Thursday, February 25 2021

work stress, covid tests, and balance



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday.

Yesterday sucked. I'm sorry if you had a good Wednesday, but I'm officially submitting a request to just erase it from this week altogether. It's as good as done - from Thursday on, this past Wednesday never happened.

I'm being a little dramatic. I've got work stress, and it just feels good to vent. I was off on Tuesday, so yesterday I already had quite a bit of catch-up to do. The unread messages in my gmail broke the double digits, and that's very a-typical for me. So I was already starting off the day with a work debt to pay.

Then I found out that I missed some very important team news. I actually agree with the move, but maddeningly everyone seemed to have a different impression of what was actually happening, and none of it was written down. If you're trying to run a remote team and you're reluctant to write anything down, then even good ideas will be hampered with chaos and misinformation right out of the gate. To me, that's just common sense.

So that was my morning. My email was still untouched, and our team's support channel was swelling up with questions like a pair of inflamed lymph nodes. That analogy was intentional - around lunch time I started to feel achy. Fatigued. After finishing lunch my heart was racing like a rabbit and a dull headache overtook my senses. I crashed on the couch.

Marissa and I decided it was time for a COVID test. We packed the dogs away and lugged both boys in the car. Rodney brought a bag of toy power tools. We drove to the giant garage-like facility on the other side of town. Marissa and I were actually kind of excited. We've driven by the testing facility before, and we felt fortunate to get a first hand glimpse of what the process was like. The exspansive parking lot was empty. The winding line of traffic cones was vacant. Only a single car was parked in front of the entrance, waiting to get in.

2021 02 25 covid test

The attendants were wearing protective gear. They scanned a bar code we received by email. "We'll do the passenger first," said the attendant through the car window.

I rolled down my window. I pulled my mask down past my nose. The attendant inserted the long cue-tip into each nostril and gave it a festive twirl.

I was dreading the test. I watched Marissa get a COVID test when Miles was born, and somehow in the context of a hospital room it looks much more painful. This one just felt like a really over-indulgent nose pick, like what you might see a little kid do to himself during a long church sermon out of boredom and curiosity.

"You'll get the results in two to three days," said the attendant as he bagged up our boogery test kits. We drove away.

"Two to three days?" I whined. Marissa rolled her eyes. "Is it just me, or does that feel a little long?"

"What do you even do with that?" asked Marissa. "By the time we'll find out we'll probably already feel better."

Two to three days. We've had this virus for a full year now. We've studied it enough to produce a successful vaccine. Why the hell does it take two to three days to get the results? I don't want to sound selfish. I know a ton of research and labor goes into making tests available in the first place, but in that moment I felt abandoned. I had reached a new quarantine low. The fear that life would never return to normal, repressed for months, was now leaking out of my sweat pores.

I'd spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch. Rodney tried to cheer me up with new LEGO creations, and it worked. He finally figured out how to stick the two rac ecar fins together at the top, forming a new type of jet plane.

2021 02 25 plane

"Are you sad that he's more into LEGOs than K'nex?" asked Marissa. A fair question. When we were first shopping for toys to encourage his constructive interests, I made a big deal about how the lesser known k'nex were the superior tool. It was just my nostalgia talking.

"No," I said. "I'm just happy he's building things."

Each night when I put Rodney to bed I ask him, "What did you work on today, and how did you relax?" I think I ask that because I'm trying to get him to find his own sense of balance between work and play. He spends some time on the couching zonking out to YouTube, but on his own volition he'll get up and paint something, play with Miles, or build a new machine from LEGOs. He's finding his own balance, and it makes me proud. That's no easy thing for a kid to achieve quarantined alone in his house.

We scrapped our dinner plans and just ordered food. Thanks to some spicy noodle soup, a hot shower, and some tea spiked with liquor, I started to return to normal.

I'm going to work today. I have a dry, drippy feeling in the back of my throat, and I'm feeling occasional hot flashes, but the half day of rest helped. We don't know if this is the rona, but Marissa and I agree that it's a weird type of sick that we've never felt before.

"I don't feel really sick," said Marissa. "I even forget about it sometimes. I just feel off."

What a weird sickness. I too forget about it sometimes. It's not as bad as mono or a cold, but more persistent. It feels alien.

That's what I got today. Let's hope Thursday works out a little better than yesterday. We still have half a week left, right? Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. Have a great Thursday today.