Corona Diaries


08.00, Thursday 19th March

Total cases Germany: 12,327

Total deaths: 28

Total recovered: 105

I am doing my utmost not to leave the house. There are two reasons for that. One, I do not want to help to spread the virus. Two,  I do not want my family or I to catch the virus especially as my husband, my daughter and I myself, all have asthma, so we’re considered high risk.

♦♦♦♦

I am one of those people who consumes news. That is, I read the news, a lot. I watched the virus from afar, in China, and I was horrified. And I felt trepidation. My children call me their dragon mother. They always proudly recant stories of me, puffing up my chest and blowing out my flames at any remotely dubious character who would even dare to glance in their direction.

So I started rabbiting on to my husband about that proper larder I had been planning on installing in the cellar for the last couple of years. He readily agreed that it wasn’t actually a bad idea.

Then the numbers in our almost neighbour Italy, suddenly shot up. And luckily, I was ahead of the curve.

It seems to me that Germans (at least in my area) haven’t quite got the concept of supermarkets. They still tend to go shopping most days. Whereas I’m a buy in bulk kind of lass. Partly because of my British heritage. Partly because I have four whole children. And going shopping with four whole children is a mammoth task. Two of my children are ‘blessed’ with ADHD, one of those is also sprinkled with autism. Growing up, our shopping trips meant once a month, a big, massive shop with two overflowing  trolleys and then, every now and then an attempt at nipping out to top up milk, bread and other fresh stuff. Even that became a bit too much at some point. So I started having our milk and yoghurt delivered and a fruit and veg pack for a while too. Those deliveries may well have saved my sanity.

As the years went by, kids started moving out, and I starting relaxing and going shopping alone more and more often. I love cooking, so I would really let the food inspire me.

But experience is experience. So before almost anyone else started ‘hamstering’ as the Germans call it. I was standing in line, once again with my two trolleys full to the brim of things we regularly eat and drink, but have a long shelf life (the shop assistant looked rather surprised). I had decided, before the shit hit the fan, I would get myself together and sort my larder out once and for all! Not only that, I would give my two grown up children who have moved out, but live on a pittance, a few bits and pieces to keep them going  too. Let me assure you: I am not greedy. I did not buy anything we would not normally use and I did it at a time when the shelves were full and everything was in abundance. And since then, I have only bought regular levels of shopping.

I am organized. I am one of those irritating mothers who has an itinerary planned for a holiday.

I’ve also realized that, any time I hit a crisis my reaction is to feed people. Be it a death, a storm, or a virus.

I think it’s how I take control.

Last Friday
They announced the schools were closing as of Tuesday. I was so glad. The numbers of ill people had been rising day after day. My asthmatic daughter was squashed like a sardine on the bus and I was fearful. So fearful, I had started losing sleep.

I just wanted to have her at home and put her in a cocoon. And stand guard over her.

I might be the dragon mother but this dubious character, who wants to attack my family is invisible.

Saturday
I cooked. Soups mainly. I thought,  if we get the virus we will need something healthy. I stayed up late until they all cooled down and then I put them in the new freezer.

On Saturday I also cried. A lot. I cried about my grown-up children. Who have stopped coming to visit because they are scared to infect us asthmatics. I cried about the people in Italy that I do not know. I cried about the people in Italy that I do know. I cried about my dad, who died, 40 years ago – the anniversary was the day before, on the 13th of March, – and when he died, he was the same age as I am now. Just 47. I cried about my mum and my step father who are not nice people and who want nothing at all to do with me, but I know there’s a high chance they would not survive this virus, should they get it. I cried about random acts of kindness. I cried about my daughter losing her job, her income and her premier the night before in the theatre. I cried about her happy bubble bursting and her insecurities awakening. I cried for friends who have diabetes, heart conditions, asthma and cancer. I cried for people I do not know and have never met. I cried for people who are alone and sad and scared and lonely. I cried with fear that I may never see my children have their own children and that I may never be able to be their dragon grandmother.

And then I dried my face and I started to cook.

I tried to plan how I could stay home as much as possible. How I could try and help people from inside my home. What could I offer? I wanted to go out and do my bit. It’s quite a hard realisation when it suddenly dawns on you, you can’t be the protector anymore. You have to be the protected.

So I called people. I wrote to people. I tried to see if everyone was OK. A lot of people were not OK.

Monday
Akasha had to go to school. I had cancelled work completely for the following five weeks. So we juggled things around and my husband drove her back and forth, so she at least didn’t have to be a sardine on a bus.

♦♦♦♦

Friends call. They offer to deliver food and help in anyway they can.

I start to see my invisible foe everywhere. Is he on the box the postman just delivered?

I read somewhere that the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours. Is it fake news? So I take the box in. And leave it sitting for 24 hours before I open it. I wash my hands, saying the alphabet twice. Just to be sure. You may think that I am paranoid. But the very next day two postal workers in Italy die from the virus and unions are demanding the closure of postal services. The day after that our postman has gloves on.

There’s no cheery banter at the door. Not much more than a brief thanks in that sudden, momentary contact.

I feel sad. It’s hard to motivate myself to do anything. I am so tired because I have trouble sleeping. And I have a persistent cough that I know is just from a previous bad cold. But I want to be healthy, so if I get the virus, I can fight it with all my might.

♦♦♦♦

Tuesday
My mood improved dramatically. I felt more normal and motivated again. I realized that I probably went through a few stages and it seems to be happening to a lot of people around me.

The first stage is denial: I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot accept this. From my perception this is a longer stage for the young. When you’re young you feel invincible. And most likely, you haven’t experienced much death. Also, with this virus, the young don’t seem to be as badly affected as older people. At least, so far.

After that comes acceptance and with that often some kind of crisis. Maybe you feel angry, or can’t sleep, perhaps you cry a lot like I did, or start to be really anxious. This stage is horrible. But I think it’s important not to suppress it. Once you let it out you can get onto the next bit.

For me that’s definitely take control. Do something. This is a good stage. I don’t know however, what comes next.

We are all, suddenly, in the same boat. Young and old. Across the nations. Some of us are at earlier stages, others at later. This is our war and we need to fight it together.

I wish you all strength. I wish you all courage. I wish you all patience. Above all, I wish you all to feel the love from and give the love to one another.

Stay safe.

10.15, Thursday 19th March

Total cases Germany: 12,343(+16)

Total deaths: 28

Total recovered: 105

 

 

 

 

 

36 Replies to “Corona Diaries”

  1. Hello! These are scary and uncertain times! Leif is also in the high risk group, as he takes immunosuppressive drugs to battle his AS and has asthma and diabetes. He is isolating himself out at his farm, but I still have things to do that I need to be in town, so I don’t know when I will see him again. My college and the spud’s high school have switched all learning to an online format, so we can stay at home and work on our lessons. Even though I need to be in town where I have access to better internet service, I do not plan to go to any public places for the next several weeks, but have what I need delivered. The US is a big place, and some areas have been hit hard, but there have been no cases reported by local authorities within 200 miles of us yet, so I am hopeful we locked down early enough to control spread. But, just following the rapidly changing news here with what is closing and latest developments is time consuming and mentally/emotionally exhausting. This new ‘normal’ feels very surreal.

    I hope you and your family whether this with good health! Sounds like you do have what you can control well regulated, so good for you for being prepared!

    Check in regularly so we know you are okay.

    Hugs and best wishes,
    Janie

    1. I find that it’s quite hard to find the numbers here. The local ones I mean. But there’s a lot going on locally. My friend is a nurse, she works out in the community with the elderly now, going from house to house. But she has now been asked if she’d return to the hospital. Her husband is a GP and as well as running his practice, he will help at the weekend, testing people.
      It’s going to be so tough on medical staff.
      I hope that Leif stays well!!! It’s good that he can segregate himself quite well on the farm.

      I will keep in touch!!
      Stay well Janie!!

  2. Hello, thank you for posting this it really touched me. I can say that I hardly ever cry when I read articles or books and I can truely say that this has touched me that much that I did cry.
    Hope you write again soon.
    Stay well.
    Kashi

  3. Wonderful post and yes, everyone is in the same boat…so to speak. I live with my oldest daughter who has Lupus and she was very concerned so got tested. I believe she is fine but it made her feel better. I am nearly 68 and have an artificial heart valve so she worries about that and I told her not to…easier said than done. I nearly died in 2015 of heart failure and am still here so I do believe that it is high time to live my life and not stress as I use to do. I give positive input to the people I know when I can because fear is an awful thing to drive a person and is certainly not good for anyone’s health. All schools are closed here in WA State and many businesses and medical offices. If I do need money from the bank there is the drive thru as they also have closed their doors. I try not to look at statistics because anytime anyone dies it is not good but I do know there are 5.5 billion people on our planet and the world wide statistics (though never a good thing) in difference to the number of people in our world is not nearly as devastating or worrisome to think about. Again, deaths are never a good thing but fear is a horrible thing to live with because it can cause a person to not be able to move, much less live. I am glad you made the decisions you did and one thing is certain for us all and that is change always happens and the tide will again become a positive one in which we will, again, all be a part. Take care.

    1. Firstly, I really hope you and your family stay fit and well.

      For me checking the statistics is a good thing because I can keep an eye on what is because it helps me keep it all in perspective. I also want to acknowledge those who died and ultimately see the survivors coming out the side. Furthermore, I really feel it’s important to show doubters (of which there are still far, far too many) that this is serious. There’s so much in life that we cannot control, and at the moment that is even more so the case. But there are other things that we can do every day which make us feel more in control.

      But I completely understand that many people don’t want to look at the numbers.

      Fear is an absolutely horrible thing to live with. I think a lot of it is about our lack of control.

      On top of all that, I really feel there is still a lot to be positive about. The solidarity and acts of kindness people have shown. The dedication of our governments, health professionals, teachers.
      The positive effects on the environment.

      Stay safe lovely Renee!!

  4. All we can do, Sarah, is keep on keeping on in our own way. I’ve gone through the same (or similar!) stages as you, an odd feeling.
    Keep the humour, it will help.
    Look after yourself as well.

    1. Thank you Tom.
      We always laugh a lot in this house. Probably because we’re a slightly bonkers bunch. Yes, it’s a really odd feeling!!!
      Take care Tom!

  5. My brother is asthmatic and he lives with my mum who is a nurse! It’s a worrying time, definitely. Jan is also high risk as he’s diabetic (type 1 and otherwise healthy).

    Supermarket shelves were pretty empty here at the weekend (no carrots, potatoes, ginger or garlic, almost no toilet roll, no “toast” bread) but yesterday all the fresh fruit and veg was stocked up again. Flour and sugar were almost empty though – maybe people are trying to bake their way through the crisis?

    1. I really hope that your family rides this storm with as little difficulty as possible.
      I think I never heard the words ‘toilet roll’ mentioned as often in my whole life, as I have in the past week. It’s crazy!!
      Fresh stuff is good. They are keeping markets open here and I keep wondering if I should go and try to buy stuff. They have also said garden centres and hairdressers can stay open, which is causing some controversy. But the banks closed down today.
      I bought flour a few weeks ago. My idea was to make my own bread. I quite often make bread (not quite so much recently as I hadn’t the time). But in Germany people are always baking cake. In some households it’s a weekly staple. Might it be like that in Switzerland?

  6. The peak of the problem is yet to hit the states…well we wouldn’t really know since so little testing has been done…in any case…we began preparation early since friends of ours in the medical profession said that this was going to be worse than presented by the government…stay safe and blessed.

    1. I am glad that you are well prepared.
      Testing is the only way to try and keep on top of the virus. They didn’t test too much here right at the beginning. They would only test you if you had symptoms and had been in a high risk area or had had direct contact with someone who had it. That policy went mightily wrong when people suddenly returned from South Tirol showing symptoms and the medical board kept refusing to test them. They were testing people returning from different parts of Italy though, if they were on the list.
      Now they are testing masses and last week alone they did around 100,000 tests. And they are still increasing.

      In our news, we are told that in the US a lot of people on lower incomes probably will choose not to go for testing if there symptoms aren’t too bad, because they won’t get sick pay. Or because they can’t afford medical bills.

      Here they have now started drive through test centres. A really good and effective policy. Not only is it much, much safer for both medical staff and other patients, it is also dramatically cheaper.

  7. Hi Sarah. Took me a while to read through this but it is well thought out. I sense it was also a catharsis for you as well to spill it all out on the page. You concern is valid and your attitude well justified.

    Their will be a lot of adjustment as a result of this. I think here in America there will be a lot of pressure to bring production of goods back from China, especially drugs. Yes the cost will go up but can you put a price on safety?

    1. You can’t put a price on safety at all.
      I hope things are OK with you and your family Al!
      It was a catharsis. I will write again and keep you informed.

  8. Just reading this now and we’re a few weeks on from when you wrote this. In the UK we’re living in that fear but also in awe of how the Germans are doing it! You have so few deaths. Here, it is touching all of us. A man just a few doors up from me died and the whole village is in mourning. We all knew him and he was well loved. I am praying that’s as bad as it gets and no one close to me gets it. But too many have already died. Stay safe.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. I really hope that everyone else you love and hold dear survives this terrible illness.
      I am fearful too, for friends and family in the UK, many of whom are high risk. These are the times where, being an expat, I feel so very far away.

      There are a few points about Germany, I think. Firstly, the first people to get sick were generally younger and fitter people. They were either people who were returning from a skiing holiday, or people who had travelled to the local area to work. So it didn’t really hit a cross section of the population. That is, less at risk people caught the virus in the beginning.
      The second ‘saving grace’ is the testing. The government followed up with testing on a mass scale as quickly as possible – it’s not been perfect, but it has been good.
      There’s a lot of devolved government, so areas that were hit hard, reacted quite quickly I think. Locking down. Even making the wearing of masks compulsory in some places.
      Then there just are a lot more hospital beds. And also intensive care beds. So many, that, I’m proud to say, the Germans are taking in very sick patients from other countries. Like Italy, France and the Netherlands. And everyone has to pay health insurance, and health insurance companies are generally in profit, so not cash-strapped like the NHS.

      Then there are little cultural things like the fact that generally grandparents don’t live with their families, some do, but not as many as in Italy or Spain.
      And German people are a bit more distant in general, some kiss on the cheek, but not so many, especially in the older generations, they are a bit more formal, they tend to shake hands and be less touchy feely.
      And then there’s the efficiency. German people, generally tend to be quite efficient and diligent. There’s quite a strong focus on ‘getting the job done’ in a quite matter-of-fact way. Almost like a well oiled machine.
      I think all of these individual points have made their impacts on the numbers. Though the amount of people dying
      is of course rising. And also there are some odd anomalies that I can’t quite get my head around. Like the fact that the chimney sweep has to come to our house. Legally we can’t say no. Despite the virus. And what’s really crazy is, we have gas. No coal fire. No wood burner. When I had gas in the UK, no chimney sweep ever came by. In general, I think it’s great that our boiler is serviced once a year. But why now? My husband called him and said that we would like to postpone until later in the year, when things have calmed down, as three people in our house are high risk. The chimney sweep said legally, he has to come. So my husband asked him, how he can assure us that he won’t carry the virus into our home. He was quite impatient and answered that he could wear a mask and gloves if we insisted. But his attitude made it clear that that wasn’t routine for him at all. I think there the British have the edge, in general here, a rule is a rule and people tend to be more shocked if you challenge it. I think the British are generally a bit more creative and challenging there!!

      Stay healthy Ken!!

      1. Thank you for your reply – very interesting to read the good and the bad! Do keep yourself safe too. I’m looking forward to reading your posts when we’re all on the other side and can reflect on what it all meant. 🙂

    1. I’m sorry for answering so late!!
      Some days are good, some not so good. We are living through very strange times indeed.

      How are things with you?

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