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Fearless Female

Fearless Females: Dealing with Covid-19

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Jennifer Hannan-Smith and family *Photo supplied

The year 2020 is something none of us saw coming. In fact, many were excited about what 2020 represented: a clear vision into the future! A new decade! And then bang, we were hit in the face with the proverbial pie called Covid-19 and life changed in a way that none of us could have ever imagined. Recently, I asked women from different parts of the world to share how the corona virus has affected their lives. There are their words…

Kalina, North Carolina (USA)

As a labour and delivery nurse I don’t feel like I’m on the frontline, although we have had a few pregnant women who were moved from the Intensive Care Unit to give birth.

When I’m alone and in my thoughts, I’m concerned and have even felt emotional thinking of the uncertainty of it all.  I’m not ready to be sick and die and leave my children and loved ones. I also don’t have the luxury to focus on that as much.

I try to keep normalcy in my life right now. I don’t believe that panic and fear is helpful. I read news outlets I feel I trust. CNN and local news. Many around me are nervous and panicky. I’m just enjoying my days as much as I can.

Keisha, Pennsylvania (USA)

I cannot recall when I first heard about COVID-19, but suddenly my professional life was in chaos – slammed with daily emails, town halls, and office meetings from my institution. Recommendations change as frequently as the number of breaths I take each day. My county was one of the first epicentres in Pennsylvania, and my primary care office is located in the centre of it. I have asthma.

Definitely unnerving – especially when removing personal protective equipment (PPE) in a very orderly sequence and knowing that it could be contaminated by a potential positive patient – but as a frontline healthcare professional, you do what you have been trained to do. I do not wear my scrubs anywhere but at work, and I shower as soon as I arrive at home. My family’s safety is priority, so I am extra vigilant with every move made. However, I do not panic. I am not fearful. I take it day by day and trust in a God who has seen me through many storms.

I believe that more intense lockdown measures should have been instituted earlier, and I feel that the biggest mistake was lulling people into a false sense of security with reports that the most at risk population is elderly. While they are more vulnerable, this virus can (and does) affect any age with or without pre-existing health conditions. About 20% of people are asymptomatic, and that is problematic because the virus is unwittingly spread.

In addition, the invincibility mindset of many young people compound the issue.  I believe that social distancing has also been misinterpreted. It is not gathering in groups intentionally and standing six apart (as I’ve seen on social media, for example, neighbours having happy hour on their street).  Social distancing is intended for the essential errands – the grocery store, the pharmacy – where you run in, complete your task as soon as possible, and run out.

Seek out credible sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)…and not every theory on Facebook. Social media is a blessing and a curse right now. While it keeps us connected, it can also tear us apart – PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!

Sometimes you will have to take a social media break. It can be overwhelming especially when all you see is doom and gloom.  Talk openly and honestly but age appropriately with your kids. Allow them to express their feelings. Validate their feelings. It’s okay to admit that you do not have all the answers, but reassure them that you are doing your best to keep them safe. Do not allow their (or your) every moment of the day to be all consumed with the news.

Do whatever relaxation technique makes you feel centered and calm.  Seek out your higher being or power for strength. Connect with the members of your household.  These times, while uncomfortable and uncertain, are also rare and precious. Ironically, it may turn out to be one of the best chapters of your life.

Jodi, Bahamas

In all things I give God thanks! September 1, 2019, the island of Grand Bahama was shaken by hurricane Dorian and seven months later many families have not recovered mentally, emotionally, or financially. My family was blessed because we still had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and most of all each other. Just when I thought I had gained some level of normalcy in my life, like many others in Grand Bahama, it has been shaken again. Today, we are facing a global issue Covid-19, where every country is in the same situation.

I have been following the reports on Covid 19 since it was announced the virus was spreading through China. I did not really become concerned until South Florida (120 miles away) stated they had their first case. As a mother with two teenage boys, I headed straight to the grocery store to stock up on dry goods, non-perishable items, vitamins, and disinfectants. As you may know, living on an island everything is imported. My concern was that the time would come when the borders would be shut down and we wouldn’t have sufficient food and medical supplies coming into the country. Thank God the grocery stores are restocking daily.

I don’t just have my family here to worry about, but also my parents who still reside in Bermuda. I talk to them daily to make sure they are okay. When I am not talking to them I am following the news to updated on everything going on there concerning Covid 19. I appreciate the friends and family in Bermuda for checking up on my parents too.

When The Bahamas was on complete lockdown to help prevent the spread of the virus, nothing was open and the roads were quiet. I enjoyed every minute of it. It gave me time to reflect, catch up on some much needed rest, and spend time with my family. I am always busy with work, chauffeuring the children to extracurricular activities, and household responsibilities, this down time is needed. During this lockdown I pray that everyone does as the government has requested so our medical professionals could focus on the current Covid 19 cases.

During Easter weekend we had fish cakes and hot cross buns, Bermuda style. Yes, I am concerned about everything going on around the world with Covid 19, but I cannot let it consume me. Our boys had a little taste of Bermudian culture with food and kite flying. Most of all we used this time to reflect on our blessings and give God thanks!

Jennifer, Canada

When I am asked, “How are you all doing” my immediate answer is “we are okay”, and we are. So far, all of my “people” are safe and that’s what I NEED to focus on.

On March 14, Ontario started what was going to be a three-week lockdown. Nonessential services were closed and we were all asked to practice physical distancing. The kids would be out of school until at least April 6th and they were both (14 and 11) given extra work to do on the extended spring break. Thankfully, my employer was able to transition us all to working from home and so my salary is still coming in. My husband, however, was laid off, as is my eldest son, who moved out in January.

I am a task-oriented person so the minute my husband was laid off we made an appointment at the bank to move the dates that our loan is withdrawn so that the withdrawal date would land on my pay week and not his. We have a freezer so his last pay cheque was spent filling that freezer with food – we are LUCKY and I know it. However, the reality is I am scared – just like everyone else. I know myself well enough to know that I cannot live in the fear though. I can spiral in the blink of an eye if I let the worry and the fear take over.

My daughter’s epilepsy meds are now only a month’s dose at a time and not the three months we usually get. My 14-year-old son has borderline anxiety and so he is happier than a clam not going outside right now – but I worry, when this is over and we are allowed to venture outside again how will he cope? Are we going to go back to a situation where he is so scared of the outside world that he makes himself sick with fear (we have a psychologist for him but will I be able to afford those sessions with our limited income?).

My husband is a wonderful man but he is not good being “idle” and so I need him to step up and be in charge of the house and the kids while I work, but he is stressed and so he is in the basement watching TV. My stepdaughter, my husband’s eldest, gave birth recently to a beautiful new baby girl in the UK, and we are both so happy and yet nervous for both mom and baby right now. I am terrified for our family and friends in Bermuda – does the hospital have enough equipment?

When I heard that the first Covid-19 deaths were recorded on the island, it was so incredibly sad. I was hoping that Bermuda would be spared.

We are all scared, but I have always tried to focus on what I can do in a situation and on the positive things happening in a time of crisis – because there are ALWAYS positive things. I take it day by day. I make a list of things we can do that are fun. I let the kids decide when they are going to do their schoolwork, because they need to feel some sort of control too.

Do I agree with the times they choose – NO! But, I have to let that go because right now we all need to feel we have control over SOMETHING. I only watch the news once a day and from a trusted source, and I focus on the number of recovered cases. I look at how the earth is healing itself and the levels of pollution have dropped dramatically. My focusing on the positive is not me being naive – this is how I am able to cope with a situation that I have no control over at all.

Things I have learned during this crisis: I am far more introverted than I ever imagined and my son comes by his anxiety through me. The reason my housework takes so long is not that I don’t have time…it’s that I hate doing it. Social media does have an upside we are all able to stay connected, imagine if this had happened in the 1980’s!

Sherri, Bermuda & Atlanta

You never know when life will change until you are faced with uncertainty.  The Corona virus has become the uncertainty we are now faced with, like when is it going to end and when can we go back to a normal life.

What’s certain is life will never be normal again instead we have a new normal that was birthed and named Co-Rona. I have a best friend named Rona and she is gentle, loving and kind and wouldn’t hurt a soul. But Co-Rona has been mean to us all making us stay inside, not allowing us to be together let alone touch each other.

I live between Bermuda and Atlanta and Co-Rona lives everywhere. Co-Rona has brought on anxiety and panic that I have never experienced. While in Atlanta I stayed to myself and went for daily walks in my area.  Going to the grocery store only brought on anxiety for me so I especially did not go to big stores like Walmart or Target.  I decided to return to Bermuda to be with my family because I wasn’t going to allow Co-Rona to keep me away from my loved ones.

I started my journey to return on March 22.  I checked in and alllllll my luggage.  Got to the gate to board the plane and the flight was cancelled.  Now apparently Co-Rona did not have nothing to do with this but Co-Rona probably was alive and well while I was in the airport for about 3 hours which only made me more anxious as if I wasn’t exposed I probably was after this day to only stay in Atlanta! I got back to the house and took a Detol bath from head to toe and I felt much better after that. I eventually made it back to the island on April 7 after numerous messages and communications with family, friends, ministers and even the Premier at one point.  During this time we need to be grateful for life.

Catch Sherri’s podcast Giving H.E.D. on Apple and Spotify

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