Hope in dark times
by Sherman Yellen, New York, NY

If you believe that the worst is yet to come you will never be disappointed. I happen to be an optimist by birth and experience — I have suffered through some of the worst that life can offer, the death of loved ones, my own battles with a deadly asthma, TB and cancer, among other diseases, and yet I managed to live a full life — always knowing that I was no Job but just another member of the human race to whom bad things can happen, balancing the many good things in my life, an early successful career, a loving family, a magnificent wife, great sons, and grandkids whose outer beauty is only matched by their inner beauty. But I was fortunate.

Born with a strong will, I would not be defeated by my own bad news — I managed to survive — and so at 88 I find myself holed up in my apartment, hiding from a virus to whom I have given no offense. An existential game of hide and seek. I don’t mind this forced retreat from everyday living, but I can’t say that I like it. My walks in Central Park were the balance that I needed to make up for my inner life — no tree hugger me, nevertheless I had a special relation with a British Elm tree — we were friends after twenty years of passing by. And now he will have to do without my greeting. If you pass him by, give him my fondest regards.

I hate the President who mocked and ignored the plague calling it the China or Chinese virus. Viruses have no nationalities and travel without a passport. Only a xenophobic fool would attach a people to a virus — and, alas, we have one in the White House. Let us not allow him to seek or gain glory by reporting on the progress made in the fight against the virus. If we could, we would demand that only scientists be allowed to speak on the subject. Yes, we will get through this. Despite him.

History has shown that plagues rise and kill, and then fall and disappear. But let us hope that we are wise enough never again to elect a leader who destroys the organization that investigates pandemics in government, and mocks the science that he nether understands nor respects. Oh, to be a king and say, “Be gone, wretched man” and banish him to some hideous exile like Mar-a-Largo. But I am no king. And like the rest of you must wait out his term to rid ourselves of the evil thug that occupies the White House. Knowing that we can, knowing that we must, is enough to give me hope in these dark times.

Stay home
by Marian D, Columbia County, NY

I was supposed to have a checkup with my primary today. They call before your appointment now to question you on potential Covid-19 symptoms. Because I have had an intermittent cough (which I have had since before the Covid thing was a thing), I was told I couldn’t go to my appointment, that I wouldn’t be allowed in the building. I respect that. The nurse suggested—since I am asthmatic and live with my parents (one of whom is diabetic with COPD)—that I go get tested for the flu, strep and, potentially, Covid.  By this time, my previous absence of worry has escalated to anxiety at half-mast and I decide it’s a good idea. To do this, I had to drive to thirty miles. 

Now, imagine this. 

I get to the urgent care facility currently functioning as a location for testing of upper respiratory symptoms. I take a deep breath, open the door, and enter a room full of people wearing masks. It’s Day One for this place functioning in its new role as a testing center and the waiting room is already approaching full. I walk up to the window, hand over my insurance card, give my name, and am given a very basic info sheet to fill out. 

I get a mask and hope to the heavens that whoever grabbed the one before me didn’t touch any part of the one now sitting quite close to my nose or mouth

I sit down, with one seat between me and the next person, then decide a wall spot is more comforting. Many folks are coughing, some much worse than others. The majority of them are sitting side by side. One woman is talking about how crappy she feels, another leans her head on her partner’s shoulder and closes her eyes. I feel as if I am trapped in a cesspool of germs. I basically am. 

I wait. For a little over an hour. Names are called, seemingly slowly to us waiting, as they work as quickly as they can down the list. 

Finally, it’s my turn. The nurse is very nice, brings me to a room and reads off a mandatory checklist of symptoms. I give her my quick spiel on how I’ve been feeling. Compared to the others I was sitting with, I’m seemingly in tiptop shape. She takes my vitals, looks at my ears and throat. Turns out my throat is a bit red. She tells me she’ll be right back.

Within minutes, she arrives back with a swab and does a rapid strep test. Leaves again. I hear the nurses outside my cubicle talking about setting up a strep test station and commenting on the lack of space. She returns again and informs me that my test came back negative, that it’s likely just a cold (which, come to think of it, I probably pissed my throat off with all the welding I did the other day, cause, ya’know, breathing those fumes is so good). At this, we laugh a bit and she gives me the answers that I more or less already knew but needed to hear to calm my anxieties. 

She is adamant that I continue to wash my hands frequently and that immediately upon getting home I strip off all my clothes, wash them, shower, and wipe down anything I touched. If I were to be around potentially sick people, to wear a mask. But the number one thing, which she repeats many times, is wash your hands with soap.  

The entire experience really put all that I have been reading into a different perspective. This is a tremendous task for our medical force. They are doing their best. Let’s do our best, too. 

Be courteous. Be understanding. Be patient.

If you’re worried, reach out to someone. 

If you feel ill, stay home and call your health care provider.   

Take precautions. Wash your hands with soap. Don’t touch your dang face. If you’re near anyone who may be sick, wear a mask. Something to protect your eyes is probably not a bad idea either. Even better is just not being near them!

Like the nurse said… stay healthy, rest, drink plenty of water and take care of your parents. 

This is hard for all of us. And this is just the beginning. Having experienced what I did today, I have new understanding for all the signs I passed on the highway saying ‘STAY HOME.’ One woman on the street was even shaking her head, mouthing, “Stay home,” as I caught her eye a block or two away from my destination. Trust me woman, I am. 

by Akiva Kenny Segan, Seattle, WA

I have to psychologically adjust to what doctors are recommending. I live alone so this is hard, and tougher than the usual….and that’s a common happenstance of life not only for seniors but for anyone of any adult age who lives alone.

They are strongly recommending that people, when out & about, not go any closer than 6 feet from other people.

….When I was on the First Hill Trolley yesterday I was standing behind a man with a cane who was seated with his dog…in the recommendation of the ER doc I saw interviewed on NBC News, I should have moved some distance away…..

…and when I was on a Metro bus (when I got on I was the only passenger) the first other passenger to get on, a few stops after me, walked towards where I was seated and sat right across from me. That passenger could’ve sat at any number of other unoccupied seats….further away from me…curious.

How does one keep six feet away from others, for those who do not live in private houses, e.g. in a hallway, or lobby, or in the elevator or in a stairwell in an apartment /condo building???…

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