Questions in a pandemic

We are socially distanced. Everyone I know, even the skeptics, are staying home and being extremely careful. My friends are homeschooling, knitting, baking, reading, wrangling kids, online grocery shopping, Netflix binging, and trying to get through the weeks. Who knew that there were actually 3,570 hours in a day?

I miss my friends and family. I miss being able to hop in the car and go to the library and to the bookstore. I already miss date night. I feel silly, because it hasn’t been that long since the COVID panic reached serious levels. But my life shifted into weird mode on December 2, when Hazel was diagnosed.

Strangely, I have been more patient and happier at home with my children. There’s something nice about all of us being home together. I see them more. We talk often. The days have developed a predictable and pleasant routine.

Sure, they fight. They talk and touch me constantly. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by all the contact. I need quiet, and it’s hard to find that when we’re all together, all day.

This is our time to reset perhaps. Be quiet and still and reconnect.

Being isolated at home is odd. Here, everything seems fairly normal. It’s like summer, without the ability to visit the pool and the library. But it’s surreal too, because out there, the world is grinding to a slow, screeching halt. As our legislators and scientists try to discover the best path forward, we watch Netflix and do jigsaw puzzles.

I struggle with questions. In veterinary medicine, we are trained in virology, immunology, and public health. Many of my veterinarian friends are in the public health sector. They help inform public policy in cases like this.

We are all isolated now, but the virus won’t, in all likelihood, just go away. So what do we do? COVID19 has shown to be very, very contagious. And it’s contagious even when there are no symptoms. Eventually, we will all need to be exposed to this so that we can develop immunity. Some estimates say that millions will die if we don’t try to mitigate COVID19.

No one knows what immunity will look like. Will it be durable, or it will it quickly wane? A vaccine is obviously critical at this juncture, but proper safety and efficacy testing will takes months to 1.5 years.

Our economy will be destroyed in that period of time, so obviously, isolating for 12-18 months is not likely the best idea.

So, what is the best plan? Keeping the most vulnerable isolated/quarantined and slowly allowing others to trickle back into public, become infected, and develop immunity or be severely ill but have a functioning medical system to fall back onto?

Like most Americans right now, I am wracked with anxiety. I need to understand every nuance of this pandemic. Every day, I read the point/counterpoints. I follow the Bing COVID map. It’s like I’m studying for some gigantic COVID19 test. And, as with some many things, it’s about needing to feel that I have some control. And truthfully, I don’t. None of us do.

I can’t control medical supplies. I can’t ensure that my daughter doesn’t catch COVID19 when she goes to chemotherapy on Thursday. I can’t be certain that there won’t be chemotherapy shortages and lack of appropriate equipment.

My goal now is to stop obsessively reading the news, watching the map, and trying to know the “right” answer. No one knows. Instead, I’ll be here, doing my jigsaw puzzle, focusing on the extra time with my lovely daughters, and hoping for the best.

Godspeed, policy makers. I don’t envy your position for a second.

Published by Catherine Ashe

I am a mother to four children, one gone before me. I write to release the pain.

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