Boomer Unchained: Life in the Time of Pandemic
We are in the vulnerable age group – over 65. Many of us have underlying conditions that exacerbate our vulnerability, like high blood pressure and heart disease, asthma and a propensity to get pneumonia, to name a few.
I hazard a guess that most over-65s in southern Delaware are following the health and state directives to stay home as much as possible, and to stay six feet away from people when we go out. We cringe when we see people standing or walking together closely, as if nothing was wrong. It’s spring near the beach and it’s so nice to be out.
I’ve walked with four friends to get some exercise. We definitely work hard to stay six feet apart. I take my Jack Russell Duncan to the dog park to meet his Jack Russell friends, and we owners are careful not to get to close to one another. We don’t want the dog park to be closed like the boardwalk and beach.
This year, it’s Passover and Easter at the same time. My neighbors are ‘zooming’ (a new verb for the cloud program connecting us ‘virtually’ through our computers and smart phones) church services. I’ve zoomed Passover seders. The weird thing about that is a seder is a dinner, as well. We say the prayers and sing some songs, but the camaraderie and joy of the table is missing.
As this ‘sheltering in place’ has been going on for several weeks, I’ve also experienced a book group meet up. Friends of mine have attended several board meetings. I ‘facetimed’ a friend in California to see how she is doing. I’ve got friends who are playing mahjong on zoom. One of my sons has been enjoying happy hours with friends, all the while in the virtual world.
I keep wondering when it’s going to end and what life will be afterwards. Since I worked at Beebe (in marketing) for 12 years, I already knew washing my hands was important. Even in marketing, we had to regularly wipe down are phones, desktops and computer keyboards. Beebe kept us stocked with wipes and sanitizer. In 12 years, I never caught anything. I am blessed to say I never had the flu, either. There were years when Beebe cared for many flu patients. But since I retired three years ago, the only thing I know about what is going on at the hospital is what I heard at the virtual town halls that CEO David Tam and other Beebe leaders held. I was impressed when I worked there with Beebe’s attention to emergency preparedness, and I am impressed now.
In the future, once art galleries and movie houses are open, once we can attend a concert and walk around a farmers market or an art show, how will we be? Will we make sure we’re not too close to strangers, wear a mask or grimace at someone who coughs in public? Will we avoid shaking hands and hugging? What is going to be the new normal?
I look forward to there being a vaccine, which I definitely will get. I look forward to our scientists finding a treatment, such as antivirals and Tamiflu for Flu. I am thankful this is not the time of the 1918 flu pandemic when people had no idea of what is going on. Our scientists already have sequenced the COVID-19 genome. I heard an interview with an Israeli scientist who said that was accomplished in two weeks? Whatever the case, science has advanced to a point that it will find treatments, and it will develop vaccinations.
The pandemic is new to the majority of us, but it’s not new to mankind. We’ve read about the black plague that wiped out a large majority of the European population. As many know, the plague turned out to be a bacterium carried by fleas. It still exists today, especially in rodents (like squirrels) found in some mountain ranges in the United States. Today, it’s very treatable with antibiotics. And, thanks to science, doctors can identify it in a sick patient.
There is a lot of in the media today with COVID-19 and the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed a large part of the population. Just like in the time of the plague, no one knew what was happening and why so many people were dying. Today, we have vaccinations, and although they are not 100%, they do make a difference. And until this present pandemic, I was among many who thought we were too advanced to have anything like that happen again.
Medical experts say COVID-19 is much more contagious than any flu and I believe them. Patients can get much sicker as it goes deep into the lungs, and I believe that, too. I continue to follow the directives in an effort to avoid getting sick. At the same time, I am thankful for what we as a society do know, that we have the technology to interact with one another, and that this situation will pass.