There are times when I feel that I am boxed-in by this unrelenting virus, COVID-19. This microscopic entity has put the majority of the world into lockdown, affecting all aspects of human life and social interaction. The virus does not discriminate due to race, creed, or color. Be you rich or poor, a professional or laborer, you are fair game to be its next victim. It stealthily works its evil ways upon its unsuspecting victims, often causing dire consequences for the most vulnerable. Those that wage war against it, our doctors and nurses on the front lines of battle, are standing face to face with the enemy and often are falling victim to its assault.
As a people, we have limited weapons to defend and protect ourselves and treat those who become infected. Potential hope is dangled before us in the form of a vaccine, but the vaccine supply is limited and distribution slow and uncoordinated. Why are stores of vaccine just standing in storage instead of being used to help save lives? Why wasn’t this all thought through in the many months that have passed since this virus reached our shores? There are only so many times we can have hope placed before us and then taken away before we then give up altogether and walk off. For the good of our society, we must agree to wait our turn, allowing the most vulnerable and those at most risk to be the recipients of this potential life-saving vaccination. Sacrificing for the good of others is not something easily accepted by some.
Even more perplexing, there are those among us, who think this is all a hoax. To these people, wake up and see what’s going on around you instead of listening to those who peddle misinformation and downplay the severity of the situation. All you need do is visit the ICU of your local hospital and peer through the windows. See the intubated patients, gasping for breaths of air, feeling helpless, feeling alone, and feeling scared. Visit the gravesites of those beloved family members who have died due to COVID. The grieving family knows this is not a hoax. Peer into the faces of the doctors and nurses who treat the COVID patients. Exhaustion and sadness envelop them, but still, they go on doing their jobs day after day. Stop and think about what they must feel when they witness portions of our society disregarding safety guidelines to help slow the virus’s spread. What must they do to convince the non-believers?
I miss my life the way it was before the virus grabbed hold of us. It was a time when I could see my grandchildren and give them a big hug and kiss, instead of simply hearing their voices over the phone or seeing their faces on a computer screen. But that time is gone for the foreseeable future. If I want to remain alive and well, I’ve got to play it smart right now by doing what our medical experts instruct us to do. For me, this is not an infringement of any freedoms. It is simply common sense and using the medical knowledge we presently have on COVID-19.
I am disgusted with our politicians who have used the pandemic as a political tool. To them, I say, “Get over yourselves and work toward the common good,” finding solutions to problems rather than creating discord. Some can not accept the voice of the majority of American citizens in the recent presidential election. And so they continue to draw attention away from the real and present danger, that of COVID-19. People are dying every second from this virus. Those who survive their battle with the virus will, potentially, have ongoing medical problems present in their lives.
The normality of life has been transformed into something unrecognizable. Isolation, depression, poverty, and death are now integral parts of our existence. We have been stretched to our mental limits with the extra burdens that have been laid upon us. The lives of our children have also been impacted. Educational systems have been turned topsy-turvy. Simple things like playing ball with kids from the neighborhood or classroom outings are non-existent.
We need all of this to end. We need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite the stress and hardships in today’s world, I have found moments of solace and reasons to give thanks. I pray and give thanks to my Creator that my family is well and safe. I write, putting my thoughts down on paper. For me, this is a healing action, freeing my mind of anger and stress. What I find most healing is going out into nature. I pick my favorite trail and walk, trying to take everything in all around me — the freshness of the air, the chattering of the squirrels up in the treetops, the rushing noise of the adjacent stream after the recent heavy rain. I eventually make my way to my favorite tree along the trail, a giant sycamore. It has withstood the test of time and stands tall and strong, its immense branches stretching upward to the sky. Yes, I am a hugger of trees. I admit it. I extend my arms around its trunk as far as I can, reaching all away around its circumference is an impossibility. As I stand there in silence, it is like having an epiphany of sorts. I can almost hear this old tree uttering words of patience and strength. I call it my “Grandfather” tree, always there with wisdom and comfort. When I walk off, I always feel better having had the encounter.
Find those things that bring you comfort, whatever they may be. In this time of waiting, waiting for this virus to be gone, we must all find our ways of healing ourselves … that is, healing the spirit, healing the mind. We need this to endure this time; we need this to survive. There is light waiting for us at the end of this tunnel if we stay strong and work together.
Please, leave a comment as to how you are finding a sense of peace during these times. It may serve as encouragement for others to give it a try. We will make it through this, and I have no doubt. Blessings to all.
Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient advocate.
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