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2019 was the “year of the boar” in Chinese astrology. I did an entire rant previously about how that should’ve been MY year. Anyway- fast forward to 2019 coming to an end and my excitement to welcome a brand new year and decade… Hello, 2020! You know, the whole “can’t go anywhere but up from here” attitude… Who would’ve known what 2020 would’ve had in store for the world-at least the beginning half of 2020 anyway since we have yet to see how our world and city will actually recover from the first shutdown in history… Fast forward to May (pretty much halfway through the entire calendar year) and how quickly do the problems of your 2019 seem much more trivial now than they actually were in those moments. In hindsight right? In 2020-perfect vision (pun intended), when if you needed something from the grocery store-it was so simple to run there and get it, right?
With so much going on concerning the CoronaVirus for the last 7 weeks, it was hard not to get uber consumed in the mayhem at times. The panic grocery store runs, seeing the aisles of what should be full shelves of canned goods or cleaning products absolutely barren, going down the black hole of conspiracy theories, and talking yourself out of that eerie feeling of “is this all really happening”? Oh, and don’t forget the constant reminders throughout this whole ordeal that WE are compromised, WE are high-risk, WE could be affected much more severe than the average person getting COVID-19. That is a scary reminder to have constantly looming with no end in sight and if they do come up with some miracle vaccination-do WE even get to truly benefit from that? That is a heavy reminder to carry as if it’s not already hard enough to leave the house and see nothing but face masks everywhere you go, wearing of gloves, people intentionally avoiding each other like the plague, and just a sheer feeling of desolation in a city that supposedly never sleeps. As ridiculous as I feel this has all gotten at moments-when I see people wearing entire hazmat suits at Costco or a lady wearing a legit eye mask to sleep over her nose and mouth as if it is an actual mask for your nose and mouth?!?, it is equally as frightening at the same time. Like I legit go through moments where I feel like if I get CoronaVirus, I’m gonna die… and it sucks!!! I’m sure I’m not alone in all that paranoia and as much as one can attempt to stay sane in between all the craziness-eventually it wears you down, eventually, it’s everywhere and constantly in your face and I often run questions through my own mind like is this really gonna be a thing every year (I’ve heard this theory)? Will this become the new flu season? Could I really imagine living a life primarily like this forever? Depending on others to go grocery shopping for me or run my errands, barely leaving the house, hell! barely changing out of pj’s these days and keeping my young, vibrant, healthy boys locked inside with me because I’m high risk? Completely panicked to go outside, feeling eerie and overwhelmed to do basic things like grocery shop or put gas when I do decide to be brave enough to attempt a field trip, panicked to let my kids outside or to be around friends and not even seeing my parents for months when they literally live streets away and if so, is that truly even considered living? If we continue to “honor” what this virus requires (which is stay inside and completely isolate), is that really living? For anyone? Parts of me feel vindicated that now the world finally gets to walk a mile in my shoes (when I say WALK a mile that is completely for theoretic and rhetorical reasons btw-we all know I’m not walking many miles these days literally), but seriously, apart of me feels like I’m looking at the world like why is it so bad to stay home a lot? Why is it so torturous that your life had to slow down momentarily? Why was it that out of the ordinary to expect basic human cleanliness like washing your hands, no touching your face or mouth, containing your coughs or sneezes, and staying at home if you don’t feel well? How or why did it take a global pandemic to call people out on basic everyday hygiene practices? Why did it go to these extremities to get people to see how ones irresponsible actions can have grave consequences for another? So the entire world had to slow down… ironic to watch now as my whole world came to a screeching halt a few years ago and the world didn’t slow down for me a bit.
As this lockdown slowly comes to a hopeful end… I look back and there was such a whirlwind of events in what was actually a very short amount of time. Right before the lockdown was officially announced, I had been dating someone new for a couple of weeks. Let me just tell you that a “quarantine relationship” ages in dog years! Right after quarantine began, my birthday was quickly approaching. At the time of MY birthday becoming a quarantine celebrated event, I never would’ve imagined that we would’ve still been in quarantine for every other important event that should’ve happened-but didn’t thanks to the lockdown. My older sons 18th birthday-celebrated in quarantine with just the people he lives with, senior trips cancelled, senior prom cancelled, and now a commencement ceremony that was technically cancelled but is now rescheduled for mid July-not to mention a graduation party we had been planning in Hawaii for about a year already…all cancelled. As I look back on the devastation I faced when I felt my whole life changed overnight thanks to MS, I feel horrible that my son will never forget his senior year either. All 2020 graduates will NEVER forget their senior year and they will never get the proper do-over. Senior year will never have the memories for my son as my senior year did for me. My biggest hope is that my son, as well as everyone else sharing in this disappointing and devastating time, can always remember what this has taught us all about life and family, about patience, about gratitude, about coming together, and about slowing down and they can use these lessons in positive ways as they transition into adulthood.
I think the best post I’ve seen throughout this whole ordeal (since we all know idle time makes for amazing keyboard cowboys) and one that hit home quite hard for me, personally was: “I understand people have no idea the dangers that immunosuppressed people are in with any type of contagious illness. I didn’t care about MS and being immunosuppressive until it affected me. I get something like a simple cold and it takes me out for 3 weeks now”. This post hit home for me so much because even as someone with MS, even knowing I was immunosuppressed, I myself didn’t really realize the true blue effects of being immunosuppressed until I had my surgery last year… When I took 5x longer to heal than someone would have had they been my age BUT without a chronic illness looming. When my dissolving stitches did NOT dissolve as they should have and there I was having to have stitches, 6 months old, literally unstitched and yanked out (painful? FUCK YES!!!!), but completely normal for someone in my shoes. So basically, we MSers primarily live our lives in a forever quarantine, we exist in our own bubbles, we always wash our hands and are always extra mindful of cleanliness and hygiene in general, we frequently avoid uber crowded places and anyone seemingly showing any remote signs of a possible sickness that could be contagious and we NEVER want to intentionally be around anyone or exposed to the sick in general… period… not just COVID-19… We are fragile and whether the world is slowing down or being mindful around us, those requirements for us are endless and have had to become our permanent way of life. It is unfortunate that while the world may want to rush back into normalcy as quickly as possible, nothing really changes for us…