My husband is a scientist, and has determined that the novel coronavirus which leads to Covid-19 is primarily and most contagiously spread via aerosol, which means it rides like a gas on people’s breath. We are wearing masks outside our home, even in the outdoors if people are within six feet of us. We have had a couple of workers come into our home when well-ventilated with all our windows open; we all wore masks and stayed ten feet away from each other. We plan to live like this until there is more comprehensive and widespread testing and there is a cure and/or a vaccine for Covid-19.
We’re not happy about this, but we are resigned to living this way, because I am 72, he is 60, and all the deaths from Covid-19 in our community have been people over 65; the hospitalizations have mostly been people over 50. And I am sure as hell not ready to sacrifice myself or have possible long term kidney or lung damage for people who think we should just open up and see what happens.
I was primed for isolation early in my life. I was quarantined with polio at age 3 for two weeks in Los Angeles, which was frightening and upsetting, and then was in a hospital for six months when no longer contagious, with my parents waiting to find out if I was going to show any sign of being able to be rehabilitated. It was lonely. Even though the hospital was full of polio children, we were kept in cribs and never played with anyone. My mother came to see me for an hour a day, and on weekends I commuted to a nearby apartment to spend two days with my parents, the only time I saw my affectionate, teasing, daddy. When I was able to walk with half-crutches, we moved to a rural town when I was nearly 4, where I spent my childhood. Many afternoons I rested alone, reading, singing and watching old movies on TV, but I also played with kids in the neighborhood every chance I got.
My dad died when I was 7, and when I was 8, our town was flooded; my mother and I scraped mud off our floors with kitchen spatulas and slept in an acquaintance’s child’s bedroom 7 miles from our home for a month till we could move back. Some people we knew drowned in that flood. The community pulled together to help each other when needed.
So now, it just doesn’t seem that big a price to me to stay home to save lives. Yes, I’m really lonely for my girlfriends; I deeply miss going out to lunch with them since that is my primary social life. But now we have Zoom, so it’s possible to at least virtually hang out with them. Yes, I miss going to movies and hearing live music. But we have a panoply of entertainment with cable TV. I need to see an eye doc for my cataracts, and I need a shot in my painful back which cannot be accomplished till the surgery center opens up again. I’m just dealing with it all. I have to.
I know that we are fortunate; we have worked insanely hard all our lives (my husband still works very long hours from home) and we have a nice home, garden and savings. And I am acutely aware that this is not the case for many others, so we have been contributing what we can to charities who take care of jobless or hungry people, and we get take-out a few nights a week to support our local restaurants.
Meanwhile, five people I loved have died in the last few months (not from the virus) and we just had to put to sleep my beloved 16-year-old kitty, Lucy. It has been exceedingly difficult to be grieving during this time when we cannot be with friends and relatives.
But gosh, my parents lived through World War II. I learned to put aside my personal concerns when there’s something that affects my community, and to be patient with circumstances not of my choosing. It seems it’s a lesson some people of this era were not prepared to learn.
Stay home unless you are an essential worker or are in danger of starvation or losing your home immediately. Wear masks if you go out. If you socialize, do it outside with 6 feet or more of distance and a mask. This situation is not going to last a lifetime, unlike the paralyzed leg I inherited from polio.