Isolated Thoughts: Am I Quarantined, Isolated, or What?!?

I just got the news from the doctor that I can come out of isolation in two weeks, so long as things continue to improve as they are. This is big news for me! I’ve been stuck in one room, nobody in or out, for 2 weeks now. Mark brings me meals & goes away while I retrieve my dishes. I put out the dirty dishes and shut the door so he can retrieve them. We see each other only on videochat. I watch my dogs play fetch with Mark via his phone.

This would have been so much worse in the pre-internet age!

Meantime, I see people talking about being in isolation, quarantine, etc. Our language is struggling to figure out how to talk about what we’re (those of us with any functioning brain cells and moral compasses, anyway) are doing right now. This is an historic moment. Millions of people are asked to only leave their homes for essential reasons, like getting food, in order to slow the transmission of a disease you can have and transmit without even knowing you have it. If you’re still unclear on WHY we’re all doing this, that’s the reason. You could kill people and never even know it. By the time you feel sick, it’s too late.

The definitions of Isolation and Quarantine above are from the CDC. When I was told to go into isolation two weeks ago, they let me know this was “official” isolation. As they explained, “Isolation and Quarantine are actual, official, definite things.” I was to separate myself from my husband even without our home and stay in one room, no one in or out, until told I could leave.

Mark was “quarantined.” My symptoms are consistent with #Covid19, so on advice of medical professionals, he has to be kept from contact with others while we determine if he has contracted it. We were quarantined before people in the U.S. were being told to stay home, and we’re lucky Mark was able to start working from home. We’re both quarantined but I’m also in isolation.

What most people are being asked to do comes closest to “shelter in place,” where you’re asked (or told) to stay in one place. Instead of trapping people at work indefinitely, they told people to go home and stay there. “Self-quarantine,” where it’s a preventative measure you’re taking on your own, or “self-isolation,” which would be you isolating yourself by choice, would also fit, but “shelter in place” seems to cover all of the things being done by government recommendation or your own choice.

To those who are, who are trying to deal with this major interruption in their lives, the inconveniences, the fear, frustration and possibly boredom that come with suddenly living a very small life in a very big world, thank you. You’re protecting your herd like a superhero. There are kids who will grow up, parents who will get to raise their children, grandparents who will hold their grandchildren and many, many other people, some you know and many you don’t, who will get those chances because you stepped up to the plate when the crisis came.

This is to reduce spread of the disease and it’s a reasonable thing to ask from all of us who can. It’s too late to become a medical professional if you aren’t one already. So do what you can to help them, whether it’s self-isolate, self-quarantine, shelter in place or whatever — stay home.

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