One big cluster f&%k after another…

When I made the final decision to move to Vietnam, just after the New Year, I envisioned what that picture would look like. It would be an opportunity for exploration and self realization. I would travel throughout South East Asia and Indonesia, visiting the iconic and historic sites I only dreamed about, eating exotic street foods and relishing in my own personal “eat- pray- love” moment. I would easily find a remote job, writing for a travel or food related magazine which would be more than happy to publish my unique content. I would contribute daily to my blog, sharing this juncture of my life with the beloved family and friends I left behind. This image of my new life is what I conceptualized. It’s the vision I projected into the universe and what my new life would undoubtedly become…. UNTIL…

Two and a half weeks after my arrival to Ho Chi Minh City, my sister and brother-in-law got the dreaded 4 am phone call that would change absolutely everything. Gregg’s mother had become critically ill, was being housed in the ICU in Rancho Mirage, CA. in an induced coma with pneumonia in both lungs. It was her doctor’s opinion that her illness was dire and that she would most likely not survive it. Obviously shocked and devastated by the news, as any loving son or daughter would do, Gregg and Sam got on the first available flight from Vietnam to Los Angeles in order to be with his family at her bedside, leaving their two boys home in my care. At the time, there were under 200 Covid-19 patients in all of America, and considering the fact that Gregg’s 83 year old mother’s weekly routine was not much more than getting her hair and nails done, food shopping, CVS runs and socializing with her friends at the Country Club, there was no possible way she could have ever been infected with this deadly virus. Regardless, the hospital administered the test to rule out the possibility, and as tests took nearly a week to process and get back, Sam and Gregg stayed at his parents’ house with his sister, brother and father while awaiting the results and praying for her recovery. As fate would have it, Barbara tested positive and was, quite unbelievably, patient 1 in the Palm Springs area, (I don’t believe that patient 0 has to date been identified) and number 200 in the country to be infected with Covid-19.

After speaking with the CDC, although Sam and Gregg had not been in direct contact with Barbara, Gregg’s father Shelly had been. So, just to be safe, the family went into self imposed quarantine at the house, keeping Shelly isolated within his room and carefully monitoring him for any signs of the illness. As testing was practically non-existent in the US, and only provided if the patient was symptomatic, the question of whether or not Shelly was positive remained. After 10 days or so, they were finally able to get a test administered for Shelly, which took an additional 5 days to get back, and, lo and behold, he was indeed positive. Therefore, as Sam, Gregg and his two siblings had been in direct contact with Shelly this whole time, they all had to quarantine, AGAIN, for an additional 14 days, starting on the day of his test. So, what was originally supposed to be a one week max trip to the States, had turned into 1 month and counting. And, the insane irony of all of this is the fact that, although Vietnam borders China, they were much safer here here in Ho Chi Minh City that in the States; literally within 24 hours of landing in America, both Sam and Gregg were directly exposed to the virus…

Meanwhile, back in Vietnam, my job has been to hold down the fort… single parenting my two nephews, taking care of our five dogs, paying the bills, food shopping, managing the kids’ home schooling etc. etc. etc., when all the while anxiously awaiting Gregg and Sam’s return. And, as Murphy’s Law would have it, smack in the middle of their newly imposed quarantine, the Vietnamese government closed the country’s border for God knows how long, and now they are both stuck in California, unable to get home. It could be weeks, it could be months… But knowing how the Prime Minister of Vietnam has managed the containment of the spread of this virus, it could be a very very long time…

All the above said, I am very happy to report that Barbara survived and is now back home in Rancho Mirage, recovering from her ordeal. She is truly one tough and inspirational woman!! And, Sam and Gregg both tested negative for the virus, which is an incredible relief.

To be continued…

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