Ever since the Corona virus pandemic hit world news in early January, we entered a period of uncertainty and chaos that has turned everyone’s world upside down. People all over the globe are being affected in different ways. For some, restrictions feel like an uncomfortable affront to their personal freedom. Some see parallels to dystopian novels and feel threatened, that it’s all a government conspiracy. On the other end of the spectrum are those who can’t deny the reality, who have lost loved ones or are sick themselves with the disease. In-between are views that reflect economic hardship, political affiliations and mental health challenges, amongst a myriad of other causes and concerns. Today, I’m sharing my experience.
March 12: What’s on my mind, heavy, is the corona virus pandemic. It’s almost unbelievable how widespread it has become. I’m feeling vulnerable, having a chronic illness. I feel the distance from my family across the globe as flights are banned in and out of Saudi Arabia. Feeling the heaviness and the weight of uncertainty.
April 04: Plugging along in isolation, a new 24-hour curfew has been imposed on the city of Riyadh. Every day feels like the one before. Real life Ground-hog day.
Since writing those entries, I’ve had time to reflect, to go inward and sit in silence. I realize there are multitudes of issues that have been exposed in the light of the corona virus spot light.
Healthcare inadequacies have been revealed worldwide. Budget cuts have many hospitals unable to cope with basic needs of beds for patients, proper protective equipment for healthcare workers and equipment like ventilators. We’ve seen in Canada the destitution in care homes for the elderly, being operated under disgusting, un-hygienic conditions. Elsewhere in the world, we’ve witnessed the inhumanity of people unable to access proper care, including not being admitted to hospital due to over-crowding or a lack of free, government-provided healthcare.
It hit home, when a close friend of mine who lives on our compound contracted the virus.
June 07: Raimo tested positive and was taken to hospital. I’m devastated.
He waited ten hours in the hospital lobby for a room. At one point, a hospital administrator told him he wasn’t going to be admitted. As it was, doctors on our compound pulled some strings.
Days later, when Raimo was discharged, we delivered him some food.
June 11: Raimo sat on his front step, us more than six feet away, at the end of his driveway. It felt horrible, being unable to hug him, after all he’d been through. His head lowered, shoulders slumped, he cried as he told us of his experience. There was no air conditioning, based on a theory of heat killing the virus, and it was 44 degrees Celsius. His bed linens were drenched in his sweat, as he fought fever, low blood oxygen and an infection in his lungs. He described health care workers, dressed in protective gear; too-large plastic gloves, masks and shields in the searing heat, working tirelessly, for hours on end. He lay amongst the sick and dying as he received life-giving oxygen and IV antibiotics, while others, less fortunate, were turned away.
June 13: The worker from our compound who was sent to hospital in critical condition passed away last night. I feel such deep, deep sadness at the tragedy and the loss to his family.
Less dramatic, but perhaps as impactful, schools here have been closed since the beginning of March, and in much of the world it is the same. As a teacher, I know the importance of the educational system, and how dramatically these closures affect students, especially those who are vulnerable and at risk already. It’s clear that moving forward, changes need to be made. Class sizes need to be reduced. Technology needs to be available to all students, including low-income, to promote more learning from home and distance opportunities. We need to do better for our children. They are the future.
In the workplace, we’ve seen how unsanitary, inhumane conditions in factories, especially meat-packing plants, have led to deadly outbreaks. People need space. The practice of packing everyone into tight quarters to save money needs to change. Factory farming needs to be dismantled altogether.
Looking to the future, companies need to create more work from home options, which would not only create space for physical distancing, but reduce the impact of pollution and the environmental impact of daily commuting to and from work in vehicles with single occupants.
There needs to be access to free public transportation in big cities and more money invested in alternatives like cycling. Since Covid-19, we’ve been staying home to stay safe, and the improvement in air quality and pollution levels are already significant.
The question I hear spoke most often lately is “When will things get back to normal?”
I feel that returning to where we were before is a choice to go backwards. I’d like to see us move forward. Based on where things are now, things aren’t going to change much any time soon. Back in March there were 126, 380 cases and 4, 634 deaths worldwide. By early July, those numbers rose to 10,984,798 and 524,039 respectively. In the USA, Brazil, Russia and India there is still a clear rise in cases, even while others, like Canada, New Zealand and Australia, have flattened the curve. It seems to me we have to figure out how to make changes despite this virus.
June 14: Covid, covid, covid… but is anybody listening? It would seem that in our age of constant social media and 24/7 news we’ve lost our attention spans. Countries are opening up despite growing case numbers. Protestors are marching shoulder-to-shoulder in the street, social distancing all but forgotten.”
The human mind is creative. There are possibilities, solutions and positive outcomes. I’ve heard of businesses making changes, like restaurants converting to drive-throughs and new on-line retail options, to name only a few.
April 25: Feeling present to the silver linings of Covid-19 isolation and lockdown. I’m developing patience. My spiritual practice is blossoming. I feel more centred and at peace, more grounded and fully in the present moment than I have in a long time.
Mister and I are committed to wearing masks and gloves when we go into the city. On compound, we maintain two metres distance while walking the dog, getting exercise, or using the facilities. We’ve embraced staying home, with date nights imagined at our favourite restaurants abroad and hours of FaceTime chats. I’m feeling more connected. I even finished writing my book.
It isn’t easy, transitioning to this new way of living, but it isn’t over until it’s over.
Life is simpler these days, but sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring the most joy. I’m hoping for changes that have us working as a global community, to be preventative instead of reactive, to do better.
So yeah, I’m feeling prepared for change, ready to create a new way of living, post Covid-19.