Coronavirus joins the Infirmary Gang
- Certain classes of individuals are likely to suffer higher rates of death due to COVID-19.
- Older people, vulnerable populations, and those with previously existing conditions (comorbidities) are more likely to die from COVID-19 related complications.
- A significant number of those who have died also had chronic heart conditions.
- I have a chronic heart condition and my best friends are an old couple.
- Everyone thinks this is especially bad for us.
I was at home in my favourite armchair and my therapist was on the phone and she asked, Have you thought of taking your own life, and I hesitated, and I said, No, but I am tired, and she said, Why? And I said, Everything reminds me of my mortality. I recently tried to return to work the other day, as the company mandated, and I was refused entry to the plant because of my condition, which made me feel strange. And she said, Why did that make you feel strange?
It’s another reminder of my mortality, I said, and while I do understand the strangeness of the times we live in and the need for caution it has been a struggle living in a world that constantly tells certain people, we could die, but if it gets you it’s gonna hit you hard. I take my meds every day, have done so for the last nine years, two little chemical presences without which I might well be dead, and each time I take them I am reminded of my own smallness and dependence. I know my body is failing. I have made my peace with it, but along comes this unfeeling unthinking creature and now everyone sees people like me and I see the fear to associate with me in their eyes. The fear that if they were to transmit one little cyst to me, they might have doomed me, and I appreciate the concern. I love and thank them for it, and yet this concern has made me feel as though I have become a burden.
My partner’s grandparents are holed up in their house, WWII-style, and I imagine that for them it’s a far worse state of being. Old and frail, facing the indifference of death before this, and without cause the world turns on you and everyone reminds you of what you already know yourself to be, and it is suddenly beyond your control how they treat you. And you do not have the right to protest because these people who will no longer hug you, who will stand at the fence and wave to you when all you wish to do is to bury your head in their hair, your progeny, they stay away from you because they love you. Their love is what separates you. And she said, Do you wish people didn’t specifically highlight these classes as deserving of extra care? No, I said, I am grateful for the attention.
The sun was coming down, rays of gold illuminating the room in which I sat, and we were both silent. I think it’s hard to be told that you need to be more careful than everyone else, I said, because in some sense you feel weaker, and my guess is that no one wants to feel as though they were weaker than anyone else. It’s also difficult to understand the present distancing to the old and the infirm as love when distancing has always signified the opposite, and yet we must. What would you have people do, then, she said. And it came to me that I would have them do exactly what it was they were doing, being careful, and that it was possible to feel warped at the state of the world and grateful for the love of family and friends, no matter how that love was expressed. Nothing, I presently said. I might be exhausted by the constant reminders, but I’m just grateful to have people who love me enough to do what’s best for us both, even though it hurts. And she smiled and I smiled and slowly the sun went westwards.
We hung up.