It is 2020… what is going on!

How did we get here???

Great question.

How did we get here? Stuck in our houses unless we are essential workers who haven’t had hours decreased or furloughed. Going to the grocery store with masks over our faces and as few times a week as we can. Standing in line for free food wherever offered. All sports in the country and possibly world canceled. Very few people brave enough to attempt to travel. Parks and gyms closed off. Students are all home schooled… by their teachers and parents. My parents stopped by yesterday to drop something off and stood on the other side of the lawn and talked to us. No hugs. No in home invitations. It was odd.

My youngest turned 12 on March 30th… his birthday was a zoom birthday party. So thankful for friends joining that night! It made his night!

But playing in our yards more with our families. More time to be introspective. The inner Martha Stewarts, Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, Rachel Rays, Bobby Flays coming out. Attempting mom’s recipe book.Caring more for others. Praying more. Having more faith that God will lead us through. Hope in Jesus. We always say we need more hours in the day, well it was just handed to us. Slowed us down. Perhaps a renewed focus on simplicity, reminder that we don’t need so much ‘stuff’.
We miss our friends. We will not take them for granted quite the same. We will learn to appreciate everything God has given us.
As of now, we are still permitted to go outside and exercise. This has been a wonderful blessing for our family to go walking and biking for so many things we are doing as a family…

We started out 2020 with hope of a new year and a new decade. Personally we had just taken out a loan for home improvement projects that were to start in March and April.

I had 5 different half marathons planned, 4 of which were in new states. This was pretty motivating to stay on course for training. By the end of February, I had paid for lodging and airfare for all of my races for the spring which essentially started March 22-May 3rd. Spring break plans were set and we were excited.
Ian’s 8th grade trip to Washington DC was paid for and was happening right before spring break.

Work was good. Keeping busy, but not too busy.

At the end of February, my mom had a surgery and was at Advent Health for a few days. There were no big concerns, limitations, etc out of the norm that I recall.

At some point at the end of February or early March there was a bit of talk picking up about the Corona Virus in our country. This was when the cruise ships were hit.

I remember not being concerned. Thinking this is just something that is happening in China. Yeah maybe a few people here will get it, but seriously, I haven’t even had the flu in 20 years, my family has been taking elderberry every day since January 4th and we haven’t had a sniffle in our house. I was definitely not concerned about me or the country in general.

At some point in the first 7-10 days of March, media picked up and restrictions started coming down in California, Washington State, and Oregon. Starting to get a little concerned about our trip next month. But thinking, oh this will pass.

Then on March 10th I get the email that my race in California has postponed. Their county has just put in significant restrictions of events larger than so many people for 3 weeks. My race is technically outside of that 3 weeks but they wanted to give everyone plenty of time to plan. I immediately request the virtual race, citing that I still plan to be in California that week and will just run it there. Still stumped and irritated that things are dropping off, I am insisting we are still gonna be traveling. As of today, this race has not been rescheduled yet and I chose to not run it this past weekend. I’ll wait to see when they postpone it to…
As I’m writing this, if nothing had changed, I would be in transit from Lake Tahoe to Oregon right now.

But instead I’m sitting here at my computer at home…

And it is as if the hammer suddenly came down in a week- shocking us all…

March 10th, a state of emergency was declared for the State of NC
March 12th, NBA, MLB, NCAA, etc cancels all of its games.

March 12th, a state of emergency was declared for Buncombe County and the city of Asheville.

March 13th, last day of NCHSAA sports for a while

March 24th, Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021

Many Many Many other cancellations as well.

And at some point amongst all of these days… all of my races canceled or postponed or went virtual. And thankfully, airlines and travel venues have been more open to change than ever, allowing all of my trips to be canceled with almost full reimbursement.

In that same week, my running community was finding left and right future races were canceling. Between postponing, going virtual, or straight up canceling. By Friday, any races scheduled for the month of March had canceled. A few went on and had theirs that weekend to get them out of the way. A few races canceled as people were landing on their flights to those locations. On Friday, my race for the Asheville Marathon half scheduled for the following weekend had to make the hard decision to cancel. People were traveling from so many distances, it gave them time to cancel and get reimbursements.

The sad part was that everyone was stressed and not getting it. I mean, from a runner’s point of view, you’ve put all this time and energy into training, new shoes, time, plans, etc and then your races all just drop. And the runners got mean and mad. But those poor race directors got smashed. What about all the time and energy they put into planning this for the runners. They were proud of the excitement they had created, the shirts, the bling, the swag, all the planning meetings, $ spent to confirm locations, conference rooms/halls- what if they weren’t getting reimbursed for any of this either??? What if they don’t have the ability due to location to reschedule. There were a lot of disrespectful people out there. But its understandable that this event, this week leading up to the hammer coming down was very stressful.

At work, I work one on one with athletes. It seemed like everything was pretty normal at the beginning of the week. We had just been notified our school was set for our contract at work that week. The magic date was March 10th for us. Then suddenly all of the media started talking about the extra cleaning and hand washing. And concerns of our schools and mass gatherings being fester-pools of germs and spreading of this virus that we are all questioning. I’m then talking with our county AD about suggestions for how we should be not using shared water bottles, hand sanitizer before and after athletics, and all the things we can implement to keep athletics going while decreasing the spread of the virus. But before anything was ever able to be implemented, a sudden message came down from the state on Thursday at 2:30pm saying, no more sports after midnight on Friday. Wow. That was a huge blow! What will we do!?

I immediately came up with a plan. Told coaches and athletes that I would still come to school every day at 3 and be there for rehab and treatments. Even if they couldn’t participate. But if school got cancelled, I would figure something out.

But then the county told schools to plan to send everything home with students on Monday. Thankfully our middle school sent both my kids home with devices on Friday in case we didn’t return on Monday. And they didn’t. School was called for 2 weeks (really 3 due to spring break) at that point. That’s where we are now. At the end of that time frame.
We were told to sanitize our athletic training rooms on Monday.

We were left with the idea that we were returning, but I cleaned as if I wouldn’t be back for the year. It was just so weird how all this was going down.

Virtual school started Wednesday. My kids have been champs. They miss classes and seeing their friends. They think school is easier in person. I’m sure that the schedule is very helpful. The teachers have been champs as well. They have had to modify so much so quickly. My kids get up every morning and look for any work that was sent by their teachers the day before and get it done. Then they eat breakfast. Then they look again to see what has been added to their day. They watch LEGO Masters, and build a lego block item of some sort. At lunchtime, they ride their bikes to the primary school and get their lunches and bring them home and eat. After lunch they have some chores or outdoor work to do. Then they get free time to play and do whatever they want.

School has been pushed back to return May 15th, sports May 18th… but truthfully, states are canceling school for the year- a new 1-2 states every day are dropping off. I see us not far behind at this point. I don’t see us returning this school year.

Conrad found out on Sunday March 15th, that on that Tuesday, March 17th, he would be furloughed while continuing to see a normal paycheck for 2 weeks from Biltmore. They were closing much of the estate as well as the house for the next 2 weeks and only certain parts would be open. However at the end of that 2 weeks, the remainder of the estate closed to all visitors and most employees were furloughed. From this point on, Conrad’s would be without pay since he is a reserve employee. Thankfully he’s been able to be a home with the boys and has been able to focus on home projects we’ve talked about for years but had no time for. He’s filed for unemployment- hoping get gets it by some time next week.

As for life in general, the weekend of March 14th started the big push for social distancing. Mostly a recommendation at this point. Fist bumps and elbow bumps. Don’t slap hands. I screamed this out to the softball and baseball teams as they finished their games Friday night. See- we can do it! We continued on with camping trips and events we had planned that weekend with other people. We didn’t put a lot of pressure on the whole social distancing idea yet. I think we may have even gone to church that Sunday.

At some point the following week, social distancing became 6 feet. Spread out your arms and the wingspan is how far you should really stay away from every person. This started out running photos with pictures of social distancing.

And the toilet paper- it was running out in stores! Everyone was stocking up as if we would never be back in the store again. Stores were running out of hand sanitizer and ingredients to make it homemade, Clorox wipes, and were limiting packs of chicken purchases!

Work was so weird that week of the 14th as well. I mean, it was like trying to find ways to work, but unsure of the details. We were told we couldn’t be at the schools except to help pass out lunches, sanitize our rooms, or other instruction by the principal, etc. I spent half a day creating a Band Page to put rehab programs on and get parents/athletes involved (which still only has 14 followers) with their rehab. Then another 3-4 hours cleaning my room for the year. I stayed late in clinic and found ways to help. Thursday and Friday I was at a loss on what to do.

We were repurposing ATCs who had no more duties at the schools (most all of us) to help at screening sites for the hospital, but then suddenly they ran out of tests or stopped testing for some reason. They kept promising they would return, then they wouldn’t actually ever return to the testing sites outside the hospital. Then we had a big zoom meeting. We couldn’t meet in person due to restrictions. So we were given instructions on what we could do and how much we had to work. So we did. I was put in clinic for 3 8 hour days working with providers or answering phones. I was willing to do whatever. I found CEUs to work on at home. I was finding ways to help and get hours for 2 weeks.

At this point, many restaurants were closing their dining rooms, but would deliver via Uber Eats, or however to get food out. There were many businesses running, just being careful. And churches have moved to online/Facebook Live.

On March 22nd I joined other runners and my husband and we ran the Asheville Half Marathon on the Biltmore estate…virtually. I know the route by heart. We all kept our distances and enjoyed that gorgeous day! This was while the estate was still accessible.

I sat in clinic on the afternoon of March 25th and I was on the phones answering calls and had the news on with the county commissioner speaking when they announced that on Thursday, March 26th at 8pm we would be going to a Stay Home Stay Safe order meaning that social distancing was mandatory and all the non-essential businesses would have to close. Healthcare was essential so we quickly had letters printed so that in case we were required to have them, we had them in our cars saying we could go to work.
I went home and met up with friends for a run.

Because the rules were about to change. I got another run in with a friend on March 27th as well. But that’s the last friend run I’ve had.

Restaurants were now no longer permitted to deliver nor have dining rooms open. Many people in the community recognize these small restaurants need to stay afloat, so they make efforts to pick up online or called in orders to help them out.

On the other side of things, the restaurants and businesses have given back to the community as well. To see the number of appreciative businesses that just go over and beyond to give to the community as so many people are losing their jobs and income. You see more smiles but no more hugs or hand shakes.

I sat there one day last week and really contemplated where we were as ATCs. As a healthcare provider that specializes in the athletic population; our population was unable to be reached at the moment. My co-workers and I reached out to fellow ATCs in other schools, counties, hospital systems to see what was happening to everyone. Some were in the same boat as us; repurposed with every inch of hope to keep us busy at 40 hours a week with screenings. Some were given about a week of pay and furloughed completely. Some were kept busy as long as possible, dropped to 50%, then furloughed. Across the state, ATCs that worked full time in colleges and schools were continued to be paid while working from home. We were feeling blessed that we were still at Full time. We needed to be open to doing whatever we could to save our jobs at this point. We are a very versatile provider and easily trained on new skills. In areas of the country where the hospitals were overrun, the ATCs were all pulled in to work at the hospitals. Thankfully, I think, our hospitals have not reached that point however we are prepared if they do.

The next day, we learned that our jobs as athletic trainers were going to get hours cut in half and we could not use PTO to supplement. That would start the week of April 5th. We were able to apply for unemployment. Thankfully President Trump has signed off on a stimulus check we would all be getting, which would help our family pay bills for at least another 6 weeks in conjunction with our current drop in pay and unemployment. So I took my 20 hours of permitted PTO and took this week off. I haven’t taken a ‘vacation’ in a while so it seemed pertinent. My last day of work was working the Pardee Triage line answering calls about Covid.

And essentially what we tell anyone is that if you have a cough and shortness of breath with or without a fever, stay home for 2 weeks and quarantine yourself. There’s nowhere locally to be tested unless you are bad off enough to go into the ER to confirm or deny what you have.

When I return to work next week, I’ll be assigned working at an Urgent care screening patients before they come in.

The rules feel like they have been changing day to day. Initially for the clinic, it started with simply calling patients the day before to screen them. As long as they had no Covid 19 symptoms, had not traveled in 2 weeks, nor been around someone diagnosed, they could come in.

Then we were supposed to get N95 masks fitted. Then the shortage of masks became evident and the CDC changed its guidelines and then we didn’t get masks.
Social distancing of 6 feet was suggested so we moved chairs around the front lobby of the clinic to help provide distancing.

We implemented cleaning rooms thoroughly between every patient with all the cleaning supplies as well as our stations every 30 minutes.

Smack your hand if you touch my mouse…ha.

On March 19th, I went to my own doctor’s appointment and they had signs about reasons you shouldn’t enter. I was immediately ushered to a room without a chance to sit anywhere. This is about the time doctor’s offices all moved to sit in your car and we’ll call you when its time to come in appointments.

This is also when the rule of – patient only allowed in to an appointment unless you are under 18, then you get 1 adult with you.

So, now nobody sits in the lobbies. Everyone writes with their own pen. Or there’s a cup for clean pens, and a cup for dirty pens to use…

Then the Hospital came down on March 30th and said all healthcare providers and workers must wear masks while working with patients. So we all got surgical masks then to hold in a little baggie.
We also implemented screening patients with temperature monitors even after they passed the screening questions.

This week all employees are now screened before entering work with questionnaires and temperature scans.

As of this week of April 4th, the CDC wants everyone wearing a cloth mask in public.

Grocery stores have tape on the floor keeping everyone 6 feet apart in line. 1 way aisles. Specific hours have been set for the elderly or immunocompromised to shop.

As of April 8th, Buncombe County announced that we would be under restrictions indefinitely.

They also state that 6.6 million Americans have now filed for unemployment as of April 8th…

Starting Monday, April 12, only 5 people per 1000sq feet are permitted in a store at a time to shop. It will be interesting to see how this is implemented.

I can’t help but wonder what in the world is going to happen with athletic training for the next 6 months to a year, or more. When will normalcy return. I keep wondering if we will have a immediate return to what we knew as normal, or a slow drug out process where people are wearing masks in public for years to come…at what point will this be past us?
After a hurricane hits an area, there is a point of rebuilding and then it returns to normal.

I’m just not sure if that’s in the cards for this…

Through all of this, we have seen the best in so many come about. We have seen so many people reaching out to help each other in the community. We have more time with our family. I’ve dreamed of time home with my husband and kids for so many years, and this has allowed me that time.
I do have faith that God will get us through this.

He wants us to pray to him during this time. My faith led me through cancer, it will lead me here as well. We have to see the positives. There are hard things, but only what we make hard. We should be spending less money. Who needs a new fancy dress to sit on the couch and watch church on TV on Easter Sunday?

I won’t lie and say this is easy or not stressful. It doesn’t appear to be bad here in WNC. The hospital is only testing when patients are admitted into the hospital. Therefore we only have counts on the worst cases. Everyone else with symptoms is sent home to quarantine. There is a fear when we watch the bigger cities get overrun and have mass casualties. They say that the death toll in NYC is now more than 9-11-2001. It is hard to watch this happen in so many places and know that it could continue to get worse here.

My coworkers and family have seen me yell, scream, cry, smile, help, flip out, and relax. Oh- and stress eat and gain more weight. Yes- stress alone can make you gain weight! Ok… and that Dove Chocolate.

Just trust that we will be ok. Support each other. Smile. Pray. Help your neighbor. Mow their lawn, make them bread, bring them toilet paper…


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