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Down With COVID-19. Up With Nature and Cats. #MondayBlogs #Nature #Cats

My reprieve from the COVID-19 call center was only for a few days. (You can read about my stomach-churning anticipation here and actual experience here.) By Thursday, my division was being asked to ante up again. At one point, my boss wanted me to literally drop everything and high-tail it back to the call center.

Fortunately for me, I was working on an assignment for her so she relented. I could go Friday instead … and Saturday. I was furious (and I blame my quick temper to a lack of estrogen although I’ve had a quick temper all my life). But I got through my day, went to a yoga class, and by evening was shrugging it off … except for the idea that I might miss visiting my mother who is currently staying with my sister in southwest Florida. We had been told our vacations could be rescinded, and the plan was to go the following weekend.

After talking it out with my husband, I canceled the trip. My mom is 96 but I have to believe that there’s still time for us to see each other again. I called her, told her I might have to work, and that workplace plans were being changed day-by-day. She understood but she sounded a bit disappointed. Better safe than sorry, I thought, as I rung off. Even though I wouldn’t say it to her–she would only “pooh, pooh” the idea–I didn’t feel that visiting her right now would be the responsible thing to do.

As it turned out, I only had to work four hours in the call center, but it was a harrowing four hours. The phones–all twenty of them–rang nonstop. I took 53 calls that morning, roughly the same number I took in a full day the week before. I would have taken more but for one bathroom break, and I switched off my phone a couple of times just to catch my breath. The calls were on average five minutes long and, as soon as I replaced the handset, the phone would ring again.

Some callers were calm, just wanting information, sometimes confirmation that they were doing all the right things. A few callers were angry. One was angry because she witnessed healthcare workers in a respiratory ICU not wearing face masks and gloves. Another caller complained that her child’s school was letting sick children attend classes. Another woman–a caller I won’t soon forget–was desperate for a test. She had no doctor, no health insurance, was new at her job and surrounded by people who regularly traveled. She wasn’t feeling well, and she was an older woman.

As I gave her the usual spiel about needing a doctor’s order for the test, she became angrier and angrier. Finally she hung up on me. I didn’t take it personally. I would have been angry too. She needed a target and I was willing to oblige.

Although I already harbored suspicions that my state government was not well-organized in its approach to COVID-19, that morning in the call center turned those suspicions into certainties. After two weeks of addressing COVID-19 we still were getting calls from healthcare providers who didn’t know what to do with patients who might need to be tested. People we had referred to their local county health department called back saying their local county health department was referring them to us. Most callers still thought we were a hotline or that we could arrange testing when all we could do was provide general information.

I took too many calls from people who said their primary physician refused to see them.

And, worse, I was given “updated” information regarding testing protocols that conflicted with what I had been told the week before. Information that was not available on the state’s website or in any of the documentation I had originally received from the call center. The woman working next to me hadn’t received the so-called updated information and was, frankly, horrified when I told her what I had been told. Near the end of the morning, I was giving callers more information than they probably needed because I no longer knew what was true and what wasn’t.

I wasn’t feeling the preparedness in all this.

After lunch, I returned only to be sent back to my office for the afternoon and foreseeable future. The line for the call center had been moved to a real call center. Far as I know, I won’t be taking any calls from the public, or healthcare providers, or snowbirds whose wings have been clipped.

The silver lining in all this for me is the rediscovery of Lafayette Park last week. I went there after work on Friday and again on Saturday. It’s a rough but beautiful trail. Here’s a few photos I took over the past two visits.

The park abounds with large old trees and beautiful flowering bushes.

One tree I just adore. Its branches are so gnarly and arthritic-looking, we figure it must be in the 400-500 year-old range (don’t quote me). I appreciate that the park elected to tether one of its extensive, low-hanging branches to the trunk rather than lop it off. These next photos are different perspectives of the same tree.

Friend of the blog, John Howell, recently noted how important it is that we think of our blessings during difficult times. You can read about it here. I’m doing my best, John. Nature is full of blessings for me, as are these critters.

From a few months ago, when it was chilly. Wendy, Junior, and Max enjoying the sun’s warmth.

Categories: life

Tagged as:

Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

21 replies

  1. Oh Marie!!! What an experience! You’re having to be the voice of reason in a chaotic time. At least those callers had someone human to talk to, rather than a recorded message.

    What beautiful photos! I’m grateful to see such beauty. Being out in nature heals us.


    1. Thank you, Linda! Yes, “voice of reason.” Not something my husband would usually describe me as … lol 😉 Nature is very healing. Perhaps now more than ever I’m trying to appreciate my moments in Nature. I hope you are well, Linda. ❤


  2. One would hope that with the number of senior citizens in Florida the stae would be more proactive on addressing the desease. This is an alarming post, Marie. Sorry you had to be on the front line. Thank you so much for the mention. The only thing worse than a pandemic is the fear associated with it. I’m hoping you can get an element of calm. Your photos are terrific. ❤️


    1. Thank you, John! I don’t want to be an alarmist but I do think the state should have been proactive, especially given what happened in Seattle with that assisted living facility. We need action, not fear. Thank you for your kind words about my photos ❤


  3. I’m glad you won’t be needing to take any more of those calls. Your cats look so sweet. 🙂 Hope you all stay sfe.


  4. I’m sorry you couldn’t see your mom, but you have to err on the side of caution these days. I’ll be missing going to the gym–though as far as I know, it’s still open.
    But nature and pets–yes, we have to be thankful and cherish those things. That old tree is beautiful!


    1. We canceled our gym memberships. We wanted to just suspend them but that wasn’t an option. Greg is thinking of cleaning out the garage and setting up weights. We had used the garage as a place to workout years ago, but it’s not air-conditioned so summertime can be rough. We’ll see. I’m still going to yoga practice but I bring my own gear so, for now, I feel safe enough there.


      1. My gym is closed now–as are most places here in NJ as of 8:00 last night. I didn’t even think about the membership fee. I wonder what they’re doing about that. Younger daughter and her husband have a workout room with treadmill and elliptical, weights, etc. In the mornings before she goes to work, she puts her puppy on the treadmill while she does the elliptical. 🙂


        1. My yoga studio closed as of Monday night. 😦 I was all set to go to a hot yoga class tonight. Broke my heart. I know the owner is doing the right thing for the community and the health of her staff, although some of them are financially dependent on the studio. (I’ll reach out to the owner, see if I can help.) Perhaps if your gym membership fees aren’t waived, that means that they’ll continue to pay staff. Greg was thinking about quitting our gym anyway. He’s bored with it and feels there’s a “steroid culture.” For me, it’s just too much of a commute from my workplace during the week. I’d love to have a treadmill or elliptical at home 🙂


  5. Thank you for your front line update(s). Know you are doing the best thing for your Ma (just extra encouragement for you on what I know is hard to do).
    Your line, “snowbirds whose wings have been clipped.” made me LOL!
    And your photo slide shows are just what the doctor ordered for this lady (plus virtual kitty fixes!).
    Take care


    1. Oh, thank you, Laura, for all your kind words. My mom is a snowbird and has already joked to my sister up north that she might be stuck in Florida. Hopefully we can get her back to her home before hurricane season 🤦🏼‍♀️


      1. Let’s pray in advance for a mild hurricane season, too, then – who knows how long it will be before those who have to hunker down away from home will get back? Sounds like your Ma has a good sense of humor – sorely needed in these times.


  6. You’ve really had a front-line experience. This is one of those situations when really understanding what’s happening does not give you any assurance! Thank you for the photos of the trees–my sister the forestry major would agree with how healing they are for us.


  7. Love the photos, especially the one of the cats, who look so peaceful! I also had to cancel our trip to see my 83-year-old mom, who is in assisted living in Washington, about an hour from the nursing home that had all the trouble. At the place where my folks are, no visitors are allowed, and they closed the cafeteria/restaurant. Instead, they are bringing each resident’s meals to their rooms. Sorry for you that you could not see your mom, and I know the feeling! I have been confused about the testing also. A friend went to the hospital, feeling very sick (in Southern California), and though she seemed to have symptoms, they did not test her. Not sure why.


    1. I cannot imagine how you must feel with your mom so far away and much too close to Kirkland. My mom is staying with my oldest sister so she’s not alone. I’m just hoping they stay put. I hope your friend is feeling better. I know in Florida they’re still using a strict criteria for testing people simply because they don’t have enough test kits to go around … although other countries seem to have plenty of test kits.


  8. I think it’s actually cool that you are there to reach out to people during this crisis💙
    I’m really grateful to see such humanity ❤️


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