As our world faces a pandemic, we realize that these eerie days have not been seen in our lifetime. During this stressful and uncertain time, I can’t help but to be a wallflower on occasion. Initially, I watched as many people denied the unfolding events. First, I heard from a majority of people, “only old people or those with underlying conditions are dying. I’m not worried!” People were not concerned as this virus did not affect them personally. Then, others jumped in and said, “hey, these old people are my loved ones!” Others stood up and said, “I am immunocompromised.” As days slowly passed by, more and more people started to realize that this was not a conspiracy or hype and others were being shamed for their selfish and inconsiderate opinions. People have slowly come to terms that this is a serious matter, whether they take it calm and lightly or are anxiously buried in the stress of it all.
The beautiful part of this scary mess is that, oftentimes during a disaster, people do come together. In this case, distantly or even virtually. The stages of grief apply to a pandemic. People are initially shocked and in denial. Then, people become angry; whether it is over the empty shelves, the media, or the behavior of others… people get angry. Next, we begin to realize the inevitable and reality of the situation and bargaining takes place. Depression may follow for many as they lose their income and their daily routines fall apart. Acceptance, the most important for a clear mind, is when we finally prepare and consider others.
For the first time, I am seeing the world in my shoes. Not just my shoes, but the shoes of those with invisible illnesses, chronic illness, compromised immune systems, and underlying conditions. People are taking measures to protect themselves and others from possible risks and exposure. Every day for people with underlying conditions, we fear the unknown. People recklessly come to class sick, bring their ill child to a hair appointment with me, or stop by for a visit with sniffles and a cough. The thought is ALWAYS in the back of my mind that their ignorance could harm me.
Last year in May I had pneumonia. I was very sick and my primary-care doctor ￼prescribed the wrong antibiotics. After a week, I didn’t get better and with my heart conditions I decided to go to the ER for a chest xray and possibly more meds. I knew something was very wrong and I could not breathe well. Before I even sat down on the bed, the doctor already walked in and glanced over quickly, smirking and announcing to the nurses and techs in the room that he suspected I had whatever was going around. He quickly writes a script for antibiotics and steroids and sends me out the door. I never even sat down in the room, nor did I have any tests. Okay, I thought, maybe this will help; he knows best. Days went by and meds didn’t kick in like I hoped. My breathing was not improving. I wondered if going to another ER would make me look crazy. I kept seeing the ER doctor’s smirk and imaged he would roll his eyes and send me out with a suggestion of chicken noodle soup. Again with my cardiac history, I went with my gut and drove to an urgent care facility. The doctor initially seemed hesitant but after understanding that he was the third doctor I’ve seen, he kindly ordered a chest xray for my peace of mind. He walks in with a large shot, and tells me that I have pneumonia. If things didn’t improve after this hefty dose then I would need to be admitted. Fortunately I did improve. I share this incident as a glimpse into the reality of how our healthcare system can be at times.
I can only hope that when this passes, people will be more compassionate and cautious about risking the lives of others. I can hope that people will stay home when they are sick and consider the risks that they are taking that involve another’s life. I can hope that our government will now consider that sick paid leave is important, as well as universal healthcare. I can only hope that one day the rich and the poor can be equally able to fight for their lives in the same hospital. I can only hope.
After every storm, the rain eventually stops pouring and the sun slowly comes out to shine. It is then when we take a deep breath and exhale the weight of the world. When we fall, we shouldn’t just get back up but we should learn what caused us to fall in the first place. We should learn how to be stronger, more experienced, and wiser, all while helping our community. Disasters, failures, mistakes, trauma, and unhinging should all evoke growth. As this historical time is abruptly shattered, let us write the future in a way that can change the world, and put the pieces back together stronger than before. Let this be the moment that shifts us toward an improved direction.
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, viruses are named separately from the disease that the virus causes (think HIV and AIDS).
- NIH, or National Institutes of Health, announced March 17th, 2020 that SARS-CoV-2 is stable on surfaces for hours.
- According to the CDC, the Spanish Flu pandemic infected 1/3rd of the world’s population (500 million people), causing 50 million deaths in 1918-1919. Approximately 1 million people worldwide died in 1957 from H2N2 and in 1968 from H3N2. The 2009 swine flu (H1N1) caused 12,469 US deaths and 575,400 worldwide. Source: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/worst-pandemics-in-history
- You can view updated stats of COVID19 here.