Sunday, May 24, 2020

When You are on the Coronacoaster but your Spouse is Not

A friend recently posted a meme about being on the "Coronacoaster," which could be defined as the emotional ups and downs of the pandemic. You minute you are making sourdough bread from scratch and alphabetizing your spice rack, and the next minute you are drinking wine for breakfast and ugly crying over a Honda "We'll get through this together" commercial. This is me. I am there. I am on the coronacoaster - the big one - like the ride at Universal Studios that boasts the largest climb and fastest freefall in the world. Evan, however, is not on the ride. Evan is on the sidelines, casually eating some popcorn, and urging everyone to stay off the coronacoaster. He is rock steady. Calm. Cool. Collected. I am happy for him. I really am. But it's just a, to be honest.

I don't consider myself a particularly emotional person. Sad movies don't generally make me cry. I rarely yell or get animated when I am angry. Although I love hard, I'm not much of a hugger or one to participate in public displays of affection. However, in the past week I have 1) Sobbed uncontrollably at least 6 times (one particularly bad cry occurred when the repatriation flight to Canada dared to fly directly over our house)  2) Thrown objects against the wall in fits of rage (the video lesson that I was producing was cut off with 1 minute to completion 3) Felt so incredibly moved by a beautiful sunset that my jaw shook in preparation for another ugly cry, and 4) Hung onto Evan like a stage 4 clinger, pleading with him not to fall asleep before me (AS IF!).  That being said, just like that I can rebound - I can wipe the tears and snot from my face and totally crush a challenging 1 hour workout. I can rock myself back and forth in a corner and then immediately hop on a zoom call and deliver one hell of pep talk to the client's parent. It feels like a permanent PMS trip. Then I saw the all makes sense now. I am on the Coronacoaster. It's a "thing." Apparently I am not the only one...I mean, if they created a meme about it then surely there are others out there who are experiencing severe emotional ups and downs. Anyone? Anyone? It's a shitty ride and I want off.

Evan, on the other hand, seems to be flourishing under our current conditions. Let's be honest, anyone who knows Evan will joke that he's been training for a pandemic his whole life. Evan is an introvert. He is a man of contemplation who is comfortable with solitude. Evan has worked from home for the past 6 years, so other than the fact that his puffy-eyed crazed wife occasionally stumbles into his office in the middle of the day, announcing that she's created a new gin cocktail, nothing much has changed for his day-to-day life. In fact, while so many are struggling to adapt to the "new normal" (whatever that means), Evan is presently creating a program to assist fitness businesses in adapting to Covid life. So as I complain about the fact that I will have to brush my hair in preparation to produce my 45th Speech and language video lesson that is being viewed one, Evan has taught himself how to code and is creating a website to support this new branch of his business.

Now don't get me wrong - I am very proud of Ev. I feel extremely lucky to be partnered with such a calm and anchored man who has managed to create opportunity amidst adversity. Not many people can do that! Evan doesn't feel extreme sadness right now. He doesn't look out at the vast sea and experience anxiety about feeling trapped on a tiny island. Evan doesn't lay awake for hours listening to ensure that Dundee isn't short of breath. And a part of me wishes he did...just for a minute...misery loves company, right?

Thankfully, Evan is very supportive, and never makes me feel ashamed or guilty for my emotional outbursts during this pandemic. He knows that I am not coping particularly well and he soon realized that I am not presently emotionally stable enough to tackle life goals. Instead of suggesting that I write a book or take an online class, he now suggests a bike ride or a hot tub "party" (haha - Read: We sit in the hot tub, drink rum punch, and listen to Bob Marley). So although he never makes me feel bad, I do feel a little loser-ish for having zero ambition and viewing a shower as a "win," when he is busy creating a website and drawing in new clients. I do feel guilty that while he coaches businesses how to adapt and flourish during Covid times, he, too, is adapting to being married to a coronacoaster casualty!

So...that's the current situation. We got our beach and our pool access back this week which has been diiiiviiiiine! (climbing high!). But I am missing my people so much it hurts -  I miss my island buds who I am still not legally permitted to see. I am really missing my bud Monty, and feel like I'm re-visiting a few stages of grief that I thought I had dealt with already. I'm missing my Canadian family and friends who I may not see now until (SOB) next year (freefall down!).

Cheers to enjoying the ride? 😁

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Beach, please!

Hey guys,

Life has been challenging on our rock over the past month or so. Since the closing of our pool, beaches, and the implementation of hard and soft curfew that has prevented us from leaving our house during evenings and on Sundays, islanders have been more ornery than "cantankerous Kirstie" after 3 gin & tonics! This week after unsuccessfully attempting to provide speech therapy to families who are more concerned about where their next meal is coming from (rightly so), listening to the defeated voices of my co-workers on Zoom, and noting the discouraged frowns of my neighbours wandering aimlessly around our closed pool, it occurred to me that our island has definitely hit a wall this week. A massive cement wall.

When I hear about my Canadian buds having deck beers with friends and social distance coffees in driveways...even going for pleasure drives,  I have been extremely envious (READ: I love you, am super happy for you, but I want to punch you in your face). Our laws here during Covid have been some of the strictest, apparently, in the world. I have only ventured out weekly (I am allowed to drive on Tues, Thurs, and Sat but only to the supermarket, and only if donning a mask), I have been stopped by police on almost every outing, where they check my ID to ensure that I am driving on my appointed day and to question my intentions of leaving my house. A breach of curfew is a fine up to $3000CI and is a criminal offence, so you don't "sneak" out for a little drive around here. In addition, the constant helicopters that circle our neighbourhood and police boats that patrol our waters are a constant reminder to just stay the F&%$ at home. It's super intense, especially when I hear about what life is like for my friends in Canada right now. In addition, it was announced officially that the Cayman border (airport) will remain closed until at least Sept, which resulted in a big 'ol ugly Kirstie cry which lasted for a few days....adding puffy eyes to my already deteriorating appearance. We will not be going home this summer. We will not be reuniting with our friends and family. I will not hug my Grandma. I will not visit with my Baba at the farm. It is still sinking in, but makes me feel incredibly sad and very disappointed. And...I am starting to cry again so let's move on...

Getting used to these coordinates...for the foreseeable future.

I find it interesting to read about other countries who are complaining about their rights being violated with the implementation of shelter in place laws. Sure, there are a few angry voices in Cayman that claim fishing is a Caymanian right, and there have been a few shootings in West Bay (but that's just West Bay being West Bay), but for the most part, our population is quietly adhering to the laws. When rights are questioned during press briefings, our Premier strongly states that it's the government's job to protect the right to life. Regardless if you are 100 years old or 2 years old, if you are Caymanian, Canadian, British, or Hondurian, we all have the right to live and it is our responsibility to protect this right. Caymanians have deep respect for their elders and those who are medically fragile (I have seen this first hand when I have been on crutches and community members have offered their position in line to me, etc).  So when people do complain about the economy or not being able to fish, our Premier states, "You can give up fishing for a while in order to save your Grandma." And that is that. No questions asked. This is Cayman's stance, aligning with their "Caymankind" culture, which appears much different than many countries of the world.

Oh how I miss our Westin happy hours!

I trust and hope that we are heading in a good direction, and today we received some very positive news that we, in fact, are on the right track.

Since testing has been amped up over the past few weeks, Cayman has now tested almost 6000 people. No one has come forward with symptoms over the past few weeks; however, all of our front line workers, including supermarket employees and healthcare workers are currently being screened. A few positive cases are still being detected daily which cannot be traced back to travel, indicating community spread, but for the most part, our numbers are quite low. Overall, 94 people tested positive, and over 50 of those have since recovered. Cayman has had 1 death, and that death was patient zero - a man who arrived off a cruise ship in March. We currently do not have any patients in the hospital.

Because our curve is almost as flat as my chest, some of our restrictions are relaxing as of next week. We get our beaches back, beaches! Whoooo. Now, we can only go to the beach on our alphabet day (That's Tues, Thurs and Sat for us), and we can only go with the intent to exercise for 2 hours. No beach BBQ's. No sunbathing. No sitting in a chair. And no meeting up with anyone outside of your household. I will take it! In addition, our dear dear pool will be opening again. Although I am quite certain that it's now the same temperature as our hot tub, I cannot wait to do some water walking and lounge by the pool with a book. These are luxuries that I have missed sooo much! It's been like 97 degrees with humidity everyday, which is like trying to get a breath fresh air during a hot shower, so I cannot wait to cool off somewhere!

So hopefully that cement wall that we are all ramming our heads into will disappear with a few of our restrictions next week!

In the meantime, stay safe everyone! Cheers

I'm home! I'm home! Leave me alone!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Why Smart Women Watch Shitty TV

I woke up gasping for air as sweat dripped down my face. I quickly reached over to open my top drawer and began frantically searching for the medication.

"Where's the pill? Where's the pill?" I repeated, tossing bottles of medication haphazardly around in the drawer.

 I abruptly came to the realization that I was dreaming again. I leaned back against my pillow and took a deep breath. There is no pill. This is a dream. There is no pill. Calm down. Go back to sleep.

I've been plagued by the "Where's the pill?" night terror for about 7 years now.

It began when I was diagnosed with Osteochondritis dissecans in my knees and was undergoing surgeries every few months. You know that moment when you are just about to fall asleep? In that moment many people experience the sensation of falling and then awaken with a start. Well I wake up with a start but also with an irrational fear that I've forgotten to take a very important pill. The sudden thought causes me to panic - my heart races out of my chest and I gasp for air as I search through drawers and pill packs. There was a pill. I forgot to take it. That's why I am not getting better. I forgot to take the pill.

I worked through my irrational night terror with my Pain Psychologist when I was in the thick of learning about my new disease. I had a lot of built-up anxiety about my diagnosis and it was manifesting itself every evening. Just as my body allowed itself to relax and drift off, my mind would scream"Not so fast!" forcing me to wake up and address the anxious thoughts in my head - in the form of non-existent pill searching.

I spent a lot of time working through my anxiety, incorporating strategies into my day to gain more control over my thinking, and address the worries that were consuming me. I worked through it and low and behold, the "Where's the pill" night terror disappeared from my nightly routine.

Or so I had thought.

Now wouldn't you know - guess what I have been busy doing around 10pm every night? That's right...searching drawers for the damn non-existent pill again!

I had thought that I wasn't really experiencing anxiety over this whole Covid-19 thing. I's unsettling.  It's a very strange time. But I don't feel particularly scared or anxious about it all. My days are pretty structured with work, exercise, dog walking, and TV watching. I'm not balled up on the couch crying my eyes out or anything like that. I'm taking good care of my body and thought that I was doing just fine. My brain, on the other hand, is telling me that I am, in fact, experiencing some anxiety by springing the whole "Where's the pill" night terror back into my life.


So although I don't necessarily have Covid-specific anxiety, I think that the worries I am experiencing are amplified given the situation. Here's what's causing me concern this week:

1) Dundee has a degenerative valve disease in his heart. His heart function is deteriorating and it's been difficult to find the right combination and dosage of medications to maintain it. I spend many hours plotting Dundee's respiratory rate on the dog breathing app, and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be quite so obsessive about it if I could actually leave my damn house. I am super thankful that we have a Vet Extraordinaire who is available at all hours on Whatsapp. He has definitely helped to ease my anxiety.

2) I'm coming to terms with the fact that our annual summer trip back to Canada may not happen this year. It doesn't look like Cayman has any intention of re-opening our airport as long as the virus is alive and spreading anywhere near our border. The thought of not seeing my family and friends - especially my Grandma and my Baba makes me feel so incredibly sad. But...we shall see I guess.

3) Remember my super cool wakesurfing injury where I hurt my hand? Ya, well....after months of Physio, a splint for 6 weeks, and a quick trip to Philadelphia (pre-covid) to see the hand surgeon, it would appear as though I require tendon reconstruction surgery. But I mean, that's a future Kirstie problem, and as we all know, I'm pretty good at surgery. πŸ˜‰

But it's OK. I have a plan. In addition to regular exercise (riding my bike and begging Candace Cameron Bure to acknowledge me on her live Insta workouts) and daily meditation (chanting "you've got to be f'n kidding me!" every time my Loom video drops me), I have decided to increase my Reality TV consumption!

Yes, I love reality TV. Yes, I am an intelligent, educated, and moderately successful woman. No, I am not ashamed. Shame me! Just try it. I don't give a care.

So many of my very intelligent, educated, and wildly successful female friends watch reality TV and feel shame. Don't feel shame, ladies! Reality television is actually very healthy. Here's why:

A recent study published in NeuroImage indicates that watching reality TV can trigger something called "vicarious embarrassment" in our brains. When we watch someone being humiliated, areas of the brain responsible for compassion, empathy, and the suppression of self-interest were activated because we can relate to those feelings of embarrassment. Therefore, watching Reality TV actually makes us more empathetic and less self-absorbed.

Ahhh - this is why I so enjoy watching Darcy from 90 Day Fiance ugly cry with each and every rejection she faces.  It all makes sense now.

Case closed. I am a better person for watching Reality Tv - and so are you, my smart successful friends!

Also, let's be honest - the people, situations, and experiences on these TV shows are basically the exact opposite of the mundane life that I am currently living. It's a great escape. I don't know about you, but I'm guessing we all need a good escape from our strange reality right now.

Cheers to Real Housewivin' Below Deckin' Vanderpumpin' Rulin' Bachelorin' and 90 Day fiance-ing all weekend long!

Darcy crying: Good RealityTV

Kirstie tearing a tendon - Bad Reality TV

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Beach closed but there's a Sea Breeze!

Hey all you cool cats and kittens out there!

Yes, yes, I totally hopped on the Tiger King train. Why not? And, yes, it definitely held my attention for a solid 7 hours.

How's everyone doing out there? Anyone? Anyone?

We are hanging in there in Cayman, although, it would seem as though almost every single thing that provides islanders joy has now been taken away from us. Ok...calm down, Kirstie. Even I can admit that statement was just a little dramatic.

Here's the deal. We alternate between "soft" and "hard" curfew hours. From 5am until 7pm Monday-Saturday,  we can leave the house for 90 minutes a day to exercise. We are still alternating grocery shopping days by surname, so for example, we can shop Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, given our surname falls in the L-Z category. Grocery lines are generally long-ish (and hot!) and police check your ID to ensure that you are shopping on your designated day. Sundays are "hard curfew" days which means we are not allowed to leave our house. This was all ok and do-able, until they closed our beaches last week. We are not permitted to walk on the beach, swim in the ocean, or even so much as dip a sweaty little toe in that Caribbean Sea!  The beach closure was totally foreseeable - you would have to have your head buried in the sand to not see that coming (see what I did there?). There were some selfish assholes (yes, that's exactly how i feel!) who were congregating with coolers on the beach, which resulted in the removal of our beach privileges. In addition, we used to be allowed to drive to exercise destinations (i.e drive to Camana Bay and go for a walk), but they recently announced that is no longer permitted as well. And don't even think that sneaking out Bo-Bo. Fines range from $300 to $700 CI for breaking curfew rules, and they will issue you a ticket right then and there. The police helicopter circles the island multiple times a day, there are police check-stops situated all around the island, and the beaches and shorelines are patrolled by police boats and police quads. It's intense, man. Intense!

So how do I feel about this? Well, as you may have gathered by my tone, I am disappointed and frustrated. Like many many people on the island (too many I guess), the beach was my solace. I looked forward to daily walks and pool noodle exercise when my knees were sore. The beach was definitely the highlight of my week. Week after week our privileges are being removed one at a time, and one can't help but feel powerless in this situation. How much longer can this go on, and what will be taken away next?

I am also concerned for a lot of my kiddos. I recently delivered some water to a home that has no running water (many school staff are doing this). When I saw the conditions that this family was living in (and definitely not the worst on island), I felt so sad for my little buds who must experience uncomfortable,  long-ass days at home. How can we even expect these children to access our online lessons when some of these kiddos are likely experiencing abuse and neglect on a regular basis, not to mention the fact that they don't have access to basic necessities, let alone high speed internet? It breaks my heart knowing that school, the one constant and source of predictability in their lives, is unlikely to open anytime in the near future. Everyone, but especially these children, are going to require some intense post-trauma intervention when this is all over. It makes me feel like an asshole for complaining about being holed up in my 1300 sq ft. condo with ocean views, that's for sure.

But...I get it. I do believe that this is all necessary. Cayman is not experiencing "widespread community transmission" at this time, and obviously the point of all of this is to prevent that from happening. I am a science-minded person. I see the numbers. I understand the graphs. I have faith that our government is truly putting the health of this island first, and I completely trust our Chief Medical Officer and the Premier's plan that has been put into place. I see that if our island can eradicate the virus, we have the opportunity to re-open our country. Although our borders will not be opening anytime soon, wouldn't it be incredible if Cayman could be corona-free and services could be back up and running for all of us who have remained on island.

That doesn't mean that I still can't feel sad, disappointed, and bored- oh!!! The monotony!!!! Every morning, as I sweat profusely in the 89% humidity sticky climate while walking the dog, I gaze longingly at the crystal clear pool (closed!) and the cool turquoise ocean (closed), I silently scream "FUUUUUUUUU#%!"

Some days feel like they will never end and others go by quite quickly. One of my childhood idols, Candace Cameron Bure (AKA DJ Tanner from Full House) Instagram lives her workouts with her trainer. I never miss these sessions and, my 12-year old nerdy self attempts to "talk" to DJ through Insta, just hoping for an acknowledgement. I attempt to grab her attention by announcing that I am joining all the way from the Cayman Islands! Alas, she has yet to read my desperate attempts at contact. So you's good to have goals.

I celebrated my 41st birthday this week. I propose that a birthday during Covid should not count, and I will just wait to celebrate my 41st next year, but it came and went, and it would appear that I am, in fact, one year older. I did receive the most happiness-inducing birthday gift that an islander could possibly receive right now - I got a bike! It's a little rusty and needed some TLC, but Evan managed to find me "Sea Breeze" (I named it!), my beautiful little island bike. The walking was taking a toll on my knees so now I can ride my bike around West Bay. There are nice little dirt roads near Barker's Beach that are pretty and shaded and provide a glimpse of the beautiful sea. I now have a daily event to look forward to! When I was 7 or 8 years old I got a beautiful pink bike aptly named "Cotton Candy" that brought me incredible joy (until it was stolen a year later - who the F steals a little girls pink bike?) I'm pretty sure my reaction to "Sea Breeze" was just as spectacular 33 years later! Funny how life comes full circle, hey?

I took Sea Breeze for an extended tour on my birthday, and drove up and down the roads at Barker's Beach. A ray of light was shining down perfectly between the trees and I decided that it was the ideal opportunity to snap a great picture of my new bike. As I gently set the bike against the tree and attempted to get the lighting just perfect, I heard a vehicle pull up behind me and a stern voice inquire, "Ma'am, what are you doing?"

Shit. It was the police.

"Oh hi. I'm just taking a picture of my bike."

I could see the Officer look at me suspiciously. It was obvious that he did not believe me.

"Were you going to walk on the beach?" he asked.

"No No. I explained. You see, today is my birthday and I got this bike. I just wanted to get a good picture of it." At that moment I shamelessly retrieved my phone from it's hiding place inside my sports bra to show him the photograph.

The Officer shook his head incredulously. His eyes screamed "crazy bitch" but he calmly replied, "Just don't go on the beach," and he drove away.

So I dodged a bullet there. I wasn't technically on the beach, but a $700CI fine would have hurt pretty good, especially on the day of my birth! I guess Sea Breeze is fuelling the rebellious biker-chick that's been stagnant inside of me for 41 years.

Well, that's all I got. I hope everyone is finding a "Sea Breeze" moment in their day!

In all of it's glory

scene of the crime

No worries I have a legit mask now

Sunday, April 5, 2020


Hey guys,

I hope you all are hanging in there.

We are doing just fine here on our little island. Our government has implemented a combination of "soft curfew" hours and "hard curfew" hours over the next 2 weeks. Here's how it works: If your surname begins with A-K you are allowed to leave your house on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to go to the grocery store, bank, and/or pharmacy between the hours of 6am and 7pm. Surnames L-Z can leave the house on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during those same hours. From 7pm until 6am, we are in "hard curfew," which means that you are not allowed to leave your house. In addition, Sundays are now considered "hard curfew" days, which means that you cannot leave your house at all on Sundays. Essential services are exempt from the curfew. There are check stops scattered around the island and police are checking ID for surnames and issuing $250 CI to $500 CI tickets for breaking curfew rules. In addition, police helicopters, quads, and boats are constantly patrolling the shoreline for anyone in breach of curfew. It's pretty surreal to let the dog out for a pee at 8pm and hear complete silence other than the distance whirring of a helicopter blade.

And what about our precious beach time? We are allowed to exercise at the beach for 90 min a day during soft curfew hours. Here is where it gets tricky: apparently everyone has a different view of "exercise." Most would assume it means walking or swimming, but some people think that drinking a pina colada in their beach chair qualifies! Ha. I was walking on the beach the other day and noticed a family of 4 sitting under their umbrella. As the flashing lights of a police boat approached, I heard the father shout, "Stand up and do jumping jacks!" I had to laugh as his wife and 2 children quickly went into "exercise" mode.

We now have 35 confirmed positive cases in the Cayman Islands, with our first positive case on Cayman Brac announced yesterday. The case on the Brac is very concerning, as the island's population is less than 3000 and is comprised heavily of elderly residents. Most of the cases in Grand can be traced back to travel, but we do now have a couple with no known history, indicating community spread.

It's such a strange time for everyone, isn' it?  I feel extremely isolated from the rest of the world, which makes me alternate between feeling terrified and feeling comforted.

There is one daily event that brings me comfort (and provides a few laughs), and that is our routine press conference at 2pm. Everyday our Premier, Chief Medical Officer (My favorite, Dr. Lee), Police Commissioner, and Minister of Health address the public and update us on the latest. Dr Lee reports new cases in his always calm manner, our Premier (self-proclaimed Grim Reaper) lists the latest death toll around the world (whilst making us feel shame for leaving our house), the police Commissioner details some ridiculous crime some loser has committed (evading police on a motorbike for curfew violation), and our Health Minister shares one of his "interesting" poems, recites "stay at home" in a different language each day, and then prays for us. It sounds quite dull, but it isn't. You see, Cayman has really gotten into the spirit of things and has created Bingo cards to use while you are watching (Bingo squares include: panel laughs at dumb question from facebook, Dr. Lee's voice is soothing AF, audio malfunction). Alternatively, you can turn this into a drinking game and get absolutely bombed in 10 minutes. It's all quite entertaining. In addition, talented Caymanians have also begun producing songs/jingles, using press conference coverage for the #stayhomecayman campaign. They have innovatively turned the Health Ministers poem into a reggae sensation, and added instrumentals to the Premier's warnings. It's all really creative and although it's an alarming and upsetting topic, I typically leave the 2pm press conference engaged in humorous whatsapp convos with friends, commenting on the Minister's efforts to speak Swahili, wondering which language he will tackle tomorrow, and anticipating the next remix.

Now I know that is all very serious business, and some might think it's ignorant to joke around about what essentially is a somber press conference, but let me explain what this is actually doing for our island. When you spend an hour a day with this panel, you feel like you are personally involved. You feel directly responsible for every positive case. When thousands of people tune in at 2pm everyday, although they are whatsapping each other funny press conference memes, they are listening to the very important message being conveyed. When only 1-2 people out of 60,000 are breaching curfew, you know that people are taking this seriously. I feel like I am a part of very tight-knit community that takes great pride in where we live, and will do anything to protect it and it's people. So I really do believe that this daily live press conference is an incredible thing that is increasing compliance in Cayman, as well as bringing us together during such a weird time...and if it results in a drinking game gone bad, well, at least you are safe at home, hey?

Cheers everyone. Stay safe.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Well That Escalated Quickly

Hey Friends,

I know that I just blogged a few days ago, but I've got plenty of time and suspect, given the steady increase in "get to know me better" Facebook survey posts,  that you might have some free time as well why not provide a little update, given that EVERYTHING has changed here on our island in the last few days!

As more cases of Covid-19 have been discovered in Cayman over the past 5 days, our government has been tightening the reigns by the hour. On Monday, an island-wide curfew was instilled. We were told that we were not allowed to leave our house between 9pm and 5am. On Tuesday that curfew was extended from 7pm to 6am.  We were also told that all non-essential services would be shutting down immediately. Yesterday we were put into a 24 hour curfew lasting until Saturday. This means that we cannot leave our house until this curfew is lifted on Saturday morning...or until they tell us what the next plan of action is. There is a steep punishment for disobeying the law - a $3000 CI fine and/or one year imprisonment. The police have already arrested one person for breaking curfew.

With changes that affect your day-to-day being implemented by the hour, your mind races and your emotions go into overdrive, as you attempt to process the new information and accept the loss of control over your daily life. On Monday, for example, when we were told about the 9pm curfew, I laughed nervously as I said to Ev, "Good thing we go to bed at 8:30!" On Tuesday when the curfew was extended and non-essential services were shut down, I found myself panic shopping at the liquor store, wondering what the hell Benedictine is and whether or not I might actually need it for a cocktail. Yesterday when we were informed about the impending 24 hour lockdown, I raced to the beach for one last beach walk and swim in those incredible turquoise waters. I went to the spot where Monty's ashes were spread and had a little chat with him. Personally, I think that Monty would have thrived during this lockdown, as he often put himself into isolation when he felt socially overwhelmed, watching old movies and perfecting his Gumbo for days. Wherever he is, I imagine that although he is concerned about family and friends, he probably finds it amusing that we are losing our shit over being temporarily stuck inside!

Whoa that pedicure is rough man, and it's only gonna get worse.

Where is everyone? Oh, they are standing in the 2-hour line at Fosters trying to buy toilet paper. 

At the risk of sparking a political debate (trust me, that is not my intent and is not in the forefront of my mind these days!), I will say this...I fully support our government's decision to act radically in this situation. We are currently at 8 cases and although these measures are extreme, I feel as though we are ahead of most countries in terms of acting swiftly, boldly,  and putting the health of our country first.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lee, was my Pain Specialist for the first 4 years that we lived in Cayman. He was one of the best Doctors that I have ever had the opportunity to work with (and I have seen MANY doctors!). Dr. Lee worked methodically and patiently to wean me off of Opioids. He never sugar-coated the situation, he prepared me for what to expect, and he was always anticipating the next plan of action. Dr. Lee rarely responded impulsively when I asked questions. Rather, he pulled down books from his library and spent much time searching online to provide me with his most educated and comprehensive answer. During one of our last appointments together, he calmly commended me on persevering through the process, and explained that he was retiring. He couldn't wait to spend more time with his dog and enjoy island life without the intense working hours. Shortly after his retirement I heard that he agreed to take on the Chief Medical Officer position. I see him tirelessly and steadily explaining and answering Covid-19 questions in multiple press conferences a day, and although I feel sorry that he is not presently enjoying his retirement, I am incredibly grateful that he's our leader through this unprecedented event.

So with that being said, today is our first day in full 24-hour lockdown. We are allowed to take our dogs for walks around our complex, but we are banned from being on the road or anywhere in our neighbourhood. Police helicopters regularly fly overhead, patrolling our country for curfew-breakers. This morning when Dundee and I had finished our short loop around the complex, Dundee suddenly sat down on the grass and stared out into the distance. The usual sounds - car motors, laughter, planes flying overhead - were gone. I think that even Dundee noticed as he swivelled his head left, then right, then left again and sniffed the air. Is he wondering what the hell is going on ("What did those humans do now?") or is he simply noticing that time appears to have come to a standstill, and he has the luxury of enjoying another peaceful day with his favourite people?

Hang in there friends. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Hey there! I know things have been ruff, but we are feline fine!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Stranded on an island with Wilson

Whoa! The shit has hit the fan - to put it mildly! I know that everyone in the world is experiencing chaos and uncertainty right now. Our little island is also reeling from the Coronavirus, and in addition to that we have experienced a series of events since January, including the 7.7 earthquake and a massive fire at our dump that caused road and school closures about a week before the virus began impacting us. It's been one thing after the other here, and at the risk of speaking on behalf of everyone on island, we all wish we could restart 2020. If 2020 was a Nintendo game, I would pull out the cartridge, vigorously blow on it, and start this sucker over.

So here's the situation in Cayman: We currently have 3 confirmed cases on Grand Cayman - no confirmed cases thus far on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Our first positive case occurred a week ago. Apparently a man was having heart issues on a cruise ship and was transported to one of our three hospitals where he received cardiac treatment. He then began exhibiting respiratory issues, tested positive for Covid-19, and unfortunately passed away. The hospital in which he was treated immediately shut its doors to new admissions. The other confirmed cases were health care workers who directly treated the patient. As soon as we had 1 confirmed case, our government acted quickly. They shut down the schools that day, cancelled all cruise ships that were scheduled in port, and made a plan to close our airport, restaurants, and bars. The last flight will arrive on island this Sunday, and the passengers on this flight will mostly consist of students who are residents of Cayman but receiving education abroad. Arrangements have been made  for the new arrivals to self-isolate in the hotels, which will be empty of tourists by Sunday. It is so imperative that these people self-isolate for 14 days in order to flatten the curve, as they say. I hope hope hope that they take it very seriously.

That's what's going on here. Our tourism industry is in a free-fall, and many service workers have left the island before the airport closure. It's scary as shit and like everyone else in the world, there are many people worried about how they are going to feed their families and keep a roof over their head during this time. I have been very impressed with our government's response. It is apparent that the health of the island is the priority and although temporarily (hopefully) devastating to our tourism industry, cancelling flights and shutting this island down is, in my opinion, the only way to slow this thing down. I also feel secure in knowing that many of my students who depend on school lunches and food vouchers will be supported by the government during the school closure.

How am I feeling about all of this? I am probably feeling the same as you. For once, we (everyone in the world) is kind of in the same boat, hey?  I feel anxious, scared, confused, uncertain, lonely. I worry about my family and friends back home. There is something eery and unsettling about being stranded on an island, with really no way out. When I was a kid I watched Gilligan's Island reruns, and longed to be stranded on island with coconut phones and palm frond hammocks. Nowhere in my fantasy was social distancing and a horrible respiratory virus! (Although surely Professor would have combatted this quicklyπŸ˜‰). On the flip side, if we can contain the virus, then being stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere might certainly be the best place to be during all of this. I dunno. It's strange to see our beaches, typically packed with tourists, desolate and quiet. On the other hand, it's peaceful and serene.

Wilson washed up on shore! Even though he's "set" in his ways, and always "spikes" the drinks that he "serves" me, I really "dig" him. 

I am lucky enough to be able to work from home, so I have begun creating video lessons for my students. When I was a kid, I used to pretend that I was the host of a children's show called "Crafts R Us" (Read: ONLY CHILD πŸ˜‚). I used to demonstrate how to make crafts out of objects found in the home. So here I am, age 40, essentially hosting my own TV shows! It's basically a dream come true! Disclosure: My first 7-minute video took me 4 hours!!! There were tears, people. Good God. But oh man, I sure don't know how people with children are able to get anything accomplished at home. Mad respect to you! And deep respect to our health care workers. I worked in the hospital setting during H1N1 and I can't even imagine how difficult and stressful this is for our front line workers.

No live audience today due to social distancing.

Notice how everyone has a opinion right now? Sooo many opinions! I am not an expert at navigating a pandemic, I do not have a medical degree, and I sure as hell don't have any words of wisdom regarding managing your finances during tough times! (Um...ya budgets are not my thing πŸ™…).'s what I'm doing to stay sane:

1) I am only "tuning in" to pandemic news, posts, etc twice a day - I check once in the morning, and once around 5pm. After 5pm, I refuse to watch news programs, read Facebook posts, or listen to someone's opinion about coronavirus. All this news is overwhelming, increases my anxiety, and affects my sleep. We all know that quality sleep is an important factor in increasing immunity.

2) I am attempting to stick to a schedule.  I have scheduled work time into my day, as well as frequent breaks where I try to move as much as possible. I lay my yoga mat on the floor first thing, and when I feel overwhelmed by work, news, etc, I go to 6 minute abs, a push-up ladder, or hold a yoga pose. I also schedule in a 30-minute comedy sitcom here and there (thank goodness for "Friends" reruns).

Home gym. Dundee is my water boy.

3) I am getting fresh air. Given that we are lucky enough to be stranded on a tropical island, we may as well take advantage of this incredible climate. I take Dundee for regular walks, go to a quick pool workout, and take walks on the beach. Now that our beaches are pretty much deserted, it feels very safe to walk along the beach, knowing I will not be in contact with anyone.

4) I am trying to laugh. Yes, I agree that we need to take this seriously. But do I enjoy a good meme every once in a while? Of course! I am acting responsibly, but I am still allowing myself to feel joy, chuckling at the stupid jokes on Facebook or indulging in a good "autocorrect fails" post. It also feels good to connect with family and friends on Whatsapp and use humour to defuse tense situations.

5) I am focusing on the population who is really benefitting during all of this. Who, you ask, could possibly be "winning" during such uncertain and frightening times? The pets, of course. My little white dog, Dundee, and my old senile cat have never received so much attention! They are thriving! Biloxi has even started hiding away in the bath tub to avoid the daily songs that I compose and sing to my furry friends.  There is a conspiracy theory going around that the pets orchestrated all of this, and as Dundee happily takes his 5th walk in a 2-hour period, I can't help but think this might be the one true conspiracy theory out there.

living his best life. 

He's not so keen on Wilson

In all seriousness, take care everyone. Do the right thing. Don't put others at risk. Keep yourself healthy, and remember that your mental health affects your physical health and vice versa.

Cheers to Flo Rida for writing and singing, "My House," the current soundtrack of our lives.

"Sometimes you gotta stay"