I am a community pharmacist and am writing this while in the middle of a quarantine, which was brought about by my 13-year-old son, we will call him “The Inmate,” who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) over the weekend.

Our home consists of me (an essential health care worker), my wife (Mrs. RPh) who is a fifth-grade teacher, and The Inmate, plus his 11-year-old brother (Little Bro).  Last spring, we had to deal with this situation as the pandemic began, but it felt different.

Our entire community was in the same boat back then. Schools, restaurants, and virtually all non-essential businesses were shut down. This time, life is going on without us and it is a very strange feeling. The following will be a chronological account of our experiences.

Day 1
The Inmate called us from school today saying he has a headache and wants to come home. It is Friday and not much happens after lunch on Friday in middle school, so Mrs. RPh went and picked him up. We know headache can be a symptom of COVID-19 so we decided to err on the side of caution.

Day 2
The Inmate feels better today, he has only minor symptoms. This does not sound like COVID-19 to me, but he is supposed to play in a basketball game this afternoon. We decide to have him tested. We don’t want to be the parents who let him play and then have to call the team after the game to let them know that he just exposed them all.

The test came back positive. What? What do we do now? Where do we start? We cancel all sports for the weekend. Little Bro is not happy about this. Mrs. RPh calls her school to inform them.
It’s ok, she can teach from home. She hasn’t taught from home before. She has a lot to get ready. I have had one dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine 18 days ago, so I am hopeful that I don’t have to miss any work.

My store might be getting more vaccine in this week. I want to be a part of helping to solve this pandemic. This is important work that we are doing right now. The company doesn’t want to take any chances. Ten days at home for me too.

Day 3
We are settling in for the long haul. Mrs. RPh is concerned about our WiFi signal not being strong enough to support everyone working at once. I send my tech-savvy neighbor a picture of our router and he says it is “pre-dawn of man ancient.”

I assume he means it is old. He recommends a new one for me to try. But, I am in quarantine and I can’t go buy one or wait for a delivery. I login at the local electronics store and they offer to bring it to me curbside.

We also need some groceries so we order those for curbside pickup as well. In less than an hour, I have a new router and a pantry full of groceries, all of which were put into my trunk for me and I never had to get out of the car. This curbside thing is awesome, and I bet it doesn’t go away when the pandemic is over.

Meanwhile, The Inmate is adjusting well to his time in isolation. We let him put a television in his room for the week. He stole my HDMI stick that was on my television. It is amazing all the shows he can watch with that thing. Who knew?

I have been volunteered to be his waiter, delivering 3 meals per day, refilling water, bringing dessert, transporting items he needs, and cleaning behind him. This is going to keep me busy.

Day 4
It is Monday and school is back in full swing. Mrs. RPh is teaching class from the dining room, Little Bro is on a video call in my office, and The Inmate is upstairs in his cell also on a video call. The new mesh WiFi network is performing well for us and most of our neighbors could probably use it too. I am impressed with myself even though all I did was plug it in.

I am enjoying listening to Mrs. RPh teach. She is very good at it, but in order for everyone to hear her, she needs to speak VERY LOUDLY. I realize quickly that teachers don’t get paid enough and that I am going to be tiptoeing around the house all week avoiding walking or talking through someone’s call.

The Inmate is now texting me with requests with what he needs so he can work/eat/play in his room. He might be enjoying this a little too much. It’s a nice, sunny day out today so we let him and Little Bro go shoot basketball in the driveway as long as they use their own ball and don’t get too close to each other.

I contact Pharmacy TimesÒ to let them know I am free if they need me to write anything. They say to write about quarantine. Genius.

Day 5
I check with my store today and find out they did not receive any vaccine for the week. I research other places where we can send our many customers who don’t want to wait.

If we can send them to a nearby hub, we should. This is a group effort and we are all on the same team this time. We will have plenty of opportunity to do our part when we receive more vaccine.

The hours fly by today. With making breakfast and lunch for everyone, I am finding that my free time isn’t as free as I thought it would be.

I also discover that Mrs. RPh teaches the same 2 classes twice every day. I don’t even get to shower until about 5 pm, and afterward I just put on my pajamas, because where am I going to go? The Inmate is feeling fine and has had no symptoms since day 2.

Days 6-9
These days are starting to blur together. I spend my mornings trying to quietly take on some tasks around the house. I have been washing clothes and dishes, cleaning the garage, putting Christmas decorations back in the attic, and many other tasks.

Yes, our Christmas tree was still up in late January. Don’t judge. The Inmate is getting bored now and wants to come out of confinement.

We let him play video games or watch television with the rest of us, but we all have to wear masks. It feels silly to do this in our own house, but we have had enough quarantine and we do not want to extend it.

Curbside pickup for dinner has saved me a couple of times. My birthday fell in this window but we decided just to move that back a week. All events and holidays are subject to being moved this year.

We are all becoming experts on the food chain and the x- and y-axis as a part of Mrs. RPh’s class. Little Bro is getting the worst of this. He was never sick, but he is confined to the house just the same.

He won’t say it. but he misses his best friend, The Inmate, who can’t play with him even though they are home together all day.

Day 10
It’s a bright, sunny day today. The Inmate tells me that quarantine ends at 1:07 pm. I guess that means he is ready to be done with all of this.  

I am too—I am ready to get back to vaccinating my community. This is probably some of the most important work I will ever do.

Here are a few takeaways I have at the end of our sentence:
 
  • I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished during the week as I thought I would but I did enjoy slowing down for a while.
  • School works fine from home. My kids accomplished the same amount of work as their friends in about two-thirds of the time.
  • We worked fine as a family. Everyone got to do their own thing sometimes and we had lots of time to spend together as well.

All in all, this was a pretty good 10 days, but we are all ready to move on.