Let me tell you why I am feeling frustrated, dejected, ashamed, embarrassed, pissed off and a whole lot more.
I had been sailing, sailing, sailing through this COVID-19 mess — at least, I thought I was doing pretty well. Until now. Good Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Dorothy and I went for a walk in mid-afternoon. We live in Campbell Creek, just east of Kamloops, and walk along a road on the south side of the South Thompson River.
I always walk further than she does, and halfway through I will take a break, sit for a few minutes on a retaining wall and watch the traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway. Hey, every boy loves to watch the big rigs. Right?
On this day, considering all of the politicians and health officials who had been pleading with people to stay home, recommending that they not travel, asking them to avoid family gatherings, I was rather surprised to see how much small vehicle traffic there was going in both directions.
I mean, smaller communities throughout the province were begging non-residents to stay away, petrified that someone from outside would bring the virus into areas that don’t have the medical necessities with which to deal with it.
So, sheesh, I wondered, where is everyone going?
When we returned home, social media, as it had been on Thursday evening, was full of stories of people travelling throughout B.C.
Then, after dinner, I came across a tweet, featuring a few seconds of video, from Tina Lovgreen of CBC Vancouver.
The gent being interviewed — yeah, the one with the smug look on his face — was headed somewhere in the Gulf Islands. Apparently, he also is tone deaf; why else would he agree to be interviewed on camera on this subject?
Anyway . . . asked what might happen if he got ill while there, he looked at the young girl beside him, presumably his daughter, and said: “Not too worried. We’ll bring in a helicopter to bring us out. Right?”
Well, sir, you got to me. Oh, did you ever!
I’m sorry, but I am sick and tired of people like you and the lack of respect that you and others like you are showing to people like my wife.
Dorothy is one of thousands of people who live in B.C., and have compromised immune systems. As I have written before, if you passed her on a sidewalk or in a small cafe, you would never know that she is in that situation.
You would never know that she had a kidney transplant more than six years ago, and that she takes anti-rejection drugs twice a day. You would never know that she spent almost four years doing peritoneal dialysis, hooking up to a machine called a cycler every night — EVERY SINGLE DAMN NIGHT — just to stay alive.
And there are all kinds of people with various health problems in the same predicament. In the case of transplant patients, they take drugs in order to keep their bodies from rejecting their new organs, which really are foreign to their systems. In the process of doing that, these drugs suppress the immune systems. These people will take these drugs for the rest of their lives.
That is why the virus that has us in this predicament is so dangerous to them. There isn’t a vaccine for it; there isn’t even a treatment. You can’t imagine anything worse if you don’t have much of an immune system.
While you thumb your nose at all these people with your weekend jaunt, let me tell you a bit about Dorothy.
She is everything I’m not.
OK. Let me tell you a bit about me first. I’m cynical, skeptical, pessimistic, grouchy, miserable and all of that, which is what comes with having worked in the newspaper business for more than 40 years.
Dorothy is a positive person. She loves nothing more than to hug people, something she hasn’t been able to do for a few weeks now, and you have no idea how hard that is on her.
We have been in self-isolation for four weeks now. She hasn’t been in a grocery store in all that time. We order online; if we need something between orders, I go in the store. We have ordered takeout food a couple of times; I’ve gone into the restaurant to get the food.
It was her birthday on Thursday. We went to a favourite restaurant to get some takeout — ate it in their parking lot. She couldn’t even go in to say hi to some of her favourite people.
Shortly after Dorothy found out that she had kidney disease — she was found to have only one kidney and it already had started the downhill slide — she volunteered in the dialysis ward of a Regina hospital. She wanted to help others, while getting a look at what she might be faced with somewhere down the road.
After her transplant, she co-founded the Kamloops Kidney Support Group, and she is one of the organizers of Kidney Walk Kamloops. In each of the six years she has taken part, she has been the Walk’s leading individual fund-raiser. She helps put together an annual Christmas dinner for the kidney community.
She also volunteers at Overlander Residential Care, an assisted living facility in Kamloops. Whenever she gets a text or a phone call asking her if she could come by and play the piano — she plays by ear — her face lights up like a full moon. She often joins in taking residents shopping or to medical appointments. It has pained her not to be able to go there for the past few weeks.
Sir, while you and others of your ilk are ignoring all the pleas and the recommendations, Dorothy has been stuck here with me. No, she can’t travel to Burnaby to see our son, his pregnant wife and Kara, our only grandchild.
Oh, we could arrange to meet somewhere in a parking lot in Abbotsford or Chilliwack and try to keep our distance for an hour or two. But how do you keep a granddaughter, who is soon to turn four, from running to her grandmother for a hug?
Of course, you can’t. So because of a weakened immune system, we will continue to stay home, not travel, and try to do our best to help, you know, flatten the curve while we await the arrival of a miracle or a vaccine, whichever comes first.
In the meantime, don’t concern yourself with any of the people in the medical community who are fighting this from the front lines, or the good folks who continue to keep the shelves stocked in the grocery stores.
Don’t bother yourself with any of this talk about a curve or dead people or intensive care or hospitalizations. Hey, you know that it’ll never happen to you and yours, so you just go right ahead and enjoy your weekend.
I just hope the helicopter isn’t busy if you need it.