- Ray St-Amour
WHAT COVID TAUGHT ME
Today is November 12th, one day after Remembrance Day. Yesterday was a very somber day for many of us, remembering family members and strangers who fought in the wars to provide us the freedom that we have today. Remembrance services were held, watched mostly on the television with social distance protocols and masks protocols enforced for those who were present. A very somber day indeed as we look at the new war we are battling, a different type of war where we can all be soldiers helping out.
Our COVID-19 numbers are at a one time high of 1,575 new cases today. We are in the second wave. A vaccine is possible for distribution early 2021. That may not be the one for us as it needs to be kept at -70C for storage. But more vaccines are coming up and are promising. There is hope. There is also sadness for the direction this is going. In the first wave we saw the numbers in Europe spike first and then move to North America. Our neighbours to the south are in a very sad stage of the virus, hospitals being overwhelmed.
Since the beginning of COVID I have learnt so much, about myself, about others. I remember driving to the grocery store in those early days, my heart racing, feeling like I was encountering that sabertoothed tiger in prehistoric times, risking my life. Six feet apart. The virus is around us and we can’t tell. How can we fight an invisible adversary? Myself and almost everyone else shopping in fear. In and out of stores. As quickly as possible. I remember the shock when I went to a store and saw the empty shelves of flour, toilet paper and cleaners. Everyone trying to keep safe from this virus. The schools were closed. We were told to shop every 2 weeks only, to avoid going out. We knew so little then about the virus. Most people didn’t wear masks. We didn’t know how useful they were in combatting this virus. I disinfected my groceries as soon as I got home, labouring over this task as if my life was at stake.
As months went by my anxiety decreased. It may be because we understood more about the virus. It may be because I did CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) “exposure therapy”, which in laymen’s terms mean increased exposure to something that makes you anxious eventually decreases the anxiety. We now all wear masks. I am proud to say that Public Health Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph was one of the first Health Units to make masks mandatory in all public establishments. I started to feel safer. And then spring and summer came. Some socially distance visits with friends and family all outside. Some sense of almost normalcy. We took our commitment to the rules very seriously. I conquered the sabertoothed tiger. We learned more about the virus and information is power. Still 6 feet apart but no longer feeling that fear of going into battle. This is my normal routine now when I go to town.
I feel gratitude for living in Canada, where we have a strategy for dealing with COVID but also feel sad as there is so much community spread happening especially in Toronto and Peel Region. They are both in Red zones now with added restrictions in order to stop the continuously increasing numbers in this area. I live in Dufferin County and Peel is very close to us. I worry that our numbers will increase too.
We had been doing so well as a nation. But now, our numbers increasing, I feel a sense of worry for the communities at risk. Have we let our guard down? The latest “outbreaks” are said to be at weddings. So sad. People think “it won’t happen to me”. But it can. We hear of parties where people are not socially distancing, and people in general feeling that there is not much of a risk. And in some communities the risk may be low. But this can take a turn overnight. The fall television shows have just started and the medical ones are dealing with COVID as it has become our new reality.
So, what has COVID taught me? It has taught me not to take for granted what we have/had. To realize that human contact is oh so important. That reaching out to family and friends is important. It also has taught me that we can’t take our health for granted. That in a split second all that can change. We can get through this people. The vaccine is not that far away. But, first we must continue social distancing, we must continue to be vigilant. The word “COVID fatigue” is now in our lexicon. And yes, we may be fatigued, but we can’t stop doing what we can to stop the spread of this insidious virus. We have to do all we can to protect ourselves as we are protecting more than ourselves; we are protecting our whole community. I have learned that I can be patient. And yes I have great hope but first, we must make it to the finish line.