Remnants of the Pandemic

The title of this blogpost might indicate that I think Covid has gone away and is no longer a risk.

I don’t.

But I am fully vaccinated with two boosters and will have a third booster this week. I have chosen to believe that vaccinations will protect me from severe illness. Amazingly neither my husband nor I have contracted Covid in the last 2-1/2 years although we have had numerous close and not-so-close exposures. We don’t feel virtuous; just lucky. Some of our friends have had the virus and fortunately none with serious illness. My children and their families have taken Covid seriously with masks and vaccines. Even still, three of the four parents have had the virus in the last 6 months as have six of the seven grandchildren.

My daughter-in-law from the East Coast contracted Covid while staying at our house in August for a family wedding. My son (her husband) and the three children returned home on schedule so as not to get Covid one-by-one at my house and spend the rest of the summer with us. My poor DIL posted on Facebook that she had long dreamed of a solo getaway from the family. She just didn’t expect it to be in her in-law’s basement….

My current Covid behavior could be classified as inconsistently cautious. I wear a mask to Costco. I go to senior fitness classes at the YMCA unmasked. If the grocery store is crowded, I wear a mask. If it’s not, I don’t. I wore a mask on the crowded bus to the Minnesota State Fair but didn’t on the uncrowded bus on the way home. I wear a mask on airplanes. I don’t wear one for outdoor activities. I have never once had anyone criticize me for masking although I rarely see others masked. I’m not sure if I am wasting my time by wearing a mask sporadically or if I am putting myself at risk by not wearing one all of the time. 

Like everyone else, I just don’t know.

I am aware of how much the last two and a half years of pandemic life have changed me. Some of the changes are positive. Some of the changes are probably negative or at best iffy. Some changes are nothing more than doing things differently. For sure “Covid Caution” has given me a great excuse to avoid things I don’t want to do. 

Here are some good things.

I started Duolingo Spanish in 2020 and am now at Day 752 of daily Spanish lessons. I have learned a lot but am miles away from being a fluent Spanish speaker. I am currently on Unit 50 with Unit 211 as the end goal. I can read many things in Spanish and understand random words from Spanish speakers. I occasionally stumble through a sentence or two with my grandchildren’s nanny from South America. 

On an early walk during the pandemic I saw a pileated woodpecker and was inspired to learn more about birds. I am pretty good at common birds but not so good at LBB’s. (Little Brown Birds.) I enjoy the Merlin Bird ID App which gives size, color, and habitat clues to identification and identifies birds with recordings of their calls. 

Although I have always been a reader, I have definitely read more since the beginning of the pandemic. I am not reading important literature or much nonfiction. My reading can mostly be categorized as “high quality trash.” Interestingly I watch much less TV. 

I have let my hair grow out and proudly wear a ponytail. Much less work than shorter hair, especially hair that curls in weird places and frizzes in humidity.

Diabetes-wise my biggest bonanza from the pandemic has been Medicare coverage for telehealth visits. Hopefully this change will be permanent. I spend 5+ months in Arizona and telehealth allows me to easily satisfy Medicare’s requirement for endocrinology visits every 90 days. Other than that I don’t think my diabetes has changed much. 

Here are some iffy things.

I have gained weight. Some of this weight gain started before the pandemic with my slowing senior metabolism. My endo is thrilled and reminds me that frailty is a huge risk as I age and a little ”pudge” can be helpful if I get sick. I had a bone density scan in May and my scores improved significantly. More weight: stronger bones. I am okay with some of the weight gain but hate that a lot of my clothes are too tight. Plus I don’t like what I see in my bathroom mirror. (Maybe I never did.)

I have always been aware of personal space and am increasingly uncomfortable with people getting too close. When my local YMCA resumed in-person fitness classes after a year of the pandemic, the workout rooms had big colorful dots on the floor to show proper spacing. Unfortunately they removed the dots last fall. Now when I am at yoga and someone lays their mat too close to me, I want to yell “Go back to your dot!” But there are no dots….

As a senior with multiple autoimmune conditions, I think that Covid Caution continues to be a good way for me to live. But I know that I use it as a copout. I didn’t want to go to a large indoor wedding reception this summer because I wouldn’t know anyone. I just said “Covid Caution” and was excused without hurt feelings. I don’t love traveling a lot and am a happy homebody. Covid caution and I can stay home or at least avoid trips outside the continental USA. I am not a party person and probably use Covid too often as an excuse to avoid large groups. At the same time I am aware that as I age, it is not good to be socially isolated. 

So where am I?

I don’t lose sleep over Covid. In early 2020 I was concerned that if I got the virus my overactive immune system might drive me into a cytokine storm. I live now trusting that my up-to-date vaccinations will prevent that. I have been lucky to have not lost close relatives or friends to Covid and don’t have traumatic memories from the last couple of years. I realize that not everyone is so fortunate,

Looking forward, as a senior I think that the biggest risk to my longevity is a fall. I dutifully hold onto stair railings and pay attention to my environment. I go to senior fitness classes where balance exercises are emphasized. A broken hip with a resulting surgery, hospitalization, and forced inactivity seems a bigger risk to me than Covid. My internist would say that as a person with longterm diabetes, heart disease is my biggest risk.

I don’t know my future and at some point it is just pick your poison. (Actually it probably won’t be my choice….) Until then I will do my best to stay active–both physically and mentally. I will work to avoid total social isolation but mostly with outside activities and gatherings. I will hope that vaccinations continue to help most of us avoid hospitalization and death from Covid. I will listen to experts and adjust my behavior accordingly.

For the time being I will continue to hope that what I am doing is good enough.

8 thoughts on “Remnants of the Pandemic

  1. I’m a user of the Merlin app too! Also, I remember going to the U.S. Capitol in 2019 with DPAC to advocate for, among other things, telehealth visits for Medicare recipients.

    Good going avoiding Covid… here’s hoping we can all avoid Covid in the future.

    • Stephen, I have determined that if I am going to be an expert birdwatcher, I would need a huge fancy camera to take photos of birds and analyze them when I get home. Not gonna happen. I love Sound ID with Merlin because it usually (I think) gives me accurate identifications.

  2. Pingback: Remnants of the Pandemic - My Teens Heath

  3. Your Covid Caution and heightened situational awareness & masking choices sound so familiar! While I never attempted to put into words what I do and how I choose, I could probably borrow what you wrote and it would ring true for me as well.

    I enjoy being outdoors and during Covid I also discovered that I really like short, moderate, Exercise sessions. I no longer go to any indoor or outdoor fitness classes here, which I miss sometimes and there are hundreds of them in my community all available to me for free.

    Instead I devote 20 to 30 minutes almost every day to (free) fitness videos/subscriptions on Youtube. Ice narrow down my favorites to those who focus on unique fitness needs for seniors: strength, balance, flexibility, endurance, and cardio adapted as needed.

    I also discovered some hit or miss quality videos available for free through my AARP united healthcare Medicare supplement plan. I imagine most supplement plans have something similar as would most advantage plans.

    Congratulations on your language building progress. That’s all great for your brain!

  4. I feel similarly. I’m a bit younger I think (58), and I did have covid in June – fortunately quite mild, like a mild flu for a couple of days, and am grateful to have recovered fully. I now feel fairly relaxed about it, but still cautious in somewhat arbitrary ways… And as a sister introvert, and as I ended a 19 year relationship a year ago, I have been making myself get out to outdoor events and activities as much as possible. And mostly enjoying them… Thanks for this. I always appreciate your posts.

  5. Oh yeah, I am now getting Merlin; I just looked it up. I think our covid strategy is generally reflective of yours. We mask in some places; we don’t in others. I like how you discuss it. Right now, I have been able to Evusheld, which makes my life easier to navigate. But I know we still arrive late and leave early when we go to church. The huggers, shakers, and sneers make us always take a deep breath. After all, we need to get through the door without talking to and being hugged by the greeter.

  6. Great post, Laddie. Thank you for making the effort to share your experience living through these odd times in which we live! I too am an aging T1 woman, and struggle daily to cover all the necessary health disciplines. My weakness is craft beer, Obsidian Stout in particular. My daily exercise is either walking, or riding my adult tricycle a mile or two. I mask up most of the time, except when I don’t. So far so good. Hang in there, you’re an inspiration to many of us. Thank you for your blog!

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