Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Yesterday morning our doctor son called on the way home from a double shift at the hospital where he works. What he told his mother changed our day, indeed, our lives for the foreseeable future.

“Stay home as much as possible,” he said, “and stay away from people.” He went to say he, our daughter-in-law, and our high school and college grandsons would not be coming over to visit.

He was talking about the threat the coronavirus is posing to the nation. “You’re in the most vulnerable age group,” he said, “and so you need to limit your exposure to the virus until we see where all of this is going.”

We spent the rest of the day trying to process the truth about our situation that we had known at some level, but had not really consciously processed.

The message he gave became very clear: We are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus and at some point we might become the least likely to be treated if we get it (if we become like Italy, as I explain below).

Talk about coming face to face with your own mortality. Sadly, millions who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness know this feeling better than anyone.

Though not in those kinds of circumstances, it was still very unsettling to come face to face with the fact that because of your age a virus that is spreading like wild-fire will very likely take your life if you contract it.

Suddenly deciding to go to the grocery store took on added significance. If our neighbors who are all still working go sometime this week, they will do so without giving much thought to the virus, perhaps taking some precautions, but not making a big deal about it.

For Joy and me, on the other hand, going to the store has now become a life and death decision. That probably sounds overdramatic, but in the current circumstances, it really isn’t. The coronavirus is a serious existential threat to all senior citizens everywhere.

That means being around other people poses a serious threat to our lives, so the decision to go out in public must be weighed against the risks involved.

That is something few of us have faced before now.

The primary protection we have, healthcare officials are telling us, is “social distancing.” It means staying away from other people as much as possible, and keeping your distance when you happen to be with them.

Because relationships are what matter most to you once you are in your senior years, and for some of us all we have, “social distancing” almost feels like a punishment for still being alive. Yet, it has to be done.

There is some comfort in being healthy, relative as that may be. Joy and I walk three miles a day around one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, and take comfort in being told by our primary care physicians that we are in good health for our age.

At the same time, they always add the qualifier, “…for your age.” We all know what that means. Surviving the coronavirus for people our age is a crapshoot. We might make it and we might not.

At the same time things could get even worse.

Because of the lack of hospital beds and equipment, doctors in Italy are now having to choose what patients to treat. Those with the best chance of survival are first in line. Seniors there are not even in line.

Our doctor son said that the U.S. is actually on the same trajectory as Italy was. If we end up where they are, what I said earlier will become a reality.  The chance of our being treated will be low.

All these prospects and possibilities help to put things in perspective. To seniors statistics don’t mean much. What does is doing everything we can to avoid contracting this virus.

That is the only real protection we have, but when it is spreading like wildfire virtually everywhere on the planet, there is nowhere to hide. That is why a simple thing like running to the store is no longer simple at all for us.

Making matters worse is the fact that we have a President who is incapable of leading the nation through this crisis. Among the reasons why, former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt remarked, is that we have a President of a faction instead of a President of the whole country.

CNN’s Peter Bergen was even more pointed when he wrote after Trump’s speech to the nation: “His Wednesday speech underlined his key weaknesses: His failure to do any homework, his narcissism and his half-baked policy ideas.”

In his own way Donald Trump is a danger to all Americans as much as the coronavirus is. Not once has he made anyone feel confident that our government was in good hands, certainly not Joy or me. Worse, some of his decisions and lack of decisions have put us at greater risk.

It would help if we had someone better equipped to lead the country, but we don’t, and that is making it harder for people like me to feel less anxious about facing a situation that has all of a sudden become a matter of life and death.

Because Trump has made this crisis about his political future, I will join in. If I survive, I will make it my business to do everything I can to ensure that he never has another opportunity to lead us in a national crisis.