I've lived through a lot in my 68 years, but this year's outbreak of COVID-19 is truly unique in my lifetime. I vaguely recall being administered the polio vaccine on a sugar cube in grammar school; the lines were long, with kids jostling and joking, hardly anything remarkable. And I knew no one personally who had polio, but then again, I was just a kid back in the 50s.
I also recall the Swine Flu in the late 1960s, and that my paternal grandfather had it -- but refused to go to the hospital. He was terribly sick, but weathered it with my grandmother's help. She, on the other hand, never got it. They both lived to advanced age, 88 and 92. I never caught that either, nor have I ever had the flu except for once in the early 1980s. I sometimes get a flu shot, and sometimes not; although, as I get older, I am more likely to get the vaccine, though I did not this past winter. This is not to say that I am against flu vaccinations, just that occasionally I don't make the effort.
As for what is going on worldwide now with COVID-19, this contagion is a different beast. Politics aside, when our current president was downplaying/underplaying it back in March, I'd already done enough research online to KNOW what was coming. I began stocking up in late February, and by the time panic buying hit, I was fairly well prepared. The lack of preparation by our USA leaders bordered on criminal, in my opinion. A fool with an internet connection, had they looked, could have seen what was coming. And now, here we are: currently over one million infected and 60,000+ dead in the USA!
While quarantines were slow in coming, at least the past month has slowed the outbreak somewhat -- although, again in my opinion -- we are at the beginning of what is sure to be with us a long time. The medical/researchers are just tossing every drug at victims, seeing what will stick on the wall. Which, in some ways, is almost as scary as the actual beast. Digging up drugs that have had no proven effectiveness against viruses, testing on live victims, willy-nilly. And it remains to be seen if any of those drugs do any good whatsoever, or if some hasten the demise of terminal patients. Argh!
As for my life, can't say it's changed a lot -- since I've always been an introvert at heart. And as I've aged, my ailments (arthritis, etc.) had already slowed down my socializing and shopping. I usually went to the grocery store about once a week, and I've reduced that to once every two weeks or less now. I use a stationary airbike for exercise, have done so for a couple years, so no change on that. I do miss taking my dog, Muffin, to a nearby park, but had slowed down on that too in the past six months due to a bunion on my foot. I somehow twisted my shoulder, and need to see my orthopedic doc at some point for that. But it isn't an emergency, and not sure anything can be done about it. As with much of aging issues -- risk making it worse or just live with it!
When the quarantines started, there were so many, many things closing....from sporting events to shows/festivals...I was surprised by stuff I didn't even realize existed. Not a sports fan, and other than when I worked at the newspaper, don't attend festivals. I suppose if I learned anything it is that people are unable to just sit down and stay home. And that our economy revolves around getting out, seemingly "enjoying" everything from restaurants to shows to simply shopping. And don't get me started on those ten-deck cruise ships or foreign tourism -- apparently a majority of people have to be in perpetual motion -- even if it's mindless and pointless. I'd say those splashy, expensive PR efforts for the travel industry have paid off in spades! Trust me, I have been tempted too...but the logistics, the hassle and aggravation, kept me content to just watch a video or see a picture instead of actually going to witness it "in person." Plus, I learned long, long ago that nothing ever quite measures up to my imagination -- the curse of a fiction writer, I suppose.
All that traveling, those flights, those car trips, those cruises...you know what that is doing to the environment. Not going to preach it, but that kind of damage is going to lead to a bad place eventually. The environmental calamity will make this virus look like a picnic in the park. As an aside too, there are TOO MANY HUMANS on this planet, period. Maybe nature has decided to thin the herd.
So I continue living my life pretty much as usual, but do take precautions: wear a mask when I go out, sanitize, etc. And IF I should end up with the beast, I would refuse a ventilator -- have made that clear to my sisters (as well having an updated living will). No one lives forever, and as I get older, the ailments piling on with time, I wonder if there is any advantage in living to an advanced age. The physical suffering of an aging body is truly burdensome.
So it goes...and goes...and goes...till it's all gone. Such is life and death.