C2: Bronchitis and love in the time of the coronavirus

After we came back from France, Chris continued to feel like he had something sitting on his chest. No fever, no cough, no other symptoms. By the end of last week, he felt like he needed to do something other than hope he didn't have the coronavirus.

The spoiler on this post was an eventual diagnosis of bronchitis (but we still can't rule out a mild version of what my spell check insists on calling coronations or carnivorous).  

The longer version.

We've been told repeatedly if you have a medical issue, call the nationwide healthcare number 1177 and they will help you. Chris called sometime on Thursday (call #1). The recorded message allowed for an English option- phew. A recording in Swedish is utterly incomprehensible to us. Said if you wanted to leave your call back #, they'd call back in two hours. Chris did. As the hours came and went, he started to wonder if he'd left the right number. Call #2, Friday. Left a slightly different number (our Swedish phone numbers start with 070. But maybe 70 is enough without the initial 0?). Nothing. Call #3, Saturday morning. Left another message. Nothing. Call #4, Saturday night. He decided to just wait on hold. After a 40+ minute wait, he reached someone around 11 PM. The nurse on the line listened to his description and said because he hadn't been to Italy or China, he should go to the regular clinic, which isn't open until Monday. 

Call #5, Monday-- he called the clinic. They said that they didn't want him in the clinic because he had issues with his lungs, had been to France, and might have the coronavirus. Please call 1177. Call #6, Monday-- he called the 1177 number, waiting on hold for a long time. Said they could put him in touch with docs at the major hospital (Karolinska)-- but it would be a couple of weeks. Asked him to call the clinic. He explained that he HAD called the clinic and they didn't want to see him. Call #7 to the clinic- they say, okay, we'll see you but our open hours are from 10-11 AM (and it was then 11:30 AM)- you can't come in until tomorrow. Call #8-- call the 1177 number to see if there are other options. They gave him an after hours place open at 5. Call #9 to the after-hours clinic several times right at 5. Recorded message only in Swedish. No idea what it says, but also no luck in getting through. Apparently their lines are open at 4:30 and the queue was so long that by the time he reaches them at 6:30, they've filled all their slots. 

Tuesday- Chris bundles up, bikes in the rain to the clinic at 9:30. Is met at the door by a nurse who encourages him to wait outside; he's #3 in line. Eventually seen by the doc who listens to his lungs, announces he has bronchitis but they can't/won't test him for coronavirus. Chris asks about taking a train across the country to give a talk on Thursday this week- doc is fine with it. Chris decides to cancel anyway (which is why it's Thursday at noon and he only recently changed out of his pjs). He's coughing a bit (trying not to do so in public) and laying low. 

We had a Fulbright event in Uppsala yesterday- Fulbright students and professors gathered from across the country for a guided tour of research facilities, the Uppsala Cathedral, and other local sites, followed by a research talk by one of the Fulbright faculty. Interesting levels of awkwardness as people figure out how to greet each other (shake hands? bow? something else)? We collectively don't know how to do social distancing very well... 

Uppsala U. itself has two diagnosed cases and has now asked for no international visitors and cancellation of all events with 100 people or more. I emailed the department head- I'm a foreign visitor- do I count? He noted that "you are one of us now." Actually nice to hear that I fit somewhere! Weekly fika canceled today and for the time being to be cautious. 

Good news is we're both set up to work from home and have endless hours of work to do- concentrated quiet time is in fact what we need a heck of a lot of. Kids are still in school and more than a bit tired of being told to wash their hands. Thanks to Chris' phone calls and field trip, we have a better idea how to navigate the local medical system. Duolingo, the online app I'm using to study Swedish, insists that I need to learn the words for "virus" and "hospital." 

In the meantime, confirmed coronavirus cases in Sweden are ramping up day by day- close to 500 as of yesterday and the first death in the Nordic countries. Denmark has closed all schools for two weeks and canceled all public events with more than 100 people, asking people to stay at home if they can do so. Norway seems to be following suit, launching "the most far reaching measures in peace time" to stem the coronavirus. I spoke with a colleague in the Netherlands- she was asked to quarantine in place for 2 weeks because she lives in southern Netherlands (where there were more cases) and works in northern Netherlands (where there were fewer). No symptoms, just risk. 

After the kids had gone to school today, we had a long conversation this morning about managing risk--  for ourselves as individuals, as a couple, as a family, in a group setting-- for our past trips, the current coronavirus context, and in going forward with our lives. It's interesting to realize that we both spend a lot of time thinking about risk, but our sense of what risk-related scenarios might be worthy of tracking diverge. A puzzle to figure out going forward. 

For now, with cancellation of daily activities that made life here rich and interesting, our future trips (seriously big bummer about a trip to Italy and Greece later in the spring), and company, our spring suddenly looks quite different. 

Like many places, we're guessing that the kids' school will get closed (but it hasn't happened yet, a bit to our surprise). Home schooling tips, anyone? Favorite movies? Stephen is now in a book club with his grandparents-- email can be a wonderful thing.

It's gray, 2 degrees C (36F), and raining (the rain looked a bit thick and white a few minutes a bit ago)... as our friend Justin says, we're in the "slack" season. In the slack in so many ways. 

As the weather loosens up, perhaps current events mean that our recreational time is a good time for more camping trips? Biking? Kayaking? We're now dependent solely on public transportation- like mine, Chris' driver's license expires on his birthday, which is tomorrow: his favorite day (Friday the 13th) (feel free to wish him happy birthday). 

Thinking too about the global ramifications of current events- what does it mean to be a US citizen abroad during a global pandemic? The ramifications are personal too- I've seen a few posts on love in the time of the coronavirus- thank goodness we're not navigating the dating scene. I do feel for our international students at Penn State, which has just asked students not to come back to campus from spring break and notified them that classes will be online for at least a few weeks. We continue to get updates from Penn State travel safety network- at least we've not yet been ordered back to the US (like Penn State students studying in Italy were). 

Ironically, as many conferences cancel their in person meetings, Chris may be more involved if sessions shift online. I'm thinking about a water related event that is entirely designed to be online. The silver lining may be a very fast awareness of just what is possible for more constructive online engagement. 

Time will tell how this all shapes up. In the meantime, be safe and hang in there.