How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?My name is Kerry and I live in a small township, 40 miles north of Houston, Texas, USA. I was born in San Francisco but brought up in Scotland. My Scottish born husband and I moved from Cairo to our current home almost 16 years ago. I think my chronic mental ill health has been most affected by COVID-19 but right now everyone feels the same as I do, all the time! Anxiety, depression, fear of an uncertain future and a little panic flitters through my mind from day to day. At the same time, I am enjoying the blissful quiet with fewer cars and people. As an introvert (who poses as an extrovert), I am used to self-isolation but I am not alone… My husband of almost 38 years is working from home. He works in the oil industry and this is not our first oil crisis. A few years ago he was laid off but found another job in 6 months. This time we think he might be retiring early at 62. I work for destination management companies, managing transportation or facilitation of conferences. Somewhat ironically, I had just taken a couple of months off, from my contract positions, after some very busy jobs that exhausted me mentally and physically. Then I was offered a permanent job which I turned down. Our industry relies on transport (air and land) and business operating as usual so I doubt there will be any of this type of work for a year or more but who knows? Texas has a habit of bouncing back after natural catastrophes but this is a scary invisible combatant. This is not our first pandemic, however, as we lived in Egypt during the first SARS epidemic. I was travelling from Cairo to Malaysia and I remember, on my return, that the customs officers in Cairo were using the same old school thermometer that touched all the passengers! A British doctor behind me was enraged at their dangerous incompetence but I was too scared of going to jail to say anything. We also lived through Mad Cow Disease (BSE) in a rural, agricultural area of Scotland. In an effort to combat the farmers’ fear of BSE, our local butcher would write the provenance of the meat on a board each day. When I was born in San Francisco in 1960, I was one of the last baby boomers to get a smallpox vaccine before the disease was eradicated. I write this only to illustrate that this is not humankind’s first pandemic rodeo and probably not the most deadly. I live in a small street, in a master planned forest community and our neighbors are all close. It is so hard to communicate by phone or email with very little personal contact. Sometimes we shout across the street when out for a daily walk. We have been advised to start wearing masks everywhere. There were none available but two of our neighbors have been making colorful ones for anyone who needs them. Ours arrived from China a few days ago. It has been hilarious to see guys wearing a bandana as a mask – it looks like the supermarket is full of robbers or banditos! In February we thought that my husband had flu. In retrospect, it is possible that he had COVID-19. Just before this I had been greeting thousands of airport passengers coming from all over the world, shaking hands and getting up close. Maybe I was one of the asymptomatic carriers?
What is your wish for the future?I would like to see my American and British/Irish family one more time. Texas is thousands of miles away from most of my cousins who live in California, Maine, Ireland and Scotland. My husband and I are both only children whose parents have passed away so although we are blessed to have each other, it also feels a little lonely. As a society, I hope we learn to care for each other more and use this quiet time to think positively about the future.
What would you like to be doing right now?I would love to be able to help more constructively but I am going to be 60 in July with a history of lung problems. This means I am one of the vulnerable groups and suddenly feel very aware of ageing. For now I continue to keep in touch with isolated relatives and friends while writing posts of my blog.
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