Am I Ready?
Author: Sheri Denkensohn-Trott
I have not left my house since March 6, 2020, except for two medically necessary doctor’s appointments. If you were to tell me months before that this would be my life, I would not believe you. Despite being an individual who uses a wheelchair, I live in a community where I am out and about all the time. Running errands, going to the gym, meeting friends for coffee, writing in a café, shopping, and relaxing in the park. would often roll out to pick up dinner or lunch and was a regular at CVS, known personally by the pharmacy staff. And let’s not forget the manicures and haircuts.
Like many others, this pandemic has completely turned my life upside down. And I don’t mean to minimize the role of frontline workers who have had to sacrifice their lives each and every day. At first, I would wake up in the morning thinking it was all a dream. I was yearning to go out. I wanted to go to the gym, enjoy dinner out with my husband, and have lunch or coffee with girlfriends. Everything ground to a halt. Within days, life revolved around zoom for meetings, family chats, book club, and entertainment. Virtual became reality. I came to terms that this was not going away and made folders on my computer to categorize zoom meetings, webinars, and virtual entertainment. I was losing track. My calendar, once full of things to do, became blank as I deleted appointments.
Then there was the time span trying to get necessities like medical supplies (especially gloves and wipes), hand sanitizer, paper towels, and of course toilet paper. After we managed to find what we needed, there were more hours left to do other things.
There have been some silver linings. I have not purchased any clothing and realize that I don’t need more. I have spent more time reading, catching up on TV series, and having zoom conversations with friends that I have not talked to in ages. And our family zoom night on Monday’s is one of the best parts of this pandemic. So much laughter.
As I write this, Friday, May 29, 2020, Virginia begins the first phase of opening. There are many requirements, including wearing masks and physical distancing. I continue to be high risk, but the protections in place do make it conducive for me to go outside in the neighborhood, even if briefly. Strangely enough, I am scared. I am usually independent and ready to go. Ironically, I have become used to this routine. Am I ready?
If I unpack that question, it comes down to a couple of things. I know that I am assuming some risk if I go out. Even if it is incredibly small, there is still a chance that I could contract COVID. Because of my respiratory status, I would likely not survive being infected. On the other hand, I cannot stay inside forever. A part of me feels like dipping my toe into the water and seeing how it feels. Maybe take a brief trip to pick up dinner and come straight back. Will I feel safe?
I have decided to do my own version of opening. I will likely wait a few weeks to see if cases spike during this first phase. I am concerned that people are so excited to get out that they will not adhere to the rules. I may take a trip or two next week, but I’m more likely to invite a friend over and sit outside on our own terrace where we can distance and be safer. Those will be treasured moments that I have missed. I’m tired of seeing my local friends on zoom.
In a few weeks, I’ll assess where we are as far as coronavirus cases, and how my community is responding to reopening. I will read the news reports without driving myself crazy. And I will see if after dipping my toe in the water, whether I can remember what it used to be like. It seems like ages. I hope the outcome will be positive.