Isolation spreads faster than COVID-19

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COVID-19, the coronovirus, is splitting up families. One of my friends is afraid he’ll never see his parents alive again. They’re in a nursing home, and visitors are not allowed. Indeed, as of Monday, in Oregon and a growing number of other states, we have all been ordered to stay at home. It’s a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or time in jail, to venture out on a “nonessential” trip. The idea is to stop the spread of the virus. Instead, we’re spreading fear and isolation. It can’t be avoided, I suppose, but it’s painful.

My aunt, just a few years older than I am, lives across the street from her son’s family in Santa Clara, California. Because she has some serious health problems and because the grandchildren have been out and about until very recently, she is not seeing them now, except on her telephone. Those kids have been part of her everyday life since they were born. With her job winding down and all social activities canceled, she is suddenly as isolated as I am.

My friend Bill lives in an assisted living facility. Going on two weeks now, the residents have not been allowed to go out, and no visitors are allowed in. Their meals are dropped off outside their doors. Used to socializing and going out for lunch, shopping and church, he says he’s going stir-crazy. He can’t see his friends. He has no children, but he’s worried about his sister’s family in California. The lockdown is meant to keep him safe, but he feels like he’s in jail.

My life is not so different from usual these days. I miss my church and my writing and music groups, but most days I still do the same old things: writing, practicing music, walking the dog, interacting on Facebook, doing my chores, eating, and watching TV. I live in the coastal forest. When I step out the door, I rarely see other people. I’m already isolated.

If I had children whom I could not be with, this shelter-in-place thing would be a whole lot worse. I would worry about them getting sick. I would give them hell for not protecting themselves. I would worry about them losing their jobs. I would worry about the kids stuck at home with nothing to do. I’d want to jump in and help. But like my aunt, I am “older” and not supposed to go anywhere. Nor am I supposed to welcome groups of people into my house. At the moment, I’m grateful not to have to deal with this angst.

I’ll be slipping out for groceries and mail today. I’ll be walking my dog. I’ll telephone at least one friend I know is also alone. And then I’ll go back to my solo life.

All anyone talks about these days is the virus. Newscasters seem to have forgotten everything else happening in the world: wars, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, immigrant parents and children separated at the Mexican border, even the upcoming U.S. election. Jody Day, whom I wrote about last week, says comments have dropped off on her blog. The same thing has happened here. Have we become so distracted by the pandemic that nothing else matters right now? What is your thinking about having children in this crazy time? How are you doing? Please comment.

7 thoughts on “Isolation spreads faster than COVID-19

  1. Although it is not possible for me to “birth no more babies” because even my grandson is old, I still remember fondly the sweetness, the challenges and the absolute love that I felt for each of my children through most of the stages of their growing up. Oh sure, there were times in their teens when I would have paid someone to take them, but that time passed and there is not enough money in the world to make me give one of them up.
    I stay in daily touch with my son, grandson, and my daughter, usually by text because I find that a quick note to them and from them keeps us close. Sometimes we do a flurry of texts and sometimes just one. Of course if we are worried, we call.
    We all are trying to shelter in place these days and are sharing each new experience related to the coronavirus and encouraging each other.
    My other 3 sisters and I text all day long as something pops up and the topics range from where we can find TP to what was the name of our grandmother’s son who died in the 50’s being run over by his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. My older sister, who is 85, recently texted that if she did not have us to text to, books to read and TV to watch she would go stir crazy. We also have an ap on each of our phones that tells how many steps we have taken so we text that info to each other…it is a way to help ensure that we keep active and do not let the sheltering in place sap any of our strength because of inactivity.
    I also spend time, on my computer, staying in contact with my former roommate and sister-in-law, usually daily, because she lives in Bakersfield and I live in San Jose. She tells me what she has been up to and I tell her what I have been doing. I think that keeping in touch with our loved ones is very important at this time of isolation.

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    • Thanks, Carolyn. So good to hear from you. All of your keeping in touch is wonderful. In some ways, this may even make us feel less isolated. That’s why I’m trying to reach out every day. I had a good talk with my brother Mike last night. He’s doing well, still working with lots of precautions. His kids are all with him and his wife, sheltering in place together.

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  2. We don’t have too many places so work is about the only thing that has changed. I am glad I don’t have stir-crazy kids added to it all. Or have to worry about them getting ‘it’.

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  3. Here in NZ we are in lockdown since Wednesday night, in “bubbles.” So we have been able (we believe) to include my father-in-law, who lives alone, in our “bubble.” That’s what we intend anyway, and believe we can do. It means my husband can go to his house, take him shopping and put it away (he is 90 and struggles with mobility), and ensure there is contact with him. It will make a difference – and would have helped make life for your aunt much easier. (Though I may be misinterpreting what is allowed here. We’re only in the second day!) It also helps single people – two single people, living in separate houses, can form a “bubble” so they’re not completely isolated.

    Other than not being able to go out for meals, my life is not much different from normal. I’ve had years of training of staying at home, and keeping myself amused! I guess that’s a bonus.

    It’s a bit like war-time, I guess. Everything else falls away than the current critical focus. It’s understandable. Hard to escape at times, but in some ways reassuring that we’re all dealing with the same thoughts and fears and situations (to differing extents), all over the world. You’re not alone!

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  4. Like you, I am usually isolated in my day to day life. I have several health conditions that mean I am housebound for most of the time. I usually leave the house once or twice a month and I can not go out on my own. Although I don’t live alone, my partner works full time and is also often out of the house at weekends. Now he is working from home which is obviously a good thing when you think about the risks, especially as he travels to work by train and works in a big city. It’s hard though, as I am used to having the place to myself and now he has commandeered the spare room. I can’t get on my computer until after he finishes for the day and I can’t sew or do my other crafts. I also have to interact with him on and off all day which exhausts me. It has been two weeks already with more weeks to come. Now we are on a sort of ‘lockdown’ here in the UK and my Mum can’t visit which she usually does once a week. The schools closed a week ago so social media is full of ways to entertain and educate your children. People are complaining about having to look after their children all the time. Others are delighting in all the crafting they can do now that they can’t leave the house. It makes me feel even more isolated.

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    • Jo, I’m sorry your lockdown is so . . . locked down. It’s our second week here in Oregon, and it’s definitely getting old, but I do have the whole house to myself. I find that to be a blessing. Yes, I’m see the posts about people stuck at home with their children. I just pass them by. Hang in there.

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