Freedom wasn’t so freeing

Today marked Day 16 of self-quarantine. Sixteen days that I’ve been cooped up in my house. When the decision was made on March 2nd that our entire community would go into self-quarantine and begin virtual school, I was in shock. That shock turned to bitterness and resentment a few days in, grumpy and frustrated to be a prisoner trapped in my own home. By about day 5 or 6, I was downright depressed at the fact that I couldn’t leave my own home. However, once I passed the first week mark, I had accepted it. While I dreamed of freedom, looking forward to waking up on March 17th and getting to go out to dinner with friends, drink a hot chocolate at Starbucks with a good book, or just do a bit of walking around in the mall, the closer it got to my freedom, the less excited I became.

In the days leading up to my day of freedom, talk of social distancing and staying at home to not only protect yourself but vulnerable populations began to emerge. Reflecting on the what-ifs, I came to the decision that I would continue to remain indoors and in isolation. My newfound acceptance made the decision that much easier.

But today I had to leave my house. I didn’t want to, and it certainly wasn’t for something fun like a dinner date or to hang out at the coffee shop. My teeth had been really sore for several days, and I needed to go to the dentist. I feared that my wisdom teeth might be coming in and pushing on my other teeth. If you’ve ever had tooth pain, you know it’s not something that can easily be ignored. So I made the appointment.

When it was time to go, the nerves set in. Why am I so nervous to leave my house? It’s not that big of a deal. But the number of cases here in Indonesia has been increasing at a rapid rate. And the President said yesterday that he’s intentionally withholding information from the public about the actual number of cases and deaths so as not to create panic. My worry about catching the virus was heightened.

I debated over whether I should taxi or Go-Jek it. Which is the safer option? Is it literally touching the person who’s driving me but being in the open air or sitting in a confined space and breathing the same air as the taxi driver? I opted for the Go-Jek, but wore my pollution mask just in case. Armed with hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and tissues, I headed out.

The first thing I noticed was the ease in which we were able to drive. The usual bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go, weave-in-and-out, drive-up-on-the-curb-just-to-get-ahead traffic was a thing of the past. Clearly the message to stay home had reached a large number of people. What would normally have taken an hour to drive (yet it’s only about 7km away) took about 20 minutes.

As I walked into the office tower, I was acutely aware of my surroundings and my actions. Don’t touch your face. But my nose itches. Don’t do it, Jennifer. You haven’t washed your hands since you left home. I walked slower to avoid walking near someone else, trying to keep at least 1 meter distance between me and other people. Having a bit of extra time to kill, I popped down to the ATM. Using my sleeve as a glove, I typed in my PIN. The change in withdrawal limit from 3,000,000 (about $200) to 1,000,000 (about $65) meant I had to make many additional withdrawals. Sanitizing my hands, I headed upstairs.

After my dentist visit, where I learned that I have two impacted wisdom teeth (oh, joy!), I stopped at the grocery store nearby to pick up a few things. My temperature was taken upon entry. As I wandered around the store, my fellow shoppers and I avoided one another like the plague, the unwritten rule being that only one person was allowed per aisle. After checking out and applying more sanitizer, I headed home.

Once back home, I breathed a sign of relief. While I had my first taste of freedom today, all I wanted was the comfort of my little bubble. I don’t think I’ll be going out any time soon.

26 thoughts on “Freedom wasn’t so freeing

  1. Adrienne

    I feel you. I have never worried so much and I do these days. I am only on day 5 of social distancing. I had a hair appointment yesterday and went to the grocery store afterwards. I took a shower after I got home.

  2. Stacey Shubitz

    This is not the time for two impacted wisdom teeth! I’m so sorry to hear that.

    I just found out all elective surgeries are canceled here. Is that going to be the case by you?

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      No, it’s certainly not the best timing. We haven’t heard that yet, but either way, I’ve decided I’m not getting that surgery here! I’ll just have to wait.

  3. Terje

    Tough. With the talk about virus mostly, the other medical concerns seem to be pushed aside, yet it doesn’t mean that they are less of a concern for the ones experiencing them. Wisdom teeth problem is painful. Going to a dentist is scary on its own, having the fear of catching a virus on top of it – I feel for you.

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Yeah, I hadn’t thought about other medical issues either until I was faced with it. You’re right…dentist trips are scary under normal circumstances! Thanks!

  4. edifiedlistener

    “While I had my first taste of freedom today, all I wanted was the comfort of my little bubble.” Freedom *and* comfort, seems like they are not meant to happen at the same time for you right now. Sorry about your pain. Hope you find swift relief.

  5. wordjourneysite

    You do a good job of describing how what should be a fairly routine visit to the dentist can become fraught with anxiety as you are keenly aware of each decision you make and action you take.
    So sorry to hear about the impacted wisdom teeth!

  6. Susan Kennedy

    I’m coming up on one week, it’s been up and down. I went to get groceries today and I was anxious as well. I scrubbed when I got home and the containers and bags.

  7. karpenglish

    Other than your poor teeth, the thing that was most alarming in your post was the line, “And the President said yesterday that he’s intentionally withholding information from the public about the actual number of cases and deaths so as not to create panic.” Why would you announce that you were lying about the number of cases so as not to create panic? How does telling everyone that you are doing it help???

  8. Anne Donnelly

    I know how you feel.. we are only on day 2 of government mandated confinement. You can go outside but you must sign a form stating it’s « essential » like going to work, to the pharmacy, caring for a family member etc. I had to go out to pick up some items, had my id and signed form in my pocket, didn’t see a single police officer but still felt really on edge the entire time.

      1. Anne Donnelly

        Yep! It’s signed on your honor, but you can still be fined if you don’t have it. Leave it to France to react to the crisis with extra paperwork 😂😂

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