October 5, 2020
A tale of running a business with Covid
Owner, Yorkshire Garden Services and LO First Vice President
In late February and early March 2020, my partner and I spent time in St. Martin where we relaxed, travelled about the island, participated in Mardi Gras events with thousands of other people and volunteered at the world renowned Heineken sailing regatta. The event features 149 boats from all over the world, and again, thousands of people. What a melting pot for the dissemination of coronavirus. A perfect storm!
The last couple of days on the island, I wasn’t feeling up to par, but just thought it was general island fatigue after being so busy. We got home March 10, and the following day I promptly went to a Landscape Ontario Peer to Peer Network session in Kitchener, Ont. Sorry!
On March 13, Canada Blooms was cancelled. My partner then got really sick. I was really under the weather, but still didn’t really put two and two together because I often come home after travelling with some sort of cold or sinus issue. By March 16 I wasn’t feeling great and I was supposed to take possession of a new company truck and check out a couple of properties. That’s when it hit me because the fatigue was overwhelming and just driving was difficult. March turned out to be a write-off. (Aside: I seriously have had to consult my calendar because I do not remember what happened in March or April).
That is one of the biggest impacts of Covid on me, my business and my volunteer work… memory issues. I have notebooks filled with notes and scribbles from every Zoom meeting, interaction and webinar. Months later, I have asked people what transpired at this event or at that meeting because I have absolutely no recollection. It is terrifying to know that a virus can obliterate your cognitive function. The other symptoms (fatigue, daily migraines, muscle weakness, decreased lung capacity, huge thirst, loss of taste and smell, etc.) seem minor compared to memory issues, but they all were linked into the day-to-day management of the business — especially when spring start up was supposed to be around the corner. When I was too tired, I couldn’t remember things as easily, which made financial planning and forecasting a nightmare. When I was suffering from muscle weakness, trying to plant or walk a property made a job too difficult to get done. A week of afternoon migraines does wonders for one’s ability to get anything done…not! And don’t get me started about loss of taste and smell… it’s the best weight loss program out there because everything “felt” like I was eating cardboard, so why bother eating?
In order to keep staff and clients up-to-date with what was happening with Yorkshire Garden Services (YGS), I started writing a weekly bulletin. In total, nine were emailed out. It was a record of the direction YGS was taking with regard to the pandemic. It helped keep everyone in the loop. It alleviated frustration and answered questions. It was serious, but at the same time, light-hearted. Writing the bulletin was a huge asset for me because it helped me feel like I still had some control over the direction of my company. Staff were key, too. Not as an afterthought, but as a means of keeping me on an even keel. We invested in new technologies and ways of doing work and training which made everything easier. At times, the team was my memory and kept the information flowing, so that once we were all back to work, it could happen without a glitch.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but with the support of peers, staff and family, they have made it much easier for me to handle the virus. Covid is not a cake walk. It can rear its ugly head again without warning. I thought I had Covid once again in August. I was tested and it was negative. Consulting with my doctor, she let me know that it was probably residual effects of the virus. It seems that “side effects” can creep back. Again, I had a full week of fatigue and headaches. It’s so frustrating. This virus has definitely taught me that you cannot burn the candle at both ends. Everything must be in moderation. Ask for assistance. Breathe … deeply. Drink tons of water. Eat properly. And most importantly, enjoy and cherish life.