On March 19, 2020 California Governor Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order. Here is a screenshot from my phone:
Recently both the county and state extended the lockdown to May 1st. With the president and governors talking about opening up the economy again, there is hope this lockdown will end soon.
Until then, Lori and I plan to post a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.
This is week 5 of the lockdown.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Resting and Sabbath
My sabbatical from church ends in about a month. Something I desperately looked forward to was a break from the grind of church ministry. After fifteen years of pastoral ministry without a longer break, together with the challenges and crises the family faced, I desperately wanted some time to rest.
Before I started my sabbatical an acquaintance asked me about my plans. I briefly mentioned travel, writing, and sleeping in whenever I wanted to. He told me those activities would no doubt be life giving. He also stressed the importance of mentally gaining distance and perspective from my daily work.
As I hit third base and turn toward home (excuse the baseball analogy), I can see the past three months have not turned out anything like I expected. I did travel a bit in February, but had to cancel the rest of my trips. I’ve blogged more, but haven’t come around to working on my book or study guide.
As I hit third base and turn toward home (excuse the baseball analogy), I can see the past three months have not turned out anything like I expected.
Sleeping in has been restorative physically, but it has been the distance from work that has renewed me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I have time to think, meditate, and process life. Lori and I can spend (relatively) stress-free afternoons together.
The mental, emotional, and spiritual renewal from this break is exactly what I needed. Although the coronavirus crisis ruined my plans (and of course it is much bigger than me and what I wanted to do), I’m glad the time turned out the way it has.
Finally, on this Sunday, I’m praying for those on the front lines of the Covid-19 response and those personally impacted by the illness. May God be merciful and bring healing to this devastation.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Coronavirus and Psoriasis (Howard)
UPDATE: I mentioned on Monday that I messaged my dermatologist, Dr. Carroll, about taking Skyrizi before Tuesday. In her reply she surmised why my psoriasis flared recently: skin damage from phototherapy burn and possibly needing Skyrizi more frequently.
Since she said I could inject the medication anytime, I decided to go ahead last night. One dose comes in two syringes, so I injected one on the left and one on the right of my belly button (at least two inches out).
I experienced the normal lightheadedness and fatigue just after the injection. Still some after effects today, but definitely nothing to horrible.
With the lockdown I’ve had more time to write for my column on Everyday Health, The Itch to Beat Psoriasis. In particular, I’ve published three articles about psoriasis and the coronavirus pandemic.
I’ll finish today’s entry with links to each of them.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Cooking Together (Lori)
I have been longing for Howard and I to cook together for many years. His work as a minister is very demanding—both early morning and evening meetings in a given week that would require him to be away from home.
When would come home from work, I would want him to either take some personal time or just spend time with the children. I would figure out the dinner menu. Some days were full for me as a minister’s wife so I would skip cooking dinner completely—get some takeout from a restaurant or fast food.
It was “kid food” anyways, I reasoned, so the kids and I would all feast on fried chicken, hamburgers and fries, chicken nuggets, etc. Especially if Howard attended a small group church meeting, there were often potlucks where he could eat dinner and sample church members’ home cooking.
It was a win-win. Except I felt like something was missing. Long gone were the days when I was at my grandmother’s house helping her fix a homemade meal and then talk with her over washing the dishes afterwards—she would wash, I would dry.
Fast-forward to today.
Follow the Coronavirus Journal Series!
The kids are all grown up, we are sheltering-in-place during the Covid-19 pandemic, and finally, FINALLY, folks, Howard and I have time to cook together! Although this photo shows a simple meal, it is one we cooked together.
Homemade fried rice! I am a competent vegetable chopper, so I chopped the onions, green beans (and microwaved them for preparation purposes), and mushrooms. Howard cooked the rice in our fairly new Instant Pot (and if you don’t have one of these yet, I highly recommend purchasing one online! We use ours several times a week).
The kids are all grown up, we are sheltering-in-place during the Covid-19 pandemic, and finally, FINALLY, folks, Howard and I have time to cook together!
Then he added some scrambled eggs and diced marinated grilled chicken thighs that he had previously cooked on the grill. Mix everything together in a large pan on medium-high heat with a cooking oil of your choice (we typically use olive oil). And voila! Dinner is ready!
What I really cherish about this experience is our time together in the kitchen. We chit-chat, I play some music in the background, and we smile at each other while adding ingredients to the pan together. Then we can sit down and eat the meal together. I even feel it makes the food taste better.
Monday, April 20, 2020
My Bothersome Psoriasis and Eczema (Howard)
The asthma medication I started the end of March appears to have photosensitized my skin. The last phototherapy dose of March my skin began to burn with each successive treatment. Those sunburns made my psoriasis and eczema flare.
I dropped my dose by one-third each time over a three week period, with four-day breaks between treatments (I normally only break for two days). I found that only fifteen percent of the starting dose doesn’t burn my skin (much at least) and offers some eczema control.
It’s sad to see this setback as I had finally found doses of medications, and routines of treatment, that allowed me to practically forget about my skin.
Here are a couple of photos I took to show the inflammation on my back and legs.
Thanks to my dermatologist I picked up an extra dose of Skyrizi, my psoriasis medication that I self-inject, so I can dose more frequently than the prescribed every twelve weeks. I’m scheduled to take it next week, which would be the 10-week mark. I did send a message to the doctor to see if I should take it even earlier so I can get relief sooner.
I also am considering changing asthma medications. I’ve been using this current one for one month now, and it’s quite effective. My primary care physician said I could use it for 3 months to get through the allergy season. I’m willing to see if a new dose of Skyrizi can calm my psoriasis down, but I am not doing much else for eczema.
It’s sad to see this setback as I had finally found doses of medications, and routines of treatment, that allowed me to practically forget about my skin. Now I feel the irritation and burning every day. I’ve lost a fair amount of sleep over it as well.