illness.

    If you’d like more information on the Covid-19 illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control corona virus page here.

    If you’d like stories of inspiration, tips on gardening, book and music ideas, and more, subscribe to my monthly digest, a Vine of Ideas. In it, I send a list of short links to stuff I think is worth checking out. Also, the latest on my new books and offers. Oh and you get a free ebook featuring a special tree!

  • Personal

    A Fever and Bedroom Quarantine During Covid-19

    Thermometer, A Mom's Diary During Covid-19: A High Fever and Bedroom Quarantine, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2020/03/16/bedroom-quarantine #Covid-19 #coronavirus #quarantine #Seattle #mom #momlife #diary #teen #bedroomquarantine
    Saturday, Day 3

    As I wrote in my last post, my daughter came down with a flu late last week. She’d been getting the chills and couldn’t sleep after her band trip to Ireland had been cancelled. While I’d hoped the mild fever she’d had of a 100.5 would go down overnight, it didn’t. She only slept a few hours and so the fever shot up to 103. She felt ragged. Tired. Depressed. She coughed a lot. So I sent her upstairs for a bedroom quarantine, worrying about whether she had Covid-19.

    A Mother Investigating an Illness

    I jumped on the net and searched the Washington State Department of Health website, checking the symptoms. My daughter had some but not others. For instance, she had a solidly high fever, now slightly above the range from 100.5 to 102. But she had a runny nose, which had been reported among symptoms but not regularly. She did not have shortness of breath, a somewhat common symptom, but she had a consistent cough. Very consistent.

    I agonized over what to do. I could call her doctor but her symptoms had only lasted a day. And with masses of people sick in more serious ways, I didn’t want to clog the system. So I waited and I fretted. The one fact reassuring me was young people recovered with little trouble.

    A Bedroom Quarantine Inside a Quarantine

    At dinnertime, I dropped off a plate of tacos and vitamin C water at her bedroom. She spent the evening there. She texted me that she was bored. Wanted to know if her dad, a cancer survivor, was more susceptible to corona virus. I told her I didn’t think so. The truth was I didn’t know. Later, when I went upstairs to see if she wanted a cookie for desert, her light was out. So I let her be.

    The next morning, I decided to look into getting her tested. What if she was contagious and might spread it to my husband, or me? How long would she be contagious? What if she gave it to her brother or sister and they, perhaps without symptoms, gave it unknowingly to an elderly person? The questions spun constantly in my mind.

    Still, with the Trump administration skimping on tests for even the confirmed ill, I knew getting her tested would be difficult. I’d read medical professionals were frustrated by the federal government’s lack of assistance. Tests were few and far between, especially for a low-risk teenager. So I went to the Gates Foundation website. A week earlier, I’d read an announcement that the foundation would be offering corona virus home test kits. But I couldn’t find any more detailed information about how to obtain the tests. Frustrated, I closed my laptop.

    Time Passed, Worry Grew

    I kept checking the time. Ten o’clock came. I texted my daughter. “You awake yet, hon?” No answer. I read more about the virus on the King County website, the CDC, The Guardian, The Seattle Times, and on and on. Eleven o’clock came. Tried to distract myself with actual work. Then eleven-thirty. I texted her again. Finally, an answer came. She was awake. “How do you feel?” I texted.

    “A lot better.”

    It turns out she’d slept 14.5 hours. From nine o’clock the previous night to eleven-thirty the next morning. I was thrilled. She came into the kitchen hungry. She ate a decent breakfast. We took her temperature: 98 degrees. Thank goodness.

    In all of my obsessive reading about the virus, I learned that she needed to be free of the fever for 72 hours. At least that’s what one website said. Others said 24 hours, others said 5 days. So I knew we had to take her temperature every day for a few days, but that night at least, I slept well.

    A New Concern

    Unfortunately, my husband didn’t. He got slammed at work. He’s a software architect for an internet hardware company, the biggest, the one you probably know, the “human network.” But because so many people across the country were working from home, they were using the company’s teleconferencing software and it was creaking under the traffic’s weight. He and a vast network of team members spun into emergency mode.

    I’ll write more about that tense day in my next post.

    If you’d like more information on the Covid-19 illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control corona virus page here.

    If you’d like stories of inspiration, tips on gardening, book and music ideas, and more, subscribe to my monthly digest, a Vine of Ideas. In it, I send a list of short links to stuff I think is worth checking out. Also, the latest on my new books and offers. Oh and you get a free ebook featuring a special tree!

  • Personal

    A Mom’s Diary During Covid-19

    Highlander uniform, Diary of a Mom During COVID-19: 46 Days at Home, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2020/03/14/covid-19-diary/ #COVID-19 #coronavirus #Seattle #mom #diary
    First Day Home From School, Thursday

    The virus Covid-19 has turned our family life upside down, in more ways than one. Plans cancelled, illness, work surges. We live just north of Seattle, not far from Kirkland where the first cases in Washington state appeared. Our governor has closed all schools until April 27th so we are home as a five-person family with not much to do but so much to worry about. I’ve been distracted by the virus’s rapid spread, its related news, and caring for my family so I’ve decided to keep a Covid-19 diary that covers the obstacles we’ve encountered and how we’re dealing with them. As you know, it’s a crazy time!

    A Special Trip Planned for My Kids

    The corona virus first hammered our family last Tuesday. Not through illness, thank goodness, but through a travel cancellation, an enormous one. Our son and daughter were scheduled to travel from Seattle to Dublin on Thursday. The school marching band was to march in not only Dublin’s huge St. Patrick’s Day Parade but several others in Limerick and smaller cities. They would perform in multiple venues. They’d compete in competitions. They’d tour and sightsee Ireland and Northern Ireland. They would experience another culture half-way around the world and in general have a blast.

    During the winter, our kids practiced the line up of songs at home religiously. My seventeen-year-old son plays trumpet, my fifteen-year-old daughter, saxophone. In the band, they’d practiced their formations in the rain and cold and dark for almost three hours every Monday night. They’d prepared their uniforms and met all of the requirements. Meanwhile, their dad and I paid fee after fee, knowing this tri-yearly perk of being a “Highlander,” was well worth it.

    Excitement Buzzing

    As February progressed, the band trip solidified. The kids got their itineraries. They learned where they’d sightsee. They dreamed of ancient cities and mossy landscapes and friendly Irish people. Room assignments were handed out. It was happening! The directors shipped the uniforms, which are noble looking Scottish highlander uniforms complete with kilts. They shipped their instruments, including bagpipes, flags, etc. One of the assistant band directors even left early to retrieve the cargo. No one could wait for those planes to take off.

    Meanwhile, the corona virus was circulating in Seattle. But in small numbers — or so we thought. Then, the first community case was announced. That was okay, it didn’t really affect our community. Then the Kirkland nursing home outbreak happened. The trip looked iffy but still likely. I, as well as other parents, wrote the school superintendent, voicing we were ready to take the necessary risks. There were meetings. A lot of wait-and-see. And the band directors, who’d worked for years to make it all happen, were reluctant to cancel. Everyone was ready to wear masks and travel with bleach if they had to to get to Dublin.

    Sad Circumstances

    As the outbreak spread, more and more people got sick. Cases popped up in Ireland. Then the Irish government cancelled the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Still optimistic, the band directors thought perhaps the kids could simply perform in their other scheduled venues. But then the Irish government cancelled all parades in Ireland. And so, the final sad reality was with no parades to march in, the entire trip was scrapped. I felt gut punched.

    Not long after I heard the announcement, I went to my daughter’s room. She’d been feeling under the weather and had stayed home from school. I opened the door to a red-faced sobbing girl who’d heard the news from her boyfriend. The Ireland trip was off. And worse, it probably wouldn’t happen next year.

    Welcome to a Different Way of Life

    That night, we ate dinner with two morose teenagers. My son had said that at the band meeting, the directors choked up as they announced the cancellation. A devastating blow for everyone. 175 teens had worked their butts off to show the world what a kick ass marching band they were. Now, with football season long gone, they had nowhere to perform and no reason to even play again.

    After dinner, the kids went to their rooms, processing with friends by text and facetime. My husband and I wondered if we’d ever see the money we’d dedicated to not one but two children going. It could be a small financial disaster for us. Time would tell.

    But the next couple of days only brought us another, more concerning effect from the outbreak: my daughter’s illness. I’ll cover that unexpected turn of events in my next post.

    If you’d like stories of inspiration, tips on gardening, book and music ideas, and more, subscribe to my monthly digest, a Vine of Ideas. In it, I send a list of short links to stuff I think is worth checking out. Also, the latest on my new books and offers. Oh and you get a free ebook featuring a special tree!