University of Life

November 2020

I have been writing a lot for work lately, and not much for me. It feels like it has been a long time since I wrote from the heart. How are you? I am doing ok. And I say ok because I have been seeing some friends and having some progress at work. However, last night I had a cry. I miss the part of my life that is super social. The part where I go to meetings and sit in a board room. The part where I did not think about the potential consequences of unknowingly spreading a virus by going for a beer.

I was sick a few weeks ago. I had a really bad sore throat, low grade fever and felt that I was hit by a truck. I was advised to get a COVID-19 test. I made my appointment and went a few days after. I was not mentally prepared for what I was going to witness. The part history that I had not lived yet. I stood in line outside of the converted community centre with other people who were there because they where concerned that they were sick as well. We were socially distanced, but I feel my heart cry while in that line. I could see the faces of concern around me. As I was motioned into the building, there were strict guidelines as to where to stand and when to move forward. I had to replace my mask with a fresh disposable one. I used the hand sanitizer I believe three times while there. My health card was placed on what looked like a Lysol wipe before and after it was reviewed. By the time I got to the small screening table with my assigned RN, I was in tears. The whole scene was overwhelming. Medical staff head to toe in personal protection equipment. A huge amount of space between all the screening stations. My RN was wonderful.

She spoke with me about why I was crying, about this anxiety that I barely knew.

I explained that the whole scene was surreal, that I felt a huge wave of sadness for the staff working. I explained that I was not worried about myself actually being sick, but the consequences of being sick. My kids stayed at their dads for an extra week because of my cold, and we are being extra careful about that this year. The worry that my husband would not be able to visit with his mom, the worry of where I had been; the worry about what if I wasn’t careful enough and now someone who is not as healthy as I am was sick because of me. I cried the ugly cry, which was mostly concealed behind my mask, but having that much snot inside my mask was definitely unpleasant! She was truly wonderful and settled my nerves. She did mention that it was easy for her to forget that we patients can carry a lot of anxiety about coming in, and what happens if we do test positive.

The actual swab up the nose was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. It is placed in the nasal cavity. I believed it went so far up your nose it felt that one’s brain was being swabbed, definitely not true. For my female readers, not as unpleasant as a pap smear. For any reader who has ever gotten water up their nose, it was like that, only instead of blowing it out, you hold it in there for five long seconds! Easy peasy for a gal like me who uses nasal rinses.

My test did come back negative. Which meant the kids were coming back! It also gave me the ‘all clear’ to hope into the jeep the next morning and visit with my 85-year-old Grandparents. I also had a social distancing visit with my dad and stepmom. It was so good to see everyone and to sit and talk. I used the full day to just talk with them. Christmas is coming, and it will likely not include any of them. Winter will not be friendly either, so this face to face would likely have to hold me for five to six months.

Since then I have had some outdoor visits, some lovely hikes and now mentally prep for winter to keep me locked inside. The number of COVID 19 cases are rising everyday it seems in Ontario and we are having stronger restrictions put in place. We need them to help keep people healthy and to keep the hospitals at a level of control and safety for staff and patients. I did have the urge to buy extra canned goods for our winter stash, to make sure there were frozen veggies for us. I can’t rationalize this feeling. I remember how I felt when this started when there were less cases. How the grocery stores had food, lots of it, but that I felt that at any moment that could all go away. Again, I know this feeling was ridiculous to have but it was mine and I will honour it. I did not hoard and will not hoard. But I do have six cans of soup, two cans of corn and four cans of chunky stew in the basement. And that is enough to make me feel ok. That amount, by the way, is much less than what we had on the farm growing up, tucked away for winter storms or a few days without hydro. That is also enough that I have extra for someone who may need it more than I.

I love the winter, usually. Let’s see how this one plays out. I am hoping for a stronger, happy, and positive vibe kinda Paula once the spring comes. So if I lean on you a bit this winter, if I need your smile, your kind words to get me through the day or week, know that you can lean on me for them too. We need to keep talking to people, have those video calls, online happy hours and keep the course. Cause when this pandemic is under control, believe me, I will go around hugging all my people and booking trips to see the world!

I have a long list of people, places, and things to do and I intend on doing them eventually! Right now, I will drink my tea, keep the course of being COVID 19 conscious and do my yoga!