Surviving isolation and Covid-19,  by Dr Janine Rodrigues

Hi, my name is Janine. I’m a doctor, wife and mother of 3 boys. I have 2 stepsons aged 8 & 11 who alternate between our home and their moms home weekly. And I have a baby boy who is nearly 3.

On Saturday afternoon while holding my son on my lap, I started feeling flushed in my face and a tingling sensation in my lower back. Surely, I’ve been careful enough to avoid this dreaded virus. Thermometer said something different. 38.3 degrees celsius. My heart sank. Because now decisions needed to be made. Should I lock myself in my room immediately? Should I tell my mom (elderly with comorbidities) to move out? Or would going to her room be enough? My stepsons are due to come home to us tomorrow, what about them? Racing questions and such vague answers in my cloudy fever brain. After consultation with many colleagues and heart to heart with my husband this is how we handled our story.

I went straight into isolation. Own room and own bathroom. My mom went straight into isolation. Own room. Own bathroom. Husband and the 3-year-old had the rest of the house to themselves. My stepsons stayed at their mom for our week and then their mom’s week as well (2 weeks). My husband brought meals to myself and my mom so that we didn’t have to leave the room. I must be honest and say my only cheat was that once my symptoms started to ease, after my shower daily with clean clothes and a mask- I would go outside in fresh air and spend time with my son. Socially distanced of course with no physical contact. So, for my family this worked. No one in my family has developed any symptoms and I’m glad I made the sacrifice. You just never know who is going to be severely affected by this virus. I video called them for every dinner and we “virtually” ate together every night. Even did a very relaxed zoom yoga session with my husband and our yoga instructor on day 7.

Moral of my story. Self-isolation is possible. Some tips:
1. Self-isolate from the moment you have symptoms and not only after you have a result
2. Use technology – video call often, even if you are just eating together and not even saying much. It helps.
3. Explain to your children what is going on – you will be surprised at how much they actually understand
4. Be kind to yourself – it’s not forever but only for now. Take the time to recover and restore.
5. Each family is different – you need to do what works for you and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t work out how you imagined.