During the beginning of Covid lock-down period in 2020 I started getting allergy shots. In retrospect it seems like a strange decision, at a time when we were wary of putting family members in hospital even when they needed to be there. But the small allergist’s office took all the precautions and I went- first twice a week, then once, and later once every two weeks, turning into a maintenance schedule of every three weeks.
So during that period of isolation, engaging only with our small “pods”, my sole outside in-person interactions were with the front-desk staff and nurses at this office.
I would stand outside the door, six feet from other patients, until I heard the call “temp check” ring out and a nurse would come to place the thermometer against my forehead and let me in. I would greet the young lady at the desk and she always recognized me, in fact could recognize all her regular patients in spite of face masks, hats and hoods. In the waiting room the interior rows of seats were blocked and only five people allowed at a time, so I would find my favorite corner chair and wait for my name to be called. After the shot I had to wait for 30 minutes to see if there was an adverse reaction (there never was) and then would meander back to get a nurse to look at my arm and declare me free to go.
Those 30 minute waits in that room were an oasis of comfort. The TV would be on silent, usually showing a cooking competition show with closed captioning scrolling words across the bottom of the screen. I would glance up at it occasionally while playing word games on my phone. A few times I put in earphones and listened to a work meeting, but almost always this was my time to relax in passive companionship.
I loved listening to the voices of the ladies at the front desk, as they helped patients coming to their plexiglass-barricaded counter, and the patients on the phone. Most of all I loved listening to them chat together; about child care, a tricky insurance question, favorite foods, whatever. Never a sharp tone and quick to chuckle, giggle and tease in easy companionship.
Remember what a tense, disturbed, uncertain time that was? Wiping down groceries and leaving mail to sit for days before touching it, sewing masks and wearing disposable gloves? Plywood sheets covered store windows and the outdoor escalator to this office stopped working, broken glass in it’s toothed steps. It seemed as if the world we knew was fracturing around us. I was dealing with a family emergency at home and navigating virtual teaching at work.
But during those visits I soaked in the kindness and humor and calm capability of the ladies at the counter. I mostly just said “hello” and “goodbye, have a good one” but what I really want to say is “you deserve a love letter and this is it.”
6 thoughts on “Love Letter from the Time of Covid”
Fran, those days are haunting. In a strange way, at first I found the silver lining in being home more with my dogs. But the deadlines didn’t stop. I remember the wiping of mail and groceries. Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling so swift. A wave of exhaustion hit me and I fell back asleep – something I never do. A cough, a headache, sneezing. I went in to work and checked out to go to the doctor to get upper respiratory meds so I could feel better by Thursday, the day we are flying in a speaker in our district to speak on Literacy and poverty in our community. And then I got the doctor’s diagnosis: You have Covid.
And again, the deadlines don’t stop. I feel horrible, but the silver lining this time is pajamas. Pajamas and aggressive meds. I so relate to your post!
Wow, I am so sorry that you are sick, Kim! You remind us that covid is still here with us. And the deadlines remain, too! I hope you will truly take good care of yourself.
Fran, I am with you. I have been getting allergy shots for years. I now get them once a month for maintenance. Yes, the ladies at the check-in window were always warm and cheerful. They do deserve a big “Thank You”. for being there.
Fran, I am so glad you took time to write this down. A favorite phrase is: my time to relax in passive companionship. It sums up what you got to experience while sitting for 30 minutes with those nurses. It really was a time. And as we get ready for it to be 2023, it is important to remember all we have been through. And writing it down holds it. I hope this love letter gets delivered to the allergy nurses!
I was a bit surprised to find myself writing one more covid piece! (And wondered if readers would click on it.) But it was a time! I agree we shouldn’t be quick to forget. And yes, I think I will find a way to share this with my office ladies! Have a wonderful vacation, I’m thinking of you in beautiful NM.
You obviously love to give praise, too, and this office oasis deserves it
This was much needed therapy for far more than allergies. What a lovely post.