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A COVID-19 ‘Staycation’

By Merrill Ogden - | Sep 1, 2021

If you read last week’s installment of “Inside Sanpete,” you learned about my diagnosis with COVID-19. I did have a couple of miserable days, but my isolation time is done. I seem no worse for the wear at this point. My wife, by Utah Health Department direction, had to quarantine with me. She never had any symptoms.

When I say that Diane was “with me,” what I mean is that we shared the same address. In keeping with Health Department guidelines, we were to be separated as much as possible.

Therefore, she was upstairs. I was in the basement. She had her bathroom. I had my bathroom. She had her TV. I had mine.

In the meantime, Archer, the wonder Sheltie dog, went a little bit crazy. He didn’t know what to do with himself. Reading his mind, I heard: “Where should I be right now? Where do I sleep? What’s wrong with these people? Can’t they ever be in the same place at the same time?”

We’ve been calling our quarantine time our “trial separation.” We’ve also been calling it a “staycation.” It’s been pretty much the “stay” part and not too much of the “vacation” part.

It was a weird time. I had some weird thoughts. For example, I thought about the old leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. People with leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) were designated to be there from 1866 to 1969. I felt like a COVID-19 “leper” and my house was Molokai.

We didn’t have Father (Saint) Damien or Brother Napela to comfort and help us like the lepers in Hawaii had. We did have friends and neighbors. We had chicken soup left on our doorstep. We had milk delivery. People called and checked on us. Most importantly, not being able to attend the county fair, Diane had two separate deliveries of cotton candy. (one of her favorite treats)

Part of the reason I mentioned Saint Damien and Jonathan Napela from the leper settlement is to “toot the horn” a little on behalf of my older brother Marshall and his wife Jolene. They were on a service mission to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii some years back. They were instrumental in bringing attention to the partnership of the Catholic priest and the Latter-Day Saint “Seventy” who gave self-less service to the lepers on Molokai. Both ended up getting leprosy and died there.

The Catholic church recognized the two men’s work in a formal way in 2010. If you’re interested, you can read more about that in a Deseret News article at: https://www.deseret.com/2010/5/14/20382543/catholic-church-commends-pcc-in-honor-of-napela

When I wasn’t feeling like a leper, I tried to feel like I was on vacation. Physically, I felt pretty good most of the time. There was work to be done around the house and yard, but everyone told me not to overdo it. I also felt like perhaps God, or spirits of people who had passed on, or just the “principle of serendipity” was telling me the same thing. I’ll explain.

I had my COVID test done at Gunnison Valley Hospital. They had a “no appointment, no referral, rapid test” situation there. After my nose was swabbed while sitting in my vehicle, I was told to call back in 15 minutes for the results.

I headed out towards Gunnison Market where I intended to get a treat from the bakery (never happened). But I decided I needed to kill a little time before going into the market because I wanted to hear what my test results were. I ended up at the Centerfield Cemetery to look around and wait out a few minutes. Cemeteries intrigue me.

Right before I called the hospital, I saw a big headstone. On the back side of it, where many people list their children’s names, there was a large, engraved, three-word message. It read: “Take It Easy.” (Someone’s motto, I presume)

Immediately following reading that, I called and got the word that I had a positive, breakthrough case of the virus. So, who am I to disregard a message etched in stone that seemed to be meant for me? I really had no choice.

How have I been taking it easy? I’ve slept more than usual. I got more than my normal 5 – 6 hours.

I read. Among other things, I read a James Patterson murder mystery (Deadly Cross). Patterson is said to be the best-selling author in the world today. He may not be the best, but he does spin a fast-paced thriller.

His position is that he wants “to prove that there is no such thing as a person who ‘doesn’t like to read,’ only people who haven’t found the right book.”

I watched television. I watched my normal “newsy and sporty” stuff. Then my daughter asked me if I was going to “binge watch” something. Not having been a successful binge watcher before, I asked what she recommended.

Cutting to the chase, I have now watched 10 episodes of “Friday Night Lights.” (A high school’ish, soap opera’ish show, set in Texas and very entertaining) I thought I might be getting close to the end of the first season when surprise, surprise, I learned that there are 22 episodes in season one! This could be a tough addiction to break. I need to pace myself.

Oh, you may be happy to know (I certainly was), that my senses of taste and smell are returning. The few pounds I lost when I couldn’t taste are probably on their way back, unless I find some discipline. Eating has been part of my “taking it easy.”

For now, we’ve come to the end of our isolation, separation, and the “staycation.” Thank goodness! Life is better now. I wish us all the best, as we each navigate through our decisions and experiences during this time ahead. Stay healthy Sanpete! — Merrill

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