Testing for COVID-19, Working Through Fear and Making Sense of a Global Pandemic favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - March 20th 2020

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Healing, Lifestyle, Family, Growth

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

As coronavirus has the entire world in its grip, this global energy of fear has left many of us in a place of uncertainty. Will there be a resource shortage? Why isn’t everyone self-isolating? And what if the most unlikely happens, as it seems to be happening every day? In times of such uncertainty, many of us are feeling emotions we have never felt before – and many past traumas may find themselves resurfacing.

In this week’s episode, Rachel shares the series of events that brought the small island of Aruba, and her own family, from indifference about the coronavirus to complete pandemonium.

Living on a desert island that has three grocery stores dependent on imports, and one hospital with four ventilators, Rachel found herself spiraling into familiar feelings of lack, grasping for control and fearing the unknown.

It all cumulated into one of the hardest days of Rachel’s life – when her daughter experienced her first trauma after being called to be tested for the virus by the Aruban government.

As this virus creates harder days for us all, and especially the most vulnerable, we have to do what we can to find a balance between indifference and pandemonium, between severity and humanity, and between holding on and letting go.

The answer can be found in creating community wherever we can, in feeling our feelings and holding space for others to feel theirs, and in rooting ourselves in knowing that some days may be harder than others – but we can take it one day at a time.

Key Takeaways

  • Let yourself feel anything you may be feeling during this time of uncertainty. Not allowing yourself to be sad because other people are sadder is just like not allowing yourself to be happy because other people are happier.
  • Many past and new traumas may be finding their way into your life right now. Trauma is not defined by outer circumstances, but by anything your nervous system wasn’t ready to cope with. If something happened too fast and too soon, allow yourself to feel and recognize that.
  • Do what you can to find the balance between indifference and pandemonium, between severity and humanity, and between holding on and letting go. Take deep breaths when you need them to feel more grounded.
  • Look for opportunities to create community at every change you get. Be kind. We need each other more than ever right now, and we have an incredible ability to unite as a society when we need to.

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Transcript

[0:58] Welcome to the Yoga Girl podcast. I hope wherever you are right now that you are safe. I want to start off and just right off the bat say I have been trying very, very hard not to break down, not to cry, not to fully allow myself to feel the extent of everything I’m feeling right now, and sitting down just to record this, I know I’m going to cry. So this is going to be a tearful podcast, if I have to pause and blow my nose halfway through, I apologize in advance.

[1:32] So uh…these coronavirus times. I’ve had so many moments over the past week that have felt…like otherworldly, that have felt “this can’t be happening,” that have felt you know, unbelievable, like “I can’t believe this is where we are.” And so many moments have I just paused and gone “okay, well I’m going to talk about this on the podcast this week while this is really something really big to share, something really big to talk about.” And then the next day, something else happened. And then the next day, something else happened, and now I hit this kind of absurd point today where I don’t even know where to begin. So…let’s take a breath, yeah, I definitely need to take a breath, so…

[2:25] Let’s close our eyes, maybe place both hands to your heart and let’s take a real deep breath, here, now, just full, deep inhale…[inhales]…open the mouth and exhale [exhales]. And just for a minute or so, let’s stay right here, just with our hands to our hearts, feeling what’s moving in our hearts in this moment, just noticing what’s present inside of you right now, how you are feeling in this moment, here, now. Not having to shy away from anything, not having to hold anything back, but just for a moment, checking in, tuning in, feeling in. [exhales] I genuinely believe that whenever we sit down and we take a moment like that, together, even if it’s just a minute of holding our hands to our hearts and feeling, it does something for the greater whole. Yeah, it helps us to almost hold hands, yeah? Through closed apartments and sealed off houses and borders and places around the world right now, we have this ability to unite during these challenging times. So I like to imagine right now as I’m sitting here, holding my own heart, imaging you, listening, wherever in the world you are right now, holding your hands to your heart, thousands and thousands of us [sniffs] right now…[laughs] maybe more than a million of us right now, listening, holding, breathing.

[4:20] Let’s take another breath…[inhales]…exhale…[exhales] and blink your eyes open. Okay, [laughs] I’m a little more grounded right now. Today has been one of the hardest days of my entire life. And I share that knowing full-well I am in a very, very privileged situation; there are people out there in the world who have it a hundred thousand times worse than I do right now. There are people who are very vulnerable, very fragile situations before this pandemic happened that are now incredibly, incredibly vulnerable. So I share that because I never want to minimize someone else’s sorrow or pain, and it’s hard for me sometimes to share the full extent of what I’m feeling, especially knowing that so many other people have it worse. But I also know that when I allow myself to go all the way into that place of “okay, this is my challenge right now, I feel pain right not,” it’s valid that I feel pain, I’m a human being like everybody else and we are all allowed to feel what we feel. I know when I do that, there’s a chance that I also give you permission to feel what you feel. And I think it’s important, yeah? Who was it I…Glennon Doyle said something the other day, she said “not allowing yourself to feel sad because other people might be sadder, it’s kind of like not allowing yourself to be happy because maybe other people are happier,” [laughs] you know? It doesn’t make any sense. And it really stuck with me, so…so yeah.

[6:02] Today has been one of the hardest, hardest days of my life. As you guys know, I live in Aruba, Aruba is a little bit behind when it comes, of course, to this pandemic. It’s been spreading in we know, Europe after China, and Asia, and then Europe was hit, and then it started really expanding and spreading in the States; I think Aruba is a couple days or maybe even a week behind the mainland U.S., and for awhile over here, you know, we’re a small island, we’re…115 000 people live here, it’s a super tiny island, you can drive across, point to point in, you know, half an hour. Before we had any cases here, we had a pretty long time of everybody feeling really safe, I think. It really felt like “this is something that…it’s just not going to reach here.” And although I…you know, I had this fairly serious understanding of “it’s not a question of if it’s going to get here, it’s a question of when the virus is going to spread here.” We have almost two million tourists, if you include cruise ships, that come to this island every year — you know, it’s a huge tourist destination, people fly in from everywhere, so of course it wasn’t “are we going to get it,” but “when are we going to get it?”

[7:18] But up until the moment we had our very first case announced, I think the entire island was kind of lulled into this safe sense of security. And even though we were preparing, you know, because there’s definitely that feeling of “man, we gotta start…we gotta get ready,” you know, “this is going to come, it’s going to hit, we don’t know what’s going to happen.” So we were feeling it, talking about it, sensing it, preparing a little bit. But I had this idea, I think because the thought of it becoming a pandemic reaching us was so scary for me, that I didn’t want to allow myself to actually really believe it, so I think that I had my head in the sand, for a little while. And then, this is…so I have to count, it feels like a year has passed in the past four days [laughs]. So much has happened in the past three or four days, it’s unbelievable. But last week, so it was Lea Luna’s birthday, my daughter’s three…third birthday, she turned three. That’s March 13th, it was on Friday. And we spent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday you know, preparing for her party. And we had a big party planned for Sunday, for March 15th, and we spent the beginning this week just preparing for this party; we had a bouncy house rented and I was making two big, like one Elsa cake, one Ana cake, we had — we still have — all these decorations that this beautiful woman brought us from the U.S. and gift bags, and we had 70 people coming. [laughs] Thirty five kids and then a bunch of parents and a bunch of our friends, you know, it was a really big party. And we spent literally Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday blissfully preparing. And it wasn’t until I think Wednesday afternoon it sort of hit me like, “man, is it a good idea to have a lot of people together right now?”

[9:07] No one was really taking action in Aruba, nothing had closed, there had been nothing, nothing like that. But I’m following closely what’s happening in the U.S. and we had no confirmed cases here, so we had this idea, “well there isn’t corona in Aruba. Aruba is safe, we’re isolated, we’re on an island, we’re fine.” And then Lea Luna’s birthday came along, March 13th. She went to school in the morning, went to Doggy’s in the morning, she’s totally fine, like super healthy, went to school, we baked cupcakes for the entire school; that’s a custom here in Aruba, when it’s your birthday, you bring cake, or you bring something for everybody. So we did that Thursday night, and then sang for her Friday morning, and then she went to daycare, she went to Doggy’s, we call it.

[9:51] And then that day, early afternoon, they announced the first case of corona found in Aruba. Two cases, there were found at the same time. And overnight, I really…overnight, it went from some sort of fake sense of peace to pandemonium — to total, total, total panic. I think Dennis and I were super-lucky because we were preparing for this party, so we had stocked up on a lot of food, we have so much like party food, and you know, we were going to have a hot dog stand with vegan hot dogs for everybody, and you know, we had bought all this stuff and we had actually went to…there’s only one big store here in Aruba where you can stock up on things, that sells things in bulk, it’s called Pricemart, it’s like a Costco. And we were there on Wednesday and I told Dennis, I said “hey, let’s get some stuff, just in case, yeah?” So we got a couple of boxes of toilet paper, not much; two big bags of rice, couple of bags of beans and canned goods and…it was just kind of absurd to even buy that stuff, I had this feeling of “this is ridiculous, like are we gonna need this? This seems ridiculous to buy all this food. But anyway, it’s gonna last so we’re going to be fine and we’ll eat this food the way we normally would. We’re not going to have to…it’s not going to be real, you know.”

[11:07] But then we bought like Lysol spray, and of course there’s no hand sanitizer anywhere. And we did stock up on kind of a lot of, yeah, supplies, I guess, or food. For me, that’s the most important thing is food, are we gonna be okay? But still, it wasn’t that sense of panic; it was pretty calm in that store. It was busy, busier than normal, but still calm. The next day, or two days later, first case was confirmed and it went from…yeah, semi-calm to crazy. It took half a day before we ran out of everything. Literally everything. Everybody stocking up, of course everybody going to the same places at the same time, so as the government starts telling people “hey, you gotta stay home, you gotta self-isolate,” every single person who lives here went to one of our three stores on the island, at the same time. Everybody, together. You know, so not the wisest moves. And over the weekend now, we just had the third case confirmed yesterday, and I’ve had this sense, just over the weekend and kind of beginning of this week of: I have to keep it together. I’ve had this feeling of “I really have to keep it together,” because I feel like if I let go, just a little bit, I’m gonna collapse. I’m not going to make it [laughs]. And I feel that way even though things here compared to other places are still fairly okay, right? And I’ve been really struggling with that all throughout this week, just…and it took a while for me to even get there.

[12:38] And it got to a place where I think Monday, Dennis and I had a huge fight. We never fight, oh, my God, like this, like we really had like a blow out that led to a huge…we had a big clearing, both of us could cry, and I just realized like, “hey, we’ve spent a week not talking to each other. We spent a week not communicating the way we normally do because we’ve both been paralyzed with fear, trying to act on this stuff on own own separate tracks, without giving ourselves time to actually like, “hey, I’m scared.” Like, “I’m scared,” you know, we didn’t have that moment of just sitting down and looking each other in the eye and just feeling “man, this is scary, like I feel scared.” We didn’t…we had a whole week just frantically trying to get stuff together and I feel the moment I got to acknowledge that, I started to realize the extent of how terrifying this is. And it’s not terrifying for everybody, and I’m talking to people, and friends and family and things, and some people feel, you know, “this is going to blow over,” and “it’s going to be okay,” and some people feel like “this is bad, but we’re going to get stronger.” Everybody, of course, has different reactions and also different stages, you know. Some people I think are still in denial, and some people have moved way past acceptance and are kind of grieving this…I mean, we are all in the middle of this huge, collective trauma right now.

[14:03] And for me, what I realized as I’ve been digging into this, especially after I finally softened a little bit with Dennis on Monday night, is that I already have this big, big, big, big, wound and many wounds from my childhood where I constantly feel fearful about everybody’s safety, right? Where I’m constantly worried that I’m not going to have enough. I have this sense of lack, it’s almost like it’s in my backbone, this feeling, just from when I was little, that “I dunno if we’re going to be okay,” right? “I don’t know if we’re going to be okay, I don’t know if we have enough, I dunno if we’re going to survive.” And this feeling that “man, I really have to make sure that we’re okay. It’s on me to make sure that we’re okay.” And of course I’ve had that moving through my own traumas and things when I was little, and I deal with that in my own day-to-day life really well, I think. I mean, I am a controlling person, I’ve learned how to let go, I’ve learned how to be more easy-going. Of course my yoga practice and meditation and all the personal development work that I’m doing, it helps me with that every day. But I can be very conscious with it, you know, when I get into a stressful situation, immediately, I need to take the reins. No way I’m going to let someone else steer the ship if we’re in a stressful moment, I gotta be the one to keep track of everything.

[15:30] And I am that way normally, without being in a crisis [laughs] right? Also, this feeling of lack is something I’m working on a lot in my life. I really great way I can explain that is: my entire life, for as long as I can remember, I hate buffets. It…just the idea of going to a buffet, whether if it’s at an event or a wedding or something or at a hotel, or a party, you know…not so much hotels I think, but like a party or a buffet or the kind of meal where they put all the food in the middle of the table. For a really long time in my life, I had that feeling of “I gotta be the first one to the buffet, and I gotta make sure I get enough, because maybe there won’t be enough for me.” Which is not a logical thought; I’m an adult, obviously I know there’s food for me, you know, and if for whatever reason there isn’t, I can feed myself, like it’s okay. But I have that feeling, it’s just like backbone type of feeling. And every time I got to a buffet, I have to pause, I have to take a moment, check in with my body, make sure I don’t overfill my plate with food I won’t be able to eat, because that’s…that’s kind of how I am, right?

[16:39] So this situation right now where we don’t know if we’re going to have food to eat in a couple weeks. And this is more severe here than it is in a regular country, or on mainland or in Europe or in the States or where you are. We are isolated on a tiny island in the middle of the Caribbean; our closest neighbour is Venezuela, which is of course in it’s own humanitarian crisis right now, and we don’t have — we’re not a self-sustained island. We don’t have food growing here; we don’t grow food, produce our own food, don’t have our own supplies. We completely rely on export of goods from other countries, mainly the Netherlands and United States completely. When we get fruits and vegetables here, you know, it’s the kind of fruits that were picked unripe, off the vine, and they ripened in the container over two weeks getting here. You know, we get those tasteless white tomatoes, like that’s the kind of food we get. Everything is important. You know, if other countries, these other countries would suddenly stop exporting goods because, you know, they have to take care of their own citizens, right? Maybe there is a shortage…there’s going to be a shortage of food, of supplies, people are not going to be able to work, nobody knows what’s going on with this economy…if they stop exporting goods and foods to us, we have no way of making our own. We literally would starve if that were to happen.

[18:03] Now, going all the way there is a stretch, everyone’s telling me “well, that’s highly unlikely.” Yeah, so was the idea of entire countries being on lockdown, of us being quarantined right now, as a global like…all of us, you know? All of this was very unlikely. Every day something that I would’ve said a week, two weeks ago as highly unlikely, something like that happens every single day. So yeah, it’s unlikely but…not that unlikely. And this feeling…I don’t know if there’s going to be food for us to eat, yeah? Or we’ve run out of toilet paper, okay, you can find a way…you can take a poop…you can take a poop anywhere, you can get in the shower, right? There’s ways, you can use a leaf like you can be crafty and figure out toilet…I don’t know what this thing about toilet paper is because as far as I know, coronavirus doesn’t give you explosive diarrhea, but I don’t know why we are out of toilet paper everywhere. But when it comes to things like feeding ourselves, like that’s really, really, really serious. And during this week, this feeling that I’ve had of “well, I don’t know if we’re going to be okay.” And I’ve had days where I’ve spun completely out of control into that place of “I don’t know if we’re going to be okay, we gotta do more.” So I’m trying to prepare, but I don’t know how long I’m preparing for, and I don’t know what I’m preparing for, and it’s been…it’s so stressful. And I know so many of you listening know this feeling of…of you want to make sure you’re safe, right? You want to make sure that you’re taken care of, that you’re family’s taken care of, that you’re going to be okay, but there’s no way to settle that feeling of discomfort, there’s no way to settle that feeling of unease because you don’t know what the fuck you’re preparing for.

[19:47] I keep telling Dennis, I say “I’m totally okay if they would tell us ‘hey, we’re not going to have any food thirty days from now. We’re not going to have any food and we don’t know how long that’s going to last, but it’s going to be at least two months.’ Then I could know ‘okay, we’re going to have two months shortage of food, I can make a plan for that shit. I can meal prep, I’ll write that down, I’ll weigh out the rice, portion it out…’” Like literally, because this is how my brain works, like I’ll make sure that all of that is under control, and then I’ll feel better, right? But because I don’t know, are we supposed to rationing our food right now? Am I eating too much these days? Should we take it easy with what we’re eating? Should we like…should we starve a little bit now so we don’t have to starve a lot later? Like I’ve been really spinning off into those places and…yeah, some of you guys might say “that’s totally unreasonable,” I’m overreacting, I’m being crazy, sure. That’s how I feel, right? So this whole global energy of fear is impacting all of us in different ways, and for me it’s been this big thing of food, of lacking, of shortage, of not having enough. And I’m…like I had to have a moment with Dennis where I said, “hey, if this really goes all the way bad, right? If it get’s really, really, really, really bad, maybe…like what if something happens with the electricity on the island? What if that happens, how will we take care of our house? Okay, we have solar panels, we can get a battery attached to that, it’s super expensive, we don’t have the money. Trying to figure that out…can we figure that out somehow, or borrow money from someone to make that happen, okay? What about if we have no water?” I’m like becoming like one of those doomsday preppers people, like “how can we…”

[21:30] Boats have desalinators, that’s how you purify water when you’re like crossing the Atlantic. I’m like “we can get a desalinator. Probably attach it to a tank in the house, okay, let’s figure that out.” Like I’ve gone through all of those scenarios of worst case, really, like I went all the way there, and for every day that passes, I feel less and less like I’m crazy and more and more like I’m doing something totally sensible by trying to make sure I have gone through the entire list of doing everything I can do to make sure that we are safe. But then the question becomes “so who’s we?” Right? “Who are we?” Do I draw that line…is it just me, my husband and my daughter? We have our team of people here, our staff, their family. Dennis’s family, our closest friends, beyond that, we have acquaintances. People we don’t know, this entire society, vulnerable people in this society…it’s…it’s beyond, it’s really beyond. And if I let myself worry about everyone, I won’t make it. I have to try to draw this circle of “okay, what can I control.” And then people in need as they come my way, which they have, how can we help them.

[22:44 — Commercial Break]

[24:11] So, all of this is leading up today, which I started this podcast off saying today is one of the hardest days of my life. So, over the weekend, Lea got a cough [exhales]. Okay, I’m trying so hard not to cry right now. So she went to school on Friday, she was totally normal, everything fine. Saturday night, like Saturday evening, she started coughing, but it was a little, I thought like “are you choking on something, like are you eating something?” That kind of cough. But then she kept going and “okay, that’s odd.” And then she coughed a little bit at night, not so much, and then Sunday and Monday, she was coughing. Like dry cough, not a phlegmy kind of cough where stuff comes out, like a dry cough, which is what they say one of the main symptoms of coronavirus is, this very dry cough. She didn’t have any other symptoms, no fever, she wasn’t lethargic or tired or sluggish, you know, she was running around, doing all her normal stuff, but just a big cough. And Sunday night, she coughed to the point of throwing up, twice. Which obviously, you know, in normal times, like non-corona times, she’s very rarely sick, you know, and she’s never done that, she’s never coughed to the point of throwing up before, like I would be worried if we weren’t in a global pandemic. So obviously I’m worrying like crazy.

[25:35] And there’s a hotline, there’s a coronavirus hotline here on the island, and we immediately called and explained “here’s exactly what’s going on, these are the symptoms,” and they said “oh, you don’t have to worry at all,” they really, really almost made us feel like “we’re a little crazy for calling, this is totally fine, she’s just a toddler, toddlers, you know…all the regular colds and little flus and regular bacterial stuff, all that risks continues as normal.” It’s not like every cough, every person coughing has coronavirus; no, all of the other stuff still exists. So they just said “no, don’t you worry at all.” And then…she had the cough on Monday, really bad all day, and then Tuesday morning she woke up, and she’s totally fine. No cough. All day Tuesday and Tuesday night, and it seems to be like a night cough, like it’s worse at night, not one single cough. So I took a big, deep breath, like “okay, she just had one of those weird like, you know…kids get something and then it’s gone. And then today’s Wednesday as I’m recording this, so woke up Wednesday morning and she slept a little longer than she has the past week, which was kind of strange, and get her out of bed and she’s boiling. I mean, boiling. You know when you pick up a really tired kid from their crib, and she’s just hanging over my shoulder, and hot. And take her temperature, she has 104, 40 degrees Celsius, 104 Fahrenheit, which is…which makes me think, immediately, like “wait, what was her fever like during the night? What if she had fever spikes above that at night? Like that’s getting to that kind of scary high fever, you know?” I completely, completely freaked out. Obviously it’s not fun for any mother, any parent when your kid has these high fever spikes, it’s always scary with a super high fever, but right now, like, corona-time [laughs] not okay.

[27:31] So, called back to this hotline. We’d been in isolation since Friday, so since her birthday, we haven’t met anybody, we haven’t interacted with anybody. We’ve been to the store…or, not me, haven’t left the house since Friday, since her birthday, so that’s five days, almost six…five days ago. Dennis went to the store twice; he had to get gas and then he went to the store, super careful not to touch anybody. We’re doing this thing now where before he enters the house, if he’s gone to get something, he literally gets naked in the garden, puts his clothes straight into the washing machine, and then washes his hands and then goes and takes a shower, like that’s where we are. And…so we’ve been isolated, and then she had this fever today, and we called the hotline and then she started getting…you could just tell, the woman, it was — I don’t know if it was the same woman, Dennis was on the phone — but that they definitely took it seriously because the fever was so high; apparently that’s a sign, and that it’s not going down. So we gave her…I normally don’t like to give paracetamol and things like that, but if it’s really high of course I will, so I think at ten she got one, and her fever went down to 38.6 for 30 minutes and then went right back up to 40. It was like it gave her 30 minutes of relief and then spiked again. So didn’t really take, and that made them really concerned. And the fact that she had this super dry cough that was really severe, but it didn’t happen at the same time. It wasn’t like she had a cough and a fever and she was lethargic, like those three things that are the big symptoms; it was first the cough, then a whole 24 hour break and then a fever, which, you know…it’s super scary, all of it.

[29:11] So they just said “okay, we’re going to send this to the main doctors who are in charge, and if you need to come in, we’ll call you.” And then Dennis hung up, and 20 minutes later they called and said “you have an appointment in 20 minutes, come right away.” [laughs] And…I can’t really explain, and I know…so for people who have been over the kind of hump of like…I think once you’re in that place where your country has completely locked everything down, like no one’s allowed to leave their houses — I’m waiting for that to happen here. People are still out and about, restaurants are open, you know…two days ago, I was trying to get to the beach so I could sit and meditate somewhere peaceful without people…I couldn’t find a place without…that wasn’t packed with people. I saw a party…there was a beach party on one of the beaches where I normally go, so people haven’t been taking this seriously, at all. Up until yesterday it was still totally legal for everybody to stay open all night, so my friends who are bartenders or waitresses, they’re all working all night, they’re super busy with people who are up partying, that was where we are.

[30:20] So I think Aruba took action quickly in terms of banning flights, like that happened really fast, I think immediately with the first cases, they started banning flights in and out of the country. Now there’s a 10 pm curfew, which I don’t know…that doesn’t make any sense, I don’t think corona cares what time you’re out. I felt kind of proud of the government that they took pretty serious action pretty fast. I wish it was two weeks earlier, obviously, but faster than other countries at least. We didn’t have to wait for 30 cases before something happened or 100 cases, but it happened after the second or third case. Now, again, we only have 100 000 people living here, so very small boat.

[31:00] But when they called back right away, “you gotta come in right now,” they had this temporary office set up downtown. And Dennis just got all her stuff together and I had…I was like “okay,” and then I had to turn around and I…I just started bawling. And it was kind of like spending all of this time fearing this disease, or fearing this virus, worried, you know every time you hear anybody cough or sneeze or thinking about disinfecting everything all the time, washing your hands to the point of like, my hands cracking — like so much time fearing this one thing [sniffs] and then suddenly…it was like today we were just faced with it, like face to face. “Yeah, come in, you gotta get tested for this…” it just…. And I know, it’s all you hear: “kids are fine with this virus. If you’re young and healthy, you’re likely to be fine with this virus. It’s deadly and scary for immunocompromised people, it’s dangerous for the elderly,” you know, we’ve heard this so many times. But it doesn’t mean that that makes everything feel okay. Of course not. There have been severe cases of people who are in the ICU on life support who are in their 30s or in their 20s or in their 40s…this is scary for all of us and just the fact that no children have died with this virus: okay, you know, it’s a big comfort. I don’t know how we would manage if this was something that hit our kids the worst. But it’s still the most terrifying fucking thing. It’s just this whole feeling of “we don’t know what’s going to happen.” We don’t know what’s going to happen with us, if we get sick. We don’t know what’s going to happen with all the people we’ve interacted with, we’ve been isolated for five days, you know. There’s literally so many ways you can get this virus, I’m just, you know, picking up something from the grocery store, literally, you can get the virus that way. Just from so many people not being careful, not being cautious, not taking it seriously…it’s a very, very, very real thing.

[33:09] And I’ve been reading enough — and I like to read the stats, and statistics, and the numbers, and what people have analyzed in other countries just to know what’s coming, and right now we have so many countries that have been through this that it’s pretty easy to tell exactly what’s going to happen with certain populations if this is not contained. And there’s that kind of simple math that they were sharing after what they saw in China, what they saw in Italy, what they saw in Iran, South Korea, is whatever number you have of known cases in your area, the likely real number is that number either multiplied by ten for, you know, lowballing it, or multiplying it by 30 if you want to be more realistic. So if we’re lowballing it and we have 3 confirmed cases here, it means we have 30 real cases; okay, not so terrible. But then you gotta take that number and you’re going multiply it by two, and then you’re gonna take that number and you multiply it by two, and then you do that ten times. Or you take that number, you multiply it by 1024, which is elevated by two, ten times. And that’s where you’ll be in 30 days if it’s not contained. And if that happens here, that means we’ll have 32 000 cases in Aruba, which doesn’t sound like a lot for other countries, but considering we have 115 000 people here…and that’s lowballing it, right? If you go to the higher or more likely scenario, it’s 90 000 people out of 115 000. Means everybody’s gonna get it, right?

[34:40] We have one single hospital here. I hear we have four ventilators, four machines for people who need breathing support. Four. So just the thought of, you know, if this isn’t contained fast enough, what’s going to happen? Maybe not to me, yeah, maybe not…maybe I’m not going to be the one who’s there about to die, right, but to everybody who needs regular healthcare, to everybody looking to go to the hospital to give birth, to get help because their leg is broken, to get help because they’re diabetic, because they have complications of another illness, because all the regular healthcare, the reason the hospital is there, those people aren’t going to have…aren’t going to have any help. And that percentage of people, or how many people are actually going to die from this virus, that is supposed to be not a big deal…it’s going to be really, really, really high when you consider you’re in a place that doesn’t have any resources where we are.

[35:35] So this whole, you know, getting that call, like “come in, you gotta be tested,” I…yeah. It was very brief, because we had to go, but I gave myself like a minute of bawling and breaking down. Not in front of Lea, she’s been…Dennis of course is the calmest person in the universe, most grounded person you’ll ever meet, so calm, and he feels the fear, like it’s real for him too, but he is so calm. And driving to this place, we had to decide…so only one person was allowed to go in, so it had to be him or me going in there for her to get tested. And she’s very, when she gets sick, she’s very in this mommy phase, and I was just so worried about how that was going to be for her. I’m also the one who’s extremely anal about hygiene, like I feel like Dennis is more clumsy, he touches his face a lot…he’s just like a dude. So I said, “okay, I want to go in. I’m going to go in with her, I’m going to make sure we don’t touch…” like basically we’re going into the epicentre of corona, so it’s also that feeling of “okay, let’s get tested. So at least if she has it, we know we all have like like 100 000 percent. If she has it, I have, Dennis has it, then we’ll know. If she doesn’t, it will be a relief, of course, we can relax knowing that neither of us is likely to have it.” Like we share food, we’re a very tight family.

[36:59] But then it’s the feeling of “but what if you go to the place to get tested and you get it there, because that’s literally where every high-risk person that they believe might have it goes. Everyone who was positive, we’re at that place.” So it’s this debate you know. But then Dennis says “do you think there’s any place on this island that’s cleaner than that place? Any place where they’re more careful? And what are you going to do if they ask you to be tested, are you gonna say ‘no I’m not going?’ If we’re not, if we don’t find out if we have it, we can’t contain it in our own circle, so it’s like it’s our responsibility to go, of course, if you have the chance to get tested, do it, 100 percent.”

[37:41] [Sniffs] So we park outside and I literally had a tote bag, I had a box of Lysol wipes, big thing of hand sanitizer, I had baby wipes, I brought soap…I don’t know what I was thinking, like where am I gonna…yeah, I brought…like I just wasn’t really thinking. And then we go in, and immediately like I’m trying not to touch the door, I’m pushing the door open with my foot, with my shoe, and as I do that I realize I’m wearing flip flops. Like why am I wearing flip flops, I should have a…close-toed shoes would feel more safe, but we left in a hurry…this is really how you have to think entering this place that you know is super-likely to be contaminated. And we go inside and it’s like a regular little waiting room, there’s one woman in there with a face mask, sitting there waiting in her 50’s maybe. And I haven’t seen a single person in Aruba wearing a face mask. And of course, the feeling in the car, and of course Lea has a fever, she’s not feeling well — in the car I was trying to explain like, “hey!” Trying to be happy, trying to be normal, “we’re gonna go to the doctor, and you love the doctor!” Because normally, she loves the doctor, we had this wonderful doctor experience when we we in Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago and she had impetigo, and an EMT at Envision Festival was helping her clean her wounds and he was like her favourite person. His name was Epdarian, she still talks about him. And I was so happy, like she got to have a positive doctor experience, and I was thinking then that this is really good for when she needs to go to the doctor for real, that she’s not going to be scared. And we’re in the car and I’m explaining “hey, we’re going to the doctor’s,” and she’s like “yay! Let’s first go to the cinema and the the beach and then we go see Epdarian at the doctor.”

[39:24] And I’m like “we’re not going to go to the cinema right now, we’re not going to go to the beach right now, but we can go another day. We’re going to a doctor now; it’s not Epdarian, but it’s going to be just as fun, you know. It’s going to be super, it’s going to be totally okay, and all they’re going to do is they’re going to take a Q-tip and they’re going to tickle you in your nose.” And then she looks at me and she goes “tickle me in my nose?” And I go “yeah, they’re going to tickle you in your nose, it’s just to see if…it’s just because you’re sick and they’re going to try to get the boo-boo out.” [laughs] I said “they’re going to try to get the sickness out.” And she said “but I don’t want to tickle my nose.” And I’m like “I know, I know. Maybe it’s not going to feel good, but it’s gonna be really quick, it’s gonna be really quick, and then we’re going to go home and eat ice cream.” I think I said something like that. And you could tell that she was like “uhh…” and she said “that sounds silly, momma. Sounds really silly.” I’m like “mhmm, yeah, it is very silly.”

[40:15] And then I’m trying to keep up this normalcy, which of course I’m terrified, panicked, freaking out, which of course she can sense, and walking into that place, seeing that woman with a mouth mask — or what do you call them? A face mask. She immediately…I mean Lea, just stepping into that place, she clung to me like a koala baby, like she got absolutely terrified the moment we entered this space, which of course it’s this super super…it’s just filled with fear, of course. And then there’s this little reception desk filled with hand sanitizer, and I just said “hi, we’re here, and this is who we are,” and then they gave us two face masks and said “put this on immediately.” And I put mine on, and Lea started crying, just from that. That was all it took. I put a face mask on, and she looked at me and said “take it off. I don’t like it, take it off,” and I said “honey, you have to wear one too,” and she starts bawling. “I don’t wanna wear it, I don’t wanna wear it,” like she’s terrified, she just…she knew “we’re in a place that we’re not supposed to be here, like this is not good.” And I tried and tried and tried, but imagine trying to force a face mask on a three-year-old that doesn’t want to wear one. And I just asked the lady, I said “hey, this is not going to happen, is it okay if like…can she be without? Like…what am I going to do? What am I going to do? I can’t…” and the lady goes “yeah, okay, I guess we’re going to…yeah, gonna have to do it.” And then she explains, “I’m going to open this door for you, don’t touch anything. Don’t touch the door, don’t touch the walls. You’re going to enter the second waiting room. Don’t let her sit on her own or walk on her own; she can’t walk around, you have to hold her,” I’m like “dude, she’s not going to walk, she’s like clinging to me putting her claws in my arm she’s so scared.”

[42:02] And then they took her information from, I don’t know, 30 feet away, like from across the room, they took her information. Everyone is wearing hazmat suits, like the woman who took the information just had complete protective clothing, like head and…like head to toe. They took the information, and then the doctor who actually did the…took the test was in a complete fucking hazmat suit. And there’s other people, like one guy walking out who had just been tested and then a woman with I think a two year old walking in, and I’m just standing in the middle of the room, clutching my kid, trying not to touch anything. Like, they’re like “please sit down,” I’m like “no, I’m just gonna…I don’t wanna…I’m not going to sit down, I’m fine to stand.” So there was three other people, total, they put each of us in a different corner, as far away from each other as possible, and then when it was our time to go in, this guy is wearing a…yeah, it’s like one of those things you see in a sci-fi movie. I have never in my…it hasn’t even occurred to me that there is an actual need for these things in real life, like I’ve only ever seen someone in a full hazmat suit in a sci-fi movie, like that’s what it was.

[43:11] So, the guy opening the door for us to enter there, and it’s almost like with face masks, it’s so hard to read people’s emotions; you know half their face is covered, they don’t look human anymore. So I think Lea got super scared just with the face mask because she couldn’t see me any more, she couldn’t see am I smiling, am I freaking out, she couldn’t tell because you can’t show emotions with those things on. And then the door opens and the person there who’s supposed to be the nice doctor, you know, to do this nose tickle that I was explaining in the car, he looked like an alien. Like he looked like he came from another planet. And to a three year old, that’s already sick, has 104 fever and is terrified, you know, she lost it. Like immediately. We walked in there and she just “momma, I don’t want…I don’t want to, I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I don’t want to. No. Let me out, I don’t want to.” And I just realized the moment we got in there, I’m like, “I don’t…I’m not gonna…we have no option. Like I can’t leave, we have to do this.” [Sniffs]

[44:11] And I had some people share on social media like “why are you making that sound bad?” You know, I don’t mean to minimize anybody else’s trauma, but today was absolutely traumatic for us. [Sniffs] And, you know, there are kids out there who, yeah, have life threatening illnesses, have cancer, who need to be poked and prodded and tested in a hundred different ways every day, and you know, absolutely, and I feel for everybody who has it so much worse, and we are blessed to get this test. Oh, my God, people are trying to get this test in other parts of the world, and they can’t because there’s not enough tests. So I know it’s like we’re blessed and all that, but, you know, we’ve never been in a situation like this before, Lea has never in her life encountered anything remotely similar to this, ever. Ever. And this guy in this complete suit — you know, I couldn’t even tell you how old was he, I couldn’t even see him [sniffs] — just said “you’re gonna have to hold her down.” And I didn’t want to put her down on the table because obviously, corona, so I had to hold her in my arms and use my right hand to hold her forehead down…it really felt like a violation, and I think if it was a regular thing, it wouldn’t have been so scary, right? If it was a regular doctor with a face she could see, someone who could smile at her, someone who could explain to her “here’s what we’re going to do, this is why we’re doing…” you know, she likes to understand things. Whenever we have to do hard things, if she can understand why, she’s usually really okay, even if it’s things she doesn’t want to do, or hard things, or uncomfortable things. But now it was like this big [sniffs] you know, alien man — didn’t even look like a man, like he looked like a monster. [sniffs] I hope he’s not listening because I’m sure he’s super lovely, but just with that suit on [sniffs]… and then me who said it was going to be a little tickle, like “it’s not going to be a big deal.” Yeah, had to use my right hand to hold her forehead down because she’s just screaming, you know, using every muscle in her body to try to fight, to get out of there. [sniffs]

[46:27] And I used my left hand to hold both of her arms down with all my force, and then he…yeah. It was a nasal swab, but he had to get it way, way, way, way up there, like it wasn’t like…I’ve had nasal swabs, and this was not [laughs]. I don’t know if they had to be more rough or harsh or go deeper, or…because it’s such a serious situation, but it was…it hurt her for sure. [sniffs] Yeah, but more than the swab, it was really the…it was really I think my fear, my panic, being in that kind of unbelievably terrifying environment, and then this suited person, you know, it was like not human, it was like no…. It’s like this virus is making it impossible for us to be human with each other, like we can’t touch each other [sniffs], we can’t, you know, at least people…you can’t show your face, you can’t show emotion, you can’t reassure someone, you know. Like “it’s gonna be okay,” like you couldn’t even…[sighs] you can’t even convey that.

[47:28] So for her, I mean, I’m 100 percent sure this was a…this was super traumatic. Probably more traumatic for me [laughs, sniffs]. Someone was upset, “how can you call that a trauma? By saying that you’re minimizing any person who’s ever been through a real trauma,” like hey, I have been through real fucking traumas so you can go sit down. And the definition of a trauma, which that person probably doesn’t know, it’s not defined by what happened. It’s not defined by the outer circumstance of what came your way, you know. It’s defined by something coming your way too fast — too much, too fast, too soon. Where our nervous system isn’t prepared or isn’t ready to cope, and that 100 percent was what this day was for us.

[48:16] And going…yeah, leaving there… [sniffs] …leaving there…yeah. I just, I got out of there as fast as we, humanly possible. And then we got in the car, [sniffs] and yeah, I sterilized everything I could. And it’s also that feeling of “okay, I have to sterilize everything, but how can you actually really ever do that? Like you can’t wipe down a piece of cloth, for instance. I had a bag, like a tote bag, and everybody’s using hand sanitizer and then the tote bag was on the floor of that office, and I’m bringing the tote bag in the car, where I keep my feet, and you know, we go in the house…. And once you really start to think about it, this is impossible. Like it’s impossible to contain…we can do our best, but we can’t be sure, there’s no way.

[49:03] And coming home, I just told Dennis like “hey, we gotta wipe down and clean this car, like every…where I sat, where you sat, where Lea sat,” and we put our shoes in like a bucket of water and bleach, took all of our clothes off outside, and went straight into the bathtub, you know, washed our hands and then went straight into the bathtub. But still, this feeling…I was like “I have to wash our hair.” Like…yeah. And then later today on the couch, like I really scrubbed everything down, I’m just looking at my arm and I have these two hair ties [laughs] on. And I’m like “okay, well my hair tie was on that chair, like where my arm was resting: what if there was virus there and now it’s on my hair tie, and now I’m on the couch, and now we all have it. Maybe we get the test back tomorrow and she didn’t have it, but now we have it.” [laughs]

[49:47] It’s like this whole…this whole situation, there’s no out. There’s no out; everything is just absolutely fucking terrible for so many people right now. And yeah, coming home I had to really…I really tried to sit down with her and explain, and Dennis asked “how was it?” And she said “It hurt, it hurt my nose, it hurt my nose. I didn’t like it.” And I was trying to explain, you know, “you’re so brave,” and she said “no, I’m no brave,” and I said “but you are very brave.” “I don’t wanna be brave.” And I’m like “I don’t want to have to be brave either, I wish we didn’t have to be brave. I wish we were all just safe. I just wish all of us were safe and that we didn’t have this big fearful thing hanging over all of our heads right now, but that’s just not where we are. [sniffs]

[50:45] Then an hour later, she…yeah, she was calm. She ate something, she drank some water, and then a little after that she started jumping on the couch; she got some energy back, which made me feel good. And I know, like, if it turns out she has it, like she’s going to be fine. She’s going to be totally fine, I don’t have to fear for her life. I have pretty severe asthma, like I’m probably fine too. I don’t know how strong my immune system is; I’ve just been sick for 18 months on and off, I have no idea. But likely, yes, I will also be fine. Dennis will also be fine, like…if anybody that has interacted with us…which I don’t know, I read like the median incubation time for this is 5.1 days, so…I don’t know. If we have it, hopefully it’s something she got at daycare on Thursday or Friday and now she’s showing symptoms now, and not something that picked up two weeks ago to trace back every single person. We stopped hugging people, what, a week, ten days ago, nine…eight, nine days ago? But yea, before that, this was this thing happening somewhere else, you know, that wasn’t so bad.

[52:00] For anybody listening who feels like “yeah, still isn’t so bad,” it is bad. It is bad. And if it’s not bad in your area, it’s going to get bad. And I’m really trying to balance this reality with “we are all going to be okay,” right? And there are other pieces to this, and I’ll have to save this for another episode, but we are suffering financial consequences from this pandemic to a degree that I could never have imagined. Never. We had to of course close the studio, we have staff this is completely reliant on people, our brick and mortar business, on people coming in to practice, you know, buying things in the boutique and eating, and we had to close so we can’t…we won’t have salaries for people in a couple of weeks. And we’ve had to have some really, really, truly awful conversations with people we love the most in the world, and all of that happened today. All of that happened today. And I’ll save that for another time, but I…it’s been such few days, so much has happened in such a short time, I cannot…I cannot believe it, actually.

[53:14] But there’s other people out there who, yeah, I cannot compare my situation to theirs. We have a family that we supported through the Yoga Girl Foundation last year that were without a home because of a really, really unfortunate incident that happened — I don’t want to share details because of course it’s very private. But where we put them up for a few months and helped them find a house with small kids, and she texted, this beautiful, beautiful woman who’s been okay now for awhile, that she has $15 and no job to return to and saying “hey, we’re hungry,” you know [crying]. Just that, right? Which also makes me feel like “okay, I’m here trying to, frantically trying to make sure that we don’t have to let all our employees go, and you know, everyone on the team here is super resourceful, you know, has a big network, like I know, it’s very very hard to be where we are, but I know everybody’s going to be okay. Trying to figure those things out on that scale as a business owner, as someone who…like we own our house, we have all of these…this sense of security that’s still there, and then this woman with two small children, she texts me and you know, “we’re hungry.” Like, and they literally didn’t have food. For a couple days, they didn’t have food to eat.

[54:54] So, immediately going from “okay, here is my own level of struggle which is here, and it’s terrifying and it’s scary and I wanna feel my feelings, and [sniffs] move through this,” and then drop into the reality of someone who lives ten minutes away from me who doesn’t have food to eat, can’t feed her kids. And how easy is it for me to organize a food drive? I put a message in three of my chat groups locally, here, like “hey, we need some help. Who can donate some food? Some clothes? Some toys? You know, dried food, canned goods.” And immediately we had something put together where yeah, she’s going to be okay for this month for sure. And we can continue supporting her, obviously. But the thought of that, how many people right now are not just fearing for their jobs, [sniffs] for their health, but for their lives, right? For their children, for the future of their children, not knowing if you’re going to be able to feed your kids next week. It’s a different, it’s a different place than many of us are looking from. And I would love it if we could all keep those people in mind right now, you know. Do what you have to do, put everything into place that you need to do to keep yourself safe and to keep yourself protected, but leave a little bit of space for the people who are…who are even worse off. And I think if we look up and around, we’ll find ways to be of service in this time, and you see so many beautiful examples of that everywhere, which warms my heart every day.

[56:30] But I think this is a time for us to really, really, really, really stick together, to support each other, to take care of ourselves; really, roll our your mat every day, practice yoga, take deep breaths, drink water, nourish yourselves in ways than just, just, you know, it’s not just not getting sick, it’s staying nourished and staying on top of your mental health and taking care of yourself so you can take care of others.

[57:02] Yeah. [laughs, sniffs]. I really wish…I really wish I could end this podcast on this super light, positive note, hopefully…okay, I know how to end this podcast now [sniffs]. I would like to end this podcast with a prayer. My prayer is very, very simple, very profound. “Dear God, may next week’s podcast be more positive and more hopeful and bring more good news than this one.” [laughs] That’s my prayer: that next time you hear my voice, next episode, I have some good news to share, things are in a better place for all of us, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. That is my prayer, that is my hope. Until then, let’s take this one day at a time. One day at a time.

[57:58] Stay safe, wash your hands [laughs], stay at home, and take care of yourself. I love you, so much, and of course I will keep you up to date when we get the test results. It’s going to be 24 hours before we know if we are infected with the virus or not, and I’ll probably make and addition to this show, or you can go to my Instagram, Yoga Girl to get more information in case I leave you with a big cliffhanger right now, I hope not [sniffs]. Yeah. Thank you for listening, and I’ll be back with good news next week.

[End of Episode]