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Living in a Van and the Coronavirus

Like so many people around the world, our lives have changed because of the Coronavirus.

What exactly is the Coronavirus? Well, first and foremost it is a virus. Yep, that is exactly what John Hopkins Medicine online says.

Upon further search, according to WebMD, the first human Coronavirus was identified in 1965. How does one get Coronavirus? Spit, basically. Tiny sprays of spit passed through the air from one to another. Coronavirus is not fake, it has indeed killed millions around the world.

I don't imagine at this point we really would be able to say exactly how many people have died from it.

I very clearly remember being a bit alarmed by the newest Coronavirus, COVID-19 in early 2020.

My son, Franklin, had flown out for a visit so he could jump out of a Hot-Air Balloon. During his visit, the news of COVID-19 was exploding. When he was packing to fly back to Houston,

I loaded him up with disinfecting wipes to use prior to touching anything. The label on those wipes clearly stated that they kill Coronavirus. Thankfully, he used them throughout his journey and arrived home safely.

My husband, Darin worked in convention centers all across the country. In early March 2020 conventions were cancelled and work as he knew it came to a halt.

At that time, I was a full-time care-giver for my then 95 year old father-in-law. As a mom, wife and care-giver I worried but approached the worsening situation with as much common sense and logic as I could muster.

I made masks for us to wear and only left the house for food and supplies. There were necessary appointments that we kept for my father-in-law but most everything else was canceled and the world shut down.

At the time, I applauded the CA governor for being quick to call for a basic state-wide lockdown for 14 days.

However, those 14 days were extended beyond any reasonable amount of time in my opinion. I wish the President had taken a different approach than he did but there is no need to debate that now. What is done is done I guess. I also wish the

world's population had reacted a bit differently, but again, nothing we can do about that.

Hate mongering certainly hasn't helped.

In June of 2020, mine and Darin's life changed drastically. My father-in-law passed away and we decided to hit the road in our converted Sprinter Van. We took one fantastic trip after another. We wore masks when we left the van and we used hand sanitizer when we got back in the van. We saw beautiful places all over this country. Within 5 months we had visited all of the lower 48 states.

During our travels we began to see small towns that literally did not survive the lockdown. Storefronts boarded up along Main St USA. We saw bigger and bigger encampments down by the rivers and under the over passes. It was sad and before we knew it a full year of fear based propaganda had passed. Darin and I continued our travels in 2021 and saw

more and more towns literally closed. It was heart-breaking and eye-opening at the same time. We got vaccinated as soon as we were eligible and got boosted after that. We followed as many of the guidelines as we believed in and lived life.

In late 2021, we rented out our home and moved full-time into the van. The van was a safe haven for us and we enjoyed

being nomads. We visited Canada as soon as we were allowed in and saw more glorious landscapes, sunsets and sunrises. We continued following the guidelines to avoid COVID by not gathering in large crowds and wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.

In April 2022, we began a new chapter of creating a new home-base in the magnificent Pacific Northwest. We got

very focused on our task at hand and less focused on mask wearing. We put in some long hours cleaning and repairing one of our rental homes and didn't wear our mask as often in stores and around other folks. Partly due to a false sense of security after having been vaccinated and boosted, partly due to distraction and laziness.

One evening I noticed I had a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat, that, for me, usually means I'm catching a cold. I had other symptoms of inflammation that began to concern me so after a couple of days we decided a visit to urgent care was in order. When I checked in at urgent care I was clearly short of breath, had a fever and was a bit overwhelmed with dread. The wonderful staff at the urgent care took great care in seeing to my concerns, ran lots of tests, drew some blood and seemed optimistic that I merely had a cold along with arthritis. The X-rays, EKG and blood work were all

normal so they sent me on my way. The Covid test wouldn't be ready for at least 24 hours. We stopped and got some recommended over-the-counter medication and returned to the driveway we had been parking in for the last few days.

I didn't sleep very well and got out of bed early to start my usual van life routine of French press coffee and a few online games of Canasta with my dear friend in Spain. My cold was worse than the day before, but that is how colds are sometimes. Around mid-morning I got an alert on my phone that a letter had arrived from my medical provider. The letter started out with... "We are here to support you as you recover from COVID-19..."

Wait, what?!

So I closed the letter and open my medical record and checked the recent test results: COVID-19 QUALITATIVE PCR... SARS COV2 RNA, TMA: DETECTED

Holy Shit I have COVID! That means my husband has COVID - We live in a van people - we breathe in those tiny spit sprays! We have been staying in the driveway of a dear friend for the past few nights and having meals with him! He has to have it too! PANIC!

My panic lasted a few seconds before I did a mental check and decided to calm down and figure this out.

I contacted another friend that I may have been in close enough contact with to infect and then canceled our weekend plans. I contacted the COVID support team through our medical provider and

she helped to further reduce my anxiety of having contracted COVID. Basically treat the symptoms and stay hydrated and calm, you must stay calm. Oh and quarantine. Ok, that part is easy, we live in a van.

Darin was beginning to show symptoms at this point but he was focused on me and making sure I was ok. He got a few more OTC meds for me and kept watch

over me and our friend that seemed to have a few mild symptoms as well. My entire body ached, my head felt like it was about to blow into a million pieces and my voice, well it was awful sounding. But all of that paled in comparison to the fact that there was an inferno in my throat. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to talk, it hurt to drink, I wanted to die rather than cough or sneeze. The Chloraseptic throat spray was

my best friend for the next 48 hours. Because the next day included all of the above only worse! The diarrhea, the shakes, chills and sweats came on with a vengeance. Then almost as fast as they arrived, the severe symptoms vanished. I was left with a stuffy nose, some chest congestion and a headache. Whew, that sucked and I am extremely grateful it was a mild case, presumably due to having had the vaccine.

During the worst of my symptoms, remember we're in a van, our auxiliary battery needed to be replaced. This battery only handles a couple of things in the van - one of which is our heater for our living space. Since we are in the PNW, we still like a heater in the late evening and early morning, temps are still dipping into high 30's and low 40's. We set the

heater on 50. During the worst of my symptoms Darin was trying to install the new battery, his patience for me at that point in time can only be described as impeccable. The battery setup is directly across from our toilet - you may need to review the worst of my symptoms listed above to get the full understanding of that.

My symptoms started on Saturday or Sunday, I went to urgent care on Tuesday, by Friday I felt like I had an old fashioned cold. Darin's symptoms had increased so we switched roles. It was my turn to check on him and remind him to drink water. It was my turn to take care of the daily chores and empty the pee before it overflows... Yes, while living in a van and using a composting toilet, one must

empty a pee jug. It is just part of van life. There are lots of other oddities regarding van life and the nitty gritty of it all, I may make that a topic to write about while in quarantine.

The take away? Wear a mask! Wash your hands! Stay 6 feet apart! Keep it simple, don't blame others.

It is 100% my fault that I contracted COVID-19.

This gives us time to plan our next project, map our next journey and watch as many Marvel Movies as we can.

We left the driveway of our friend and found a nice Thousand Trails Campground to finish our quarantine. I had a video appointment with the doctor and she informed me that we could test positive for months. The good news is we won't be contagious after 10 days from

onset of symptoms. Hmmm, sounds hokey but I'll go with that and when around people, I'll mask up.

Thank you for checking in with us. Take care of yourself and those around you. Be kind to others while you follow your dreams.


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