At-Home COVID-19 Tests

American Flag by E.A. Schneider

Greetings, dear pond readers! This is only a short post tonight to boost the signal on the new US government initiative to get at-home COVID-19 tests into households across America. My own painful experience suffering from COVID-19 this fall emphasized the importance of COVID-19 testing and I’m excited to share the link for how to sign up for your tests here: https://faq.usps.com/s/article/At-Home-COVID-19-Test-Kits

It was easy to do and I strongly encourage my American readers to take advantage of this opportunity. Almost 1 million Americans have died of COVID-19. Every life matters, including yours. Please, be a lifesaver. Get vaccinated, test often, wear masks, watch your distance, and wash your hands. We can survive this pandemic together.

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Survival Update

Survival Update

Good news, dear pond readers: I’m still alive. Things have been rough here for your favorite pond dweller in the upper Midwest because I fell ill with COVID-19. I’m writing today to talk about things I learned the hard way and to emphasize that being vaccinated saved my life. Please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine. You matter and I want you to stay alive. We’ve already lost 700,000-and-counting-too many lives in the United States and over 4 million worldwide.

Hanging In There Monarch by E.A. Schneider

I have been vaccinated for months and the vaccines saved my life. As an immune-abnormal person courtesy of my disease modifying therapy for my multiple sclerosis, I have been at increased risk of falling ill to COVID-19 this entire time. I wear masks. I watch my distance. I wash my hands. I don’t eat inside restaurants or go to movie theaters. I’ve cancelled or changed plans to avoid prolonged exposure to people in crowds. My doctor prescribed the third booster shot for me and I got my shot over two weeks ago. It went fine and I only had fatigue with headache as side-effects. The lack of side-effects made me nervous; I wanted my immune system to put up more of a fight. Then again, that’s why someone like me needs the booster. I was so lucky to get the booster. Here’s my happy action shot.

My main exposure risk is my adorable Wee Bairn who is too young to be vaccinated. Small children in daycare or school are the cutest disease vectors. As part of exploring the world and growing, small kids lick things, hug and kiss with abandon, touch everything then suck their fingers, and all manner of other germ-y activities as per usual every day. I always wanted to be the mom who encouraged eating dirt and licking the unknown to cultivate all the friendly microbes that make our life possible. At any other time, this gross behavior is actually a great thing for building up the immune systems and microbiome of children to make them infection-proof for a lifetime. But these aren’t ordinary times and children are more vulnerable than ever. This is precisely why schools need safety measures like mask mandates and mandatory vaccinations for staff; US states are all doing their own thing regarding mitigation measures like mask mandates. Unfortunately, the Delta variant of SARS-COV-2 is very effective at replicating and spreading. Even though my family did everything we could to stay safe and even though my daycare has rules in place that we followed, the virus found its way into our home and into our family. It was my worst nightmare of the last eighteen months and it wasn’t like what I expected.

Flower Remains by E.A. Schneider

At first, we thought it was a stomach flu. My child had only a low-grade fever, lethargy, nausea, and minor diarrhea. This cocktail of symptoms is familiar to parents everywhere, kids get it with a plethora of different illnesses. I got the mom-badge for being vomited upon from chin to toes. I’m over 90% confident that this vomit episode is how I got enough viral load exposure that I fell ill. Five days after the vomit day, my spouse fell ill and I fell ill the next day, day six post-vomit, which is the median incubation time for COVID-19. My kiddo tested negative but we swabbed over 12 hours after the low-grade fever broke and given the fact that children shed less virus, it’s plausible that the negative result was misleading. My spouse and I had the same symptoms as our kiddo but mine were more severe and lasted longer; we also had symptoms that aren’t discussed as much which our kiddo thankfully did not.

You know the symptoms we were on the look-out for with COVID-19? The loss of taste & smell, the shortness of breath, the high fever, and the persistent cough? Yeah, we didn’t have that. We got the stomach symptoms, the chills, the intense joint & muscle pain, the sore throat, the fatigue, and, bonus, we got really painful, spread-out skin lesions which is a less common COVID-19 symptom. Thanks to my abnormal immune system, I did experience a high fever with the chills, headaches, vertigo, arm numbness (thanks, multiple sclerosis lesions! I resent you so much), intense fatigue with weaknes, and my lesions were both more widespread and of longer duration than my spouse. I had legit COVID-toes and could not comfortably wear socks for a week. Because eating and drinking was so painful, I lost six pounds over four days. That is not how you want to lose weight.

My biggest regret is that we didn’t test our child as soon as symptoms of illness manifested. I was afraid of being too reactionary, over-using benefits, and causing unnecessary distress for my already distressed preschooler who had no cough, no COVID-toes, no high fever, and appeared able to smell scents. This was a mistake. COVID-19 has so many symptoms that it behooves us all to test any time you or a member of your household is symptomatic with anything. Hopefully, rapid at-home antigen testing will become more common and you, dear pond readers, will be better able to protect yourselves. Last week was extremely grim here with one sickly adult, one recovered but tired adult, and one very active preschooler all making do together.

Storm Clouds by E.A. Schneider

You know what though, dear pond reader? I survived. I was absolutely miserable and non-functional for three days and pretty uncomfortable for an additional six days after. Being ill for nine days at home is not bad. My vaccinated spouse was out of commission for about two days and felt better within a week. If I hadn’t had the vaccines, I would have had a more severe experience. The vaccines kept me out of the hospital and alive. My beloved better half stayed out of the hospital and alive. If everyone who can medically get vaccinated does so, we can change COVID-19 from a lethal threat to a seasonal inconvenience. If vaccination were more widespread, immune vulnerable people like me and my unvaccinated preschooler would be safer within the bosom of our vaccinated community and my beloved spouse would be, too.

Unfortunately, because our community only has 57.8% vaccination, we’re at risk. I’m terrified that my child will develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome and I’m worried that my fever combined with the immune response triggered by this infection will precipitate either a new MS relapse or the onset of yet another auto-immune disorder. The emotional toll of this experience continues and will take a long time to heal, if it ever fully does. I’m trying to focus on my blessings, practice gratitude, and work on self-care. This is helping but I think only time and prayer will mend my general anger at a community that feels indifferent at best and actively hostile at worst. Much like my MS diagnosis, I feel like coming down with COVID-19 has shown me some unexpected revelations and while I don’t think this is as watershed of an experience, it is definitely significant. This entire crisis I have managed to avoid compassion fatigue but now I feel like I’m experiencing some and I don’t like it. For far too many years, I’ve intermittently struggled with depression and this illness is pushing me back into that negative place. I don’t like that either. My knee-jerk reaction is to want to hide and lick my wounds away from others. It is important to draw boundaries and take time for oneself but social isolation can also be dangerous. Cultivating a balance of boundaries and society is going to be one of my challenges in the coming weeks.

Fall Color Sunshine by E.A. Schneider

Silver lining: challenges are something I’ve learned that I can handle. I’m not alone. I have my fantastic family, my splendid work colleagues, some truly invaluable friends, and my Faith. This is all a winning combination. Walking with my Wee Bairn and taking pictures together has also been a balm to the spirit. Whether its the endorphins from exercise or singing silly songs together or breathing in the energizing smell of dirt and leaves with my favorite small person, every walk has been delightful. Teaching my Wee Bairn to take pictures has been a continuing joy and it proved invaluable during my convalescence and now in my post-quarantine recovery as something creative we can do together that doesn’t require the intensive set-up and take down that a joint painting session does or lots of running/walking/jumping. The Fall Color Sunshine picture above was taken alongside the Wee Bairn as we listened to crows and wind blowing leaves into the grass. It was the most relaxing moment.

When faced with negative emotions, intrusive thoughts, and a persistent simmering anger at the forces and individuals prolonging this crisis, I have been working through this painful emotional soup with art because creating beauty from the maelstrom of pain is one positive thing I can do. I’ve been journaling, writing on a new story idea to make a deadline on my list, knitting, and I’ve been painting autumn decorations. Pelting unfinished wood with layers of acrylic paint until my hands hurt but the rest of me felt better has been satisfying. There are now little flecks of orange turning up in odd places in my kitchen but it’s worth it. My habitat is now brighter with autumnal colors and I’m excited that I still have more decorations to finish. I plan to post pictures of all the finished decorations but until then, here is a picture of two.

Autumn Decorations part 1 by E.A. Schneider

How are you coping with life, the universe, and everything, dear pond readers? Any new creative projects for fall?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Carrots, Peas, Cauliflower, Flowers, and Other Harvests

Carrots, Peas, Cauliflower, Flowers, and Other Harvests

Greetings, dear pond readers! Thanks for joining me for another rumination on my Good News Garden efforts in 2021. Let me start by saying that I had no idea what I was doing when I began to garden last year. I did my reading up but I basically just planted seeds and watched what happened. This year, I’m pretty much doing the same thing only with a wider variety of seeds and I’ve been watching what happens for longer with my Wee Bairn. The company has been splendid. Many of the little seedlings that we started together in our kitchen did not survive. I overwatered the second planting, they got got infested with fruit flies and fungus, and I wound up discarding most of them. Still, watching the plants germinate, grow, and produce a meagre but delightful harvest has been awe inspiring. I will post all the pictures that I can.

As the season has progressed, I have harvested a couple handfuls of sweet peas, tiny carrots, small green beans, radish greens, beet greens, four small potatoes, one tiny onion, and one respectable cauliflower.

Flowers have also been an incredible blessing from the Good News Garden. I’m planting native perennial wildflowers to attract native pollinators, reduce watering needs, and feed the butterflies. The results have been beautiful. The only plants not planted by yours truly and my Wee Bairn are the large iris, hyacinths, and daffodils in the pictures below.

I’ve cooked a few things from the harvests and I hope to write about those culinary adventures later.

At the moment, I’m pondering the Other Harvests listed above in the title. Humility. Grace. Joy. Hope. It’s been fruitful.

Humility: letting go of the fact that I really don’t have control here. I plant and I pray. I weed a little bit every other day or so as the MS energy level allows. I water a couple times a week. That’s it. I can’t control the rain or sun or heat or wildlife. I can plant things and they grow or they don’t or they produce less than I wanted. Plants we nurtured from seeds into lovely seedlings and planted according to the directions die or get eaten. It’s not up to me.

Grace: plants I wept for having been accidentally mowed down have grown double what I thought. Plants that I thought died last year came back. Wilted, malformed seedlings that I put in the ground out of wild-eyed optimism and a reluctance to waste the dirt have grown anyway. Seeds that were planted chaotically by my Wee Bairn have grown and flowered.

Joy: The smell of fresh dirt. The warm, grainy feel of the soil on my skin and under my nails as I smooth the plants into the ground. The satisfaction of pulling a weed away from the plants I am cultivating. Hearing birdsong, wind, and the medley of insect calls I do not recognize. Watching a hummingbird fly by in my peripheral vision like a fairy from a magic tale. Watering ourselves as much as the plants in warm afternoon sun. Counting different butterflies and insects visiting the flowers. Sharing my child’s sense of wonder as seeds germinate, grow, and bloom.

Hope: Flowers blooming and ripening into burgeoning fruits. Seeing four different kinds of bees visiting flowers during a short walk to water everything. Monarch butterflies drinking deep of nectar from different flowers. Getting to know neighbors nearby and across the internet through the shared connection of growing plants. Learning to cook new things, things that even the most vegetable averse child can be occasionally persuaded to try. Feeling strong enough to haul buckets of water, move dirt, and weed plants; activities beyond my reach six years ago. Heart melting whenever my Wee Bairn mentions the garden, laughs in the garden, and cares about checking on the garden to make sure the plants are okay. Hope is more than a feeling. Hope is a habit to cultivate. Giving into despair feels really easy and almost soothing at the moment. COVID-19 isn’t over. In North America the lull brought on by summer sunshine is coming to an end as the Delta variant sweeps the USA. My own corner of the Upper Midwest is experiencing high community spread and vaccination rates are not high enough to reach herd immunity. In response, we’re changing plans and it is a disappointing pill to take. That taste of burgeoning normalcy was so nice but given the danger of spreading the Delta variant even while vaccinated, it is time to mask up and go back to the cautious, mindful behavior of colder weather. One thing that I’m working hard to consciously do is cultivate hope rather than feed despairing thoughts about the way things are. Knowing that the plants will need water and weeding reminds me to keep moving even when all I want to do is hide under quilts. The garden is a reminder that all seasons include wonders and no matter how hard it is to keep showing up, I want to be part of them and share them with those I love. I can’t do that if I’m in despair.

I will end today’s post of pictures and ponderings with my biggest recent source of hope: two Monarch butterflies. I found them inadvertently in the Good News Garden and I’ve been taking care of them ever since. They are a marvel that I plan to write more about sooner than later. As I write this, I can see one of them crawling around and it is wonderful.

Are you gardening at all, dear pond readers? What are you finding to be blessings and inspirations this summer?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Sprouting Hope

Sprouting Hope

Greetings, dear pond readers! This year’s garden adventure is getting off to a promising start and I want to share it with all of you. This is especially important because at the moment I’m facing some special MS related nonsense in addition to a nasty set of non-COVID-19 spring colds in my family this weekend. My Good News Garden is proving to be a welcome diversion and therapeutic exercise for both my lousy MS arms and my spirit. Above are some lovely dwarf iris flowers that bloomed on Easter morning. I had planted them in determined fall 2020 optimism but low expectations because of my furry neighbors. The rabbits and squirrels are voracious. I’ve also had little success at growing things in this particular funny planter on my property. Seeing the growing shoots during Lent gave me hope but seeing these lovely purple blooms on Easter morning felt like an extra special touch of Grace. Here are still some more flowers that I have been pleasantly surprised to find growing this spring.

I planted a lot of bulbs in fall 2020 but I immediately feared that the local bunny and squirrel populations feasted on them when I saw some suspiciously disturbed dirt shortly after I planted them. Yet here we are, months later with blooms galore. Maybe my bunnies and squirrels don’t care for these bulbs? I can certainly hope. It is a blessing being able to go pick my own spring bouquet from my garden and enjoy its color as I write this post today knowing that there are more in my yard to feed the bees. A short walk in my garden picking flowers was a particularly welcome respite today after a weekend spent caring for two family members felled by an unknown virus. As I write this, I don’t feel especially good myself but the flowers are helping me smile and that’s salubrious to the tired spirit. Here’s hoping my one-two combo of peppermint tea and orange juice takes care of the swollen lymph nodes.

In keeping with the principles of plant, pray, and proclaim espoused by the Good News Gardens ministry, I’m endeavoring to plant more vegetables & flowers with the help of my Wee Bairn. My other ongoing life goal is to help form my child with a strong connection to both this world as well as Jesus. We’re off to a good start. Together we’ve planted seeds for tomatoes, sunflowers, broccoli, carrots, sweet peas, bush beans, watermelons, onions, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, strawberry, and cucumbers. Every day we check the baby plants first thing in the morning and say goodnight to them before bed. Watching their growth, sometimes doubling from morning to night, has been wondrous. Hearing my Wee Bairn exclaim in joy every day about the plants, particularly the progress of the cucumbers that are a particular favorite, never fails to make me smile no matter how lousy my day otherwise was or how icky I feel. That said, if those cucumbers don’t bear a crop, there will be many tears of vexation which will probably suck. We’ll manage though. Honestly, we have planted way too many seeds and many of the sprouts won’t make it but I’m hopeful nonetheless that some of each of them will thrive. R-selected life histories work! Here are some action shots.

At first when we head-started these seeds in the tray, I felt a pang of mourning that this year’s garden would be less chaotic and more organized than last year’s. I needn’t have worried. I have my very own agent of entropy helping in the garden. When given the opportunity to freely plant some seeds in little pots, the Wee Bairn started with neatly separated pots but then quickly blended all the seeds together in some bigger pots. I honestly don’t know what wound up in the pots and we’ll see if anything grows but it will add to the adventure if something does. Getting the dirt spread out in the bin was so much fun to do together. The peas were neatly planted in a trench but the carrot seeds were spread all over the bin. I honestly have no idea where they are or if they will grow. Dirt got in every part of both of our outfits, inside our shoes, and in between each toe inside socks. Washing up in the kitchen afterward took a while. Thankfully, my husband is very patient.

After planting the broccoli sprouts and some of the sunflower seedlings, the Wee Bairn hugged the broccoli right before the above photo was taken because they are such cute sprouts. As soon as we’re all healthy and the weather cooperates, we’ll be planting bush bean plants as well as any other sprouts with multiple sets of leaves and cross our fingers. I don’t know how everything will grow but that is part of the fun. The journey thus far has been an incredible blessing and I have faith that it will turn out well. Even if it is a chaotic mess of weeds and fat bunnies, it is all still an adventure.

Bouquet close-up by E.A. Schneider

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Vaccinated and Feeling Fine

Happy New Year, dear pond readers! 2021 has been an eventful year and it is only 24 days old. I have many thought on many subjects but tonight I am going to keep things simple. Before Christmas I was blessed to be among the first vaccinated against COVID-19 in my corner of the Upper Midwest of the U.S.A. Considering the horrific toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked on the world as a whole and the United States in particular, I feel humbly grateful to be among the happy few to have received a vaccine because of the science work I do. I want to use this gift well. While my second dose in early January did produce a more noticeable immune response than the first dose, it was a mild experience. Here is the historical action shot!

Vaccinated! I promise that the wheelchair and cane have nothing to do with the vaccine or my multiple sclerosis. I was injured when I fell on black ice. I am rocking a Walk MS T-shirt though.

As the caption says, the wheelchair and cane are due to black ice causing a fall and subsequent injury. I’m happy to report that my multiple sclerosis is behaving and I’m otherwise fine. In terms of the vaccination itself, 12 to 14 hours after the injection I developed mild sniffles, mild sore throat, some slight vertigo, periodic cough, mild headache, and some fatigue. The injection site hurt if I poked it but my arm did not hurt otherwise or become numb like with dose one. My second dose was on Friday in the late afternoon, this suite of mild symptoms developed late Saturday morning, I took a three hour nap on Sunday, and I felt absolutely fine by Monday afternoon. The clockwork aspect of symptoms was surreal but convenient. If I had had a normal leg, I would have been bopping around my house as usual regardless of the immune response. As it was, I enjoyed the silver lining of being able to read library books and watch some streaming without the guilt I often feel when I do such activities.

Even though I’m going to keep watching my distance, washing my hands, and wearing masks, it is really tremendous to know that I’m basically immune from COVID-19 infection for the coming months. I’m looking forward to being able to do more things in my community with others as the number of vaccinations rise. Everyone, if you have the opportunity to get vaccinated and your medical team says it’s okay for you, I strongly recommend that you do so. Until everyone is vaccinated, no one is truly safe. While there isn’t a whole lot that I can do at the moment to make the vaccine more equitably available, we can all do our part to make sure the curve flattens and more people survive to spring & summer & vaccine availability. It is so simple: wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands. Together, we can get through this crisis. As beautiful and necessary as this memorial at the US Capitol is, I really don’t want us to need another one for 500,000-1 million U.S. deaths.

Lights Against the Darkness: Advent Wreath 2020 by E.A. Schneider

How has your 2021 begun, dear pond reader? Do you have COVID-19 vaccine questions?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Here is something you can think about the next time you’re struggling to wear a mask: My Favorite Word as Inspirational Art Designed & Photographed by E.A. Schneider