I’m almost embarrassed to admit that the past 23 days (and counting) of COVID-19 isolation haven’t been wildly different than most days for me. On a typical pandemic-less day, isolation is not foreign. I conserve my energy. I avoid crowds. I am mindful of the things around me that can make me and keep me sick. I disinfect doorknobs and light switches, and I wash my hands. Like many other people living with a chronic illness and/or weakened immune system, I don’t really leave my house too often.
It sometimes can get lonely.
The rest of the world is just beginning to get a taste of what that’s like.
There is one thing, however, that is new for me during this pandemic:
My anxiety levels. And my anger.
(Fine, there are two new things.)
I was tested for COVID-19 a few weeks ago. Thankfully, the test came back negative, but while I waited for results, I could not return to work. I also could not go to the hospital to receive the medication for my multiple sclerosis that I need in order to function.
Adding insult to injury, while I sat home anxiously waiting, I watched a (now former) Facebook friend brag about
the back of their head appearing in the background of a three second local news clip being on TV while they partied at a bar that went against my state’s closure orders.
This person called themselves “a rebel.” Because bars and restaurants were ordered to limit service to delivery and curbside pickup, this person claimed to have “lost [their] freedom” and is now “praying for death.”
And this continues, weeks later. People are continuing to congregate on beaches and in parks. Businesses refuse to close. The Supreme Court is meeting virtually (let that sink in) to decide whether citizens must choose between risking their lives or exercising their right to vote. People are continuing to run non-urgent and unnecessary errands. Mega churches are still convening. Human lives are being weighed against stock portfolios. People are still gathering, thinking that just because they’re standing six feet apart, they’re safe and unable to spread the virus.
Meanwhile, our hospitals are low (or out of) supplies. Doctors and nurses are writing their wills. Mass graves are being dug. I am treating my mail and groceries as if they are nuclear waste. I don’t know when I will see my family again. I look at every human and every surface and the air between them as a threat:
- a threat of an MS relapse, triggered by the virus, that could render permanent damage to my brain and body,
- a threat of not being able to receive my medication, resulting in a possible relapse that could render permanent damage to my brain and body,
- or a threat of the virus taking someone that I love away from me in a most horrific and unforgiving way–a slow drowning, and completely and utterly alone.
I just want to scream.
These are not crazed words derived from paranoia. This is real life.
Wherever you plant your feet on the political spectrum, it is no secret that our president has failed us. Our federal and state governments have failed us. And we are selfishly and irresponsibly failing each other.
By failing to abide by shelter-at-home guidelines under the justification of “But I feel fine” or “I don’t like being cooped up,” you have sent me the message that you do not care what happens to people like me.
And not just people like me. By actively contributing to prolonging the flattening of the curve, you are putting countless human beings in danger: Men, women, and children in abusive relationships at home. People who suffer from mental illness or suicidal ideation. People who are forced to live in small spaces, unable to distance themselves from one another. People without access to clean water. People who cannot afford to be unemployed. First responders, medical staff, grocery store workers, other essential workers. Your own family.
Stop, before it’s you–or someone you love–lying in a hospital bed while doctors are forced to decide between your life and that of the guy in the next bed.
So. TL;DR version? We’re pissed. We’re scared. Do better. For all of us.
Stay safe, everyone! 💓