COVID Tests Our Resolve

My life before COVID

People are tired. Well, those of us who are paying attention to COVID and trying our best to avoid getting sick and spreading each variant as it comes along, we’re exhausted. Our mental health is slipping. Every now and again even the most cautious break down and take a chance. And when they do, BOOM!

They end up getting COVID.

Vaxed, boosted, masked, isolated and still we’re getting sick. And, although it’s mostly true that we’re not ending up in our local ICU, intubated, or dead, some of us do get very sick and it’s scary.

I mean we know that as each variant comes out it threatens the efficacy of the latest vaccines.

We’re not mad at the scientists because we understand that this is what a pandemic is like, and their research is the only hope we have to better understand what we face. We’ve seen enough dystopian science fiction movies to have been mentally prepared for such a real life event, but when it arrived, like everyone else, we still weren’t ready. Not psychologically and not even scientifically. This is what a pandemic is like. As hard as it is to accept, we’re stuck with a lot of unknowns still.

We’re floundering, and we know it.

While many people claim that it’s time to get back to just living our lives, the cautious can’t accept that course of action. Why? Because those who make this decree offer zero solutions to our overcrowded hospitals, struggling schools, or shortages of employees. Their idea of a plan is to do nothing while pretending that the numbers are skewed and the teachers, nurses, and doctors are somehow part of a huge worldwide conspiracy to destroy life as we know it.

They’re mad!

They hate us. We’re exhausted. We fear them. There seems to be nothing that can bring us together. Not the death of our loved ones, the suffering of long COVID, the next vicious variant, nothing. Our mutual suffering isn’t the same. We’re not even able to agree that we’re all going through the same pandemic.

Too make matters even worse, there’s a host of unqualified snake oil salesman making a profit from pretending that they know something our doctors refuse to tell us.

Humans being humans, we tend to latch on to their message because we’re hoping either for a miracle or an explanation or both. Of course, these devious characters enjoy their notoriety and even benefit monetarily, but their miracles are fraudulent. They’re not even coming close to saving lives and the cautious know it, because we keep looking at our overcrowded hospitals whenever there’s a surge.

So, what’s the answer?

Personally, I’m not looking for miracles. I’m digging down deeper to harness what’s left of my resolve to see this thing through. That means, year number three will require my same attention to emerging science and a willingness to forego many pleasures that I once took for granted until we can get a handle on the situation. I’m lucky. I haven’t contracted COVID — yet. I expect that I will get it. I’d prefer not to get it during a surge, but I’m sure we’ll all get it eventually. That’s reality. Reality bites.

I’m certain that we’re not returning to life as normal for a while yet.

I can pitch a fit, scream at our leaders, run headlong into the fray with no regard for my own life or anyone else’s, but in the end it’s a rather stupid approach to a pandemic. I’m stuck in the COVID nightmare whether I like it or not. Denial and wishful thinking is not a solution, not for me. Toxic positivity isn’t either.

In order to face the challenges of the last two years, I had to pay attention to the evolving science with an understanding that it was and still is evolving for several reason.

One, each variant presents new challenges. And, two, there will continue to be new variants. I don’t have the capabilities to study these variants, but thankfully, there are those who not only can but have devoted their lives to such endeavors.

I vividly remember the month leading up to our first awareness that COVID was a real threat.

I was visiting my daughter in Los Angeles at the time. It was in January 2020 and as I flew home I witnessed a considerable number of people in the airports wearing masks. Shortly after I got home, the shit hit the fan. Suddenly my granddaughter was doing remote learning from home, and my son and wife were teaching their college courses online. My daughter lost many of her clients in LA because her pet care business involved going into people’s homes.

Still, we had no idea how long this would last.

In 2021, we had a brief mental break when the vaccines were introduced, but at the same time Delta was also beginning to make an appearance. Before we could truly enjoy the hope a vaccine gave us, Delta challenged its efficacy because it was a new variant. Thankfully, the vaccine still offered enough protection to keep most vaccinated out of an ICU. Hospital numbers clearly reflected that Delta was killing the unvaccinated by a huge margin.

The booster was introduced later that year and those of us who are cautious gladly availed ourselves of it.

Once again, the numbers reflected that this additional measure provided extra protection against Delta. Of course, the evolving pandemic required a willingness to accept evolving scientific research. Both, exacerbated the anger residing within the “let’s just get back to living our lives” community. Their unwillingness to embrace nothing short of a quick cure from scientists, health departments, the CDC and WHO guaranteed more conspiracy theories and anger. They wanted a quick cure or nothing at all. The miracles promised by the alternative-wellness community suddenly held even greater appeal.

They were getting tired.

Even though most had never really complied in the first place nor were they ever willing to sacrifice much of anything, they were apparently exhausted. I contend that a constant state of anger will do that do a person.

Then along came Omicron, a new variant that sent our scientists back to feverishly collecting data for their never-ending research.

You’d think that THEY might be getting tired, but thankfully no. Omicron was different from the previous two variants in several ways not the least of which it had the ability to ignore past infections and vaccines. Now, everybody is getting Omicron. Although it still appears that the vaccinated and boosted are far less likely to end up in an ICU or dead.

This latest development is distressing for the cautious.

We’re tired because we’ve been vigilant for over two years now. It’s not been easy, but we’ve persevered. Now, however, we’re starting to realize that returning to the way things used to be might not happen for a while longer. We’re even entertaining the idea that it might never happen.

It hurts to realize that year three has started out with as many challenges as year one. But here’s the deal …

It doesn’t solve anything to be angry. Acting like an angry toddler solves nothing. Belligerence has absolutely no effect on the virus. Conspriacy theories offer zero solutions. Denying the numbers in our hospitals is a selfish act that only ends up with more people flooding an overburdened system. We’re grownups.

We’d be the first to tell our own children to straighten up and behave.

Part of being a grownup is the ability to accept the truth, no matter how ugly it might be. It’s our responsibility to do so because it’s our job to protect our families and our communities. Denial and wishful thinking end up getting people killed. Anger makes it harder to work together.

“Wake up, people!”

I’ve seen that call for action a zillion times on social media, usually made by a conspriacy theorist. But this time, I’ll give it a try. Wake up, people. This is what a pandemic is like. It will test our resolve and wear us down to the ground. Life has changed because of it. I know it’s exhausting, disappointing, and exceedingly depressing, but it’s here and we are being forced whether we like to or not to deal with COVID.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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