Last week, the fear hit me hard. Up until then, I had been doing a good job of ignoring it. I was just collecting data, keeping up with the news, practicing my proper social distancing, sheltering at home... It was a tidy response and I thought it was sufficient.
But the cracks have been showing for weeks.
Reading the news circulating on Facebook is panic-worthy. Stories of otherwise healthy people who first developed symptoms on Wednesday and were dead by the next Tuesday, stories from survivors who tell of gasping for air for weeks as they battled for their lives in home quarantine, stories of hospital staff making ethical decisions to aid one patient over another because there simply are not enough resources for everyone.
Going grocery shopping has become increasingly anxiety-inducing. Shopping days are always difficult for me. With my neurological condition, I become overstimulated quickly and I run out of energy within an hour. Sometimes just transporting my groceries from the car is a struggle to coordinate limbs that no longer want to function and legs that no longer want to support me. Add pregnancy weight and exhaustion to the mix, and you see why shopping is something I have to prepare myself for mentally at least a day in advance.
Now amidst the coronavirus pandemic, shopping includes added concerns. Will I find the items I need, or will I have to hop from store to store with waning energy to see if someone, somewhere, still has eggs in stock? Will I touch something that has just been touched by a carrier of the virus? Will I carry it home to my husband, who has a pre-existing lung condition, and germinate the virus in my body where I'm also growing a little daughter? Should I wear masks and gloves? Do they even make a difference?
The thoughts continue in a descending spiral from there. I'm keenly aware of every surface I touch, every time I touch my face, what clothing I will now have to wash, whether I should wash my hair too (yes).
And then there's the hypervigilance about every single sniffle, cough, sneeze, and pant.
I'm breathless! Is this a normal pregnancy symptom or the first sign of respiratory distress?
I'm overheated! Is this just a pregnancy hot flash or the first sign of a deadly fever?
I just coughed! Is this just because I swallowed my spit wrong or the first sign of the coronavirus?
Then I tally up the odds of survival for myself, my unborn daughter, my husband, given pre-existing conditions and the state of our immune systems. My imagination envisions separating from my husband at the doors of a hospital emergency department, not knowing if we will ever see each other again.
Am I ready to die? Am I ready for someone I love dearly to die?
No one would know that this was my internal monologue. On the outside, I am calm and assured and rational, assessing with facts and not fear, taking proper precautions but not donning a hazmat suit every time I set foot outside my front door.
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