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I only see my family through FaceTime

Illustration for article titled I only see my family through FaceTime

illustration:: Elena Scotti / Photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock

Sick daysSick daysWelcome to Sick Days, a collection of stories from readers about how the current Covid-19 health crisis is changing the way they work and the future they can expect in these uncertain times.

Are you a front line worker dealing with new burdens or irresponsible management? Does working (or not working) start from a psychological toll? How do you deal with the reopening? Send a story with this google form or send me one E-mail with the subject line “My Covid Story” and enter as many details as you want.

The identity of the authors was checked and the contributions were edited in terms of length, grammar and clarity.

Anonymous, violinist, southern USA

Every day I question the value of my life as a musician. I’ve spent my whole life perfecting my instrument and now it feels superfluous.

We received the stimulus check in late April or early May, and without it we would be in a really difficult situation. We have been doing this for quite a while. We’ll probably use it up this week.

I have paid Cobra health insurance for myself and my son since I left my job last year. It expires in September. My husband’s insurance costs the same amount if we join him, so it remains very difficult to pay these costs. At $ 1,300 a month, this is the single largest expense in our monthly budget.

Then in March my husband had tests done that showed he needed a heart stent. So we also have all these bills. We have been training and eating and losing weight with My Fitness Pal since then (he 27 lb and I 17). We both feel better, but we are Really financially tight. I’ve played some weddings since (outdoors, of course) and have queued for the next two months or so, but that doesn’t make up for such a loss of income.

The orchestras are all trying to plan a season of smaller concerts with a wide audience that we all appreciate, but it remains to be seen if they actually take place. It will still be significantly less than our normal work schedule.

Why don’t I get another job on ultrasound? Well, I got one, but after the first day, I was an emotional wreck. The outpatient job that I thought I had become made them work in the hospital. I have kidney disease that puts me at higher risk if I have Covid-19. That’s why I stopped that evening. Now I’m not sure what to do to keep our finances, but I don’t want to endanger my life and return to a career that I hated.

I originally stopped listening to music because I was told that I had an injury that was getting worse and that I wouldn’t be able to play at all. That made me learn something else. After about seven years, I realized I could do it when I tried to play, so I started practicing again. Once I got it back, I never wanted to lose it again!

Coralis, laboratory technician, Caribbean

I work in a hospital with positive patients. I decided to be isolated from my family to prevent something from happening. Since March I’ve only seen my family through FaceTime.

When is it time to buy groceries, I don’t want to expose anyone else, so I ask for delivery and preparation and area so that the person who brings the food can leave it there until I grab it. When I have to get out of my house to do something, I put on all kinds of PPE.

A week ago my aunt was positive about covid-19. She was taken to the hospital where I work and I saw her die … It was really difficult because there was nothing I could do to help her or minimize her pain, and I knew it. I could only stand near her until she died.

At the moment I work more hours – 12 a day – because most of my employees have tested positive. Some people do not show symptoms, but others do. They hurt more because I know I am doing everything in my power to help them, and I feel worse when I know they are in pain and alone and there is nothing I can do to them or their families to take.

Andrew, former deputy branch manager, Missouri

I was fired from [the drug store] Start of the pandemic, March 31. It was difficult to look for work during the ban.

I thought my salary was okay, not great, especially not as much as my time is worth, but well above the federal minimum wage. But even if I take that into account, I will bring much more home with unemployment benefits. No health insurance, no 401k, and I decided not to withhold taxes. I am sure I will regret it on April 15th or when the tax day comes again. But I was afraid of getting nothing when I had to make this choice. It took me almost two months to get my first payment. [The drug store] had replied to a request from the MO Ministry of Labor that my employment relationship had not ended, that I was simply on leave and therefore not entitled to benefits.

And it is true that I was on leave when I was released. I asked for a vacation because during the first few weeks of the pandemic in our region, they did nothing to limit our contact with the public or to protect us in any way. In fact, my district manager encouraged me to spend extra time with customers to sell [paid program] Memberships. I told him that I did not think it appropriate to ask us to worry about selling memberships to people who are desperately trying to find toilet paper.

I hated working for it [the drug store]and I haven’t missed my job at all. But I’m still upset when I think about how things have turned out. I keep my fingers crossed that I won’t get sick unless I am insured.

I am finally going to start a job as a postman at USPS, at least as soon as I get permission to come to training. My hours are not guaranteed and I can earn just enough to keep myself out of unemployment.

Anonymous, Nordstrom employee, US Southwest

Our business closed in March with a three-week payment offer. We received group emails every week to update the progress. Medical services have expanded over time. Finally, we were invited to a conference call informing us that our business was closed and our benefits would expire on June 30th.

Although a severance payment was offered, only three of my 13 years of service were recognized because I had left the company for personal reasons and lost nine years of service. This was understandable except for the fact that my 13 years were celebrated every second milestone. At least it was daunting.

At 63, I was still planning on this income level for three and a half years (working to get out of debt). I wanted to take advantage of social security and keep working because I thought I could reduce my stress by using SS to further reduce the debt. I have eaten up my lean savings to keep my bills up to date.

I am blessed, but still very concerned about the possibility of running out of money and ending up in a bankruptcy judge. Finding work with a decent income is a challenge if you are moderately familiar with computers for so long and are not in the administrative world for so long. Working two jobs would be almost impossible, but it can be inevitable.

I pray for our country and local leaders daily, and I trust the Lord to walk through these difficult times. That is my hope. However, my heart hurts for those who neither survive physically nor financially and have no hope. I am very grateful for the additional incentive and hope for future funds, but it was a lesson in humility as I always went my own way. Maybe I’ll be a better person to work through this time.

If you would like to be included in a future edition of Sick Days, please use this google form or send me one E-mail with the subject line “My Covid Story”. Stay healthy and safe.

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