The current times have really been an emotional rollercoaster of a ride these last several months.
On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, I flew to Chicago from Little Rock to visit my oldest daughter, Lauren, who started a new job at the University of Chicago in January. I was excited to visit Lauren in her new home in Chicago and in addition, I booked a background role for the TV show Chicago Med as a Hospital Visitor for filming on Friday, March 6, 2020.
I had a wonderful experience on the Chicago Med set! I met some amazing people, spent more than eight hours on set and was excited to be a small part of a popular network television production. It turns out that I was dressed in an outfit similar to an actress portraying a social worker in the hospital waiting room, so I couldn’t be in the scene! But I still got paid and I had a great time at the studios. Because production on all the One Chicago shows halted the next week, on Friday, March 13, this episode ended up being the second to the last episode of this season.
At the time of my travel, the coronavirus was something that was happening in other countries overseas. I think there had been a few cases in Washington state. It so happened that I had actually been booked as a Wedding Guest for an episode of Chicago Fire, filming in Chicago on Friday. February 28, 2020. I was so excited! I booked my flight to Chicago, purchased a cocktail dress for the filming and planned to stay with Lauren in her new apartment. Then, right around Valentine’s Day, the gout struck my father!
- My father had previously been diagnosed with gout in the fall of 2019. He saw a doctor, took medicine and it seemed to go away. Then around Christmas, his right foot became red, swollen and inflamed. He continued to take over-the-counter medicine. Long story short – he went to see a Foot Specialist on a Tuesday morning in mid-February who sent him straight to Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. He ended up spending six nights in the hospital where he received heavy duty antibiotics, had two minor surgeries on his foot and went through physical therapy. He was lucky that he didn’t have any long-term foot issues but did continue to receive IV antibiotics for the next 45 days at home. He was discharged from the hospital at the end of February. Our family realized later that he was discharged from the hospital right before the coronavirus would later spread throughout the medical community.
- While I spent my days driving my mother to the hospital to see my father, bringing him items he wanted from home and then taking care of our three dogs and one cat, it was physically exhausting and emotionally draining. My mother is also having some memory issues so when the doctors and nurses at the hospital needed to tell a family member important information, they would ignore my mother and speak directly to me, which would upset her.
Then I received an email from the Chicago Fire casting department that said production scaled back on the number of background actors needed for the wedding scenes, therefore I was no longer needed. Although I was disappointed, I also was the only sibling that could drive my father home from the hospital so it worked out for the best. I was able to transfer my plane tickets on Southwest Airlines to an account I could use for future travel.
Less than a week after I arrived back in Little Rock from Chicago on Sunday, March 8, everything shut down in Arkansas because of coronavirus. Schools closed, employees who were able to work at home were required to and businesses across the state were forced to lock their doors.
My worries and anxiety jumped to an all time high because of the following circumstances going in my life
- I am a nineteen-year cancer survivor with underlying health issues and I live with my both my parents who are 79 and 81, so all three of us are considered high risk.
- COVID-19 scares me. It’s like an unseen monster, similar to The Blob, able to creep into homes without the people who live there being aware. Since March 13, my parents and I have quarantined at home. When we occasionally do go out for medicine and groceries, we always wear masks, gloves and carry bottles of hand sanitizer with us. I actually made two “Corona Kits” which I keep in our cars, complete with all these items at easy reach.
- In addition, I also worry about both my daughters, young women in the work force. My oldest daughter, Lauren, has been able to work remotely since March because Chicago was initially a hot spot in the country. My youngest daughter, Sara is a TV News Reporter in Arkansas. Luckily, she also has been able to do things such as interviewing over the phone and computer and can edit her news stories on her computer at home.
- All of the things I love to do stopped immediately. No going to movie theaters, no eating out at restaurants, no traveling and no upcoming background acting roles. But I know others are going through tougher times, so I’m sure I will be able to return to these activities at a later time.
- Since my husband, Thruston Stewart Doan, passed away suddenly eight years ago from an undetected Pulmonary Embolism, I’ve always tried to be strong and make the right decisions for my family. But I really miss him at times like this.
Things I’m grateful for during these difficult times
- I live with my parents in my childhood home in a rural setting on many acres but located just minutes from grocery stores, my parent’s family doctor’s office and our local pharmacy. I can walk our three dogs everyday down our private driveway and spend time outside in the fresh air on our deck with my cat, Lilly.
- With all the cases of the coronavirus spreading through the United States like wildfire, essential workers, such as medical staff and grocery clerks, working long hours and other people losing their jobs, it’s been a very stressful time. I’m grateful that my parents and I are retired so we didn’t have to worry about having to return to work with our medical conditions. I am also grateful that both my daughters were able to remain at their jobs and work remotely.
- My niece, Lyndsey, had a beautiful, healthy, baby girl, Emmerson Claire (Emme) on April 15, 2020, her mother’s birthday. So we have a new baby in the family!