Living in my Own Story

I am feeling very déjà-vu-ish these days, as if I’m living in the pages of one of my books. (A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the story of a quarantine in Colorado where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. Insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled. And is available on Amazon.

Now that was a real pandemic, my red death. What we’re going through now is . . . I don’t know what it is, but it seems more fictional than my fictional disease. Truly, this panic over a rather tepid pandemic has me mystified. Maybe young folks would have an excuse because they haven’t lived through any of the previous named flus (Russian, Swine, etc.) , but most of them seem to be blasé since they are not being hit hard. But for the rest of us? I really don’t get it.

The Russian Flu killed 1 million from 1889 to 1890

The Spanish Flu killed 40-50 million from 1918-1919 (20% of the world’s population)

The Asian Flu killed 1.1 million from 1957 to 1958

The Hong Kong Flu killed 1 million between 1968-1970

The Swine Flu killed 200,000 between 2009 to 2010

Seasonal Flu (the various flus that hit us every year) kill between 300,000 to 600,000 every year.

The Coronavirus has killed 6,500 from Nov 2019 to March 15. 2020, which means we’re almost halfway through the typical period it takes for one of these named flus to run its course. People keep citing statistics, such as the rapid spread rate, the extreme potency of the organism to prove how important the hype is. And yet it is nowhere near as potent or rapid spreading as all the previous flus no one cared about.

The closest thing to this particular reaction that I have seen was the swine flu of 1976. There was a panic to create a vaccine with the ultimate goal of vaccinating 80% of the citizens of the USA. They reached 25%. And all that panic came from a single death. One death. That’s it. The vaccine caused more deaths than that, along with major problems for a lot of the vaccinated people, including an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Because of that ridiculous mess, and because of being forced to get such a dangerous vaccine or risk losing my job, I will never follow the party line (either party line) when it comes to any sort of flu, epidemic, or pandemic, no matter how wild or how tepid.

Yes, I know. People are dying. For them and those who care about them, it’s a sad and terrible thing, but going by strictly by the numbers, it’s not that big of a thing. And it might never be. I’m not saying taking precautions is wrong, because it isn’t. In fact, most of the precautions, such as washing one’s hands, staying home when sick, and distancing oneself from those who are ill are things we should have all been doing anyway. If we had, there’s a good chance the deaths from seasonal flu would not be nearly as great.

Even if it turns out there are 200,000 to a million deaths from this thing, it’s still pretty much status quo for a virus, whether novel or known.

The main difference between this and previous outbreaks is, as one friend pointed out, an overactive media and an even more overactive social media, both of which seem to revel in riling people because riled people are involved people. (Involved in the story, that is, not necessarily involved in finding solutions to the story.)

I love the internet. I love interacting with people all over the world. But this current reaction has me wanting to hunker down and quarantine myself from all the hype.

Luckily, a friend is coming to stay for a couple of days, so I’ll have other things to think about than living in my own story.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

9 Responses to “Living in my Own Story”

  1. SheilaDeeth Says:

    My Mum has been told she should avoid “coffee mornings” and “tea and cake” with her friends where she lives. Sad. She needs lots of books to read!

  2. Kathy Says:

    Well said, Pat!

  3. Judy Galyon Says:

    Hope you enjoy your friend’s visit & stay healthy!

  4. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    I wish I had your optimism, Pat, but so far all I’ve seen is the number of total COVID-19 cases and related deaths rising exponentially day by day all over the world. There may only have been 6,500 deaths on March 15th, but there were 16,231 by yesterday, and 18,883 today (March 24). It’s risky not to believe the health professionals and scientists who say they see no end in sight, and the only way we’re going to contain the virus is to take it seriously and self-isolate ourselves. It may be tough on our economy, but it will recover; whereas, those who die won’t have that option. Besides, staying at home has provided a great opportunity to get lots of things done that I haven’t had time for until now. Lots of writing time, too. A writing friend said, “Who would have believed that we can ALL be ‘writers-in-residence’?” LOL.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Does it matter if I believe the health professionals and scientists who are predicting doom and gloom or those see a more benign outcome? There’s absolutely nothing I could do differently even if there were a million deaths a day. Although I refuse to give in to the fear mongers, I still do what I do whenever there are diseases floating around — stay away from people. Except for my chemo-sick friend and a clerk at the grocery store the other day, I haven’t been around a single person in the past week. And I have no intention of doing anything different in the coming week. My objection is with the hype. There are 2,000 deaths a day? That’s standard for the seasonal flu, and no one cares. During the Hong Kong flu, 20,000 a day died, and there wasn’t this hype with the resulting panic and hoarding. Even though the virus is getting close to me (the latest case was 20 miles away), I’m not panicking. Even if I were to get it, there’s nothing else I can do than what I am already doing.

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