The Scamp in Isolation

I have been practicing social distancing for the last 5 years. It is an unfortunate by-product of my PhD experience and horrible taste in men.  Two months before the official lockdown I had really started to isolate myself so that I could finish the rewrite and get it in on time.

I was supposed to leave for China to represent the office, and then come back to a new life where I could see my friends more often, take up a hobby that did not involve schoolwork, and finally be free of Napier.

I was going to be a new Kim.

Instead, I have basically been in quarantine since March 17th. My compromised immune system means I am potentially at a higher risk for infection, and I figured with my luck, I’d catch everything you could including Covid19 when my body finally relaxed after the rewrite was complete. I did not leave my place for a week because of a cold, and then for fear of the lackadaisical attitude of the people where I live about staying inside. I finally got to the point last week where I was willing to risk germs for my government-approved exercise outside once a day.

But it is just making me angry. No one here takes it seriously. People are working in their allotments, hanging out in the parks, and walking, jogging and cycling way too close to each other. I’m ready to scream. I’m also mourning the cancellation of my upcoming trip to Mallorca, and what will probably be the cancellation of my family’s trip here in July for my graduation ( the ceremony which has also been canceled).

I’m also lonely. I spend all but about 30 minutes at the start of my day with only myself for company….and I am not good company. That’s not entirely true. My family and friends have been amazing. I get calls and videos and photos all the time. I also have very considerate colleagues who check-in when they notice me looking a little down on the video chats in the morning.

I have been trying to work out and do things that keep my brain occupied, but with the warm weather taunting me, and cabin fever getting the best of me, I cannot wait for things to settle back into a normal where people are not getting sick and we can all go outside again.

Because I hate being a downer, I just want to say that I admire all of the nurses, doctors, pharmacy workers, and grocery store workers who are coming to work every day without complaint and demonstrating a courage and bravery that I can only hope to emulate one day. I have several friends in the US that are total badasses, and several former students here in Scotland that I could not be more proud of. It is nice to know that there is still some good in the world.

The Scamp Gets Mad at a Virus

Today I was supposed to be packing my bags and getting ready for a week-long work trip to China. I’ve never been to Asia, and while it wasn’t a place I was dying to go, I was looking forward to exploring a completely different culture and spending the week working in a new place.

Today I rushed around the office preparing for a possible shut down amid the growing fear of Covid19. Needless to say, I am not going to China. Truthfully, I am glad I don’t have to go. The trip has been rescheduled, and I will happily go when it is safe to do so, but right now, I am so overwhelmed trying to get the PhD finished that I am not sure how I would be able to focus on anything else. My corrections are due in less than a week and my supervisors have gone missing. I do not have a complete draft as of now, and would not pass the corrections if I turned in what I have.

I’m panicked.

It also turns out I may have been exposed to the stupid Covid19. For most of the last couple of months, while the world has been monitoring the situation, Scotland has remained largely unaffected. I was concerned, but no more so than about catching the flu or other illness due to my immunocompromised state. Now that it has made it Scotland, and potentially to the university that I work for, there is a chance that those stupid germs could make it into my breathing space. At the moment I am okay. I’m tired, feel achy, but that it is just as much from the stress and the not sleeping. I don’t have a fever, cough, and at my last blood test, my white cell count was okay.

But given my luck, I will get sick and it will further derail my PhD completion. It has already been delayed for almost two years. I am not going to be happy if it is delayed further.

The bright spot today was my colleagues.  Everyone knows how stressed I am, and people offered to help me with my work all day. I talked to our media team about some image captioning, and even though one of the members did not think it was necessary, he offered to put aside his work to help me finish mine. Another colleague brought me an emergency cookie and offered a hug and some moral support. She is currently working the job of two people, but again, was willing to put her work aside to spend a few minutes letting me cry on her shoulder. The people that I share my office with have been the best support so far. They let me have a whinge about the work, they answer my questions, take breaks to chat about nonsense, and have made sure that I do not get too overwhelmed with everything that is currently on my plate.

It is times like this that I am reminded why I like my job (well beyond the obvious that they sponsor my visa and make it possible for me to live in Scotland).

Hopefully, the stupid plague leaves me alone. Hopefully, it leaves a lot of people alone. Hopefully, I finish my corrections so that I can finally get the PhD. Hopefully, the travel ban is lifted so I can still go on the holiday to Spain that I booked months ago so I could decompress from the PhD madness. I need that beach time. I mean, I really need it. I am literally white enough to be seen from space. This is not good for my self-esteem.