Five Months

“Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully”Richard Bach

Thinking back

For the last five months I have followed the current pandemic protocols. I have socially isolated, wear my mask when I go for a wheel to get some sun. I have maintained a “ten” foot radius knowing spittle will go further as it falls to the ground, that extra four feet allows for the distance based on a wheelchair height. For the last five months I can count on one hand (excluding morning homecare) how many people have been into my condo. For five months I have sat here trying to adhere to all of the current protocols despite a terrible messaging process with all levels of government. And I am not even looking at the eight months in 2020. For five months I have been overwhelmed with the general ignorance of those that reportedly have our “best interest” in mind while the Alberta Legislature uses a health crisis as a political fund raising issue.

For five months I have sat here bombarded by people who seem to think the rules are for everybody else except them. After being spit on on two different occasions because “you cripples bring all of these infections” I am now hesitant to even go out for a wheel. So for the past five months I have kept myself quiet and isolated. One of the spitters received an assault ticket from the police who witnessed it but I can assure you racism has always been under the surface in Calgary but COVID has certainly emboldened it.

As a polio survivor, that kind of isolation was what I experienced for the first fifteen years of my life. My “safe place” then was the Junior Red Cross Children’s Hospital, later to become the Alberta Children’s Hospital. However for the various polio epidemics in the 1950’s you have to picture “The Cider House Rules” kind of facility and not “New Amsterdam” high tech hospital. For the polio kids of the 50’s and early 60’s being in hospital meant “social isolation”, parents could only visit twice a week for an hour on Wednesday and 1.5 hours on Sundays. However to me the Children’s was my “safe place”. At the time about 75% of the kids in there were polio survivors so we were able to be “just kids” but in the community we were “disabled kids” and should be “warehoused” in institutions for life.

For the last five months I have been gobbling down feelings over the sheer lack of concern or common sense in this pandemic period. When pandemic protocols require “social isolation” and you live alone you really have no one to debrief the amount of misinformation and ignorance that has occupied your day. COVID has stirred up a lot of negative emotions for many of those survivors. I learnt very early in my life, as many polio kids did, to compartmentalize your feelings early, that is survival even when you don’t realize it. For five months I have sat here quietly while those compartments slowly open. I have spend the last five months eating and swallowing all of those unpleasant feeling that come about by paying attention to the lunacy going on. For some of us this pandemic is NOT new but all I hear from so many people is denial and anger. I have stayed quiet out of necessity and as an opportunity to recharge my emotional batteries.

Four panel black and white cartoon using stick people, with a short discussion on introvert versus extrovert.

For five months I have been subject to a “buffet” of anger inducing drivel from a government structure that appears to be managing this health crisis on a wing and prayer quickly followed by a healthy donation to the political party spreading the swill at that point. I can feel the toxicity building up in me based on the amount of anger I have swallowed lately. When you live alone, which I enjoy, you don’t plan on a pandemic. The “isolation” I previously sought isn’t quite as freeing when it is imposed on you.

What I did discover about myself in this silence is that I am an “ambivert” and I am now fully charged, so hear me roar. You may not like what I will half to say but I didn’t drag you to this page. You chose to read it. If it makes you uncomfortable use some “personal responsibility” and hit delete. Those people reading are my release valve and I appreciate that. In this time of a pandemic it is healthier to shed emotion rather than virus but shed none the less. Both are unhealthy.

I have spend the last five months at a total loss for words when it comes to “common sense”. When you have no one at home to decompress the issues of the your day with and provide a vehicle for someone else to decompress one is left a few options. As I said my “cohort” consists of four monitors and two non-medically related visitors. My voice use to be my blog but I chose to silenced even that. Well that was a self imposed punishment and I already have a long line of people wanting to “punish” me. It is amazing at what guilt brings out in people and one of the things I am told I am good at is making people uncomfortable with an unfortunate truth. Life isn’t always fair and if you can’t handle that, go back into the BBQ silo where you can live your life not bothered by the realities of others. Let your complacency light the briquettes of your bubble.

But now those five months are behind me and it’s time to purge. I am back, new look and an increase in frequency so hear me roar. Small bites from six decades of experience and someone who survived one epidemic early in life. I, along with about another 25,000 aging polio survivors, have experienced this before. I won’t sit back waiting for life to end because of another pandemic. Personally I’m more concerned over the level of denial than I am of the actual virus, so for you vaccine deniers out there (my last shot is booked for June 17) so us all a favour and stay home. There is a reason for old adages like “Ignorance is bliss” and that’s not something our politicians can seem to overcome, maybe because they exhibit it themselves. Right Premier Kenney!


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