In 199O I was a very busy person. I had two teenaged boys and a 21 year old daughter, I was doing a course in Office Management at a local Technical College and still doing Tupperware parties, church activities etc. I badly needed a break. Our local radio station had a competition where you answered five questions for $90. This was the exact price of a flight to one of the country towns we had lived in when Ray was a Fisheries Officer where old friends had asked us to an anniversary party. Our daughter said we were able to go, she would supervise the boys. So off we flew, Ray having paid for his ticket for our four day break. I was well the first two days, enjoyed the party, catch up with friends etc. On the Sunday I was not well, luckily our friend was a nurse and plied me with the usual cold and flu remedies. The next day I was no better but we were flying out that evening so again took the medications.
This was the beginning of my battle with viral pneumonia, a strain called RSV that killed quite a few people world wide that year. Of course we didn't know it was viral pneumonia, no way of testing it back then so my doctor treated me in the usual way, good old penicillin injections for ten days. On the tenth day he told me he was calling an ambulance and for the next ten days I was in our local hospital where I lived in a world of pain. I was unable to breath deeply and was panting like a puppy and the pain was indescribable, turned out that just because you have one disease you can also have several others so I had a series of lung infections to add to my troubles. Several new on the market medications were added to the cocktail I took every day. I was allowed visitors, adult family only so not my kids, my parents and my husband Ray were looking after them but I missed them terribly. One day I apparently folded my hands on my chest and decided to die but God was not ready for me yet. so after ten days I was discharged to finish my recuperation at home.
My convalescence took six weeks. My course had to be finished but school had been back four weeks by the time I returned. Fortunately as a mature student I was conscientious and I was ahead with my studies so easily passed the remaining exams and topped the class. I still have the small trophy from that time. After that I never took my health for granted. Every time I have an X-ray or scan I have to tell the operator the shadow at the bottom of my right lung is from an old case of viral pneumonia. I had severe bronchitis for six winters afterwards before my immune system fully recovered. Now all of that seems a long time ago, doesn't it? But the Corona virus crisis has brought all of those memories flooding back. I remember the pain, the feeling of isolation in hospital and remember that long road back to full recovery. I still have repercussions as many of the current victims of even the milder cases will have with this virus. To many people Covid-19 is just a name but to too many it will be a lived experience.
Now with this new pandemic a threat to we elderly people I am very careful. Because I have had one battle with a virus does not mean I am immune to another. So far Australia thought we had the disease under control but just recently cases in Victoria started to rise at an alarming rate and that state is in lockdown again. Crowded places are again being reminded of social distancing rules meaning that all venues where people gather in close proximity have to be patrolled and more events postponed. I agree that life is boring, not what I want it to be, seems like a waste of time etc. I agree that it is hard on people to lose wages, to have to struggle on whatever means they can fall back on, to give up sport and travel and do many other things they don't want to do but I balance that against my own experience of a much much milder form of virus. I don't want to see people in isolation not allowed visitors, even dying without their loved ones by their side.I don't want people living in a world of pain as I experienced it. It is time for us all to be careful, young and old, rich and poor, whatever ethnic background. I want us ALL to be safe.
It is the end of the first week of our two week school winter break so I have had my younger son Trevor and his eight year old daughter here. Alice wanted to know why we couldn't do all the things we usually do, why some of the shops are still closed in our favourite shopping centre, why you can't try on clothes you want to buy? It takes a lot of patience to keep going over what is happening in the world and also here in Australia and the answers we gave probably didn't make a lot of sense to her. I think that is part of the problem in our community. We all bank on our past experiences to make sense of our world. In my world I have the experience of the viral pneumonia but in a lot of people's world there isn't any such occurrence and so they are full of disbelief that this could be happening. I understand their anger and impatience but hope as life progresses they will see some sense in the restrictions we are under. It seems dramatic to say this is how we can save lives but it is the only way we know how.
I hope in time this will all pass and our family can look back and say: "Why can't I remember much of what we did in 2020?" Rather than the other reply: "That was when dear Granma died." I have had four serious operations in the past three years and I intend to go on living for a while longer. I owe it to the surgeon who clipped the aneurysm, the oncologist who dealt with the melanoma and the lymph node dissection and the not so clever surgeon who took half my thyroid out. All of these people hopefully contributed to my longevity.. I remember clearly my oncologist persuading me to have the lymph node dissection by saying: "Do you want to see your grandchildren grow up?" And after a week with my youngest grandchild I know I do. I just need to get through the next few months. I am not wanting to leave her with just vague memories of a Granma who died when she was young. So taking care of myself isn't an option it is a priority.