Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sheltering In Place

My brother was released from the rehabilitation facility in record time -- rushed along, no doubt, by the Coronavirus since they are trying to lessen the dangers of group living.    Their protocol called for him to be transferred to our car by wheelchair, but they just handed him a cane and held the door open for him, wheeling his bag of clothes out on a cart and leaving it there for us to gather.   He is doing amazingly well, considering his huge aneurysm, his broken back, his age and his recent surgery.  He was already weak  before the accident, and he is certainly no worse for wear.   We are feeding him regular meals, mostly home cooked (not always since the Home Cook has gotten pretty lazy), and enjoying his company.    He claims he will return home to Grayling next month, but he admits that he wouldn't mind staying, so we'll see.   I do not like him living alone and so far away, but I also sympathize with his being just homesick for his own stuff and his own place.

We are, of course, hunkering down, sheltering in place.   I say "of course" although it appears that many people are not taking this seriously, and I expect that will extend both the time and the seriousness of the pandemic.  After Trump's election to office, nothing that people choose to do can surprise me with its stupidity.    In my opinion, he has botched the response to this emergency, which we knew about for a couple of months while he called it a "democratic hoax," but history will be a better and more qualified judge than I could ever be.  What I do know is that we have relatives who are nurses and they are not being protected with the proper equipment or procedures, even though supposedly the government has been planning and studying pandemic response since I was a child, decades ago.   As one nurse in the family told me today, they have the procedures and some of the equipment on hand, they just have not been allowed to use it.  Meanwhile, she and her coworkers have been needlessly exposed numerous times to infected patients.  So much in emergency planning depends on what level of "emergency" the federal and state governments declare, and they are slow to act.  

I am supposed to be doing about 3 months of physical therapy now to regain my range of motion and strength after the rotator cuff surgery, but I have cancelled it for now.  There were no visible precautions at my local PT facility beyond a quick wipe down of the tables and some (not all) of the exercise equipment.  So I asked for a list of exercises and am trying to do them at home.   Of course it would be better to have their help, and especially their help in stretching my arm and shoulder, but I can't risk bringing infection back to my little pod.   I'm not happy about this, and I hope the situation changes, or at least I hope that I continue to improve even if slowly. 

They have finally closed our local restaurants and bars, but carry out/curbside pick up is allowed, and we would like to support our local small businesses as much as we can.   Still, I can't help but wonder how safe that is since the workers generally lack health insurance and are unlikely to stay home if sick.  Of course, I wonder the same about the delivery people who bring our groceries since we are fortunate enough to be able to use that service rather than go into the stores ourselves.  My son and his family gave me a delivery subscription for my birthday last year, in anticipation of my surgery.  Who would have thought it would have been such a welcome gift even after I began my recovery?!

Search and Rescue team members are considered first responders.  As a result, over the years of our involvement, my husband and I have received many certifications and have both participated in many of the tabletop exercises to respond to this kind of thing, so we are especially frustrated.  We know how this "sausage" is supposed to be made and things are definitely not going as we were taught or as we once would have expected.  Just today, good friends posted that they drove up north today -- a trip that will definitely require stops for gasoline and potty breaks -- to purchase baby chicks, as they do every year.   They remarked that it was a beautiful day and that the rest stops were crowded.   People  here do not understand yet that this is not "every year," and I think many of them will be surprised in a month at how many have died.   If it doesn't touch their families, maybe they will never notice.   Perhaps, like Trump, they will claim they have no responsibility for it.

OK, I'm getting off the soapbox, at least momentarily.  We are doing fine in my little abode.   I made hot fudge today because we have ice cream in the freezer.  With nothing much to do, we look forward to food.   I found some patterns for face masks on line and have promised to make some for our nurse relatives who are short on supplies.   As one local nurse pointed out online, it is partly just a political statement -- a passive way of pointing out that the necessary supplies have still not been provided, that hospitals are overwhelmed long before the virus hits its peak.  This is a troubling time, and it will make me feel a little bit good to help in any small way I can.  And goodness knows, I have enough non-designated fabric in my stash to make a whole bunch of them.  The hospitals in our area are actually asking people to make them and drop them off.   In some southern states, where the nieces and grand nieces live and work, the hospitals are still denying that they will ever need them, while asking the nurses to reuse their hospital masks and store them in between shifts in a paper bag.   

I guess I wasn't off my soapbox after all.

Now that it is a little warmer, my husband has occasionally been able to practice his bagpipes (the louder Great Highlands) outdoors again.    Neighbors who ignored us last year, when they could have come to talk, now come out to listen, fashionably distant.    When Jack notices them, he responds politely and then comes inside, shy about an audience.   I think he is missing the point.  :)   

We've had to cancel Dominoes, which is a great loss to us and, we know, to Evan, too.   Jack and I have taken to playing, after my brother goes to bed, the kinds of games we used to play on train rides, mindless but companionable games like 'ten thousand' with dice.    

I know it has only been a week that we have been truly quarantined since my brother was still in rehab until last weekend.   Even so, already, I miss seeing my grandkids.    I miss seeing my son and daughter in law.   I miss being able to pretend we will travel sometime soon.   I even miss standing in the annoying grocery lines or  doing the banking.  I guess my restlessness makes sense since I was already in a sort of involuntary quarantine from my surgery, but now I fear this will go on for a long time.   I wonder what kind of neighborhood and society and world we will have when it is finally over.  I worry about what self-serving things politicians will do to turn this crisis into some kind of boon for themselves.  I have concern expressed over the possibility of postponing the election, and I cannot even bear to imagine the possibilities.

I hope you are keeping safe and that we will look back on this time and laugh about how we overreacted.   But looking at Europe and Asia, I am thinking that isn't going to happen.

Meanwhile, I will sit by the fire and chat with my brother.   I will be glad for my husband's warmth next to me in bed at night.   And I will remind myself again, how lucky I am.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Great post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. We’ve been staying home as much as possible, going out only for items we really need. Matthew is with us. He has been living in his van for the past choice...kind of an experiment in “tiny house” living. He’s an engineer with a good job, and so he socks all his money in the bank. But who could have foreseen this coming? Now he has nowhere to be, and so he’ll be staying with us, in our fifth wheel, for a while. It’s a weird time, and I’m disappointed, but not at all surprised, by the response of our federal government. So much petty bickering and stupidity. Thank goodness for some of our state government leaders, and I’ve been pretty happy with our own governor. The shortages of medical equipment are troubling, and the homemade masks are not going to be what they need. It’s a sad situation. We can only hope to vote the idiots out of office in November, but that is a long way off. A lot of people are going to die before then.