Now What? Lose Our Minds to COVID-19?

What is this week 3 or 4 of the lockdown in Decatur? I have no idea. Whatever week it is it’s giving me a headache. I sense the same frustration from others, especially those most at risk.

I work with a woman in her 70s and I can tell she’s on edge and it’s no wonder why. Our hospital department is right next to the designated COVID department. She could retire if she wanted to but continues to work. Actually, I work with several people who are eligible for retirement but are still faithfully showing up.

Today I was in Kroger’s and while waiting in the checkout line I saw an elderly woman in the line before me shaking while clinging to her cart. Her eyes darted around the few feet around her, probably hoping she didn’t hear a cough.

She reminded me of a great-aunt who suffered from a severe form of essential tremor. Her voice, head, and hands were affected. The woman looked like she was suffering from the same neurological disorder. I also have essential tremor so I saw a bit of my future self in her.

Another woman probably in her 60s but with apparent health issues hadn’t been to a store since the lockdown began. She was nearly out of breath, frozen in fear. I let her go before me in the line as she apologized for not being up on the current 6 foot rule. I couldn’t understand everything she was saying because she was practically hyperventilating. I tried to reassure her that the situation was under control but is it?

The hardest part of the coronavirus for many of us is going to be the mental aspect of it. Clearly we’re doing a lousy job at calming people’s fears, especially those who are facing the biggest risks.

Many stores have hours set aside for senior citizens and those with health issues but the hours are very early in the morning and at inconvenient times. I wouldn’t want to get up at 6 in the morning to go grocery shopping.

Most senior citizens wouldn’t be comfortable ordering their food online either, assuming they even have a computer or smartphone. I was reminded of this fact when trying to explain to my dad who is 76 how to search for something on Facebook. What’s second nature to many of us is completely foreign to others.

Since social distancing is the new normal for the foreseeable future and business has to continue we’re going to have to figure out safe and practical ways of limiting potential exposure to the virus while resuming life.

Require that everyone wear a mask inside stores? I think that’s reasonable. Limiting the number of people in a store at any given time? Also reasonable. Limiting what people can purchase in a store? Eh, that’s where I draw the line. What isn’t essential to one person might be absolutely essential to another.

For instance, my brother manages the lawn and garden department at a local Walmart but is being forced to shut it down because it’s not considered essential. To me, planting flowers in the spring is essential for my peace of mind. It would be a sad defeating reminder to look at my yard this summer and see nothing but weeds. Nevermind that’s how my flower gardens end up looking every year in spite of my efforts…but anyway they still bring me many weeks of joy.

Buying a new video game, art supplies, or a new outfit may be essential for somebody’s happiness. It’s definitely essential to the survival of many businesses.

We don’t want to degrade our lives to the point that there’s no joy left in them. Yes, COVID-19 is going to take some lives but it doesn’t have to take everyone’s sanity and the entire economy with it.

So that’s where we are at…trying to figure out how to go about everyday living without getting sick. I think it can be done. There’s no perfect answer but there are better and worse ones.

I’m not sure if we’ll be able to go to a baseball game, a concert, a county fair or even church this year but thankfully we live in an age in which most of us are very used to connecting online. Unfortunately that may leave out the elderly and poorer communities– the people who are already suffering the most.

There’s a lot we have to figure out so if you have good ideas don’t keep them to yourself.

For me, I think I’ll feel a whole lot better once the weather improves. This winter is going on month seven and I’m sick of it. Yeesh! I want to get out and ride my cool new bike!! Plus, I need to work off all this comfort food I’ve been eating. I’ve already gained five pounds.

Well, hang in there everyone and be good to each other.

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