Go? Stay away?

Back when “shelter in place” edicts went into effect, I happily discarded all my group activities. When I moved here, I’d been careful to get involved so that I wouldn’t become a total hermit and stagnate in my aloneness, but pulling back came at a good time. I already knew many people, had friends to see occasionally, a small job, and neighbors to talk to over my fence.

Even though most people seem to have gone back to their normal gregarious lives, I’m still leery about doing things in groups, though I have been attending meetings for the one group I still belong to. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for the group), there have been several new members, just enough that the number of people attending makes me uncomfortable, but not enough to make me want to quit. Not that I would quit — all of the original long-standing members have become friends, and since they all have busy lives, the meeting is a good opportunity for me to visit with them. And anyway, I can generally handle anything for a couple of hours.

A lunch was added to the most recently scheduled meeting, with everyone to bring offerings to feast on before the business discussion followed by a special project, which would greatly have extended the time of being around others.

Thinking of all those people in a small room, especially since this is turning into one of the worst flu seasons in several years, and the flu season hasn’t even started, I worried about going, obsessed even. I didn’t want to take a chance on getting sick, but I also thought I should go since I seldom do anything in a group anymore. (And anyway, not everyone shows up each time, so perhaps it would have been okay.) All the dithering was driving me nuts, so I considered calling a friend and asking her to talk me into going. In the end, I decided to leave it up to the fates: if it was warm enough to finish my outside chores before it was time to get ready for the meeting, I’d go. If not, I wouldn’t.

As it turned out, despite the awful winds, I managed to water my lawn in plenty of time. Resigned, I started getting ready to go. Then I got a text: due to an emergency, the meeting was cancelled.

I laughed. Not at the emergency, of course, but at myself. All that worrying for nothing! It showed me the folly of becoming preoccupied by a situation that might not even come to pass. (Part of me wonders if all that obsessing somehow caused the emergency, which turned out to be rather minor in the end, but that, too is folly.)

So here I am again, apparently having learned nothing. The lunch and meeting have been rescheduled for next week, and I’m wondering: Should I go? It would be nice to step out of my hermitage and see friends. Should I stay away? It certainly wouldn’t be nice to be inadvertently exposed to any of the flus going around.

Go? Stay away?

Yikes.

When it comes time, I suppose I’ll do whatever it is that I end up doing, so there’s no real point to thinking about it before hand.

Or so I tell myself.

***

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.

Going to the Library

I get much enjoyment from going to the library. There are always books, of course, as well as a chance to find one I have been awaiting. (Today I found Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here, which they had recently acquired. Yay!)

And I get to say hi to people, even visit for a few minutes while maintaining my distance. The librarians, of course, are always there and always pleasant to talk to, as is a church organist, who looks up from a computer to gift me with a smile. Today I also chatted a couple of minutes with a city council member and her baby (now a toddler) who had campaigned with her. I also visited for a few minutes with one of my game-playing friends and caught up on all the news. Apparently, things are getting back to normal, because today there was a picnic lunch at the senior center (though I think it was “picnic” in name only since people had to go and pick up their meals) and there is a dinner scheduled for the end of the month at one of the churches.

Although she offered me a ride to the church, I gave my ready excuse of having to work, though chances are, even if the dinner works into my oh-so-heavy schedule (this is irony since my job consists of visiting with an older woman several hours a week), I probably still wouldn’t go. I don’t seem to be able to lose the fifteen or so pounds I gained the first year I was here (I attended too many meal events and ate too much of the things I’m not supposed to), and I’m not sure I want to deal with either gaining more weight or going to a dinner and not eating, though I might stop by to say hi.

Or not. I still don’t have my vaccine, and I’m not sure when I will be able to get it. Besides, the way I look at it, I’m fine temporarily, but that will change if I ever get back into socializing. Which, to be honest, is not high on my agenda at the moment. I would enjoy seeing people, of course, but for now, my perennial conflict of indulgence vs. discipline is leaning more toward the disciplined side, with stretching in the morning, knee exercises, a short walk, a few minutes on the elliptical, as well as eschewing the foods I shouldn’t be chewing, and I’d just as soon not upset my current balance.

And, of course, I am back to trekking to the library on a regular basis, though not the one illustrating this post. The photo is the Prague Library, and someone else took the photo and kindly let me use it.

***

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A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Snow of a Different Sort

The most recent snow finally melted under the oh, so welcome sun. Unusual for Colorado, the skies glowered at us for several days, maybe even a couple of weeks, without even a hint of sunshine, but the weather is back to more normal temperatures and bright sunshine. Tonight, another storm is expected, but it shouldn’t be long lasting because the temperature for the next days (as in the previous couple) will be well above freezing.

Meantime, I found snow of a different sort:

Yes! A snowdrop!

This must have been one of the bulbs that survived the drought of last winter and the searing heat of the summer, because I didn’t plant any snowdrops last fall. I’ll be curious to see if any other of the previous year’s bulbs will make an appearance, but I am just as thrilled with a single blossom as I would be with a whole slew of them. Well, almost as thrilled. Someday I hope to have a yard full of flowers and flowering bushes, but until I learn enough, and until I plant enough, I’ll be grateful for every flower that decides to bloom.

By next week this time, the weather is expected to be spring like. I’ve been hunkering down because of the cold, I wonder what it will be like to un-hunker. Probably not much different, actually. The last couple of weeks I’ve been back doing errands on foot, and that will continue, as will all the hours spent reading and blogging and playing games on the computer.

There won’t even be any gardening to speak of — around here, the last frost isn’t until the first week in May, so there’s no point in planting anything until then.

But I can dream of flowers to come.

And I can enjoy the flower that came.

***

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

Lockdown Protests

I don’t know the truth of the protests against the lockdowns — there seems to be a lack communicate as to what is going on, especially since the same photo of a fellow carrying a flag with a swastika is being shown in various far-flung locations. But that is nothing new — the same photo that supposedly showed the crowds on the newly-opened Florida beaches ended up in California newspapers, ostensibly showing people on those beaches too. It was an old photo, anyway. Friends who have been to the beach posted photos of the truth — that the few people who are making use of the beaches are staying far away from one another.

I’m not a protester at heart. Nor am I protesting this current situation (though I do question it), but I can understand why people are protesting.

Considering that more than half the deaths of this current virus occurred in the New York metropolitan area, and considering that 21% occurs in 41 other states combined, you can see the scope of the problem — people are being forced out of their jobs for something that is not really affecting them, and might not ever affect them.

In Colorado, the majority of deaths are in the front-range cities, and those are the cities getting the money from the stimulus bill, though the economies of the less populated and poorer counties are every bit as devastated, especially since they have had to prepare for an emergency that hasn’t yet happened. (Apparently, those front-range counties got the money directly, and the rest was sent to Colorado to distribute to the rest of the counties, but as of now, the state is keeping the funds to offset a shortfall in their budget.)

The measures that are being taken to prevent an outbreak are killing people, just in a different way. There is already an ongoing fight to keep the economy alive here in my corner of Colorado because the Colorado legislature wants to demolish the private prison system that is the single major employer left in the area. With that gone, with small businesses gone, with no money from the stimulus package, many services in this and other counties will be suspended indefinitely, especially those catering to the most vulnerable people — the very people they are trying to “protect’ with their draconian measures.

No one around here is protesting. No one is really even complaining, though people are hurting., not just financially, but culturally and socially. People who have looked forward to high school graduation exercises — both students and parents — are being denied that right of passage. This is a town of churchgoers, and they are all being denied the comfort of those gatherings. Town festivals and other activities that bring money to the area are cancelled. People want things to go back to normal as soon as possible, and eventually, the highly populated places will be able to return to a semblance of normality since they have a big enough tax base and enough people to get things going again, but that does not hold true in the small areas that are following the rules but have no severe outbreaks. In the entire southeast section of the state, there have been a total of 23 cases, and 1 death. People say these state-wide measures are necessary to protect us, but protect us from what?

There was a terrible flu going around here at the end of December, the worst flu most people who got it ever had, with fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing. Considering that this corona virus has been around since the middle of November, and people have been traveling around the world during that time, it’s entirely possible this area has already had its outbreak. There was a terrible outbreak in West Virginia around that same time, and that has been identified as this same virus or a mutation of it.

I keep saying no one knows the truth of this situation and it’s true — there are so many different aspects that are being shoved into the shadows because they don’t fit anyone’s agendas. No one, certainly, wants to even mention the possibility of a previous outbreak and the questions that would arise from it.

A huge irony to this situation is that hospitals are going broke. People with cancer and other severe diseases aren’t being treated. Elective surgeries and any surgery that isn’t absolutely necessary are being postponed. All to make way for a crisis that in many cases isn’t occurring. The end death rate of the virus will be the same whether or not we have lockdowns. Lockdowns can slow the spread but not stop it (unless we continue them forever or force people to get a hurried-up vaccine that so many do not want). The initial point of the lockdowns was to save the hospital system, but the hospital system in most areas is under no strain at the moment. In fact, people who have had to go to the hospital are shocked by how unbusy they are. So what is the point of lockdowns now? Even worse, when the crisis has more or less passed and hospitals revert to a more normal operating agenda, the backlog of case will overwhelm the system for years to come.

Not all countries are doing lockdowns. (Sweden, for one, is pretty much continuing business as usual.) Moderate social distancing seems to work as well as keeping people at home.

One of the most interesting statistics I read (and cannot find the source again) is that the overall death rate right now is no higher than it normally is. Partly, this disease is nowhere near as fatal as it was assumed to be — in various studies, half the people tested either had it or have it with no symptoms, which brings the death rate more in line with the seasonal flu. And partly most deaths in both cases (this virus and the seasonal flu) belong to the same demographic. The elderly. The immuno-compromised. The frail and vulnerable. People who are at risk no matter what happens.

To me, one of the most damming aspects of this whole situation is how politicized it is. A medical crisis should be just that — a medical crisis, not a power grab by various factions who only have their own interests in mind, people who want to control us.

We all have our own interests in mind, of course, but most of us are putting up with these draconian measures because we believe that life matters. We are willing to protect the weak and vulnerable. But only up to a point, and that point is when we lose our livelihoods and even homes. (Although some mortgage companies and landlords are making concessions to these perilous times, others are not.)

And so the devastation continues.

Some people are still afraid of getting sick, but more and more, people are afraid of what is going to happen in the future. And they are getting angry. They want answers. They want information and proper statistics. The statistics we are getting are skewed — it’s been mandated that the medical profession be aggressive when listing causes of death, so there is no way to know how many people died with the virus or of the virus. The version the “official” experts offer as to what is going on is not the same as the version non-politicized experts are offering. No one knows who to believe, so they pick their level of truth, and they stick to it.

This disease is not a hoax, but the way it is presented to us makes the measures combatting this disease seem like a hoax especially the way they keep downplaying the false “facts” that the whole lockdown scenario was based on. These “facts” were nothing more than a projection, which turned out to be far less than accurate, which even the “official’ experts now admit. And a projection is just that — a projection. One possible scenario. And from that has been extrapolated all the hardships that are being dished up to us.

Although I am feeling as if I am being unjustly imprisoned (especially since Colorado will be extending the stay at home orders for seniors only), I would follow the procedure anyway. I don’t like getting sick, but quite frankly, that is my business. If people don’t want to get sick, they too can stay home. But I am not sick. Nor is anyone around here. (Except from allergies. So many of us are dealing with dry coughs and sinus congestion that has nothing to do with any flu.)

But I can understand why people are protesting. They are not sick. They don’t know anyone who is sick. They don’t know anyone who died, and yet they are forced into a situation where they stand to lose so very much.

At the same time, there were (and are) those who scream for the government to do something.

This whole situation has gone on too long to simply open the doors and tell people to go about their business, because there would be repercussions from that, too. But it’s gone on too long not to do that very thing.

I don’t know what the answer is. And the truth is, that no matter what the “experts” say, no one does.

***

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.