Early yesterday morning John and I masked up and gloved up and headed to a nearby Urgent Care Center. We arrived right after they opened so we would come in contact with as few people as possible. We were hoping to get the Covid-19 antibody test. If our blood test shows antibodies, then we can donate plasma to help save the life of someone who is seriously ill.
We walked into the very large, lobby-like waiting room and saw that there were 6 or 7 other people there already, masked, sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the room. There was space between the chairs, but it certainly wasn’t 6 feet. Maybe 3 feet, at most.
The receptionist asked if she could help us. I explained that we were there for the antibody test, and she asked me to check myself in on the iPad. It proved too difficult to do with the floppy glove on my finger. I saw that there was hand sanitizer within easy reach, so I reluctantly removed the glove.
Someone walked in the door and lined up behind us, I turned and looked to see how far away they were standing. It wasn’t 6 feet. Maybe it was 4. It was just a little too close for my false sense of comfort.
After we checked in, we walked to the far end of the lobby where no one was sitting, and we sat together on a love seat. Waiting. I fumbled with my gloves. I felt the heat of my breath. I felt my heart pounding. I could hear John’s heavy, shallow breathing under his mask. The anxiety of being out in public was building, so I scooched over and snuggled up next to him, and I told him to put his arm around me, to comfort both of us. I started making small talk. Anything to take our minds off of the situation.
More people were coming in. Each time, I wondered, where will they sit? I hope they don’t sit right here next to us. There’s an empty chair over there, and one way over there. I hope they sit way over there.
After a few minutes, I was in a tiny exam room, probably only 7×7, with two other people! A nurse, fully covered in protective gear, and a doctor who seemed much less protected. She wasn’t even wearing gloves. She said she couldn’t find veins with gloves on. She said she already had the virus. She seemed relatively calm to me. But I was afraid. Afraid I could possibly reinfect her. Afraid she could possibly reinfect me. Afraid we were both endangering the nurse.
Just a couple of months ago we were at the crowded DMV waiting for our youngest to get her license. We stood on line, practically toe to heel. We sat in chairs with shared armrests. We were packed in like sardines with over a hundred strangers. And we waited, fearlessly.
Now, that seems like reckless behavior! Now, we are masked and gloved, hoping no one sits within 10 feet of us. Standing in demarcated pharmacy lines on neon taped exes. Waiting outside the supermarkets until we are allowed to enter. Keeping 2 carts’ distance in one way aisles. Stepping out into the middle of the street when someone walks toward us on the sidewalk.
And I can’t help but wonder, how long will this go on? And when it ends, how long will the trauma linger?
Will we be afraid of each other forever?
Earworm- David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans
Beautifully stated Kim …
the fear we all have now with human connection is so not natural to our being. It saddens me.
I also fear the unknown.
I’m a hugger and this is bothering me not to get close to people whom I love.
Stay well , stay safe my friend. I continue to pray for you and your husband ❤️
We will all hug again! Just not as soon as we’d like. Virtual hugs to you & yours. ❤️
We seem as people to not forget negative things. Survival instinct? Bias? How many times in Urgent Care (exposure therapy) before it loses its edge for you? We were triggered last night by Trauma 40 years old. We were calm and said to family, “We are done with this tv show. This does not fit our values.” Younger Child (who also is a recently licensed driver) seemed sad, defensive, protective of us, confused, empathic (the unhealthy kind). We are still reliving our traumas. And therapy does aid survival for us. As long as you choose to keep expressing yourself and letting community Love you, we will try to be here as support
We offer you understanding, compassion, safe Love today
This virus situation has triggered so much old trauma for so many of us. When our state opens up again and the real exposure therapy begins, perhaps we can heal more actively. I guess that’s just like when we really open our hearts, when our internal lock down ends?
We are here for each other.
Wow. Internal lockdown. Inside us, we have partitions. That is why we are “we.” Too much trauma for one little person to face. And we are supposedly not Little now. Open our heart. Thanks
We’re probably not getting a magic bullet to protect us from or cure Covid 19. Before they put us all back in the wild, what If our government could pay people with compromised immune systems to stay home a couple additional months or until we evaluate any second wave? The rest of us need a reliable supply of basic PPE and hand sanitizer we can carry with us at all times while out and about. If we can’t have a rock solid vaccine, then we need to slow walk towards herd immunity and continue social distancing and other precautions to prevent overwhelming front line professionals. So far I’m seeing far to many careless people and unnecessary risky behavior out there.
I agree with all if that.
And the long lasting mental health ramifications of this pandemic, and our response to it, are a huge concern.