France Under Quarantine, And Kitty Woes
Another week, another “new normal” and I wish I had better news to share. In less than a week we’ve gone from a free-movement nation to a nation under full lock-down, and sadly another of our paws may soon pass away.
It’s a lot in a short time, and admittedly I’m not always able to keep it together, but I’m also thankful for where we are, and the fact that we decided to stay here. This is our life now and likely will be for the next several months. So we’ll just try to enjoy each day as we can, share our sadnesses, and spread our joys. Here’s our update.
France Is Now Under Full Nation-Wide Quarantine
On Tuesday March 17th at noon, France went into full lock-down with forced 14-day indoors quarantine for the whole nation. It happened fast, really fast, mere weeks after the infection rates started rising, and frankly I’m glad it did.
This shut-down is critical right now. It’s our only hope to attempt to slow the spread of the virus and allow our healthcare system the chance to cope with what’s coming. And if it works it will save countless lives.
It’s not pretty, and I think it’ll likely be extended (14 days is IMO just not enough) which will unfortunately incur other consequences, but having read the heart-breaking accounts from Italy (where the death-toll has already well surpassed that of China), as well as reports from doctors & hospitals that are already close to overwhelmed in other locations, it is literally the only thing that makes any sense right now.
If people will not stay inside of their own accord, a forced lock-down is literally the only viable solution.
In the USA several States are also coming to this same conclusion, but it’s happening slowly, IMO far too slowly compared to the rate at which case numbers are rising.
I just hope all my blog readers are in a safe and comfortable place to ride this thing out and if you’re not, I can only re-iterate the message from my last post -> If you haven’t found a place to hunker down yet then find one now, and go there now. From the charts & trends I’ve been tracking, the US is a mere week behind what’s happening in EU, and may well overtake China in total number of cases in less than 2 weeks. So I expect restrictions & full lock-downs to happen FAST. Please folks, find a place to hunker down now.
So, How Does Lock-Down Work?
So yes, we’re under full lock-down, but what does that mean? Well, the new rules in France are pretty strict.
All schools are closed across the country, as are all stores, restaurants, bars & businesses. Only essential services are allowed to operate (e.g. grocery stores). and you can only go out of your house for specific needs, which are also strictly regulated. So for example, you can shop for groceries, go to the doctor and pharmacy and walk your dog. But you cannot go for a bike ride, and you can only walk/jog close to your residence. It’s extreme, but that’s also the point of it all.
And there’s more….
Before you go out you need to download & fill out an authorization form (“on your honor”), which you must carry together with valid ID. Only one person can go out at a time, and you can only do one of the approved activities. If you are caught without the form, or go out for a reason not on the approved list, then you risk a fine up to €375.
The form is really just a formality since it’s self-filled, but it’s there to make you think deliberately about your outing before you go. And the fine of course, is there to enforce it.
Basically unless your outing is strictly necessary, you STAY HOME!
Staying Home Is A Routine
Staying at home is pretty much what you expect it to be, and can be as boring, or as interesting as you make it. Creating a routine is key, especially one that includes both mental and physical activity.
In our case we walk the dog in the neighborhood in the morning (with our authorization forms), work from home most of the day (which is thankfully easy for us), and exercise/relax in the afternoon. Around 5 pm the whole family gets together for a game of domino’s & happy hour, followed by dinner. Rinse and repeat.
We also all have our own little personal activities.
Dad has been busy in the garden, Paul has picked-up the guitar (following JustinGuitar on YouTube) and I’ve been baking & keeping everyone organized and in-line (or so I like to think). And yeah, like everyone else in the world we also watch Netflix, but only in the late evening after dinner (too much Netflix is not good for the brain or body).
That’s really the sum of it.
Grocery Shopping Is Now Our “Big Outing”
My next expedition is going to be fresh food shopping, and that’s likely going to be the “big outing” for the week.
From neighbors I’ve talked to (thro’ texts/Whatsapp), the stock at the stores has been a bit hit and miss, depending on where you go. Our local village store is apparently very well-stocked apart from a few items, whereas some of the bigger stores closer to Toulouse have emptier shelves. They are all re-stocking furiously however, so it may just be a hang-over from the panic shopping that went on right before the lock-down (the last day was apparently quite nuts). I’m hoping that by next week supply lines will have settled down a bit.
We have a few different options for shopping too.
We don’t have any home delivery in our area, but the bigger stores (e.g. Super U, Intermarché) are all offering online order with contact-less pick-up which means you just show up and they load the groceries directly into your car trunk. The only caveat is that you may not get everything you order, depending on stock. For example, my next-door neighbor did a big online order this week, but only got ~1/2 the items on his list. Plus pick-up slots are filling up quicker now that everyone is quarantined, so they’re running about ~4 days out from order. Still, it’s a decent option if you don’t have any critical needs & plan out far enough ahead.
Going into the store is a better bet if you need something specific, but of course it’s not contact-less. Most of the groceries are trying to manage that by limiting how many people can enter at once, as well as enforcing only one person per trolley and encouraging people to shop outside of regular hours (e.g. early afternoon, weekdays). Also, to prevent excessive buying, several stores are now limiting how many items you can get (e.g. no more than 2 of any item). I think that’s a reasonable approach.
I’m not sure how I’ll be doing our shopping yet, but I’ll probably try the online option first and see how it goes. I’ll let you know.
But Rand Is Not Doing Well
Frankly, all the above stuff has been relatively painless so far.
We’re not on the front lines for COVID-19, we’re fine on food and we’re in a good place to ride things out. We have it easy, really. But there’s a wrinkle that’s thrown our little world into profound sadness, and that wrinkle is our sweet, little kitty Rand.
Poor Rand has not been the same cat since her sister died last month. We’ve worked hard to try and get her out of her grief, but it’s been deeper than I could ever have imagined, and I believe it’s affected her health.
Within three weeks of Taggart’s death, Rand’s kidneys went from being stable to suddenly much, much worse. It could be a total coincidence, but I feel deeply that she simply lost the will to fight. Much like couples who’ve been inseparable their whole lives, when one dies the other goes soon thereafter, a tie of love that pulls to the other side.
That can be true for cats as well as for humans.
The day the quarantine went into effect (of course THAT day) she took a downturn, which naturally put our world into turmoil. Thankfully my vet was still open for emergencies, albeit with new no-contact quarantine rules, so I was able to take her in that very afternoon. I handed her over to the vet tech on arrival, stayed in the car while she got examined, and waited for the results by phone. The whole thing took over an hour, and the results were not good.
Basically unless things miraculously turn around, my timid, sweet little girl likely only has short while to go.
So, yes that’s where we are. The last few days we’ve been trying some new meds (a kind of Hail Mary attempt) together with palliative care. I’m trying to keep her comfortable, trying to see if she can turn around, and trying not to dwell on what might happen in the next few days if this doesn’t work. If she needs to go in for the injection, we can’t be in there with her (due to the new quarantine rules) and that completely breaks my heart. The thought of her having to die without her family beside her is too much. I literally don’t know what I’m going to do.
But For Now, Things Are Calm
But hey, we’re not there yet and for that we must be thankful.
To be honest our worries are small in the grand scheme of things. There are people out there with far greater sorrows than us. Folks who cannot be with their families, people in ICU, everyone whose lives are being upturned by this virus. It’s a crazy time, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by it all.
But we must also count our blessings. We’re in a good place, and everything is really calm here. With a bit of luck this cool & collected calm will continue, virus cases will slow, everything will be manageable and Rand will decide to join her sister all on her own. At least that’s my hope. I can only hope the same kind of calm and love for everyone, everywhere. Stay safe, my friends.