Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 virus a pandemic, I was silent. I did not know how to process this information. A few of my close friends described this as a real-life “Contagion.” I am not a medical expert, but what I do know is that the worst here in Canada is yet to come. I also know that it will be a very long time until things are back to “normal” again. Like many of us, I entered a state of shock.
The hardest thing for me to process was watching my husband’s demeanor change over a course of a few days. My husband is a respirologist and like his colleagues, has been monitoring the situation quite closely. When I asked him what this all meant, he looked at me and said that life will be different for a very long time. The events happening throughout China and Italy paint a grim picture of what could happen if we don’t act fast to “flatten the curve.” Within a week the number of positive cases in Canada have jumped to just over 1000.
Not only are there an array of health issues and questions surrounding the management of the virus itself, but it touches upon so many other facets of life: the economy, the workforce, the way government works, education and overall, our lifestyle. Schools across the country and around the world have closed down. Employers are asking their employees to work from home if at all possible. Places of worship have asked their membership to pray/reflect at home; restaurants and bars have closed down, although some are remaining open for take out or curb-side pick-up just to keep afloat. People are asked to self-isolate and keep their distance until medical professionals and governments can come up with a solution. Life as we know it has stopped for a while so we can self-isolate in hopes of containing the virus and give the medical system some more time.
Probably the hardest thing society will face is not just the virus itself, but the financial implications that come with it. In addition to that, I fear a mental health crisis is to follow.
Humans are social beings and I know from experience that being on lock down is difficult. I’ve had some experience on being on some sort of lock down: my oldest son was born prematurely and the first winter home we could not leave the house (except for medical appointments) as his immunity was compromised. I remember screening all visitors for colds because a common cold could harm his premature lungs. He obtained an antibody shot called Synagis every month during cold and flu season to protect him against RSV. As parents, our goal was to keep him safe.
When I was pregnant with my youngest child, I experienced a form of isolation again. I was considered high risk due to my history of preterm labour. This meant extra medical appointments and physical restrictions. I was placed on strict bed-rest for 2 months following a one-week hospital stay for short cervix. I remember how difficult those times were- not being able to go out, not being able to go to work, to pick up my toddler son, I couldn’t do anything….it was hard, but I had one goal in mind: to keep my pregnancy safe and deliver to my baby to full-term.
You see, there is a common theme here with this isolation- being safe. In this present moment, our duty is to keep our loved ones safe; to protect our grandparents, our parents and our children. It’s our duty to stay home and to protect the elderly and the vulnerable. Our governments are asking us to do this and our medical professionals implore us to do it. I don’t have a crystal ball, nor will I speculate on what is to come, but I do have hope that we can get through this. It won’t be easy, but we have to stay positive.
It is clear, the effects of this pandemic will last years to come. I’m sure our children and our children’s children will be learning about it in their history classes. But as history has shown us, humans are resilient, time and time again. We will grow strong and learn from this experience. I am sure the best and the brightest are working on different treatments and solutions to bring this pandemic to an end, because there is hope.
We all have a role to play in this, by self-isolating, by helping the elderly, by being connected with our loved ones virtually, by staying home when you are sick and by washing our hands. In the meantime, lets show our gratitude to all of those on the front lines: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, hospital staff, custodians, grocery store workers, delivery drivers and so on. Together we can overcome this virus. Together we are stronger, for our future depends on it.