Where were you when the Country went into lock down? What were your plans for that day or even that week? Do you even remember thinking about all the things you wanted to do in your life, but work and everyday tribulations got in the way? I would assume like most of the world you just went about your day thinking a stay at home order for a week sounds like an easy feat. Then that week turned into weeks, and months, and even further extensions now for some places, and all of sudden people started to dwell on every bad scenario they could think of…Do we have enough money to survive? Will we have enough food stocked up to get through a quarantine period? Is there enough toilet paper under the sink to wipe your ass for the next several weeks? All valid questions and concerns, but immediately people forgot the greatest part of this horrible pandemic. They forgot about family, all those little things you have been wanting to accomplish, the movies you have been waiting to see, or maybe even the yard work you have put off due to your lack of time. Then, you allowed yourself to try and make assumptions on the state of the economy like when will the world go back to normal? These are uncontrollable situations on a large scale, but everyone has the right to choose to help thy neighbor by keeping yourself distanced and spend time at home with the family. This is not a rant about what your doing or how you went off the deep end in quarantine. This is to give you some perspective on my last few months since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown until now.
For those who don’t know me, I am an Active Duty Naval Officer that had recently gone from the rank of Chief (E-7) to Ensign (0-1), commonly referred to as going to the “darkside”, but I like to call it a crossbreeding to “Mustang” or Up Through the Ranks Without Walking the Plank. For the most part my service record has nothing to do with this article other then the fact that I am now writing this Blog from the COVID-19 Positive military member perspective. It has been approximately 13 days since finding out I was a carrier of the virus and I would like to take you through a little timeline of how this affects me as a Sailor, but more importantly as a father, husband, and human being. Hopefully, by the end of this article you will look a little deeper at yourself and determine that you should have used your time more wisely or that you made the best of terrible situation, which is no where near the horrific events the generations before us had experienced.
Since December of 2019 I have been in a Permanent Change of Station status. Basically, the family and I are picking up and moving. In December, we were doing nothing but moving forward in our lives, moving from the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii to Naval Station Everett in Washington State. I had just gotten off a four-year tour aboard the most underway ship in the area, heading into another six-year stent at sea. Now that we have a background of the time I have missed with my wife and daughters; we can move on. I spent an amazing nine days in the new house with the Family and it was time to fly out to Virginia for school. No problem, but it had to happen one week before Christmas vacation and so I went just to come back five days later and got to spend another eighteen days and two holidays at home. There is no place like home. Do not forget this saying when your thinking about how crappy your feeling stuck in the house or on your property. New years ends and it is back to school for me, another flight across the country. I would be in school for one-hundred more days before I could possibly head home again. Then COVID-19 hits. I was stuck in a place where the only escape from class was either the gym or video games (which gaming is not my style). Then the next killer happens, and they shut down the gyms everywhere. Soon came the limited store openings, grocery marts getting swamped with all the panicked buyers, and most of all…the stay at home orders. When the official stay at home order occurred, I was making good use of my time either learning in class, or on the racquetball and tennis courts, picking up a new sport. All this time is passing, and I just wanted to be home to be there for my family while the Country starts to really settle into panic. My small room quarantine basically started now. For my last few weeks, I did my best to only do things that involved social distancing like one on one sports or sitting in my exceedingly small hotel room that acted as my house and gym. I spent everyday up until my flight to the west coast, like tons of other military members, not knowing when or if I was going to leave on time or even at all. Not leaving just means more time away. That more time is months that my wife must be dad, that my girls call asking when I will be home, and most of all just rip the controls of life right from your hands. What controls do you really have on your life though? Are you a person of fate or choice? Who decides what you will do with your day and where you need to be? Well for us service members it’s the controlling branch and I will never complain about that for one minute and my wife will never make me feel bad at all for doing my service, but lets get into the last month now.
I did eventually leave Virginia and get to go back to Washington for what I thought was only going to be three days back in April. I got lucky because that three days ended up being almost two whole weeks at home. Now, everyone with small children knows that every week, or even sometimes every day, a three and a five-year-old can change personalities drastically. Us military members know that those first weeks home from deployment are usually both amazing and awkward to some extent. I always get home and the family has new routines, new likes, new dislikes. They do not eat the same foods, or the furniture is moved, and these little things are usually very off putting for me. Tammy, my wife, can attest to the fact that I have the need to make big changes happen when I come home. I will rearrange the rooms, build things, get rid of things, and even change up their schedules. This makes me feel like I have a sense of purpose since Tammy can handle almost everything herself with little complaint, or especially little complaint in my direction. She really is a badass and keeps me moving forward like I will do with this article. We will take a round turn back to post deployments in a later article. Anyway, just in time for me to ruin their entire routine which did not matter because they were just so happy to see me, it was time to fly out to meet up with my next command. Tammy has had the kids 24/7 like most people who were laid off or kids were sent home from school. How many people out there right now are going insane with two adults managing the household and the kids? A lot, but I also know there are plenty in my same situation.
There I go, off on another plane ride with at max twenty people onboard and no one within ten feet of me. Luckily, I was rocking my Philadelphia Eagles COVID mask made by Tammy and available in our store, so I did not worry too much about breathing or walking past people if they didn’t touch me. A short flight later we land and at this point I have no clue on where I am going or who is picking me up but this is all to normal for military travel. I did the usual and sent some texts, make a call, and BAM, I got a hold of my driver who tells me he will be about an hour which means an hour of sitting around in an airport when I didn’t want to have contact with anyone. That hour goes by and add about another 45 mins and the driver shows up and were off to my living quarters for the next 15 days of quarantine. The military has done a fantastic job with making sure we have rooms, meals, and a point of contact to keep us in the know of what our status is and if we need anything. Again, the Military is not necessarily what this is about, but were almost there.
Day one and I am checking back into another hotel room. This puts me in hotel rooms for one hundred and ten days out of the last one hundred and forty-five days. What is there to complain about? A hotel room and people there taking care of you, where is the story? So now we have made it to the point I want to drive home just two pages of reading later, but hopefully your getting a little insight to the differences between being able to be at home, and being stuck at home. Stuck at home. Let that sink in as I describe my accommodations and rules which I find to be perfectly fare for the situation were faced with at this point. There is no better way to beat the curve then to take away the statistical variable…US!
My room is twenty-two feet by ten feet for a total of two hundred and twenty feet squared with a mini refrigerator, a microwave, and a bathroom. Not so bad other then the fact that I now have fourteen days at the least without being able to exit my room door. Now, this is not some courtesy like half the assholes protesting about their rights being pummeled to the ground. It is a direct order to stay where you are until further notified and we follow orders unless it is a “Code Red”. I think we all have learned to not follow a code red, or your just to young to understand the reference which in that case use your quarantine time to look up the phrase and track it back to the must watch movie. Your welcome for killing two hours of your life and adding a top movie to your list. Alright, back to day one and I am isolated, missing the family for the fifth time this year, and all motivation is stripped form me every time I walk away with a sea bag on my back. I have options though at this point, just like you do. You can let the isolation consume you and do nothing but snack, nap, and complain about the situation you have been handed or you can find better use of your time. This part is for you readers to think back on earlier questions and start to ponder what you have managed to do, or not do, since staying at home. Now, I would be remised if I did not say thank you to the other mission essential employees out there that have basically continued with their work lives in a time of crisis. Aside from medical staffs and volunteers, we have all had a remarkable amount of time to our own ventures outside of the workday now that there is no where to go or nothing to do. If you are one of those people who took up a new hobby, decided to learn about an interest you lost track of, or just found a great way to occupy your free time then my hats off to you, because you have found some self-worth in a lost time for many.
Tammy got the call that it was finally time to get back to work. She is a Law Enforcement Officer for the Department of the Navy. Like I said a badass in all sense of the word. She was told it was time to retake her physical test and get back into a job which she must take administrative leave from every time we move and hope that another position opens down the road. Sorry, babe! It was here that I figured I would take my time to help her in some way, even from a distance. Now my Shipmates out there are probably a little more familiar with the Dirty Thirty Program, but for everyone else out there I will break it down for you. When you are up late or the watch blues kick in underway there is no better way to wake up and keep the heart rate rolling then to have a monster or a fifth cup of coffee, right? Wrong! The Dirty Thirty challenge keeps a much healthier lifestyle going, although trust me not many partake. The dirty thirty consists of a workout every thirty minutes that usually consist of thirty repetitions until you ramp up into extending the workout further. The normal is thirty pushups every thirty minutes which would have you at two hundred and forty pushups a watch. You stand that watch two times a day and your doing at a minimum four hundred and eighty reps of that specific exercise. Well I made it my goal to call tammy throughout the day to get dirty with little things like, “hey your looking a little too clean”. In which she would always reply with a sigh and then get her butt on the ground and moving. Normally my daughters would join in and it became a fun way to take my mind off sitting in my room all day and night. This was something we carried on for days. In the beginning she was not able to even complete her workouts and by the end of only ten days, she was doubling or tripling her numbers and adding in multiple exercises to her thirty. I could not be prouder to say she went and crushed the test and now must add another hurdle in her day of being mom and dad, working, and the home doer upper. Like always though she will succeed at in, because even in these tough times she always finds a way to stay motivated and learn new things. Remembering that you cannot control everything to its full extent will help you pinpoint the things that can make you better.
Now I am a person who on command can dream up something and start putting it into effect immediately. As a matter of fact, I hate waiting or procrastinating something that sparks my interest. There is no time to wait, the time is now. I have had numerous things on my list to try out and there is no better time then now. Thankfully, I carry my agenda with me everywhere so I can jot notes down for later use because I came across this note that said, “You always buy military stuff online why not sell your own stuff?” Now this really did not mean much to me as I did not want to just open a store, but I dabbled the idea of doing something more in front of Tammy to see how she felt about it. As usual, she was nothing but supportive and interested. Just like that, CraftyWifeSailorLife.com was formed and I am excited to see where it will take us. Wait, now I have a .com and I do not know anything about web design or any design for that matter. Here is the difference between setting an idea into motion or letting it die. Most of the time, if one thing is out of your control or knowledge base then that is it, it is over. You just quit and except that it was not meant to be, and you will not be able to do that. Cutting to the point, we have the free time right to learn and it could not be any easier than having the internet and YouTube right there to support the workings of your imagination. Within the fourteen days I spent on my first quarantine stent (Yes they first one) I learned how to do web design to a pretty successful point that I created multiple sites now to include our reviews site, TurltesReviews.com, which is a fun work in progress. Throughout the process I learned graphic design via free apps for download and created out first tee shirts coming to the store this week. Both Tammy and I have started our first fundraiser, Blog, and most importantly we kicked off the first real step to building a company and have put an LLC on CWSL. Staying engaged got me through the days, along with some awesome bootcamp style workouts that we will get posted up here soon. Here I am now, and I cannot stop writing. It is all very captivating when you have the time. Use the time wisely. Understand that I would kill for this time to be spent at home with family like others are struggling to understand the importance of. Make the time to be with your kids, even if its just fifteen video chats a day as I am doing.
I was feeling great and ready to roll on to the ship for duty. Only thing left to do on day fifteen was go get tested. After getting our sanitized van issued to a few of us heading for testing, we were off to the hospital that has a drive-up service. It is a bit ere of a moment when you first pull into the vacated parking garage to nurses in rubber masks and gloves directing you from point to point. Now if you have not had this test done, it is not exactly pleasant. It involves a q tip size bendy stick with what looks like a pipe cleaner on the end inserted to your nasal cavity and spun around to collect the sample. It is even more uncomfortable that your sticking your head out the window of the vehicle to have it done. After verifying your tube, you are on your way back to your quarantine room. Now just three to four more days and I can get out of this hell hole of a room and at least to somewhere there is another person, or space to walk around. I never thought I would say that the ship really is not that small to be living on until now. I spent the next three days plugging away on this site and coming up with some great ideas we will reveal later down the line. The last thing you want to do is give me free time and a means to try something different, because I am on it! Then the call came…. Hey, pack your stuff and be ready to head to the ship in the morning. Yes! It was finally over. I got straight to packing my sea bag up and getting ready to roll. The next morning comes around and no phone call. No one coming to pick me up. No nothing, so I figure…Damn they did not get my test done yet. Not the Case. The doctor called me that afternoon and very quickly says Hi! You are COVID-19 positive. This is pretty much the whole conversation for now since I would be waiting for the next call from someone to describe the process to me shortly. I immediately called Tammy and said, hey do you know anyone with COVID-19? Up until this point I started leaning towards the hoax side of the house as we had not met anyone with it yet. She replied no, why. Me being me I just said well now you do. I also proceeded to break the news to my parents in the same manner. Not a sniffle, a fever, or even a body ache and I find out I have Corona virus. First thought is dang now I must sit in this damn room another 14 days. Numerous phone calls later I finally realize that my plans are on hold and now I must spend another fourteen to twenty days in isolation again. How the hell am I going to make it through this one? I am writing this still on day twenty five of isolation, but for the sake of cutting this article I will follow up with the rest of the story and go back and attach some funny pictures of my life in a 220 square foot room for almost a month. Leave me a comment as I am still quarantined and let me know if you have any questions or specific details you are interested in. Just shoot me a comment with one of your quarantine stories. I am sure there are some awesome ones out there. I will get into my daily routine in the follow-on article along with my results form my next testing cycle and where it goes from there. Just do me a favor after reading this even if nothing stood out to you. Find something you have been wanting to accomplish for a while. Sit down and write a plan or step process you think it may take to have it happen. Then, if your really want to do it, start checking off those steps until you get to where your imagination wanted it to be. I’m sitting around with the same clothes on for days on end, eating nothing but galley food, sitting no where but at a chair and desk all day, and all I can think about is the things I could accomplish if I just had time. Do not let time kill your dreams even if you must alter the plan. Have a plan and change accordingly but keep putting check marks on those steps. Round robin on yet another previous question. Do you even remember thinking about all the things you wanted to do in your life? What are they? What are your ambitions? Those things that you don’t have control over will destroy you if you let them. Stay safe out there everyone and don’t go TP’ing houses with all your left-over supplies on mischief night. You know who you are! #OurWorldOurHeroes #FuckYouCOVID
Accomplishments During COVID-19 Isolation so far:
-Started a business, Crafty Wife Sailor Life, LLC
-Learned Web Design, opened the online shop…products are coming.
-Worked with Wounded Warrior Project on how we can Fundraise and donate.
-Learned Basic Graphic Design (INKScape is a great free program if your interested)
-Designed our companies first 2 t-shirts, and our first water flask.
-Started a reviews and life site called TurtlesReviews.com (its coming along)
-Read some Navy instructions I was not so familiar with
-Invented my own Quick Books (aka Pete’s Books) Titles in progress, but I will be making it available as an attachment in this blog later along with an easy to use budget calculator for my finance followers.
Stay Tuned for the Daily life in a room, and more importantly the process of getting out of isolation once you have tested positive. Test results to come.