Notes from the Isolation Ward, Day 14

Now What?

“Free at last! Free at last!
Praise God Almighty, we’re free at last!”

It started as a spiritual and became the mantra for the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but now it feels like our song as we end our quarantine and are finally “free at last” to go out of our house.

But, to go out for what? To be infected? It’s a dangerous world out there. COVID-19 lurks around every corner, in every nook and cranny, in every less-than-six-feet space. And it could be like that for weeks, months even!

We don’t have N95 masks, or full face masks, or haz-mat suits (don’t think my painter coveralls qualify), or any of the other PPE that is in such short supply for those who really need it – all those people who HAVE to go outside their homes.

No thanks, we think we’ll stay home.

Being quarantined hasn’t been all that different from our normal life, but then we’re not teenagers who seem unable to conceive of life without a gaggle of friends to hang out with (although I do miss hanging out with my friends of the Airdrie Writers’ Group). No, our usual, pre-COVID outings were to:

a) the grocery store (when we feel really adventuresome, we go to Costco),
b) the pharmacy (we’re of that age when pills are a part of everyday life),
c) Canadian Tire (you never have the right-sized screw), and
d) the occasional visit with relatives.

So you see, we did not lead the most exciting life pre-COVID. The only way I spiced it up was by going to my favourite shopping venue – the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Guess I won’t be doing that for a while.

I want to end my last post of this series on a serious note, namely, a huge Thank-You to all the people who do not have the luxury of enjoying the safety of quarantine and who, as a consequence, run the risk of becoming infected themselves (this has already happened to many, some of whom have died):

– all who work in hospitals and nursing homes: doctors, nurses, interns, orderlies, cleaners, cooks
– all the first responders: EMT personnel, firemen, policemen (heart attacks, crime and fires don’t stop during a pandemic)
– grocery store workers, garbage collectors, pharmacists, postal workers, undertakers, taxi drivers, public transit workers, railway workers
– truck drivers and everyone who keeps the supply chain going (how else are we going to get toilet paper?) and those who provide them with food and bathrooms
– utility workers who keep us supplied with endless amounts of electricity, natural gas (or whatever heats your home) and water (so we can wash our hands)
– those who look after the homeless, who work in food banks and women’s shelters, and who staff the crisis phone lines
– everyone who goes above and beyond the call of duty

I also want to extend my sympathies to those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. It’s hard enough to lose a beloved family member; it’s doubly tragic when you cannot be with them during their last days.

And let’s hear it for the scientists and researchers who are desperately seeking a vaccine for this nasty beastie.

I applaud those political leaders who have risen to the challenge of leading their constituents through the pandemic by being honest and forthright. They put to shame those who have not.

As for the millions who have been laid off or whose businesses are shuttered, who still face rent and mortgages and bills in spite of having no income – what can I say? I can’t imagine the anxiety, stress, even terror you are facing. “We’re in this together” and “This, too, shall pass” are trite and condescending in the face of such a bleak and worrisome future. I hope the promised government assistance arrives in time to see you through to whatever lies beyond.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. We’ll get through this. We may be scarred, but we’ll get through it.

#COVID-19 #NovelCoronavirus #SelfIsolation #Quarantine #FreeAtLast #Gratitude #Hope #GoodNeighbours #Pandemic #KeepingSanitized #SocialDistancing #MargaretGHanna

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