This is unlike any other threats. I have lived through typhoons, earthquakes, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the threat of polio and many other situations in my ninety six year history. Now I am faced with a new threat, the novel corona virus or COVID 19.
Being a creative, positive person, I decided to use this time to chronicle my experience with this new threat.
One might ask why this is different if I have been through so many other important world events. It is different for me. Now, at 96, I no longer have the cognitive or physical abilities of my youth. Just completing daily routines can cause confusion, let alone having to deal with changes as a result of this isolation. I am confined to my tiny apartment within a retirement home and rely on others to take care of many of my needs. Along with the other residents, I can no longer enjoy the companionship of eating meals or playing games together. My link to the outside world is my television and phone calls to family and friends. The caregivers are dear and take care of me and meals are brought to my room. That may not seem so different than my normal routine; however, the isolation is stifling. My family is not allowed to visit and I dearly miss that interaction.
Many emotions are brought to the surface; fear, annoyance, frustration, feeling trapped. All those surface mainly because I always feel like I am losing my mind. I can see that I do not always think clearly which bothers me because I have always been clear-thinking and independent. My daughters assure me that I don’t have Alzheimer’s because I recognize it happening, that it is a normal part of aging. That doesn’t make it any less scary. I never had to rely on others like I do now which makes me feel trapped and an imposition on others. I become frustrated and annoyed with myself and the situation. Changes can frighten me because I don’t always understand what I should do. Shifting routines like when the in-house beauty shop had to close or when we discussed moving me to one of my daughters’ houses become overwhelming.
Among the other more negative emotions, I also feel peace and joy. I am grateful to be able to stay in my own home and mostly in my regular routine. My caregivers are wonderful and continue to take care of my needs. My wonderful family continues to stay in touch by phone and post new pictures on my GrandPad®. I enjoy listening to audio books on CDs (I am not computer savvy!) I am a devout Christian and find solace in my daily scripture study, religious TV programs and prayer. I still have the ability to find humor in everyday life and often laugh at my own shortcomings. I encourage all to remember their elderly loved ones during this time and understand how this situation with COVID 19 is affecting them. If I have learned anything through all the trials in my life, it has been that these events will pass and good will come of it. May God bless you all!
Many thanks to the caregivers who have continued to care for Sue when her family cannot!
(For more details on her life we invite you to read her book, "Around the World in 93 Years, An Uncharted Journey" by Sue Dabney Catalano. This post was written under the direction of Sue by her daughter, Debby )