Monday, March 30, 2020

Life is but a dream

The worst, the very worst and most terrifying aspect of Covid-19's grip on New York City, and the world, is that as hospitals get overrun—and they already are here, despite predictions that the peak of this pandemic is still two weeks away—people are dying alone in bleak rooms, without any loved one by their side, as no one is allowed to visit or be with the sick once they are admitted. How can this be? I remember when my husband was so ill three years ago now, there was no way he could have advocated for himself in a medical setting. He wasn't even conscious during the worst of it, but I was there, watching out for him, able to call the staff if anything seemed amiss, and that was at a time when the staff wasn't losing their minds with terror and overwork, running to keep up, doing their best, but really, so many things must be falling through the cracks in the current scenario, and there is no one there to make sure their loved ones aren't the ones falling. It is a waking nightmare the likes of which we could not have imagined in our so-called technologically superior first world.

I saw a picture last night of a plane load of doctors and medical personnel, flying from Atlanta to help us in New York. I looked at the picture for a long time and after a while I couldn't see it anymore through the tears. I wash my hands till my wrists bleed. I slather them with Neosporin antibacterial ointment or lotion, before washing them again. I wipe down everything obsessively, but the disinfectant wipes are running low, and there are no more to be had anywhere. Perhaps we'll buy white rum from the liquor store, pour it into a spray bottle, and douse everything with that. Turns out liquor stores are still open, considered essential businesses. I get that.

I've been keeping most of our windows closed out of concern that pollen from the budding trees will blow in and provoke scary allergic reactions, which we wont know at first to be merely that, and not the start of something more insidious. But this morning, I threw open the window in my bedroom, thinking one has to periodically allow in fresh air, and I realized how sound proof our apartment is because as soon as I opened the window, I heard sirens, one after the other, ambulances wailing by on the avenues, the sound continuous.

My niece had a stomach ache and nausea yesterday. She thought the second half of the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich she had for breakfast didn't agree with her. She lay in bed all day, distracting herself with binge watching Tiger King. Apparently, it's a thing. Everyone is talking about it. I kept checking on her. She was down all day, but no fever. The unspoken fearful thought: Is this how it begins? But she's feeling much better this morning. Back to normal, she says.

I'm having stress dreams, mostly about my son. I dreamed I was in a crowded place, like a train station, and my husband was on the other side of the cavernous hall, screaming our son's name and frantically beckoning me to come to him. I ran to him, pushing through the crowd, understanding that we had to go to our boy. But the car was on the other side of a cliff, and we had to navigate a narrow, crumbling path on the edge of it, the waters swirling and furious far below. I wanted to ask why we needed to get to our son so urgently, but I had to concentrate on placing my feet. We never did get to the car, or to our boy. I woke up, heart hammering. The blinds outlined by rainy early morning light slowly solidified. 

Just a dream. 

Stay well out there. 


  1. Hello hello from Page and me. Hello hello in a strange time and love.

  2. Your son is one of the brave ones in this battle. Of course you fear for his safety. I’m not a religious woman but I’m including him and your entire family in my daily loving kindness meditation. May he and all of you be safe, well, happy and peaceful and at ease.

  3. You are in such a different place than I am while all of this is going on. From my house, all looks normal. Entirely too normal as if to fool us into doing foolish things.
    I can only imagine that you are having horrific dreams about your son.
    If you buy rum, make sure it is over 60% alcohol. I'm sure you know this.
    Take care. Take care. I love you.

  4. I read the news out of New York and I think of you and your family. I worry. I keep you all in my heart. Stay safe and well there. You are surrounded by love always.

  5. My son is a paramedic too. I understand your dreams. I almost cry everyday when I see the pictures he posts on FB. At least I know he's still well enough to go on FB. I've heard that hospitals in Atlanta are on the brink of being overrun too. I wonder about former bloggers like Dr. Michelle Au and Dr. Kimberly Manning. I hope they are safe.

  6. Don't forget that soap and water are just as effective as wipes (although in some cases more work). The soap works to break down the fatty material that enables the virus to stay together and renders it inactive. That's why we only need to wash with soap and water, not disinfectant. If you'd like a citation I can dig back through my bookmarks and find it.

  7. P. S. And of course, know that I am thinking of you there and wishing you all safe passage through this time and space. It's truly hard to wrap one's head around, isn't it?

  8. This is so vivid and horrible. Never has the word "terrible" been more apt to explain the present. There's absolutely nothing to do but live in the present. I'm sending you love and solidarity.

  9. It's like the end of the world and everyday normal life, all at the same time. You're not alone, we're all terrified.

    I was talking to one of our young docs today. He said every time there is something different, he wonders, is this it? Do I have a sore throat? Are my muscles aching? Why am I so tired? Is it the virus or am I just worn out from stress?

    I have a chronic cough so I make everyone around me nervous and myself.

    Stay home, stay safe. I can't even imagine how much you must worry about your son. Sending hugs and love.

  10. I can not imagine how horrific this is for you. It brings me to tears just thinking about the numbers of first responders who are sick. Thank the sweet baby Jesus that our governor finally issued the stay home order before it got really bad in AZ. We're an old person state, if it hits hard here it will be bad.

  11. I can't imagine how scary it must be to live in NY right now. I don't know that obsessively washing your hands is necessary at home if you are staying in and no one is visiting. same with using disinfecting wipes unless an infected person has touched that surface since the last time you wiped it down. but perhaps all that gives you some sense of control or comfort. I do understand your fears for your son. and yes, I think the worst part or the saddest part is those deathly ill cannot have a loved one there and to die alone without all the things people say to their dying loved ones, without being able to say goodbye. stay safe.

  12. You really are in the epicenter of things, at least in the USA, and I understand how terrifying that must be -- especially with family members who work in emergency services. I hear sirens here too, all the time, and wonder if I'm just noticing them more because everything else is so quiet -- or are there really so many more of them? And yes, the hand-washing. My hands are so raw and sore. It's a way to maintain an illusion of control, I suppose.

  13. I listen to Gov. Cuomo every day and am heartened though dismayed. I think about your son frequently , fingers crossed with love and appreciation in my heart. We have been in for three weeks now, it seems to be making a difference in this community. Mandated last week, everyday business ordered to close. Nipping this in the bud though there have been many many deaths and our hospital is a privately owned catholic dysfunctional one...hoping we need not go there! Stay well, my BEAUTY!! love to you all.