Keeping perspective when subjected to a daily barrage of media about numbers of people contracting COVID-19 and numbers of people who die is not easy.
My husband and I both fall into high-risk categories for a serious and, possibly fatal episode if we should contract the virus, because of our age. Though not frail, my husband is in the highest risk category: male, over 80, with a pre-existing medical condition. We realize that age compromises the immune system and there is no escaping that reality. Needless to say, we are hyper-aware of how we might protect ourselves.
Fortunately, we live in Canada with reliable science-based information on the spread of COVID-19, a strong public health system for testing, as well as universal health coverage for medical care and hospitalization, if needed. We truly hope that we won’t need any of these measures.
What we’ve done to protect ourselves
- We have focused on frequent hand washing. As soon as we come home from any outside excursions, a thorough cleanse with soap and hot water is the routine. We use hand sanitizers when away from home and keep extra disinfected hand wipes in both cars;
- We are learning about keeping a social distance from others. Health Canada recommends a distance of 1 meter.
- Rather than listening to endless media reports that distress me, I consult reliable sources each day and try not to worry about what I can’t control.
- The habit of shaking hands and hugging others when greeting friends is on hold. It’s now the awkward fist punch, elbow touch or a bow!
- In terms of stocking up, we filled prescriptions for medications to the amounts allowed by our pharmacy and health insurance plan; bought extra supplies of canned food, disinfectants, and paper supplies. No, we don’t have a storage room full of toilet paper or paper towels, but I did buy extra packages of both!
- We are following local news accounts about local outbreaks. So far, our small city in Ontario had only one case. This was a university student who returned from a visit to Wuhan Province in late January, tested positive, self-isolated, and has since been declared free of the virus. She was one of the first five cases diagnosed in Canada.
- To keep ourselves healthy, we try to eat nutritious foods, sleep 7 to 8 hours per night, and stay with exercise routines. I’ve put visits to the gym on hold, despite assurances of extra sanitizing!
- We have chosen to stay away from large public gatherings. We decided to stop going out for restaurant meals. Our local theatre has cancelled performances and is offering refunds to season ticket patrons. I’ve stopped going to bridge games and stopped hosting bridge games.
- To make the most of the extra time at home, we have a stash of books and magazines, Netflix, podcasts, and music streaming. Of course, there is also a job list that can include spring cleaning cupboards, closets, and de-cluttering! Depending on how long the danger of catching this virus lasts, we may pack up and go to the cottage to hunker down there for a change of pace.
- We’ve had a family discussion with our son and daughter-in-law to make plans in the case that things get worse and public health recommendations require quarantine. They are planning to work from home as both the school our granddaughter attends, and the YMCA daycare centre that cares for our grandson have closed for at least 3 weeks.
We aren’t ready to hibernate completely but we will stay away from others as much as possible.
It’s a difficult time everywhere in the world. The confusion and fear lead to a certain amount of anxiety. I’m trying to keep my anxiety in check by staying mindful of the reality that public health officials still rate the risk to most Canadians as ‘low’.
I hope every reader stays healthy and safe. Please take precautions to protect yourselves and those around you!