Friday, April 10, 2020

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my calm. I am not going to let anxiety rule, it exists within me, I acknowledge its presence and I recognize all the reasons for it but I refuse to let it take over. The world is full of unknowns right now and I do not have a job or money coming in but the bills still need to be paid. (RESPIRA). It may be several months before tourism comes back, which leaves me in a tight spot, like millions of others. I know I am not alone and there are others in far worse situations. As Jungle Kelly I have to remember that I can handle anything and remind myself that I am a badass chingona with resources and support. (RESPIRA).

This whole pandemic thing arose at a very strange time for me. I have only recently recovered from dengue and let me tell you, the LAST THING I want right now is to battle another fever illness. My experience with dengue left me drained, depressed and dreading being sick ever again. The PTSD is strong my friends. I had recovered (physically and emotionally) by March and then BAM, apocalyptic virus infects the world.

It started with back pain in mid-December. Not my usual back pain in neck and lumbar, but a sharp pain in the middle of my back over my rib cage. I went to my osteopath for an adjustment and he remarked that it was not normal for me and he suggested it may be something unrelated to the spine. I returned to him a few days later when the pain got worse and he ordered an injection of cortisone. The day after the injection I felt BAD, really bad and my back wasn't any better. I was dizzy with a terrible pain behind my eyes and nauseous and the vomiting started. I thought I may have been reacting to the injection so I made my way back to my local doc.

The pretty young doc is no stranger to me, we see her for all our little things. That day she welcomed me into her consultorio and told me to take a seat. I said "En el piso, voy a vomitar" and proceeded to hit the deck, grabbing the garbage can just in time. I kept apologizing (Canadian, sorry) and kept vomiting. When the purge stopped, I told her about my other symptoms and she just said "Uyyy, dengue". There is no test for dengue but she sent me for blood work which basically resulted in "Sick with fever" and she told me to take paracetamol, stay hydrated and rest.

For the next week, I vomited every two hours. I soaked through my pillows and mattress with the sweats yet I felt so chilled that I was wearing layers and layers of fleece. I was shivering with cold and pouring with sweat. I would dress and undress to try to regulate my temperature, crying in pain with every movement. My body HURT. Every single part. Without exaggeration, The pain behind my eyes and the headache left me unable to read or watch TV or turn on a light. I cried out loud at night "Kill me, matame, kill me now I can't take anymore!" I had trouble breathing, I was coughing relentlessly and I just wanted to die. I was physically destroyed, depressed and desperate.

Apart from the physical pain and vomiting and loss of bladder control (every time I puked I peed), the most haunting part of the illness was the hallucinations. The fever had me seeing things, hearing things and imagining scenarios not of this world. There were shadow people hovering outside my door, I could see them coming and going and hear their whispers. My wall put on a "light show", like an old film reel flickering images of meat and gravy waterfalls. On one of my worst nights, I had a horrible argument with myself about how to turn over in bed. I was furious that I did not know the correct sequence to disconnect all my bones in order to make the move. I painfully disassembled my skeleton a few times before getting it right.

Overall I was sick for a month. From mid-December to mid-January I was locked down in my house feeling sicker than I ever had before. February I was TIRED and working on rebuilding my strength and stamina. I had lost a LOT of weight, for most of the month I couldn't eat anything except jello and mandarins and those didn't stay down. By March I was feeling much better and ready to rock high season in tourism. My mood had improved, Jungle Kelly was roaring and I was excited to be back on the planet (really, the whole illness I felt as though I was somewhere else).

And that brings us to Covid 19. I'm still healthy and doing all I can to stay that way but the dengue PTSD brings feelings of dread and flashbacks to my hallucinations. I am so grateful that Jungle Kelly exists, she keeps me in line and doesn't allow the panic to get to the best of me. I've got the tools to deal with this and no matter what happens, I'm going to be ok. We're going to be ok. WE'RE FINE OK? (RESPIRA). One obstacle at a time, as they arise, we're going to be ok. (Yes, I am trying to convince myself more than anything here). I will find a way to pay the bills and stay healthy and take care of my kid and my cats. I can do this. We can do this.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Jungle Kelly La Chingona: Lessons for Covid19 Cancun

Maximum Hammock Relaxation Before Covid19

We got out of town for my birthday celebration on the beach the last weekend before "Toque de Queda Cancun 2020". We rented a couple of rooms at Casa Kayab and enjoyed a long weekend of great company, good times and a whole lot of relaxing. Covid19 was a topic of discussion but we really didn't anticipate what we would be returning to at the end of our escape. The virus didn't even dominate our conversations, we covered a wide range of topics including all the tea from Rupaul, dating Vikings and the evolution of Jungle Kelly.

The seeds of Jungle Kelly were planted years ago but she really wasn't born until a trip to Guatemala in August 2019. The 100 kms of trekking through the jungle over 5 days was a life changer, a stereotypical and cliche "vision quest"/"Eat, Pray, Love" experience. With each telling of my tale to friends, I just gag on the phrase "life changing" but frankly it's the truth, no matter how much it sounds like I am about to try to sell you my inspirational self-help books. The Trek changed my life and prepared me for the current surreal reality of the world. I came out of the jungle a new woman, ready to face any adversity and I dared the universe to BRING IT ON. (Uhh yeah, sorry about that).

Jungle Kelly Feeling Cute, Just Vomited on this Pyramid

Becoming Jungle Kelly in Guatemala was a series of "OHHH" moments of realization and "AHA!" moments of discovery. The walk was hard, really, the hardest thing I have ever had to do physically, mentally and emotionally. No matter how tough things got, I just kept going. And did so with a smile and a sense of humour. The harder it was, the harder I pushed. I may have fallen, I may have vomited on top of a pyramid and the ticks may have been feasting on my nalgas, but I just kept going. As we trekked and trekked it got easier and easier and by the time we walked into the pueblito of Carmelita after 100 kms I was energized enough to want to dance. EXHAUSTED but energized, feeling proud of the accomplishment, recognizing my strengths and seeing myself as a badass "Chingona" who can do ANYTHING.

Jungle Kelly Badass Chingona

One of my first jungle lessons was "Learning How to Walk Again". The jungle was thick, the trail was narrow and rocky and muddy and full of tree roots. The first day I was rushing, looking ahead and not at my feet and not feeling the pace of my surroundings and the rhythm of the selva. I was trying to control a situation beyond my control and race to the finish instead of dealing with the reality of the path beneath me. I stumbled. Fell. Knocked the eff out of my shins. Went into heat shock, pretty much passing out and yes, vomited on top of an ancient palace.

Step by step, Jungle Kelly learned how to listen to the jungle, be in the moment and deal with the obstacles as they arose. Anxiety about what might be around the corner faded and the walk became easier. This lesson has been extremely helpful in my day to day life and now, as we face a world crisis full of unknowns, I'm ready to face each step of the Covid19 situation in Cancun as it comes. I'm paying attention to the trail at my feet and knowing that whatever is at the end of the pandemic trek is going to be ok.

Jungle Kelly and Surfer Dude Rule the Roof in Cancun Covid19

I'm not saying I don't have moments of anxiety because OMG THE SKY IS FALLING is part of my DNA, but the moments are short and Jungle Kelly holds my hand until I am calm. When the virus is under control, I will take each step necessary to work, feed my kid and my cats. No amount of anxiety or stress is going to change the outcome, so I may as well listen to the jungle and just roll with it. I have survived everything the universe has thrown at me thus far, I know I'll get through this one too, with giggles and pink hair and the ones I love.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Cancun in the Times of Covid19

- blows dust off blog -
- wipes blog with disinfectant -

Oh hello! Strange days, eh? It's been a while since I've written but it seems I have some time on my hands and some thoughts on my mind. Too much time and too many thoughts make Canuck cray cray so I'm here at the keyboard to sort it out old school, blog style.

I'm currently in Cancun where we are in "toque de queda", with orders to stay at home. Police are in the streets and drones are flying around telling people to "quedate en casa".At this point I am not sure if that is to stop the spread of infection or to prevent a huge crime wave on the heels of massive firings in the tourism industry. The majority of hotels are shuttered, tours cancelled, beaches closed, nightclubs dark, ferries limiting movement to and from Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. Our entire population, myself included, is fueled by tourism and reports suggest we'll have close to one million unemployed people in Cancun and the surrounding areas. Keep in mind that Cancun only has a population of about one million do the math.

Photo courtesy Meganews

Covid19 hit Cancun at the worst possible time for our economy. Spring break. Semana Santa. No promises of a summer season. Cancun Spring Break and Semana Santa (Easter vacation in Mexico when we see waves of domestic travelers) are THE most important weeks of the year and account for a large percentage of the destination's income. Entonces, not only are we not seeing any new reservations, we're refunding cancellations, leaving the coffers empty. Nobody will be getting paid. Myself included. Sigh. I've taken out a bank loan to survive, mostly to ease my anxiety. I am fortunate to have this option.

Solar Powered Canuck

My son Max and I are healthy so far. An active teenager with an order to stay at home is not an easy monster to deal with, but we're finding our way. After a couple of escapes to go to the beach, he's locked down and helping me out around the house. We've got the pool and the roof so we are able to get a little fresh air and sunshine when we start bouncing off the walls. I'm reading a lot, watching series and movies, dancing to 80's music, talking to the cats, sleeping, cooking. Groceries are being delivered and there is no toilet paper shortage. I've ordered a deck of cards and a set of dice from Amazon, we're going to learn ALL the two player games.

I have no idea what day it is or what time is it though I am looking forward to Friday night for Rupaul's Drag Race and Saturday for an online family reunion. Right. Today is Friday. YAS QUEEN! Today's book is "The Murmur of Bees", we'll be eating leftovers and napping intermittently. I may even shower later if I am not too busy peering out the window and sighing.

Y tu? How's your apocalypse going? Muak. Hasta pronto!

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...