With the knowledge that we are living through historic events, staff at Geary County Historical Society have recorded some of their day-to-day observations for a “coronavirus diary” project.
Would you like to contribute? Check our website at GCHSweb.org or our Facebok page at Facebook.com/GearyHistory for a link to a list of questions we are asking folks to answer about their experiences. Feel free to answer the questions and email them to us at GearyHistory@gmail.com. Please write to us – as much as you'd like! – about how COVID-19 has affected your life.
Katie Goerl, Executive Director
Full disclosure: I got sick early in March. I got an appointment with my doctor March 10, and the flu test came back negative. “The elephant in the room,” he said, was coronavirus, but he didn't have any tests at that time. He explained that to test me, I'd have to be admitted to a hospital and put in a negative-airflow room, but my symptoms weren't severe enough to warrant that. At the time, the only documented cases in Kansas were in Johnson County.
I stayed away from work as soon as my symptoms started, fearing the worst, and the unavailability of tests meant that I would never know what virus had stricken my respiratory system. As a result, I have been staying at home a little longer than most folks.
The worst symptom I experienced was loss of smell and taste, which hit me March 10, the day the doctor prescribed me a steroid. I blamed the medication for my sudden inability to taste much beyond “warm” or “kind of spicy.” I wrote a haiku memorializing the experience:
Crying and eating
noodles that I cannot taste.
By Thursday, March 12, I was starting to become very concerned about our elderly volunteers. On Friday, events started moving quickly. That morning, I spoke with Heather and Jennifer and asked them to call our volunteers and tell them not to come in that day. Within hours, USD 383 had announced they would be closed until March 30. It was easy to make the decision to close the museum to the public after that. Even then, I think we all still hoped this would all be over within a few weeks. By March 17, the state had ordered schools across the state to be closed.
That day, I attended the graveside service for Terry Reed, husband of our longtime Research Center volunteer and board member Mary Reed. Along with Heather, I stood at the back of the small crowd; people kept their distance much more than usual, and a speaker urged us with a smile to get closer so we could hear. I tried very hard not to cough during the service. I was nervous about signing the guestbook. Why had I left the hand sanitizer in the car?
I will close this out with a little something I wrote Friday, March 27, when I was feeling rather emotional about the number of deaths facing our nation (something that fills me with dread with each passing day).
It is Friday, March 27, and I am thinking about coronavirus. I just got off the phone with Dewey Terrill of KJCK who interviewed me about the Spanish flu and its parallels to coronavirus. The article I sent in for this week's Museum Musings column in the Daily Union was about the 1918 Spanish flu, which is a topic of interest due to coronavirus. I check JunctionCityUnion.com and JCPost.com multiple times per day for the latest local coronavirus news. Sensing a theme?
Like many other people, I haven't left my house in days. I am down to one roll of toilet paper. Bereft also of Kleenex, it is now illegal in my apartment to use toilet paper to blow my nose; if I do, I am authorized to arrest myself. I have already reached and surpassed the part of social distancing where I got so bored I cut my own hair (I did an excellent job, thank you for asking). Heather gave me what was by the slimmest of margins the second-best coffee cake I've ever had in my entire life (first place honors go to Nita Miller) and it was so good both of my cats tried to steal it. It was the talk of the apartment for days. Other than, you know, coronavirus.
When I am not thinking about coronavirus, tallying daily deaths and calculating the rise in numbers if they double in three days, two days, one...when I am not worrying about our elderly volunteers and historical society members...when I am not surveying my pantry considering whether I can make my next meal something I actually want to eat...when I am not trying to accomplish work for the museum despite the distraction of a thousand worries...when I am not thinking of the hundreds of young men, men my age or even younger, who died at Fort Riley 102 years ago, gasping for breath....
When I am not doing any of those things, generally, I am playing Animal Crossing.