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 29, 2020

My upside down world

Birthday flowers and "Serendipity"
It's only four months since that picture was taken on my birthday last December, but it seems like years ago. SG brought that Chinese wall hanging in China long ago, and I've enjoyed looking at that character over the years, and I wondered for a long time what the meaning of it is. At first, I thought it meant "Destiny," but just now I found it online again, and its meaning is more like "serendipity" or "fate," or "let it be."

This has been a very tough period in the entire world, with Covid-19 turning everything upside down. I was not meant to be isolated, but that's what I am now, with both of us deciding it's time to self isolate. He has developed signs of having the virus, but I am still without symptoms. It's impossible to find a test in our part of the country, unless you have been exposed to someone who definitely has the virus. And what difference would it make anyway? There is no treatment, and his symptoms are mild. No trouble breathing, no chest tightness, which would be very scary to develop. But we are here together, holding each other up during this time. At least 80% of those who contract the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms, and some of us are completely asymptomatic but are still able to spread it to others. And the two of us will hopefully recover, not having any known underlying conditions to complicate matters.

There is no way for me to know where I fit into that dynamic. Since I am confined to my home with only my partner anyway, my strongest desire is not to infect anybody else, if indeed I am contagious. So, other than a walk outside every now and then, I am stuck inside the apartment. I am wondering whether it's safe to work in our community garden, not that I have much desire to do so right now. In fact, it's difficult for me to get excited about much of anything. Who knew that without my social workout connections I would turn out to be such a slug?

I watched a couple of workout videos and they helped some, reminding me that I have all the equipment necessary to keep myself fit. All I need now is the motivation to close the laptop, get out of my easy chair, and get moving. I know that when I take a short walk I feel much better and more grounded. But oh, how I miss my friends and my fellow seniors. Every activity I have developed over the years is knocked away from me as I try to find my way through this time. I am not alone, that's for sure: there are very few people who are not impacted by this virus. In my county as of today, six people have died, and 102 people tested positive.

Well, there you have the downside of my upside-down world. Now it's time to look at the upside. I'm sure there are some; I just have to search for them. One notable upside is finding new writers, such as David von Drehle at the Washington Post. Yesterday he wrote a column about what this unpleasant infection has taught him. He contracted what he describes as a "mild to moderate" case, and today he ponders what he's learning from it.
Health is not a purely individual concern. My helplessness in recovery can be precisely what the community needs: I am surviving the virus but not spreading it. Some of us are chosen to suffer, some to console; some to isolate, others to plunge into the fray; some to give, some to receive; some to be broken, others to be healers. We are still at the beginning of this terrible teaching. We need to respect it and give it the fullness of time. 
Another upside is realizing how fortunate I am to have the resources I need to stay safe and relatively healthy through this period. There are so many out there who do not have a roof over their heads, an income like I do (Social Security has never been so appreciated), or health care of any sort. I know that if I have to go to the hospital, they will not turn me away because I have Medicare and paid into it my entire working life. I have dear friends who will do my grocery shopping for me if I cannot do it for myself. I never knew before how good a hug can feel when I'm not allowed to touch anybody, or get within six feet.

And that reminds me of the one person whom I can hug, cuddle, and receive assurances from: my dear partner, the one who is lying next to me in bed as I write this, who wakes from his sleep to cough, and then turns over and tries to rest. I think he is better; his coughs are not as frequent, and he and I will both get up and start our day. We have been together in close quarters much more than we usually are, because I am not going out, and this has caused us both to work to find ways to accommodate one another's daily habits. It's working pretty well, actually, and I am reminded that the best upside of this entire situation is getting to spend more time together, with very little friction.

I would not be writing this post if I didn't feel an obligation to you, my dear readers, to share with you what I am going through, and to help each other through this time. It's another one of those obligations that I made for myself and am not willing to give up any time soon. We have a very special family, one made of virtual connections that are as important right now as any other. And since I have never been in physical connection with most of you, I don't have to worry about sharing this awful virus with you. Only the benign virus of love, the one we must continue to share with each other, that's the one I am more than happy to spread around.

I hope you will find some joy and peace in your world today, dear friends. I will be going for a short walk in the rain, and maybe humming an uplifting tune, who knows? Until we meet here again next week, please stay safe and as healthy as possible. It's what I wish for all of us.


56steps said...

Take care of yourself and your partner. I hope that your partner's symptoms do not get worse and you both are able to return to your healthy selves.


Linda Reeder said...

Well, Jan, it seems the virus has come way to close to you. That bug does not respect social distancing. My first reaction to this news was fear for you and your partner. I'm sure that is part of your emotional state too, but you seem to be working to get that under control. Peace of mind is hard to come by when your days are so restricted now.
It has been said that social distancing will be easy for introverts, and that is somewhat true. My lifestyle hasn't changed that much, but I do dislike the lack of freedom of choice we now have to give up.
Today is our 51st anniversary. I will be posting about that, probably tonight or tomorrow. No big plans this time around. I'm grateful we had our opportunity to plan and experience our big ongoing pageant last year. This year it would never have been a possibility.
We are well and content enough.
Stay strong, find peace, beat this thing. You will be on my mind and in my heart.

Mona McGinnis said...

My kindest regards for the well-being of yourself and your partner. Thank you for sharing. My goal is to look back on this crisis and be proud of how I behaved. You can be proud of how you behaved.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Always good to read what is on your mind. I am so sorry that Smart Guy is ill, if he gets worse please call your Doctor...I know you will. My thoughts are with you both. They say to let the fever run its course....cause it kills the virus.

We have to each do the best we can everyday to keep each other positive and strong! I know I have down times too...but still am thankful for each day.

I have a hard time seeing you as a slug...you are anything but! :)

Tabor said...

You as well. Do you have any idea how the virus came to visit you? We all are being so careful, but we have to shop, get mail, etc. Hubby is outside most hours with the blessing of spring. Are we not lucky that this is not the month of November?

Marie Smith said...

I hope SG feels better every day and that you avoid the virus completely.

It is good you have found a way to navigate this isolation so well together. Not every couple is so fortunate. Take care.

Friko said...

Thank you for your good wishes. As we can do nothing else we might as well stay in touch with each other and spread our thoughts and goodwill messages. I hope both you and SG will suffer only mild symptoms and you will soon both be fully recovered again. Sadly, that does’t mean that you can go and about again, but perhaps you could do some volunteering when you are no longer infectious?

I am quite happy reading, writing, gardening, listening to LOUD music (I have no neighbours), going for solitary walks, with TV/DVDs, watching old movies of the lighter kind. I find it doable for now. Who knows what will happen later.

John's Island said...

As you will know, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for blogging over the last few months and especially the last 2 months since COVID-19 took off in the USA ... just about 9 miles away in Kirkland. There are a handful of blogs I keep visiting because I find them to be truly interesting in one way or another. One of those blogs is Eye on the Edge. Without fail, every Sunday, Eye improves my outlook on this whole thing known as being a "senior". Every Sunday you write something that I can relate to and often you give me a new way to look at getting older. I just want to say thank you very much for that! Today, I'm sorry to hear about SG's illness but it is good to hear that his symptoms are mild so far. I pray that he will recover soon and that you will stay healthy. God bless you DJan!

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so sorry that SM is feeling some symptoms. I really hope he is safely in the 80 percent and is soon symptom free. Perhaps when he is better he can be tested to see if he has the immune antibodies. That would make it all worth it. You also may be one of those who just doesn't show any symptoms but will have an immunity. There are so many ways this thing can go, we just have to stay vigilant and isolate as much as possible.
Sending you a virtual hug. I know, I miss them too.

gigi-hawaii said...

You and your husband and coping very well. Hope he continues to recover from his cough.

Elephant's Child said...

Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring are flowing your way. As they do to all my friends in the blogosphere.
I do hope that Smart Guy recovers quickly and that you don't catch this dreadful disease.
Stay well, stay safe.

The Furry Gnome said...

You stay safe too!

Red said...

Shocking that you end up with the virus. It puts things a little closer to home. Keep well and stay safe.

Trish MacGregor said...

Stay well, DJan!

Love the post.

Rian said...

Oh, DJan, I can’t imagine what you must be feeling... such a scary possibility. Hopefully it is just a cough... and not Covid-19. But you are right that if it is, most people do get through it. The way I understand it, they don’t want you at the hospitals unless you’re having trouble breathing... and I’m not sure you want to be there anyway. Stay home and take care of each other. You will both be in my thoughts and prayers. Virtual hug!

Galen Pearl said...

No kidding about the whiplash changes in our lives. March started out with certain things I was looking forward to. Now that's not happening. It's okay. Like you, I'm better off than many and grateful for my blessings. Staying connected through phone and email. My daughter and her kids are staying with me while they are in between houses, so now they are here ALL the time -- a blessing and a challenge! I wonder what life will be like next month!

Rita said...

So sorry SG is sick. I pray it passes without him getting any worse.
I miss hugs, too. All of McFamily gives the best hugs.
Stay safe! BTW, you're allowed to feel like a slug for a while. It's a natural reaction and you know it will pass. You could never remain a slug--LOL! ;)
Best to you both!!

Anvilcloud said...

Ah, I see the boomer guy (you know it's a guy) has reached you. I guess he has time on his hands.

I hope you and your guy weather the storm, if that's what the condition is. Just when I was thinking of going to the grocery store, you information give me pause. And the virus is getting closer. There have been 9 deaths in a seniors home in the next town to us, just 10 minutes away.

Marie Smith said...

Jan, hope all is well with you two today. I’ve been thinking of you since I read your post yesterday!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for sharing so honestly. For myself, I mostly have been homebound since October 2016, so I'm not having to do much adjustment. But oh, how I fear for the homeless and the refugees around the world in their cramped tents and shelters--as on the Greek isle of Lesbos (saw this on PBS Newshour last night). I am going to be 84 tomorrow and have COPD as well as asthma and a somewhat compromised immune system. My one fear is that--if the corona virus does enter my body and I have to be hospitalized, the nurses--those who are the heroes in all this--will have no time to put in my glaucoma drops (3 a day in each eye) or my retina inflammation drops (2 a day in the right eye). Then, rather quickly, I would go blind because my optic nerves are so badly damaged. That's what I fear, going blind. So I'm trying to stop thinking about that and to simply do what others say, "Go with the flow!" Peace.