Note the title change. I’m no longer staying at home. I am venturing out, now. I’m still distancing, but I’m not isolating.
This is the new reality. We will think twice about going out to public places and will reduce the number of times we go, maybe by half or more–one of many adaptations we plan to make.
I bought disposable masks at Canadian Tire this week – 20 masks for $27.99. We went to home Depot and stood in line, distancing. The sign said they were open for urgent needs. I ignored that. After two months at home, it was urgent for me to get back to feeling somewhat normal.
It was finally time to buy toilet paper. We didn’t stock up. A package of thirty rolls lasts three months at our house. I calculated. Walmart’s home brand was still not available, even online. So we bought Costco’s version. I wore a mask because I’d heard Costco required masks in the U.S. Half of the people waiting outside in line were not wearing masks. I saw a burly man of about sixty look around at the line and whip off his mask and stuff it in his pocket. That made me laugh as I thought about how he had probably been “convinced against his will” by someone to wear it.
“To mask, or not to mask. This is the question.” And a big question it is. In B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer who specializes in pandemics, does not think wearing masks is a significant precaution for our setting. In other countries masks are a priority, particularly in densely populated areas. So far the restrictions we have put in place in B.C. have served us well.
Wednesday evening my husband and I went to a track at a local park for our walk. I admit there were more people at the track than I had ever seen there before. They were mostly maintaining distance. A game of cricket was in progress. It looked wholesome to see people outside exercising. As we walked, the smell of freshly cut grass permeated the air while the sun sank behind the trees. It was just cool enough for a light jacket. I found the experience greatly uplifting to my spirit. I felt like I was turning a corner in this pandemic.
I made a brief foray into Michael’s this week. Suddenly nothing in the store tempted me. Michael’s is nearby so I tend to drop in frequently. I wanted to do something normal, after two months, but it was a bit of a letdown. I think these weeks are changing how I see things. It has something to do with the word, essential.
I’ve been browsing articles and watching informational YouTube clips. I’m a bit of an information junkie. I actually email myself links to news and other articles I find interesting. Otherwise they disappear into a dark void and I don’t know if I will find them again. So, I’m a ‘virtual newspaper’ hoarder.
I watched an interesting conversation between Mike Rowe and Dave Rubin on the subject of language and how the current use of the words essential and non-essential might be creating an existential crisis for people who are suddenly hearing their work classified as “non-essential”. This is an unintentional result. But we might want to be thoughtful, moving forward, in our conversations.
Elon Musk just got the go ahead from health authorities to open his business. I don’t advocate carelessness and indifference, but given who Elon Musk is, I don’t think he falls in that category. I actually trust a man of his intelligence to calculate risk and come to a reasonable conclusion.
I still hear people compare the coronavirus to the flu, saying that similar numbers of people die of the flu as die of COVID-19. Well, here is the article I’ve been waiting for that explains the difference.
To demonstrate a more apt comparison of flu and coronavirus deaths, del Rio and Faust looked at numbers from “peak weeks” of seasonal flu outbreaks (not estimated numbers) and a week during the coronavirus outbreak. During the week of April 14 to 21, there were 15,455 COVID-19 deaths in the US, while the average number of counted flu deaths during the peak week of influenza seasons from 2013 to 2020 was 752.
That’s more than a twentyfold difference.
Another subject I have seen under discussion is how much risk we can tolerate. Right from the beginning of this shutdown I have been calculating risks. Risks are low if we keep distance between us and others, particularly when we are in conversation. Risks are lower for us if we wash our hands after touching surfaces that might possibly be contaminated. Installing plexiglass shields at cash register is an excellent idea because these workers come into contact with any number of people who may or may not have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Masks? Unless they are the N95 masks, they will not protect us if we are sneezed on, or coughed on or inadvertently spit on. When people open their mouths to speak, or to eat, little spray droplets can squirt out of their mouths onto others nearby. So, this being the case, they could get into our eyes. A mask will not fully protect us. I’m not trying to make people paranoid. I walked by someone in Canadian Tire whom I didn’t see at the end of an isle. He was talking on his cell phone. His spray droplets could have reached me. I was exposed to risk. The truth is, if we want to have a normal life again, we will be exposed to risk from time to time. We now need to develop risk tolerance, while exercising reasonable precautions. It is reasonable to isolate if we have flu-like symptoms and to get tested if we suspect we have the virus.
As I said, I’ve thought a lot about this, as I’m sure my readers have. My sister had to strictly self-isolate for a month because of her cancer surgery. Five days after she came home family went to see her, practicing precautions. I think this was a good thing.
It’s time to see how close to normal we can come. This is why I somewhat forced myself to do things this week. I will not allow myself to become paranoid.
One afternoon I saw a long strand of some sort of leaf or grass on my balcony. It looked, at first glance, like a snake. For years I’ve been paranoid of snakes. But over time I’ve forced myself to look at them, to watch them when I see them in movies, to become familiar with their movements. Usually I still look away but I left that blade of grass or leaf on my balcony for a couple of days and glanced at it from time to time, thinking, what if it were a snake? How would I feel?
Sometimes I think about disease and death in the same way. I condition myself. I tell myself it has happened to others. I tell myself some people survive, and some don’t. I tell myself that doctors, nurses and paramedics have to expose themselves to known an unknown risk. We are all mortal. Even if I do everything possible to protect myself, there is still the risk that I could die prematurely, of the coronavirus or another disease or accident.
So, I ask myself what kind of life do I want? Do I want a life that is shadowed by fear? Or do I want to live courageously?
We’ve done our part, isolating. Now we need to take the next courageous steps.
Some of us will not be able to go to work for sometime. We can continue to do the things that this unique opportunity affords us the time to do. Below are some of the more common trends I’ve noted.
- Reflecting and re-evaluating priorities.
- Working on personal character building.
- Putting new effort into relationships.
- Learning skills and attempting new things.
- Being more intentional about caring and responding to the needs of others.
I’d love it if you would add to this list in the comments below. One thing I want to encourage is for people to think about uplifting artists and other creatives. We know that writers, for instance, put a lot of effort into their work with little or no compensation. Consider clicking “likes” and even posting actual “comments” on blogs you read. If I feel a slight response in my heart to something I’ve read, I take a few moments to consider whether I can say a few words and make a connection with the author. This sometimes makes me feel vulnerable, but I tell myself that’s OK. My generation is not as adept at cheering others on as the younger generation, I’ve noticed. In fact, I was surprised to learn in an assessment that I tend to give few words of affirmation. Changing this is hard work, but it’s very rewarding.
One last thing, if you are reading articles on Reader in WordPress, make the effort to click Visit Site. That way the author will know an actual person stopped by to read their writing when they check their stats!
So, going forward, let’s continue to be cautious, but let’s be courageous too!
This is the sweater my husband finished knitting during the last two months while he has been off work. It’s made of sheep’s wool and alpaca yarn. He is hopeful that he will soon be called back to work but in the meantime we will spend tomorrow producing another Music with Mr. Sheldon video for children.