One year ago this past weekend, I was in Philadelphia, visiting our younger daughter. The world was just shutting down, but I made a decision to go, anyway, after consulting with my rheumatologist about Covid risks. Knowing what we do now, I may have made a different assessment. But I’m profoundly glad I went, for both of us. I was careful, we had a wonderful visit, and it made the ensuing months of separation somewhat easier to bear.
Every day, throughout this very long year, we’ve all had to make choices about risk of exposure to this deadly virus. I am profoundly grateful that our family has avoided any serious cases of Covid (so far—please, God, may it stay that way), although at least one of our relatives, who is a physician, probably contracted the virus early on, even as tests back then were negative. I still wonder if the very odd virus I caught at the end of January 2020 after attending a large celebration may have been Covid, because it swept through my entire system, drained me out, and took me three weeks to recover. When I mentioned symptoms at the time to one of my health care providers, she had no reference point.
Since I’ve been working for myself from home for 11 years, now, the transition to Covid Time has been relatively seamless. I’m an introvert at heart and do not feel the intense longing for in-person social gatherings that others express, even as I empathize. I find shopping in stores stressful and the masking hard on my breathing, given my decreased lung capacity from scleroderma. So my solution has been to shop online when possible and get out in the real world primarily by taking walks. Restaurants are still out of the question, as far as I’m concerned, and after the new variants emerged, I postponed a haircut until I’m fully vaccinated. Zoom meetings and FaceTime have long been part of my repertoire and make a huge difference in feeling connected to family and friends. As for doctor’s appointments, I consider telemedicine to be one of the true silver linings of this awful year.
For a while, when the weather was still warm enough, I enjoyed visiting outdoors with family and friends, safely distanced. I look forward to starting that up again in coming weeks. We have traveled once, last November, to Cape Cod, for a Covid-safe weekend at a B&B near the ocean. It was uplifting to walk the shore, but meals were a hassle, and it was not relaxing for me. The stress of all the precautions dampened the joy I usually experience by getting away. Still, it was worth it to see what’s possible.
Now I’m one week away from my second Moderna vaccine, a miracle. My Boston Medical rheumatologist told me last week that I’m already about 80 percent protected, and I’m beginning to feel my fear of this scourge easing. Nonetheless, I will still continue to err on the side of caution, until we know more about the variants and how the Moderna vaccine does or doesn’t protect against what may be deadlier strains. I expect to need a booster sometime later in the summer, and will gladly get that, as well.
Then, and only then, will I feel safe enough to fully re-engage with the world. In the meantime, I’m starting to dream again about travel. A year after my last plane flight, it at last feels possible, again.