I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Flattening the curve

Inside a paranoid fridge
I found this image on the internet, looking for something I could use to illustrate the panic I see all around me over the novel coronavirus, which many of us knew little to nothing about just a month ago. How things have changed! But this is not funny, not at all. However, it also does little good to groan and moan about it, to forget that we are all in this together. We need to help each other. A little humor goes a long way.

One of the things I have been very aware of is how different some people treat the same situation: some panic, others deny anything is changing, and others simply retreat to the safety of their own homes and think maybe we can just wait it out. The one thing we as individuals can do is help to flatten the curve. This Washington Post article simulates the different outcomes with different responses to social distancing and isolation. It shows the difference in four different scenarios, and the best outcome is if most of us practice what the article calls "extensive social distancing." That means that everybody is quarantined except for one out of every eight people who are allowed to move about freely.

What is happening in my town right now is that many people are still carrying on their usual activities. That is set to change as the days go by. I went to the Y for my usual workout on Friday, only to find that all the classes have been canceled for an indeterminate period of time, but the facility itself is still open. Well, I thought, I can still get on the exercise bike, and I found that every other station is blocked from use. The social distancing is enforced, not to mention that there were very few people there at all. Stations of Purell hand sanitizer are everywhere, which is great, and the machines are wiped down after every use.

Then I drove to Fairhaven to attend my usual Friday yoga class. We found that as of Monday, tomorrow, the studio will close for the foreseeable future. There were only half the usual number of people in the class and we were asked to thoroughly wash our hands before and after class, as well as sanitize our yoga mats and other equipment. I've learned that the virus does not live for very long on cloth and other soft surfaces, but hard surfaces is another story. The spread of this virus is inevitable, but taking as many precautions as possible is not only recommended, it's the best thing you can do for yourself and your neighbors.

Friday afternoon I went out for a beer and an early dinner with Lily, since I hadn't seen her for a week. She's particularly concerned because she works in a place that manufactures fish into different products, and at the first sign of someone becoming sick, it's possible that the entire place will close down. We went to a local brewery that she likes, and we enjoyed our beer and food at the bar. Very few people were around, and our server said that Friday is usually their biggest crowd, but there were only a half dozen people or so at 4:00pm. We didn't have to work at social distancing, but it was more than a little scary. Lily and I shared a hug, which I suspect might be the last one for awhile, as I've decided to try not to touch anyone except my beloved partner. I'm still not sure what will come of my massages and acupuncture treatments. Each is scheduled for the end of the month, and the way things are moving, I'll bet they will not happen either.

Yesterday morning I went to the coffee shop as usual and had my coffee with John, but afterwards we decided that we will stop meeting there in the mornings. I then met the ladies (and one man) for our usual Saturday morning walk. It was very cold and windy, and not many of us showed up (maybe ten in total). Although I was bundled up from the tip of my head to my toes, I was very cold for the first part of the walk. Instead of walking down to the bay, where the wind would be horrendous, we walked to a couple of local parks and then headed back. Even as cold as I was in the beginning, I was warm and toasty by the end. Some ladies were going to have coffee together, but I decided to skip it.

This means that every part of my social life has now come to a decision point: what is not already closed will soon be, and meeting my friends for coffee has become dangerous. But this is all necessary in order to flatten the curve, and although I don't think I can avoid the virus, I hope it won't happen until I can at least get tested for it and hope I can stay out of the hospital. Although I am relatively healthy, I am also old and realize that almost everything I like to do can be done from home, and I can self-isolate. I've got all the yoga props and hand weights, so I'll do what I can to keep up my fitness until...

I am scared, not just for myself but for all those around me. We must work hard to become part of the solution, not part of the problem. That means being kind to one another and doing what we can to keep from spreading the virus. I have been in denial as to how bad it is going to get, but this morning I saw on TV the horrible crowds and long lines at airports, as people are just wanting to get home to safety. Fortunately I have a warm and safe place to live (not everybody does), and I have the resources to buy food and pay my rent for the foreseeable future.
I think the world should unite and focus on strong health systems to prepare the whole world to prevent epidemics—or if there is an outbreak, to manage it quickly—because viruses don't respect borders, and they don't need visas.—Tedros Adhanom
This is an unprecedented time in the history of the world, and once we get through it (and we will, eventually, most of us anyway) things will be different. Our world is not only feeling much smaller, but the opportunity to reach out to help one another will be present every day. I don't have to rush to get my post done this morning, since I've got nowhere to go, nobody to see. I will get in my car and go search for a place to get coffee, probably at a drive-up stand, because, well, I'm addicted to caffeine.

My partner still sleeps next to me, and I have never felt so fortunate to have such a delightful person to share this time with, someone who takes care of me and makes me laugh. And even if I become totally housebound, I've still got you, my dear readers, to share my life with. I truly hope you will stay safe and virus free. Or, if not that, at least that you will recover quickly. Until we meet again next week, be well, dear friends.


Rian said...

I agree with everything you said, DJan. DH and I made our last run Saturday morning at 8am for a few things to hold us while we self isolate. We went to 3 groceries... most shelves were pretty empty. No lysol/clorox disinfectant wipes,no purell, hand sanitizer, nor potty paper anywhere. But we did get some water, soups, etc. We have about a 2 weeks supply before we might have to go out again. We don't have gloves or masks... hopefully won't need them.

We're retired and except for DH having to go for his radiation daily, we will stay home. Our grandson lives with us and does go off to work. But he is young, aware, and hopefully careful.
So, yes, we are in strange times. But all we can do is be cautious, follow the guidelines set out by the CDC, and hope and pray for the best. I too feel it will get worse before it gets better, but also that if we are careful, we can flatten the curve.

Anvilcloud said...

You seem to be handling this sensibly as we all try to figure out what to do or not to do.

ApacheDug said...

It took me a moment to get what's going on in that fridge (what's wrong with me) but I appreciated the light-hearted moment. I very much related to what you wrote here, I just keep telling myself "as with all things..." well, you know the rest. As always, a great piece here Djan.

Linda Reeder said...

We seem to reassess daily here, as the seriousness of this situation settles in. We don't go out on a daily basis anyway, but now we really need to think and plan if we do leave home. It takes a lot of thinking and effort to keep hands germ free. We have latex gloves and sanitary wipes, which we just happened to have before this all hit, but then when do you take the gloves off? Did you remember to clean the car steering wheel? and on and on. It can make one paranoid, and I am no fan of paranoia. At least going for a walk in an uncrowded neighborhood is still safe, once I can get my back calmed down to where I can walk again. It's going to be a long siege and I'm not going to like it, but I will be doing my part to flatten the curve.
Jill tells me that granddaughter Irene is afraid to go anywhere. She is afraid she will be a carrier. I'm sure she is worried about all of us old people in her life. I'm not even sure if I should see her in person, or just talk to her on the phone and with Internet. That's another thing to figure out.
Yesterday some of us friends and family had fun communicating back and forth on Facebook. It was almost like being together. I hope to continue that connection. And this one too. My blog family is important to me and it is good to know that we can connect while keeping our "social distance".

William Kendall said...

From my point of view part of the problem is people are panicking, instead of using a level head and approaching the problem with sensible caution.

Elephant's Child said...

Love that fridge.
There is a lot of panic here. And empty shelves in supermarkets. I fear that a lot of people will go hungry and others will not have the soap/sanitisers/tp/tissues they need while others sit on huge stockpiles.
How I wish that sensibility prevailed.
Stay well dear friend.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You and John should meet at a park and stay 6 feet away from each other...it is good to have friends to talk with! My brother and I sit out on the patio six feet apart and visit. He doesn't come in the house.
I sat outside by myself a bit today...it is cold out there!
My husband is very discouraged...I told him to stop reading stuff. Some people are all doom and gloom.
I say do one day at a time...if enough people distance themselves in a month or so this will be over...I hope.
We are used to being isolated to a certain degree so this is not a big change for us.
Keep smiling! :)

Bonnie said...

Thank you for being there and for being another sensible voice to hear. These are certainly strange times for all of us. We've stocked up on groceries and plan on staying home as much as possible. The social isolation is hard on everyone and that is where our blogs can help. It is wonderful to know that I have many friends I can reach each day here on my computer. I am thankful for all my blog friends.

Arkansas Patti said...

How did you get a camera in my fridge?:))
Seriously, you stated most of my thoughts. We have to follow the rules not just for ourselves but for others.
I Googled the Spanish Flu to see how long it lasted. The high death count (which claimed my mother's sister) took place over a 3 month period but it wasn't totally over for 3 years. That was largely due to the troop movements. I think we are better prepared and more advanced medically than they were in 1918.
We who blog are luckier than a lot of others. We can reach out and connect almost daily to so many with no fear of contagion. That connection will be important in the coming days. I am grateful for that and the Internet which will also keep me close to family members. We will get through this.

Gigi said...

We have also been trying to stay in - the one thing I have not been able to get my hands on is hand sanitizer. I'm concerned that the younger people don't seem to think this is a big deal - they fail to understand that they can infect someone who is vulnerable. My company is doing the unthinkable - considering having us work from home, if we can. That alone tells me how serious this is and that we all need to take it seriously.

Have a great, if more isolated, week.

Friko said...

I really don’t understand that you have to go out for coffee.Not just because of CV but at any time. Do you never make it at home?
I am not being funny, I am seriously asking.

It looks like you have been on many social visits during the weekend, people who still do that here soon find that others give them a wide berth. CV is totally monopolising all news reports and the internet editions of all media outlets. It’s a horrible thought that this might go on for many months, maybe for the rest of the year. I too am old and I have an underlying lung condition which could well cause problems, so I have already cancelled many appointments. It’s going to be awful before it gets better.
Good luck to all of us.
You are right, at least we can all talk to each other digitally, some contact at least.

Galen Pearl said...

Yep, everything is shutting down here too. I'm not as social as you are, but still I notice the change in my usual activities. And now with my grandchildren's school and daycare closing, I will be helping out with them a lot over the next few weeks so that my daughter can do the work she needs to do.

You also highlight an issue for us to be mindful of. You have a wonderful partner to share this time with, but not everyone does. I have a friend who, like you, is very social, but unlike you, lives alone. He is also in a high risk category so he needs to take the recommended precautions. He is really struggling with the prospect of a prolonged period of isolation. I called him today for a chat and will try to call him more often to at least give him some social contact. Just something to think about.

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm not scared, but we certainly are self-isolating!

gigi-hawaii said...

I like your philosophy of life. Take care and God bless.

Red said...

I think we'll all find it hard to stay home. we will have to go out for some things such as groceries. It's hard to give up the social things we enjoy. My niece did not get to church this morning. However, I think that even corona light would not be fun to have. Even seniors like yourself who is in excellent health are more prone to the virus. Keep well!

Rita said...

We've cancelled Gramma Days and Leah's weekly visits. Leah's staying home and not going to her usual exercise class or shopping (we're stocked up for a good month and didn't even have to buy much or get toilet paper--LOL!). Ian's staying home from preschool. Dagan can work from home some of the time. We decided on self-isolating. Pretty easy for me. I am used to being here just Annie and me. :) I live in a senior building so I make sure I wash my hands after I go check my mail or make a trip to the dumpster. You're right. You don't want to get it and you don't want to infect anyone else. I have a non-essential dr visit end of the month that I will probably cancel and reschedule later on. Better safe than sorry. Want to help flatten that curve!!

Oh, and I also want to know why you have to go out for coffee and why you can't make it at home?
Stay safe, my friend.

Marie Smith said...

Here’s hoping all of us can stay safe from the virus or have a mild version of it.

Trish MacGregor said...

Stay safe, DJan!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, like you, I want to be part of the solution. Mostly, I'm always homebound, but I hope to do my part by staying positive in my postings and blog comments. Right now, as I read about the 1918 pandemic of influenza, I truly appreciate what life must have been like for all those who lived through those many months. So many deaths, nearly all families in the US affected by the outbreak. I remember walking when I lived for a year in New Hampshire and taught at a local school. I lived near the Vermont border and walked often to a nearby cemetery that had headstones in it from the late 1700s. Several headstones in a grouping were for an entire family--mom, dad, and three children--who died of influenza in 1918. It was sobering. Hopefully, given our modern medicines and our response now, the number of deaths will be low compared to then. Peace.

Glenda Beall said...

I am more of a proactive person, so I have been ahead of all the warnings and rules given by the government. I would not wait for a gym to close, I cancelled my physical therapy treatments until next month. I might have to cancel them again. Tonight I heard that we have someone diagnosed with this virus in the town next to mine. This person exposed many people as she attended a dance where older people as well as young participated. Now the whole town is worried about who might have been exposed and were they near someone who was at that dance.
I am self-isolating and find it is not so bad even though I really enjoy people. I have been on the telephone and emailing much of today. It makes me feel better to be doing something that might help instead of just waiting to see what will happen next. Please stay at home, stay safe and keep your beloved safe as well.

Haddock said...

Yes, this is an unprecedented time in the history of the world, and hope we pull out of it with no more casualty.