Sheltering in Place Long-Term
I joked that I was sheltering in place before it was cool. That is to say that before COVID-19, I was not someone who spent a lot of time socializing outside of home. I am not a hermit. I am an introvert despite appearing extroverted. That means I need more time to recharge after social interactions. When Colorado first issued shelter-in-place orders, it was scary but doable. As time has passed on I have been able to deal with the situation better than many of my friends and colleagues. Having to stay at home unless it is an emergency is not much different for me than my regular, pre-Covid life.
Staying at home in 2021
I know how blessed I am to be able to adjust to a new life. Blessed that my multiple sclerosis issues have not required constant interaction with my healthcare professionals. I know exactly how lucky, lucky, lucky I am. Now that Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that this pandemic life will extend into 2021, I find that even thinking about another year of this is difficult and depressing.1
Lucky to be able to connect to the world through technology
I have been more fortunate than most when it comes to COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders. As a resident of Colorado, I have been lucky. I live in the city of Aurora, and like most of the Denver metro area, it’s not a Wi-Fi desert and most residents have access to high-speed internet. Local and state governments are advanced and use the digital space to deal with most activities. I have access to Wi-Fi at home and I am very familiar with using my cellphone or computer. Zoom was not unfamiliar to me.
The early days were not hard on me
My life was well suited to being at home almost 24 hours a day. My very small group of close friends do not live in Colorado, so I was not subject to the very painful separation felt by the vast majority of people. Those early days of the pandemic were not hard on me. I have a great deal of empathy for those who were and are continuing to suffer under the circumstances.
COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing. It is believed to be the main driver of the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.2 Not being able to freely move about is genuinely painful. There are millions of stories of individuals who are going through the wringer. We have grandparents who miss their grandchildren and vice versa. We have millions of people out of work. And most importantly, we have hundreds of thousands of souls that have been taken by this horrible illness. The daily news for the past several months is filled with sadness, pain, and frustration. We are all tired of COVID-19. We want it over and done with, yet it is not going to happen anytime soon.
Exhausted by the restrictions
And me? Yes, I am feeling COVID-19 fatigue. I am exhausted by the mere idea that I cannot move about freely. Although I am a homebody, I still liked the knowledge that I was able to go wherever I wanted whenever within reason. I am fatigued thinking about being ultra prepared when leaving my home. I think we can all agree that we are tired of everything associated with COVID-19, from not being able to hug or shake hands to relying on others for assistance with even the most simple of tasks.
COVID-19 and more shelter-in-place
As things stand today, the life that I am living right now is the life I’m going to be living for the next year. Under other circumstances, I am very adaptable. I have been able to roll with the punches and live with changes. When you have multiple sclerosis you learn to make things work. If your body is not functioning the way you want it to do you learn to adapt. We learn to use assistive tools like wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and my personal favorite reachers. when our body challenges us we rise to meet it and change our habits.
The lack of control
This situation is different. It is not a challenge that comes from within. It is a challenge that is foisted upon me from outside. While multiple sclerosis is a lifelong chronic illness over which I have no control, it feels different. This lack of control over my life and my ability to move freely in the world seems to hurt more because it is something that I can do that I’m not being allowed to do. While my personal circumstances have not changed, I have. My mind is slowly wrapping around the idea that the life I chose for myself is now the life that others are choosing for me.
How well do people around you understand MS?