Editor’s Note: This post was written in December before Christmas and before the province of Ontario declared a province-wide lockdown.
Well it happened.
My son’s class had a positive case of Covid. He has to isolate and have a covid test. Regardless of results, we have to isolate for the next 10 days. (For a total of 14 days since he was last exposed).
It was really only a matter of time. With the virus coming closer to our community as the numbers grew, it wasn’t a surprise. Shutting down our lives is difficult. When you live with a child with autism who desperately needs his routine, the loss of school and daily therapy is world shattering.
We’ve done this before in March. We know the importance of making a routine and sticking to it. We were in the process of making plans for respite for him during the normal holidays – and of course that was one of the first things we had to cancel.
We’ve done our best to make new routines. Our Saturday morning routine has become an every morning routine. We have daily hot chocolate adventures and the usual meals and snacks. There is a lot of YouTube and Netflix watching … I can recite a few videos I’d rather not see again, but otherwise no damage has been done. The morning that Google and YouTube went down was like the end of the world for my son. There was screaming and gnashing of teeth. When it did return, it was like peace had returned to our tiny kingdom.
Next there’s the period between testing and results, when you look for any tiny symptom to appear. The faintest cough sets you into a panic – is it a symptom? After a paranoid momma trip to Sick Kids, he was given the all clear (except for the outstanding covid test) and sent home to isolate again. So far so good. My son tests negative for Covid! Then of course I start feeling symptoms. First a headache – oh it’s probably just stress. Then a sore throat. Then a cough. Now I’m also waiting for test results. And that means a week off work. Work has been understanding and that takes a load off my shoulders. I have a negative test. Even with a negative test we need to continue isolating for the whole 10 days in case it takes symptoms longer to appear.
Self isolating is harder than it sounds. In theory, my son is the only one exposed and therefore should be isolated from the family. He should mask, eat by himself and sleep by himself. He should use a separate bathroom, or at least wipe common surfaces after using the bathroom. But how do you do that when he is non verbal, not toilet trained, and in many ways developmentally more like a 4 year old than a 9 year old? He is 100% dependent on us for many things, including eating, toileting and sleeping. I’ve had to explain our situation to several people over the phone from our local health department and the provincial health unit… fortunately those conversations have been easy and met with understanding and compassion. They could have gone a lot differently.
So now it is the end of Day 5 of 10 in isolation. Technically day 9 of 14… but for the first 4 days we didn’t know he was exposed. So we have 5 more days of isolating before we can go out at the earliest.
Our plan had always been to buy some of our gifts online, but now out of necessity everything has been bought online. It certainly was easy – once we had the cart full it was a few clicks and it was done. But I did miss the mall crawl, the Christmas carols playing in stores, the hustle and bustle. I’m one of those strange people that LIKES shopping in stores the few days leading up to Christmas. I usually go alone, and go with the mindset that there will be crowds and it will take a while. So with a coffee in hand I meander the stores and take in the sights while also looking for that special item. I smile and wave at the impatient honking cars and usually am wearing a Santa or elf hat while I do it. Yes, I am THAT person.
There’s now talk and rumours of another lockdown in our area at the time of writing this. We want to spend Christmas with our small extended family, but we know that also may not happen. So we are trying to make plan A and plan B and perhaps even plan C.
I am grateful for our health this year.
I am grateful for the slower day to day pace this year has brought.
I am grateful for family and friends.
I am grateful for virtual gatherings that keep us in touch.
I am grateful for those that dropped off groceries, goodies and treats during our isolation.
Above all, Christmas is about Hope and Peace and Joy and Love. Not presents and not things. We will spend time with those we love, even if it means virtually. We will celebrate Jesus’ arrival. I plan to attend Christmas Eve services virtually to spend time with our faith community. We can do that, isolating or not.
I’m a Métis wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher, and advocate. I love coffee and squirrels. I married my high school sweetheart and don’t know where I’d be without him. I’m a mama bear to two amazing sons with autism who teach me things every day. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I find joy in the little things in life. I discovered my Métis heritage in my 20s and have been learning about Indigenous traditions and issues since. Life has taken me on many twists and turns I never saw coming. I try to walk the path with Bravery and look to Love.