Living in Lockdown

The stay-at-home order won’t be extended in Colorado when it expires in a few days, though there will only be a limited opening of businesses and interactions with people. Social distancing is still to be observed.

But . . . the senior population is still in lockdown, allowed to go out only when absolutely necessary. Apparently, agism is alive and well, especially since in many cases older folks are way more vulnerable to the effects of isolation than they are to any pathogen. Still, I’ll go along with the order since it doesn’t make much difference to the way I live my life though it is beginning to make me feel imprisoned.

There’s been no indication of when the library will reopen, and who knows — since I’m one of the locked-down seniors, they might not even let me in when it does open for business again. Social distancing, you know. I still have a couple of weeks’ worth of emergency books left, and I can extend that a bit by watching the DVDs I borrowed from a friend months ago, and then . . . who knows. It’s up to the vagaries of bureaucrats who seem to think we all live in big cities rather than in relatively unpopulated and impoverished counties as some of us do.

A ludicrous aspect of this situation are the emails I keep getting from various businesses, such as insurance companies and utilities, telling me they have my best interests at heart. Not enough to lower prices, of course, just enough to annoy and mystify me. For example, I’ve had appliance insurance for the past year that covered all the major appliances including my washer, and the company is changing over to a new policy that only covers the furnace, water heater, range, and air conditioner. My washer is acting up, and even though the new policy doesn’t go into effect for another week or so, they won’t send anyone out to fix my washer. Apparently, although I’ve been paying the premium, they’d already cancelled the original insurance without telling me.

And my internet provider sent an email saying that to ensure the safety of their customers, they will continue to do critical repairs, but added, “we’ve modified our processes so our technicians can complete exterior work as usual, while relying on our customers to complete interior work.” What the heck? We have to do our own repairs?

On a lighter note (perhaps), the garden frog I’d ordered months ago came in today. Although the statue photographed for the catalog looked happy, this one looks sad or at least pensive. Considering there is not yet a garden for the poor thing, no wonder it doesn’t seem all that pleased to be here.

But where there are plants, there’s hope, and I do have some plants in the ground, including a few lilacs that had to be moved when the garage foundation was put in.

It’s gloomy and windy today, but there is a 50% chance of rain, which would be nice. Not just for my incipient garden, but for a change.

And oh, do I need a change! I think I’ll brave the wind and go out for a short walk. Maybe the activity will blow away some of the feelings of isolation and imprisonment.

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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.

 

Viruses and the Human Organism

By now it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I have reservations about this whole quarantine situation. There are just too many repercussions that are being ignored, such as people who are in lockdown with their abusers and no way to escape, or rich people who are fleeing infested cities and bringing diseases to places that would normally be safe.

Another repercussion that few people are discussing is what will happen when people are once more free to mingle. Unless there were a significant number of cases of people who got The Bob and recovered (and no, there aren’t such cases because there simply is not a great enough percentage of people who are getting sick), there is still a chance of a second upsurge. Some epidemiologists say that flattening the curve will prolong the disease, but so far, no one is saying what will happen when people are again doing “nonessential” activities, such as getting together with family and friends.

Another thing that no one is talking about is the danger of isolating people.

Viruses are everywhere, in fact, they are perhaps the most common being on earth. There are an estimated 10 nonillion of them (10 to the 31st power.) Without viruses and their ability to move genetic material from one cell to another, life on Earth might never have evolved. Among those nonillions of viruses, only a small fraction, way less than 1%, are dangerous to humans. Most seem rather benign. Others are actually beneficial, and help our immune system. For example, some viruses infect and destroy dangerous bacteria in our bodies. Other viruses protect against harmful viruses. Some have actually become part of the human genome.

Even harmful viruses are good in that viral infections, especially at a young age, help develop the immune system. If children are prevented from getting sick, they are much more vulnerable to disease as they grow older.

It is the benign viruses that move from person to person, exchanging cell materials between people who are close, such as husband and wife, that makes grief for a spouse so hard. Not only does it feel as if we have been severed from our other half, we have, in actuality, been severed. Because of the visceral nature of grief, three to four years seems to be the half-life of grief. Our cells are continuously dying and being renewed. If it takes seven years for all the cells in one’s body to be renewed, then at two years, most of our cells still bear the imprint of our deceased mate. At four years, less than half our cells bear their imprint. At seven years, we are solely ourselves.

Viral exchanges are a way of communication, body to body. It’s a way of keeping a community unified and healthy. You don’t always have to get sick to become immune to a disease — if someone close to you is immune, their immunity can be conferred on you via benign viruses. If you stop viral communication, what will happen? I don’t know. No one knows, though it’s possible that when people are allowed out among others again, not just The Bob will have an upsurge, but so will other diseases.

Although no one asked me, I would have suggested protecting the vulnerable and letting everyone else lead their lives. Some people would have gotten sick, but for most people, The Bob is relatively benign, no more than a cold, if that. Many people who are infected, show no symptoms at all.

The human aggregate is an organism. Are we damaging the organism by these draconian measures? Probably not, since the lockdowns won’t be that long, all things considered, but if it went on too long, groups who developed immunities to certain ailments could infect others who haven’t developed such immunities.

It’s hard finding out the truth in this time of “fake news” since any idea or research that goes against or beyond the party line are labeled fake, when in fact, what we are told is “truth” might be less than true.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if there would have been a better solution to this situation than by isolating everyone, not just the vulnerable.

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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.