COVID-19: What You Have Given Us And What You Have Taken Away
You started your journey far, far away in China, wreaking havoc in Europe, especially in Italy, closing borders, trapping people in their homes, and finally finding your way to most countries in the world, causing hysteria in some people, panic in others and increasing everyone's anxiety.
You have stolen people's lives, their jobs and their sense of security. You've stolen graduate student trips, incomplete semesters at foreign universities, the Olympics, proms, paychecks, and groceries everywhere.
You've taken away one of the safest places on the planet for kids in certain situations -- their classrooms, their teachers and their friends. Social distancing has become our greatest weapon because of you.
As a caregiver, you have given me a sense of failure because there is nothing I can do as a mother and wife to keep my family safe.
What You Have Taken Away From Us
You have caused some caregivers to have to clean the soles of their shoes and the tires of their partners' wheelchairs every time they enter the house.
You have encouraged us to scrub the floors daily, disinfect the surfaces and wash our hands continuously in some homes. That, COVID-19, is not possible for most families.
I am here to tell you that as a mother of two and a four-legged friend and wife of a man with a spinal cord injury, I continue to work both in school and remotely in my home to help my students with online learning as long as necessary -- not counting home schooling for our own children.
I am not disinfecting anyone's shoes or wheels. I am happy that our children are finally washing their hands. But you, COVID-19, have made it very difficult for my husband to feel safe since every time he pushes his wheelchair or gets catheterized he is potentially attracting all kinds of garbage into his system.
By having a T7 lesion, he lacks diaphragmatic capacity. His sneeze sounds like a tiny kitten, despite being a man over six feet tall. Watching my husband suffer with a common cold is difficult, not to mention the more serious problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
What does it mean for him and his ability to withstand an attack like yours, the injurious aggressive COVID-19? We've decided to stay home and avoid the crowds because you don't care if your victims are grandparents or people with asthma or spinal cord injuries.
Part of my anger comes from people with or without symptoms who flooded our state last week to "escape to the mountains" to their winter homes, exposing us to all that you have to offer in the way of infection.
When they closed the schools and the governors encouraged everyone to stay home, they should have. These are unprecedented times, and while tourism is important to our local, state and national economy, it is no more important than stopping the spread of COVID-19.
What You Have Given Us
However, while you have taken much from us, COVID-19, you have also strengthened our sense of home, family and community. You reminded us, by staying home, and closing ski resorts, canceling board meetings, book clubs, my husband's work trips, dance classes, racing teams, meetings of more than ten people, how busy we are in our lives.
You have given us the focus on family, on our children, on board games, books, on the sense of belonging in the home; a chance to resettle and remember what matters most.
You're inspiring communities to work together to feed the 40% of families eligible for free or reduced lunches when schools can't provide them.
You've filled our social networks with chaos, as well as local ministers and community leaders who don't remember that we have resources for what we need.
I invite you and your pandemic to go to hell. We know you are likely to stay for a while, but we will do our best not to be discouraged.
Social distancing does not mean ignoring our loved ones when we need to keep safe by not being around them. Fortunately, we live in a world with FaceTime, text messaging and Google -- we have the ability to stay connected, even when we give the affected diaphragm a chance to defend itself.
I've never been germ-phobic, but you, COVID-19, have made me aware of how easily you can pass through our bodies.
I've been dreaming about "flattening the curve" for weeks now. COVID-19, we're going to flatten you out.