I have moments of utter panic. Moments where the world closes in on me at lightspeed, a literal visual tunnel taking up my entire world physically and mentally. I feel I can’t breath. I can’t cope. I just can’t.
And then, because the body is amazing and makes me breathe even when I think I can’t, I breathe. First one breath, then another. The tunnel fades and my spirit calms. I will be okay. We will all be okay.
The coronavirus has hit here. It’s easy to say:
“it’s just one”;
“It’s just 10”;
“it’s just 100”
It’s not so easy when it’s 1,000. And then 2,000.
We always have extra in our home, because so often we have extra’s. We may not have six kids at home anymore, but Dave & I have six kids for a reason. We care. It’s that simple. We care and therefore we wind up with extra’s. After 29 years of kids, and extra’s, I know to always stock up.
I have a friend who is an epidemiologist. For weeks she’s been saying to practice social distancing. For the past week I’ve made that work. I’ve gone out twice, once to pick up Dane from school and once for a fruit & vegetable run (and fish, it’s Lent & I hate canned tuna). But even those two times were surreal.
I didn’t chat with anyone, I am a chatty Kathy, but other than “Hello” and “Thank you” I was silent. Quiet. And I did weird things. While doing them I felt I wasn’t me. I felt almost out-of-body. Like I was watching someone else, not me, doing them, but I was watching with my eyes. From my body.
- I used a homemade clorox wipe to wipe down my shopping cart buggy
- I moved away from people in the store, circling back to get what I needed
- I paid with card (unusual here) and sanitized my card before putting it away
- I sanitized my hands after I left the store
- I sanitized my groceries after I put them in the van
- I sanitized my doorhandles before getting in the van
- I wiped down my controls & hands (again) before driving
- I washed my hands first thing upon coming home
- I left my groceries in the car for a couple of hours
- I wiped down everything before putting it away
Were you sympathizing with me above? Feeling a little same relating to my panic? And now you think I’m full on crazy? I get it. I do. But. I’m worried for Tess. Her allergies aren’t under control, sure we have five epipens in the house. And then? What if we use one? What is next?
We go to the hospital. Normally easy. A quick drive, immediate check-in and we see a doctor. Normally. Maybe even the case today, but for how long? I’ve watched the situation develop in China, with curiosity & compassion for her people. I watched it move to South Korea, with worry & empathy for our friends there. And then to Italy. Italy in my backyard. Italy where I now had friends on quarantine. Italy where daily things got worse. Are still getting worse.
This past week Italy locked down the whole country. She ran out of hospital beds. She ran out of doctors. She ran out of nurses. This week Italy could not treat all the patients. This week Italy had to choose who to save, and who not to save. This week Italy had to let people die.
The people around me seem blasé. Other than an extreme interest in toilet paper, people are still doing their thing. Upset when school is canceled. Or the DMV. Or their favorite bar is closed. Because:
“Now what am I going to do?“
Not. Die. How is that? You are not going to die. We are going to slow this beast down. We are going to throw a lifeline to our hospitals, doctors and nurses and slow THIS BEAST down. So you don’t die.
Stay home. Don’t invite friends over. Don’t go to the store just because you are out of potatoes, eat rice. Pasta? Beans? Cereal? Eat what’s in your home. Stay home. Stay away from people. Slow this beast down.
Because if we don’t, when we need a lifeline, whether it’s because of coronavirus, a heart attack, diabetic emergency, allergic reaction or even “just” a broken leg, that lifeline may not be there. That hospital, nurse or doctor will not be there. They will be overwhelmed. Exhausted. Pushed to the brink of collapse, or they may have actually collapsed. Even died.
Stay. Home. Ration what you have. Thank your lucky stars you are alive. That the people in your home are safe & alive. Use Skype, text, call. Thank God for the information age & the super highway and stay in touch with your loved ones from a distance. Slow this beast down.
Go ahead & have your panic moments. I am. I want to circle my wagons, call all my ducks home. I want to tuck them in my nest and hover over them like an anxious mother hen. I can’t. I want to invite my friends over and fill my house with laughter & companionship. I can’t. I want to go to the stores & shop for special ingredients and try a new recipe. I want to go grab a latte with a friend. I want to see a movie, buy fabric, renew my ID… I can’t.
We are staying home. Inside four strong walls, discovering the Masked Singer for the first time (what is this crazy goodness!?!?) and playing all the board games I’ve been collecting for the past decades. I’ve dusted off my sewing machine, and I’m teaching Dane to bake us cookies. And fussy cut that really hard quilting pattern I’ve been ignoring for years.
When the rain lets up we will be going on family walks through the Black Forest in our backyard. We will get some much needed refuge from our confinement in a comfy home. We will wave at our neighbors from 3 meters, or more. We will ooh & aah over cows, horses, sheep & more. But we will keep our distance. We will socially isolate. We will slow this beast.
And I will breathe. It will be okay. Please God, let it be okay.