A House Divided, But We Stand United

I am lucky
that I have a job that is allowing me to work from home, potentially for the
long haul. I am lucky that I have a company laptop, and that our house has a
reliable internet connection and all of the other necessities that I need to be
able to do my job from home.
And just
to be clear, my company wasn’t set up for this. My set-up at work includes a
laptop and an additional monitor, while the normal set-up is two monitors. I
started working from a home a week before all hell broke loose, not realizing
that this would become anything other than temporary situation.
On the
other hand, my husband works at a big box store that has been open for the
duration of the pandemic as it has been deemed “essential”. (No offense to my
husband’s livelihood, but this #HighRiskCovid19 wife disagrees with that
designation) His job cannot be done from home. His continuing to work
unfortunately increases the risk level of bringing COVID into our house. Due to
other issues, my husband didn’t work for several weeks when the pandemic was
really starting to surge in Michigan. One thing his employer has done is
provide a fair amount of additional paid and unpaid time. My husband basically
takes several days off a week to limit exposure, but also to stretch the amount
of time off he has to utilize.
And to be
honest, we had the conversation of going without his income. If he felt the
risk became too great, he could take unpaid leave. Unfortunately, when you live
with someone who is #HighRiskCovid19 but doesn’t have COVID-19, that scenario
doesn’t fit into any of the extra-extra time off categories. So just because
I’m high risk and my husband lives with me and loves me, doesn’t mean that his
employer (or anyone) feels that he should get over and above time off to
minimize his risk, which subsequently becomes my risk. And it’s not just his
employer. There seems to be a black hole for this type of situation.
And making
this is decision wasn’t just about me. We had to consider my husband’s mental
health. What would it be like for him to not have anything to do and nowhere to
go all the time? On the flipside, we don’t want his mental health to suffer if
the concern for risk at work becomes too great and he is anxious all the time
about the risk to either of us.
While we
could live without my husband’s income, we cannot live without his benefits,
which means he has to work enough so that his paycheck is enough to cover our
We are
lucky in so many ways. But this struggle is real. The decision for my husband
to go back to work after his initial time off was something that we both
agonized over. Because once the cat is out of the bag, there’s no turning back.
If he ends up exposed, forget everything.
These are
the steps we’ve taken to do what we can to minimize the risk of my husband
getting exposed to COVID-19 and bringing it home and exposing me:
1.       My husband wears gloves
and a mask at work;
2.      He leaves a change of
clothes in the garage, changes in the garage when he gets home, and leaves his
work clothes in the garage until he washes them;
3.      We got him his own
thermometer to take his temperature – doesn’t seem like the best thing to share
at this point (and I don’t trust the inexpensive forehead thermometers that we
could share);
4.      We have a very small
stock of our own gloves and masks so that he isn’t relying on his employer to
provide PPE;
5.      He uses disposable items
to transport and eat his lunch rather than using items from home, like reusable
containers, bags, and utensils, so these items are not being brought back into
our house. 
Of course,
by virtue of my husband leaving the house and going into an environment with
co-workers and customers coming from all over, there will never not be a risk. But
we are doing the best we can with the situation we have, knowing that we are
incredibly lucky to both still have jobs during this difficult time.

And while
we are divided in our ability to work from home, we are united in the quest for
both of us to stay COVID-free.

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