The Quarantine Chronicles

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Editor's note: Reporter Rusty LaFrance spent the week of March 9 to 13 in Chicago, Illinois for the opening of the Field Museum of Natural History’s opening of the “Apsáalooke Women and Warriors” exhibition. During his time there the public health crisis surrounding coronavirus exploded. He spent the next week in a state of self-quarantine for the protection of the general public, but monthly his mom. Fourteen days after his initial potential exposure to the virus he returned to the outside world.

Wanting to stay home and then being ordered to stay home are entirely different experiences.

I didn’t really know how to feel. I had woken up in the Windy City at 4 a.m. Friday, March 13, still riding the high from the previous day’s events.

Yet, the reality of coming home and being met with the stigma of a potential viral respiratory infection was not a very good feeling. It saddened me that I would not be able to be near my family for another week.

Saturday: I had to step out of the house and cover the nearly three-mile long caravan to Lodge Grass in celebration of the Lodge Grass Indians’ state basketball championship.

Although I myself knew I had no symptoms, I was told to wear something to keep my face covered. I did not go into the gymnasium, I stood outside the town and took photographs of the incredible occasion to maintain an appropriate social, as ordered by the nurse I called at the clinic.

I did get a few second glances, but overall it was quite a sight to watch the entire Lodge Grass community support their athletes so dearly.

Sunday: Isolation or not, I still had work to get done. While I stayed on the computer writing my assignments and conducting interviews by phone and email I became well aware of the confines of being within four solid walls. It began to become a begrudgingly boring experience.

So after my regular working hours had ended at 5 p.m. I decided I still needed to get some exercise.

Rather than go to a gym, I decided to make an extensive playlist of powwow music. Then I attempted to dance each category in an effort to get some cardio in while also working on strengthening my legs. My challenge was to dance each song back to back for an entire hour with a two-minute water break.

Allow me to say, if you ever want to become a champion powwow dancer or give your heart one hell of a jump start, that is definitely the way to do it.

Monday: Solitary confinement, er, I mean “self-quarantine” is starting to drive me insane. In a moment of absolute need for essentials, I stepped out of the house to the store and picked up some laundry soap.

Unfortunately, I did not have anyone available to go on my supply run for me. After getting clearance from a nurse at the clinic, I went to the store early so I could beat all of the out of towners, but to my surprise they were swarmed like flies on a turd at 8 a.m.

Wednesday: Today means press day so I have been busy with work since 7 a.m. One benefit of working from home is that I can literally roll out of bed and get straight to work. In all honesty, I am really gonna miss that when I’m cleared out of isolation.

I started to feel a little bit more like Laura Ingalls-Wilder. I just need some French geese and chickens for eggs, meat to put in the spare bedroom, a Jersey cow for milk and a small garden in the coat closet to grow some vegetables.

Am I going crazy? Most likely. Good news is I’m almost halfway done with my isolation! I can’t wait to have human contact again!

I miss my mom, my sisters, the kids, and human conversation that isn’t strictly by phone or video calls.

Thursday: I spent most of the day doing my regular office work at home for the upcoming weeks paper, by the end of the workday I needed to air out my lungs.

Isolation is keeping me from my family, but I was not about to let it keep me from my horses.

After several failed attempts trying to catch my colt, Chuck, in an 86-acre open field, I switched plans and took a little drive to see about a horse I could actually catch, my sister’s horse, Gypsy.

I wound up trying to chase seven of my brother’s cows across a small creek and for the life of me they would not cross.

At the moment I was frustrated, but looking back hindsight is always 20/20. I realized maybe things weren’t working out because all I wanted was to get out of the house.

Now that I look back, maybe those animals knew I needed to be out of the house and made things harder intentionally so I could get out and actually breathe clean mountain air.

Am I being too spiritual? Probably. But I give thanks every morning for being able to stand on my own two feet and that I was able to see another sunrise.