A Single Death

Every day we are subjected to the current count of how many people have died from the disease du jour, and yet, what’s the point except to keep a tally? Does anyone really care? As of last night, 193 people have died in Colorado from The Bob, but people have died from other things, too. Don’t those deaths count? Even a single death diminishes us, so what difference does it make if one person died or a hundred or a thousand? It matters, of course, to the loved ones remaining behind, and perhaps even to the one who is gone, but why do the rest of us care about the number of people who have died of this disease? We certainly don’t care about the vast numbers of people who die from heart disease or cancer or traffic accidents. So why this? Why now?

Could it be that we are only concerned about ourselves and how close the disease is to us? Or do we simply care about the logistics? We are constantly being told about the lack of equipment (though a few experts think the very lack of respirators is keeping some people alive — there is evidence that the respirators in some cases are hastening the end of vulnerable patients). And we are constantly being warned about the necessity of “flattening the curve” to keep from overwhelming the system (even though some epidemiologists think we are merely prolonging the life of The Bob). So is that what we care about?

Unless we personally know someone who has the virus or have lost someone to the virus, or unless a celebrity has died, we don’t know enough to care about anyone who is suffering. (Though why anyone would care about a celebrity mystifies me, since the deaths of unknowns are tragic, too, but discussing that is too much of a digression even for this blog.)

So what difference does it make how many have died from this particular disease?

Yes, I know, it is tragic that people are dying, but people are dying from other things, and that is tragic, too. A friend recently lost her husband. Except for those of us who knew her (or her husband) no one in the world cares. But if we care about those who die from The Bob, shouldn’t we all care about him, too?

Another friend is going through chemo. That’s every bit as dangerous and life-threatening as the vulnerable folks who get The Bob, and a lot more dangerous than the less vulnerable, since most cases aren’t much worse than a bout of the flu. Chemo is certainly more dangerous than those who have the virus with no outward show of symptoms. So shouldn’t we all care about the woman going through chemo, too?

Why discriminate on the basis of disease? We can care about this disease but no other? So what do we really care about?

That this disease is spreading faster than other diseases at the moment? It’s still not worth the draconian measures being taken to stop the spread. And is it really spreading that rapidly? If so, why are not all the “essential” employees dying? Why aren’t the “essential” stores closing because all their employees are sick?

New studies show that the cities that are the hardest hit are the cities with Chinatowns and high Asian populations. If that’s true, instead of quarantining the rest of the country, why not simply quarantine those neighborhoods? Oh, but you can’t. It’s racist. So, to protect the sensibilities of one community, we have to impose harsh punishments on all of us. (That staying at home and sheltering in place and only shopping for necessities is not a hardship for me do not make such stringent measures any less harsh.)

I keep saying that the measures being taken to flatten that mythical curve (and it is a myth — a projection — and so far, most projections pertaining to this disease have been wrong) don’t affect me, but obviously, I am wrong. Being housebound is giving me way too much time to think! And I have an overactive “thinker” to begin with.

But still, someone has to think about these things. Someone has to care about those dying from diseases other than the disease of the day. Someone has to look beyond the numbers and see the tragedy in even a single death.

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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.

More Repercussions

I find it amusing that Kansas is restricting travel from Colorado and quarantining those who do cross the border. Not that there is anything intrinsically amusing about this, it’s that the Colorado-Kansas border figured prominently in my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire. The book features a terrible disease called The Red Death by those in Colorado and the Colorado Flu by those outside the state where it originated. Although the entire state of Colorado is quarantined and the border patrolled by various means, occasionally someone does slip across the border only to be met by a “welcoming” group of Kansas carrying guns, hoes, and anything else to ward off the trespasser.

Apparently, Kansas today has not yet reached that level of hostility — the travel ban is still just a bureaucratic decree rather than a grass roots action.

I don’t believe in legislating everything, at least I didn’t until this whole mess. Maybe people really are ignorant enough not to know to wash their hands when coming in contact with potential disease carriers. Maybe people don’t know enough to stay away from others if possible during a time of illness. Apparently, some people are so utterly and bizarrely oblivious to any sense of self-preservation as to hold “corona parties,” stuffing as many people as possible into small areas.

If so, apparently, the bureaucracies — the nanny state — really does need to get involved to instill some common sense into those who have none. (And to protect their own careers, of course. If some states enact these measures, then others will follow suit for the simple reason that if they don’t, people will think they aren’t doing anything.)

Yesterday I wrote of repercussions beyond the financial fallout, but potential abuse is only one additional problem. Another problem that is developing is that people who have money and can escape the cities where the disease is most concentrated are ignoring the stay-at-home directives, and treating this hiatus of business as a vacation, and heading to vacation towns and rural areas. Hence, The Bob is hitting where it normally wouldn’t, because those with enough money to travel are carrying the virus with them like deadly luggage.

I suppose those with second homes think that by heading to the smaller towns where these houses are located, they are staying at home, but not all those who are heading to the hills are heading “home.” A rising problem is that these seasonal areas are not equipped to deal with an influx of people at off-season times. Hospitals are tiny, grocery stores are having enough trouble keeping food and essential items for the locals, and utilities are being strained beyond capacity.

So yes, it does seem as if draconian orders are needed to keep people from spreading disease.

It’s a shame, but the people who should be ashamed, apparently have no shame, and so the repercussions of this crisis will continue long after the virus has been tamed.

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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.

Reckful

Today, I made a few drop biscuits. They aren’t on my diet, but it does seem that stay-in-place orders and a damaged knee are restrictive enough without adding food limitations to the equation.

For the most part, though, I’m okay despite these constraints. I’m not even very restless, perhaps because I’d be staying at home anyway to take care of my knee. Oddly — or not so oddly, actually — today my knee doesn’t pain me so much (though it still isn’t acting quite right) but the muscles above and below the knee as well as the uninjured knee all ache. Makes sense, of course. Because I’ve been walking abnormally, when I walk at all, other muscles have taken up the load and are being stretched beyond normal usage.

So many things that are a normal part of people’s lives, like eating out, don’t matter to me when they’re gone because I seldom visit such places anymore. (When I moved here, I left behind my lunch companion and haven’t reinstituted the practice with anyone else.) Nor am I craving Mexican food or pizza or other restaurant fare like so many are. I’m still using up the food around the house. Hence the biscuits.

It’s been interesting seeing how different people react to the various orders we’ve been given. Some people follow through, while others refuse to even acknowledge the directives, either because they’re young enough to feel invincible or are simply reckless.

Me? I’m the opposite of reckless. In fact, I’d be considered reckful, if there were such a word. I know there are many folks who would disagree — after all, I did take that cross-country trip in my ancient bug all my myself, and I did meet up with all sorts of people I knew only by their online presence. But that wasn’t reckless. I’d thought about all contingencies, reckoned on things going wrong and planned for them though of course I’d hoped for things to go right, and mostly, they did.

I’m especially reckful when it comes to my health, which is why I’m hunkered down at home rather than going to the doctor as so many have recommended I do. Health providers are taking people’s temperatures before letting them in the building, but that seems a bit reckless to me. Or else we aren’t being told everything we need to know about this current medical crisis. If people don’t show symptoms until perhaps two weeks after being exposed, then obviously, taking their temperature wouldn’t prove they aren’t infected. It only means the infection hasn’t shown up yet. And I’m supposed to trust that? I don’t think so.

This situation with the stay-at-home orders seems like an interesting sociological experiment, seeing what businesses are shut down and what aren’t. For example, doctors’ offices aren’t closed down, but chiropractors are. Huh? What about the people with bad backs who can’t function without these treatments? This stricture reminds me of the early years of chiropractic when one couldn’t speak of such “pseudo-doctors” without the hush of sacrilege touching people’s voices.

It also seems strange that churches are closed down, but recreational marijuana shops and liquor stores aren’t. I get the whole dissociating from other people thing, but still, the situation speaks ill of us as a people and what we consider necessary. I suppose, since I’m too reckful to get caught by either alcohol or pot usage, I’m also too naïve to understand why they are on the “essential” list. (To be fair, I don’t go to church, either, but I know a lot of people who do and who count on the weekly services.)

None of this affects me personally. I’ve always lived a stringent life, so such harsh measures don’t mean much to me.

Still, in my own reckful way, I’m being reckless. After all, the proof is in the biscuits.

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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.

Ordinariness

It seems weird that at a time like this, when everyone’s life is interrupted, mine goes on as before without any major changes. Or any change, actually. For various reasons, I’d already stopped most of the activities I’d been involved in, and I hadn’t yet decided what new activities to try, so I’d been staying home even before it was recommended we stay at home.

Although there have been no cases of “The Bob” here, this county seems to follow along what Denver is doing, and Denver has issued a stay-at-home order for its residents that will be enforced. They are allowed to go the grocery store (and, I presume, work in those stores if they have a job), visit doctors, and go out to exercise and that’s sort of what I’ve been doing. Except I don’t have a doctor here. And I haven’t been braving the grocery stores. (I didn’t stock up on anything but a bit of tuna, so I’m just nibbling my way through leftovers and what little I do have.)

I have been trying to walk a bit every day, and I’ve been looking at videos on knee exercises because I tweaked my knee while sleeping one night, and it hasn’t yet gone back to normal.

And I have been going to sit with a sick friend occasionally when her husband needs to be away. (Yep. Living dangerously!)

The library is closed, and the latest I heard was that all services were suspended, maybe even the quick exchange of books they’d once promised, but I do have emergency books — a stash of unread paperbacks and a Nook with books I would only read in an emergency.

One thing I have been doing differently is experimenting with something I’d once planned to do but never quite got around to doing— using a pee rag. It’s something I learned when preparing for a backpacking trip, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work inside, too, especially since there is only me here (and especially since I haven’t seen a package of Charmin in the stores for weeks now).

Other than that, the only change in my life is:

That’s right! A daffodil!!

Such a sweetly ordinary thing to see.

Wishing us all the ordinariness we once took for granted.

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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.