Thank you to everyone who commented with their condolences on last Monday’s post. I’m sorry I didn’t really respond to pretty much anyone — on that or the other two posts that have gone up since — but I’m just… Well, it’s a lot.
The worst of the grief is easing some, but it’s still such a strange idea that someone just suddenly isn’t on the planet anymore. Even when you didn’t see them regularly, there’s a certain comfort in knowing they’re there if you needed to call/email/visit.
So that was and continues to be a blow. It comes in waves, which I’m told is utterly normal, but also super exhausting.
But wait, there’s more
I had more concerning relative news. From someone I’m even more separate from: my dad.
For reasons too long to get into here, some of my mom’s family is still a little in touch with my dad — even though she and I aren’t, for obvious reasons. But since she has been talking to her family so much more this last week, it came out that my dad almost died earlier this year.
I had forgotten, but apparently he’s diabetic these days. Apparently, he wasn’t taking care of himself despite his new wife’s urgings. He started acting/talking irrationally — well, more than normal, I guess — and she tried to get him to go to the hospital, but he refused and got belligerent. She left, but eventually he apparently took her advice and went in.
When he got there, they found his blood sugar was in the 900s.
I looked it up, and normal blood sugar is around 140. Risk of a diabetic coma starts around 600. Again, he was in the 900s.
So yeah, no one really knows how he was still awake/alive. He was hospitalized for a few days, apparently. I guess things are okay now, but yikes.
A lot of implications
He’s only 70, but he’s got a host of health issues, from what I hear. I had also heard through the grapevine that his new wife recently attended a funeral in a hotbed state.
I’d joked to a friend that the last thing I needed was for her to get sick, give it to him and for him to die. Because I am not emotionally equipped to navigate the whole host of emotions and multi-layered grieving process that would cause.
So the blood sugar thing was… sobering.
I guess at some point, I will have to deal with that “loss” — even if he and I haven’t talked in almost 14 years (thank god). And that notion just makes me beyond tired to ponder.
Grieving for a nation
I’m not even talking about grieving for the death of unity. No, I think that right now a lot of us feel like death is everywhere.
Hard not to, I suppose, when tomorrow the COVID-19 death total will be right around 250,000 people. A quarter of a million people dead from a virus in the past eight months.
And so many of them didn’t have to die. If only so many people hadn’t insisted on defying mask advisories/mandates and distancing protocols. Because apparently the freedom to breathe ever so slightly more freely or to go to bars is more important than literally saving lives.
That’s… I don’t understand. Truly.
It’s going to get worse
Or so we keep being told. We’ve been told that since early summer at least, but so many of us hoped that it wouldn’t be true. That we would’ve learned our lesson by now and come together.
But cases are rising nearly everywhere.
I was feeling sorry for myself because Arizona has been hovering around 2,000 new cases a day. Then I looked into it and found that our numbers are in the lowest 1/3 of states in the nation. Only about 15 states had 2,000ish or fewer cases the day I checked.
So yeah, we’re in for a rough ride. And it utterly breaks my heart how many more people are going to join me in grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID in the coming months. Many of whom haven’t lived a nice long life like my grandfather had.
It doesn’t help, of course, that a segment of the population keeps trying to go back to normal.
I’m not sure if you heard about the wedding in Maine. Two idiots had 55 people at their event, sans masks or distancing. The limit in that state is 50 — which is far too high to begin with but that’s a rant for another day. And the next day, one of the guests started having symptoms.
In other words, he was likely just pre-symptomatic at the event.
Inexplicably, a list of the guests was not made available to the officials tracing the outbreak, so the results I’m about to give are likely underreported. But for now we know that this single event resulted in 177 cases (including one prison guard and one nursing home worker, both of whom kept going to work after developing symptoms) and seven deaths. And of course, the number death could easily rise soon, since COVID can take many weeks to kill people.
And given that COVID-19 is surreptitiously causing permanent organ damage in an as-yet-unquantified percentage of patients, there could be even more lasting effects than the current seven dead.
The bride and groom’s insistence on not postponing the wedding or at least the celebration of it — or at the absolute least, having a very low number of guests, all of whom masked up and distanced — means that seven people now no longer exist. I hope they sit with that knowledge every single time they celebrate an anniversary or look at wedding photos.
And yes, that’s mean-spirited. But there are several families currently grieving irreplaceable losses. All because two people just had to get married this year — and just had be feted immediately — and, of course, because their guests were too thoughtless to keep a distance from one another.
Fatigue and burnout
I’m so tired, guys. Because we keep being told the worst is still to come. And while the Pfizer news is promising, we’ve got a third trial phase to go, then review by the FDA (expedited, but still…) and then hopefully trusted scientists also weighing in. And then we still have to figure out how to get enough people to take the damn thing.
So when people say that folks are just burned out… To an extent, I get it. But to a greater extent, I say “Too goddamn bad.”
It’s perfectly okay to be emotionally fatigued. But it’s not okay to use that as an excuse to get overly lax. Sorry, but we don’t get the luxury of burnout — not if it means risks that put others at risk.
You can be exhausted by the protocols. You can be angry at them. You can direly miss friends and families and hugs and not having to bring your own food if you have socially distanced hangouts.
You can be fatigued to hell and back. That is absolutely your right. But you do not get to use that as an excuse to risk other people’s lives by going back to dangerous activities.
We can be exhausted and emotionally frayed — most of us are — but that doesn’t give any of us a pass to go back to life as usual.
Because we’re not just taking that risk for ourselves. Almost all of us have a social bubble of some sort. So any risks we take, we take on behalf of everyone we see. And any additional people they see, in a social or work setting. And any additional people those people see. Ad infinitum.
So every time we get lax, we are risking exponential people getting sick and a small number of them dying. Which means we don’t get to allow ourselves to lapse just because we’re tired.
I know tired
I have chronic fatigue. I know all about tired. So I know about feeling like you just can’t go on another minute without collapsing. It’s depressing beyond words.
But you know what?
The world doesn’t stop just because we’re tired. Risks don’t stop being risks just because we miss taking the activity.
It doesn’t matter how damn tired you are. You learn to suck it up. You learn to find workarounds. And you keep going.
So be sad and frustrated and exhausted and, sure, even a tad hopeless. But do not allow yourselves to use that as excuse to take it easy on the protocols.
Because you need to remember that — if you’re anything like me — if you ever test positive, you’re going to be kept awake at night wondering how many people you gave it to. (Remember, masks help, but they’re not perfect.) And how many people those folks gave it to. etc. And how many of those people might have died.
So yes, you can be utterly enervated. You can cry about the unfairness and the awfulness. But that isn’t license to give up.
There are millions of people in this country with disabilities that keep them at least as isolated/homebound permanently as we all feel right now. They’ve figured out how to keep going. Because it’s a matter of life or death. So is this.
So whether or not it seems like it, you can bloody well persist. “It’s hard” isn’t going to cut it.
I’m not saying…
Obviously, we can’t stop all parts of life. But we can mitigate risk greatly.
Given the rise in cases, I’m probably going to stop getting haircuts again for a while. Everyone stays masked, but people’s masks do occasionally slip down unnoticed until someone points it out.
I’m going to get massages only on Saturdays, when there’s only one employee and client in the building at a time. (I was going to stop completely, but neck and back pain has increased recently.) If cases do go up, I’ll cancel even those appointments and figure something else out.
I’m going to try to stop going to the store as often. With all the stress eating, I’m going out to get candy too often. It’s an unnecessary risk. And bad for my health anyway.
Obviously, everyone has their own threshold for risk. (To an extent, that’s part of the problem.) There are risks that, while I personally wouldn’t take, I can agree are probably still unlikely to result in getting/spreading the virus. There are, in other words, risks that most of us can agree are reasonable.
Then there’s going to a 55-person wedding. It’s usually pretty easy to tell one from the other. So don’t try to pretend otherwise. If not for your own sake, than for every single other person in this country.
How’s everyone holding up? What’s a risk that you wouldn’t do but consider reasonable?