“Aachoo! Aachoo!” Heads turn, I’m the centre of attention in the corona conscious street. A third and fourth time I sneeze. At least I do so into the crook of my arm, there being no time to scrabble for a tissue, so nobody but me is sprayed but people veer from me. Not that there are many, it is remarkable, it’s as if the plague has hit us. Maybe it has?
“Aachoo! Aachoo!” Suddenly stepping into bright sunshine has always made me sneeze. I’m triggering fear! It reminds me of a time when I walked through a war-zone and people dived to the ground whenever cars backfired. A fifth sneeze. I smile, explain it’s the unexpected sunshine. School children skip past, some coughing, one sneezing, but my sneezes draw more attention than those virus-spreading little ones.
Talking of wars zones, a week ago at 7 in the evening an unprecedented call from my doctor telling me I’m more vulnerable than most my age so must be careful of the invisible threat. As I walk in the wondrous sunshine I wonder how to do this. We constantly touch things others have touched, we can only avoid this if we isolate and rely on supermarket deliveries which we then bathe in killer liquids. Ugh. Due to my doctor’s call we stocked up a bit - a few bags of frozen fish, three of brown rice, nothing too mad.
I turn into a small square. He stands three paces from her, his voice loud, maybe it’s the mask making him sound authoritarian. He looks ridiculous, face half covered, stiff arm instructing her. She lifts two heavy boxes of supermarket shopping over the garden gate he still refuses to open. Leaning over the metal bar she tries to put items into several bags he’s laid before her, but it’s impossible, she opens it. Barking in fear, he leaps back as if she is a sabre-toothed tiger. She wasn’t coughing nor sneezing.
Earlier, whilst paying for those frozen fish in the supermarket which we rarely visit, an old woman shoved her almost empty shallow-trolley towards us at checkout. You could tell she couldn’t carry, let alone afford a big shop. A fit middle aged man before her in the lineup jumped away in panic, assuming age meant death. Things spilled from his large over-stacked trolley, he bent, picking up dried goods, tins and of course, lots of loo rolls. He who will fight off coronavirus glanced fearfully at her who won’t. From the corona frontline smiled warmly, showing she understood his irrationality as she shifted back a pace or two.
Anxiety driven confusion is in the air. In British hospitals visitors are stealing hand-wash from the ill. That is sick. The majority of you with strong bodies are OK - it’s only a few of us who must face the truth that people like us are being taken daily by this new disease to which humans have no immunity. Heeding my doctors unprecedented call, once a week we will make strategic forays, buy goods at the cheery vegetable man’s, from the lively ladies in the cheese shop, at the bright and beaming butcher’s and in the no-waste cafe-cum-shop.
We will skip from the sneezers, coughers, splutters and avoid skipping kids, dampen our social behaviour. We’ll try to keep the left hand for public use, save the right for private things like keys and credit cards stored in the right pocket. But I must remember, today it all went wonky! The virus lives 10 minutes on your skin so try not to touch your faces and wash your hands upon each return home. Exercising, ie straining the muscles, increases production of virus-fighting cells so I’m trying to build up my body as best I can. Yesterday though I overdid it and so today’s got to be a recovery day.
Our attitude is vital because stress’s chemical mix dampens our immune system, contorts our instinctual reactions. Take just one example, soldiers who panic when dropped into freezing water are more prone to die, the others survive. When upon death’s doorstep, being one man lying amongst the dying, I avoided panic by finding positives, by facing life, diminished as it was, by accepting rather than fighting inevitable pain and discomfort, by watching myself cleared of stress. Yes, it is possible, I know through experience. My attitude may or may not have saved me whilst others slipped away, but it made it all more bearable.
Here’s a link to the powerful anxiety buster which helped me cope. Regardless of whether you are vulnerable, bed-bound or not, the quality of your existence improves if you find time to reside in a calm, collected, mindset, one where appreciation is paramount.