Day 7. Recap A lot happened in between this and the previous story. A lot of personal developments that could not help but seep into the writing and development of these Many-Rooms stories. This 'Recap' attempts to explain some of what has happened.

August 24, 2020

Upon arrival they had stuck a line of 14 post-it note flags down the side of the wall between the bed and the entrance hall. There was one flag for each day and each day a flag would be removed until there were none and it was time to leave.

Two flags were now left. A wodge of A4 sheets had been shoved under the door. They were exiting notices from both the state government and from the hotel they had been quarantined within.

The End of Detention notice was the most exciting of the documents. It detailed the precise day and time at which their detention was over. They could no longer be kept in this one air-conditioned yet airless room after this.

The instructions for departure were extensive. They would be allocated a time slot, at which point a security staff member would come to escort them from their room, out of the hotel and into a waiting taxi. No-one was allowed to pick you up or even meet you outside. The taxi driver would be given your address and that's where you would be taken.

They thought they might be too excited to sleep one more night in the room but days spent looking out at the same view, with communication limited to screen applications proved strangely exhausting.

The next morning they fretted about having their time slot re-allocated or they exit delayed or some change in conditions that would require them to spend more time in the hotel. Luckily the morning went quickly and an hour after one last lunch bag was left outside their room there was a knock and the door was opened.

Exiting turned out to be swift. The cab driver didn't seem to have their address to hand. They could have asked to be dropped off anywhere. Instead they arranged to be dropped off a block away from the house they shared with their partner so as to get some walking done before settling into yet another familiar configuration of walls, windows and doors.

Familiarity could not combat a type of restlessness that had come to them during their 14 day confinement. Exploring local parks and waterways became the highlight of each day. It wasn't until the 4th day out of confinement that they noticed another type of feeling outside of an unsettled sensation. That days park walk was curtailed by a shortness of breath and a sapping of energy that came on quickly and dramatically.

The next morning they passed out in the bathroom while preparing to shower. An ambulance was called.

Getting to the hospital was quick enough. Getting into a ward was trickier. Recent restrictions imposed by the hospital meant inpatients had to be kept in a make-shift ward in the basement until they were tested for Covid-19.

Luckily test results were processed quickly within medical institutions (as opposed to the outside world). The test results came back negative and they were transferred to a purpose built ward that was opened only a couple of years ago and specialised in blood disorders. Because they had collapsed and were still looking a little yellow, they were positioned in room adjacent to the central nurses station and kept a close eye on.

The following week was a blur of tests and infusions and medications and visits from medical teams and chats with nurses and menus laden with boiled vegetables and more tests... At one point a PICC line was installed as there were too many instances of nurses struggling to locate a decent enough vein for extracting blood for daily tests. Although intrusive, the thin tube running from the inside of their upper arm to nestle somewhere close (but not too close) to their heart provided some relief from the daily 'stabbings'.

The downside of having a mainline to your bloodstream installed was a hyper consciousness of having to maintain and protect this gateway. Sleep and showering were the biggest obstacles. Two activities that had proved essential previously.

It would be another two weeks before the condition receded enough for discharging to be considered. The staff had a way of making you feel like it was time to go without having to say very much, which was a relief in many ways. They made the journey home once again, this time stacked up with large doses of medication, which required further medication to counteract any effects from more medication.

Regular visits to the hospital day centre were also required for continuing tests and infusions. These visits would usually end up taking up the majority of the day and rest would be required afterwards.

Whilst recuperating at home a fresh regime of restrictions was announced. No sooner had they left, firstly hotel detention, and then medical isolation, but now they were being instructed to stay in their home and only leave in case of emergency or for an hours exercise or shopping.

There were more restrictions imposed as well. A curfew was instigated, starting a 8 in the evening and extending through the night until 5 in the morning. The number of people you could go outside with was cut down to 1 other household member for exercise only. Shopping had to be conducted one at a time.

It took a month or so for them to feel like their condition was well and truly in remission. It took over a couple of months before they felt ready to venture back into the city centre. There was no real reason to go. They conjured up a reason to do with special felt tip pens that were only sold at one store in the city centre (easily available online but online shopping was something they had been avoiding due to the recent unpredictability of delivery services). New restrictions had effected the city centre more drastically than they had thought. They visited a mall that was open despite none of the stores being permitted to trade.

Many of the window displays contained naked mannequins, some were unceremoniously stacked up against the glass or wrapped in cling film. Many of the stores has been cleared out with no intention of re-opening... possibly ever again.

And as friends on Instagram in places less enthralled to authoritarianism frolicked in the sun—distancing be damned—they thought on the fact that they were outside, away the house, for the first time in a long time and thanked the stars (or whatever) for small mercies.

Written and published by Michael Bojkowski c.2021.

Res >^..^<