This morning my sister texted to say she might have coronavirus. “I’m coughing and don’t feel well,” she said. A few minutes later, in another text, she said she was feeling better and didn’t think she had it. But her initial text had sent me into worry mode. My sister’s business as a yoga and exercise instructor at senior living facilities brings her into contact with a lot of people.
Not only was I concerned about her health. She had been to my house the day before, and I was worried about exposing our 100-year-old mother, who lives with me. I’ve heard the virus is highly contagious before a person becomes symptomatic, so I asked my sister if she planned on getting tested.
“I tried,” she said. “I called my doctor and the health department and they don’t have the test.”
Trying to help my sister find a place to get tested, I spent the next hour on the phone, mostly on hold, with the CDC (Center for Disease Controls). With the coronavirus threat spiralling out of control, they were inundated with calls. When I finally reached someone and explained the situation, she advised me to call the family doctor or the health department.
“She’s already done that, and they said they didn’t have test kits,” I replied.
This led to another five minutes on hold. When the CDC employee got back on the line, her advice was the same: Call the state health department. She gave me the number, I called, and the health department referred me to the COVID-19 hotline, which handed out instructions via a recording to wash my hands and call my family doctor or the state health department. (Tests are supposed to become more readily available in the near future).
My sister finally contacted a doctor who is a friend, and he agreed to test her. Several days later, she called me to say she was healthy and had tested negative for the virus.
I was relieved, but it made me realize how quickly we can succumb to fear and panic when the whole world seems to have tilted off its axis. We are worried about our health, our jobs, our finances, our loved ones, and we wonder how long this new world dynamic will persist.
But worry is bad for our health, both mentally and physically, so I’ve decided to make an intentional effort to focus on the blessings. As I type this, I’m looking out my window at a beautiful, serene lake with a haze of mountains gliding away in the distance. There’s nothing to stop me from enjoying this beauty, and I have more time now than ever to go outside, bask in the sun or take a long, meandering walk.
I’m grateful I have access to the internet, which keeps me in touch with people via social media. Imagine being quarantined without it!
My mother, born in 1919, one year after the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, says her mother used to tell her stories about that world-wide pandemic. Any family with a sick family member would tie a white rag or sheet to the front door. This let others know the house was quarantined. Since no one could go out and no one could come in once a house was quarantined, kind neighbors left food at the front door.
Because we’re living in 2020 instead of 1918, even when we’re quarantined we aren’t completely cut off from the world. We don’t have to tie a white sheet to our door to warn people away.
I’ve decided to be grateful for time removed from the hustle and bustle of life as it was just a few weeks ago. During this period of isolation, I’ll catch up on my reading; maybe play the keyboard, which I haven’t touched in years. I’ll pray for friends who are depressed, sick or isolated and keep up with them through calls and texts. I’ll continue to care for my mother.
I miss my grandchildren, but my daughter and daughters-in-law are texting me pictures of them and family updates. I cherish the thought of seeing them again when this time is behind us.
I don’t take warnings about coronavirus lightly. I am self-quarantining for the sake of others as well as myself. But I don’t want to succumb to fear, either. It’s astounding how life can change so suddenly and dramatically. But this can happen, even when we aren’t in the midst of a pandemic. It’s always the case that our own attitudes, perspectives and thoughts influence our well-being more than anything happening in the world around us.
I am holding onto my faith and continuing to enjoy those small moments that brighten my journey and bring me hope.