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The Pandemic and My Worry Button
I'm 74 and have a myriad of cardiac problems with all kinds of medical terms and anacronyms of many letters. Even with those challenges, normally, right now I'd be making blankets for charity, vounteering with the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. having coffee/theater/movie activites with my friends, picking up food in stores, shopping, running errands, etc. Due to the pandemic, and at the orders of my doctors, all of that is stopped. This recent increase of 1 million new cases every two weeks, my worry button is working overtime. I feel more sensitive to any cardiac symptom I have because this inactivity leaves me more time to worry and I really don't like this level of change in lifestyle. I come from a family of two parents and four kids. Three died from cancer too early in life and one died from a cancer/heart combo (at his request, we stopped the heart meds because cancer was so painful). The two oldest siblings are left alive. We died out of order for sure. So, I worry. Lately, I've been looking for ideas on adjusting to this new reality. I take online courses, do watercolor painting, and keep the house going. I know I need the words of one of my favorite songs,"a new attitude". Please share what you are doing to cope. I need new tools in my toolbox of life. Thanks! PS If this vaccine news is really true, short time (months) ideas are also welcomed as this new hopeful news unfolds!
AHAASAKatie, November 17, 2020 9:15am EST
Good morning, I love this conversation and the fact that you brought it up. I am a mask-wearing, rule-following, hand sanitizing person. I do not want to get sick or be the one who passes this to someone else who gets sick and/or dies. However, it is getting very hard to stay home and follow the rules, even for me.
For the last 1.5 years, I have been the responsible family member taking care of my Mom. For the last three months, she was in hospice, and I have been COVID19 tested every week in order to see her. I think those weekly tests gave me a false sense of security. That plus the intense emotions of helping a parent through the final stage of life created a vortex where COVID19 existed but was less important than what was happening with Mom. So in a way, it has existed for me but not at the same time.
Now that she is gone, and I do not have such a high level of responsibility, I am struggling with a new level of personal freedom, with nowhere to go. I am a social creature by nature, I miss my friends and my regular life. Plus I want and need the support of my friends and church family through this time.
All of this to say, I am in a tough place as well and struggling to cope. I have started painting again, building an inventory of artwork for when COVID19 is over and I can start my weekend hobby of art shows and art walks again. That has helped me. I also looked into getting my passport now, so I am ready post-pandemic to travel. Because of parenthood, finances, and then elder parent care, I have not been many places and we live in a large, diverse and beautiful world. I am planning trips in my head and figuring budgets.
One benefit to not being able to go out is saving money that could go towards art supplies or maybe a private catamaran cruise around Greece. Just saying, that might be the most popular google search on my computer these days. :)
I hope this helps you to know that while our circumstances are different, we in alignment with our feelings of anxiety and concern.
And, I would love to see pictures of your watercolors sometime :).
Thumper2, November 17, 2020 11:01am EST
NewPacer73, thank you for sharing how the COVID19 lockdown is affecting your life. Having to cut down on your very worthwhile social activities is tough! Do you work with Zoom? It is free to download, and if someone else is organizing a meeting, you can attend. This is the way that I get "out" these days -- our church meets on Zoom every Sunday, and we even have a virtual "Coffee Hour" afterward, with conversations with those who are there, and break-downs into smaller groups for more personal contacts (www.fpucowego.org). We have a committee that is trying to figure out how to worship in our sanctuary again, but so far, the way to make that kind of social contact responsibly eludes us. We all miss this, and I especially miss choir practice! Yet, our Music Director has worked out a way to have each choir member record their part (on BandLab) and send it to her -- she puts them together, and lo! our choir sings again!
Do you have groups and/or individuals to whom you enjoy talking? If Zoom or a Smart Phone works for you, it can almost be like being there. And then there is no Coronavirus danger! I know I'm lucky because my husband and I both work on our computer, in our wonderful basement, "attending" meetings, chatting with neighbors and far-away friends and family, and I do metalworking and polymer clay. We have gone out to dinner a couple of times with a few friends, but not recently -- we just don't feel quite safe (we're both older than you). But the computer is a blessing! I'm excited about the news of a vaccine, and I guess at our age, we're in the next-highest group to get it (assuming it's approved), after health-workers, etc. But in the meantime, a certain loneliness is par for the course. You have made good efforts to combat that, by taking on-line courses and doing watercolor. Since you make quilts (good for you!), is there an area on-line quilt group where you might make new friends?
Hang in there, and let us know how you are doing. All the best,
NewPacer73, November 17, 2020 5:05pm EST
Katie and Thumper: Thanks for responding. I do use Zoom to attend online classes. Somehow, it's not the same. This time of year does make one want to be close to people again. Hopefully, the vaccine will work and we will see relief by mid year next year. Cyber hugs to both of you!
JKViggiano, November 17, 2020 5:22pm EST
Hi everyone. One thing that has helped me is being a connecter. At our church, we set up call groups to keep us connected. we call our entire congregation every month and encourage each person to call someone too. Our small groups are meeting on zoom. Of course, Sunday services are on line. I still miss everyone but looking for ways to stay connected has been essential for me.
We also get out of the house and walk every day. No matter the weather, we make walking a priority for our physical, mental, and emotional health. What a difference it has made for us!
NewPacer73, November 17, 2020 5:32pm EST
JK, thanks for responding. I do services online, but we dont have a connect group. I sure hope other groups do that too, especially this winter! Sending cyber hugs your way!
JamesPL, November 17, 2020 5:38pm EST
In addition to the zoom calls which we have done periodically with our family, I absolutely agree that it is so important to get out of the house. My wife and I have made it a point to do our shopping every week at the store (no more instacart). We also take walks every weekend. She goes to work every day while I work from home so I have done all that I can to maintain my personal exercise program. That's a mix of running, walking and biking most weekends. I find just being out is so good for my mental and physical well being as others have expressed. I get up early to do my morning runs (still dark out) and it can be difficult but after I finish, I never regret getting up early and getting out.
Hope this helps!
Jessica0509, November 18, 2020 8:53am EST
Thank you for sharing! Everything you're experiencing and feeling is normal to feel during a time of uncertainty. I wear my mask, wash my hands as much as possible, keep my distance but still worry about exposure. In fact, I have been exposed but due to the precautions I take, mask wearing and social distancing, I didn't contract the virus. However, the week that I thought I could possibly have Covid-19, I felt a great deal of panic and anxiety, so I truly understand how you're feeling. Adjusting to this new "normal", has been quite tricky to navigate. I spend as much time as I can outside even though its starting to get cold where I live. Being outside gives me a sense of freedom and a feeling of connectedness that I've otherwise felt I've lost due to the restrictions in place. I also try to meditate twice a day and during this process I always start my meditation with things I am grateful for. I've been finding that expressing gratitude for the smallest things, helps keep me hopeful and in a positive mindset. I've also been more active online than I've ever been. I really like Facebook groups ( they have a group for pretty much everything) and connecting with people that way. I've actually made a few online friends that way and are truly grateful for the connections I've made. Sending you well wishes!
JeffB, November 27, 2020 8:58pm EST
OK, but remember, you asked. That lapse of judgment aside when it comes from me, however. Here's what I have been doing this year to cope with being cut off from everything that makes me, well, me.
I've been practicing forgiveness and empathy for myself when I fail and fall down into my emotional pit. It's a great big dark one too and I have spent far too much time there over the past five years since my heart attack. I gave it my best "big manly" too. Still, the best I can do is create a stable orbit with it. Never escaping it. Just circling one another while catching life in the meantime.
For me, running was my launchpad. With 1000's of people and so many sweaty running friends who were just happy to be doing something together. Or backpacking long distances with like-minded folks. Never alone. But together summiting mountains and talking loudly about all of our lives and sharing the highs and lows of our lives. Or going into my office of freaks to do the amazing work we do, I'm in tech so I say that in a NASA kind of way, some of these folks are missing a chromosome or two but that aside, they are rocket scientists and fun as all get out.
2020? Well. It all stopped. I have been alone for the past 9 months trying to keep my positive vibe alive. Hope. ANd, fr the most part, I have. But it's come at a deep personal cost. HEart wise, my numbers are amazing. No clue how that happened aside from the meds. But yeah, my own step count fell from 20k+/day to sometimes 2k. My outdoor adventures were shot down. Adjusting to 100% working from home has been a chain of failures for me (I do better with people around me). I nearly lost some friendships as I chose a hard-line, due to my heart issues, and they did not because their lives are their own, and I don't blame them. But perception is perception and friendships take physical work and effort.
So that said. I'm hurting. Badly. But, to your question. I sometimes set up my tent in my bedroom and play an outdoor night soundtrack off of my Google home assistant. Usually the sound of crickets or campfire or the sound of a stream. I play the sound of people while I work. I try to create bullet lists for myself to help me reach my goals.
And while this is probably off-color, when the lockdown first started, I was like, why not just forgo the pants (which I did for months)? Later, I found that going through the motions of shaving (the small part of my lower neck that I do - big beard here - but still a presentation routine), pressing an outfit, and putting on the office game was helpful to create a sense of normalcy in an absolute vacuum of it.
Yeah, this is a tough one. And I suspect, once the exhausted medical community has a chance to recover, these are folks who are absolute heroes, they will find that the cardiac impact is undeniably negative. But, these are harsh times. A critical mass point that the entire globe is sharing.
And that's the idea that brings me back up more than anything. We are all united. We are one race of humans. Through love, we find meaning in life. So by staying home and cutting myself off, that's my way of both protecting myself, I don't give a fiddlestick (antique word selected because of the language filter the AHA uses) way about that myself really. I'm a mountain climber now. What I do care about, deeply, is other people. Families. Friends. Strangers.
So, to close, it's been rough. I meditate a lot. I walk (masked). I do pushups, pull-ups, planks, stretches, and both resistance band and dumbbell exercises at home, I eat as best I can, drink tea, read, shower, work, among other things to live a different type of life that is still my own. But I'm also not afraid to reach out and share my heart with others. Form new friendships. Cry. Share. Laugh. I'd like to think that we will all be a little closer to one another after this Storm. That is, at least, my sincere hope.