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The COVID-19 diaries: flu jab


The medical system is a weird paradox – filled with deeply compassionate people who have put aside their squeamishness in order to care for others – as well as being alienating, with all the sterile spaces and the hang ups from the olden days, in which the doctor knew best and the patients were kept in the dark and treated like children. This pandemic has increased our sense of alienation – the doctor’s office is no longer a place where you come to get better, but a place of great danger, which you enter only if strictly necessary. My doctor is offering skype consultations so you can be seen from across the suburb, in the dubious safety of your own home.

Anyway, I have done my civic duty and got my flu jab so I won’t be taking up valuable real estate in hospital for that anyway. I have been vaguely wondering if I could melt down my Whitaker’s chocolate and blow and egg and transfer it into there if I can’t get chocolate eggs tomorrow… after all, Jacinda declared Easter Bunny an essential worker so they will still be on their rounds and the kids will expect an egg hunt!

As a bonus, because it was shared on Twitter yesterday, I am including a comic I did for the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, as part of a series of NZ women doctors. This woman looked after patients during the Spanish ‘flu epidemic, so should be remembered!

The COVID-19 diaries: high dependency unit


How is all of your phone use going? I do think mine is exacerbated by the boyfriend situation. Also I have a few friends I check in on on a regular basis, and I have to talk to my family on Telegram, and my writing group on Whatsapp, and my work also on Whatsapp… then there’s my Instagram addiction. Beginning to blog again doesn’t help – I’ve got to check in to see if anyone has commented on my post and if I need to reply.

My phone exacerbates my bored restless ADD tendencies at the best of times. Often – ok, always – whilst drawing comics, I’ll have a phone break between drawing panels. There is no deep flow going on here. Although I do hope that the river runs deep and while my consciousness is a plastic bag in the wind, caught on tree branches and telephone wires, my subconsciousness is steady and sure… ha, I’m fooling myself.

Still, it seems like I have written hundreds and thousands of words in texts. People worried that phone use would spell the end of literacy but instead there’s been an explosion, be it sentences or the visual language of photos and video clips.

But yes, when all of this is over – please let it be over soon! – I am going to put my phone away for a bit and relish in talking face to face, nearer than two metres away, and I’m not going to be constantly reaching for it to check the time, my likes, the weather, the news, the latest meme… I am finally going to attain inner peace.

Ha, I’m fooling myself.

The COVID-19 diaries: distracted


You’ll be pleased to know that I did actually finally manage to make the yogurt (I have one of those Easi-yo thermos and sachet systems) and I made the bread, although I still haven’t baked it as it requires a long proving. I should put the oven on now! I didn’t get round to putting my sheet music into the clear file but I left it on the table and Violet spilt a glass of water on it and all the old paper inside it has turned to pulp.

And work-work? The job I’m paid to do? I failed spectacularly. I have a few excuses I tell myself – I have two children to look after! It’s really hard to remote access into the work PC system from my home Mac! It’s stressful working under a pandemic! I feel scattered, discombobulated, imminently distractible. I am having cognitive dissonance. I need the social construct of workmates and tea rooms and office furniture to make me be productive. Home is where I do housework, caregiving and make art on the dining room table. Work is where I do powerpoints and format documents and apply the brand guidelines. But really I should be able to do it anywhere. Why can’t I?

Today is a new day and I am hoping to focus more. I am hoping not to fall into a pit of self-loathing for not achieving what I set out to achieve. I’m going to go on a walk to clear my head and then I am going to make myself a coffee and I am going to… did I put the oven on? Was that my phone I hear?

The COVID-19 diaries: threat level


When in doubt, always ask a neighbourhood cartoonist! I think I should hand this strip over to Violet, who has all the best lines.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, this is the story of the 8 foot woman, Hachishakusama, and here is the story of the slit mouth woman. Violet is a sucker for horror, even if it means she can’t sleep later.

Also, I am a little constrained by the 10 panels but I want you to know that the hooligans yelled at us about 10 minutes after we’d crossed the road, not because of our dodgy road crossing tactics!

The COVID-19 diaries: questions


This is one of the bonuses of the lockdown – I now get to go on walks with my kids again. Before they were too busy hanging out with their own friends.

I have never been a big fan of Easter -– it’s not a very diabetic-friendly celebration – and I get twitchy when everything is shut and the city is quiet. Oh! That’s right – everything is shut and the city is quiet! It’s like we’re permanently trapped in a boring stat holiday, after we’ve eaten all the food and we’re feeling drowsy and a little self-loathing.

Our neighbourhood has really gone to town with the bears. We even have three bears sellotaped to our windows. Some of them are scary. Some of them are not bears. Still, it’s a fun thing to spot them and it gives you an excuse to stare into your neighbours’ windows.

The COVID-19 diaries: time after time


Sorry. Darkness. I wake up in the morning and imagine that I am going to get so much done but time is laggy and elastic and simultaneously as heavy as a bag of wet compost and light as… as… well, it floats away and I have nothing to show for it.

I want time to go quicker so that I can be with my boyfriend sooner. I like time going slow as I am enjoying extra time with my children and not having to rush to get them off to school and myself off to work. I want my daughter to stop sleeping in my bed and to stop butting into my FaceTime conversations. I have great ambitions for all the comics I might draw and then another day goes by and I have only drawn my diary comic. The sadness washes over me but then I feel ok again.

How are you all feeling right now?

The COVID-19 diaries: supermarket revisited


My kids ended up calling four times while I was at the supermarket… obviously going around 9 seemed very irregular to them! They were excited when I returned home with all the crappy things that I refuse to buy under normal circumstances.

I just heard a news article about a 45 year old woman punching someone outside a supermarket in Warkworth. I am pleased to report that there are no lines at 9pm but still lots of rules.

The COVID-19 diaries: birthday


My parents tell me that when they get back from their walk they look forward to seeing my comic… I hope they don’t mind that it’s about them! I had about three different ideas as to what to write this morning but I ended up writing this one because it was the freshest in my mind. Happy birthday, William! And happy birthday to all the other people who are celebrating in confinement and have to wait for their presents.

The COVID-19 diaries: work meeting


The kids were thrilled at their fish finger and chip dinner but I have to concede the ice cream was a mistake – Gus got up twice in the night for extra helpings and somehow there is now only a thin layer across the bottom of the container. They also gobbled up the crisps and the chocolate so our health objectives are not being met.

I find it funny talking on my bluetooth headphones too – often people won’t see them and will assume I am talking to them or else that I am completely mad. Both

Really, I feel sorry for the people who have to work at the supermarkets and dairies – it must be scary for them. They are at the front line. Our local dairy has erected a protective perspex screen but they have a constant stream of people touching all of their goods, breathing in their small spaces, not quite following their safety instructions… I hope they are ok.

The COVID-19 diaries: inside exercise


This is a comic from Sunday – as you can see I’m running a little behind myself – and it was truly a phenomenon when the sun came out at about 3.30pm. Everybody took to the streets. I am normally a neighbourhood walker. I like the calm walking brings me, but I have never seen so many people walking in this suburb. It was like a freaky carnival where everyone kept their distance, walked along the middle of the road, and all the bands and hot chip and waffle caravans had cancelled. There were little groups yelling at each other – I ran into about three people I knew. It was both festive and eery, like we were all infected already and were compelled to walk to our deaths. It did strike me how truly car-centric so many of us are!

COVD-19 adds an extra layer of anxiety to diabetes management. After all, it’s one of those underlying conditions that ups your chances of dying of it. I like to tell myself that I will be exempt because my sugar levels are reasonably well-controlled but some days it’s really hard and my sugars start rising for no good reason and the weather means I can’t go do a vigorous 30 minute walk that generally guarantees that my insulin will start taking effect again.

I have this really great testing app on my phone that scans a sensor in my arm. It’s not funded (I hope it will be soon!) and it’s quite expensive at $50 a week – but it does mean that I don’t need to prick my fingers and it constantly graphs my results. This is stressful in itself – I feel a sense of satisfaction when my sugars are 91% in target, but when they slip back to 32% thanks to a shitty day of highs and lows I feel like a complete failure and the anxiety kicks in. The trick is to get good nighttime levels – that way you’ve got at least 30% of your day within range.

I did make myself a really great dance playlist thanks for a bit of crowd sourcing! Happy to take more suggestions though. What tunes make you want to get up and dance?