A letter writer is looking for advice on getting through the pandemic.
Our elder shares his experience of his wife’s illness, and his tips for keeping busy during Covid.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom on getting through this very difficult time for our world? I want to hope that things will get better, but the pandemic seems so daunting with no end in sight. Was there a period of time in your life that was extremely difficult? If so, how did you get through it? Thanks!
Yes, I have been through many hard times before, the worst was when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia and we were told she only had months to live. At the time we had a two-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. We went through all the stages of denial, asking why, feeling anger that it happened to us, depression, etc. until we realized that we couldn’t change what happened, so we had only two choices, to live with it, making it part of our lives, or let it ruin our lives. We did research and found out about an experimental bone marrow transplant with a small chance of curing leukemia and she went for it and was cured. It took four months in intensive care, away from our children and two years having to wear a mask, and she now has a weak immune system. But we are extremely happy to have this second chance at life so we have learned to adjust. This virus is extremely dangerous to her so she has adjusted her life to exercise outside early in the morning when most people are still in bed, and then stays in and orders everything we need online.
This pandemic is the same, you can’t change what has happened, so you can either learn to adjust to and live with it, or let it make you angry and depressed. My wife used to run a morning coffee for 30 people at a clubhouse and used to do monthly themed parties and used to swim and go to movies and shop, and swim laps and we used to go to Happy Hour with friends weekly. She has had to find things to do so she would have a reason to get up. She learned felting and has made 10 felted animals, she learned to do diamond painting and made a diamond peacock on a leather purse, she painted her blue jeans with flowers down both legs, painted all our clear vases, and her shoes. She learned to do origami and made a bunch of projects including bird earrings, peacock dollars for cards, etc. She did a 1,000-piece puzzle and glued it and framed it. She does Sudoku and crossword and Numbrix. And she learned how to do acrylic resin painting from online videos and recently painted two tables. Next, she is going to do some wooden earrings and boxes for Christmas gifts. We have reached out using WhatsApp and Messenger to connect with old friends and relatives and our daughter and grandchildren. She has found several new good TV series that she taped to watch in the evening. She has searched out new things to bake (bagels, apple fritters, etc.) and new recipes to cook for dinner. She ordered everything online and started a container garden for something to do each day. Every day she tries to think of things she can do, rather than what she can’t. She misses swimming but learned to sub hiking.
It is very hard to suddenly have to change your life and not be able to socialize in person. She started a daily chat group with some of the coffee people, and a virtual Happy Hour weekly using Google Duo. Once she found people she could trust she set up our back yard with 6 chairs spaced 12 feet apart and tied the side gate open and invited four people to come to our back yard wearing masks until seated, and with their own coffee, to visit once a week for an hour. So now we have that to look forward to. And once a week we send out for food using Grub Hub delivery, for a special treat. Now she is starting a trivia group using Google Duo.
No matter how bad we have it, others have it much worse now such as the homeless on the streets and older people having to stay in one room in assisted living facilities and not being able to have any visitors and having to live their last years alone.
Throughout your life, bad things will happen because of the randomness of the universe, and how you look at what happens (with a positive attitude or negative attitude) will determine whether you make it part of your life and move on, or let it ruin your life.
When things you can’t control happen, such as the virus, you can either let it get you down by thinking negative thoughts and thinking about what you can no longer do, or you can try to be positive and say to yourself, so life changed in an instant, so I need to adapt, so let me think of ways to adjust to and live with it and be creative about what I can do, instead of thinking So think of it as a challenge to find things you can do from home and learn online and how you can connect with your friends and relatives.
You could get in a car and park six feet away from a friend in their car in a store parking lot and chat through the window or from your car to their porch. You could call them on the phone to come outside. If you have a large enough backyard space you could invite one or two friends over to your yard with a mask and hand sanitizer.
You can ask a bunch of your friends or family or relatives to download the free application Google Duo from their phone stores and then after they register there you can set up a daily chat group. All you do is create a group, name it, and select the people in the contact list to be included. You can also do a Friday Happy Hour where you can set up a time to chat and let all know you will call them at that time (they will hear a jingle on their phones and they just open Google Duo and hit the small “Join”) When you click on the group it calls all of them at once. Our group used to go out each Friday for Happy Hour and now we are doing a virtual Happy Hour where we toast making it through another week and several people have told me it is the highlight of their week. You see and hear everyone as if they are all there with you.
You can also use Skype, another free application found at Skype.com with someone else who downloads it and can use it to play games with the other person such as Pictionary or Charades or Hangman.
You can also use FaceTime and WhatsApp to talk to and see your friends, relatives, etc.
It is very important to keep a schedule so that your life feels structured; otherwise, you will just stay in bed and get groggy and depressed. Exercise is very important at this time to keep your immune system strong and to make sure your brain is emitting endorphins which keep you from getting depressed. So put on some upbeat music and walk fast in the morning, or dance, or bike, etc. If you have a friend who can walk, arrange to both talk to one another on the phone as you walk. So, make a schedule which would show getting up and exercising. Decide what exercise you will do and lay your exercise clothes out before you go to bed.
Next it is important to create a healthy breakfast for yourself.
Then after any chores you need to do, think about doing something where you can express your creativity to make something. You can order a kit online and get free instructional videos online for just about anything.
You can also search for the highest rated movies of the last five years and watch some of them and also do the same for TV series. Limit the time you watch TV to a few hours and stop an hour before bed so that you won’t be too wound up to sleep.
You could give yourself a foot treatment, put away your winter clothes and get out your spring, try some new recipes, start a garden (even if you have no yard) by ordering self-watering containers and soil and fertilizer and seed from HomeDepot.com and getting free delivery as I did, etc. etc. The possibilities are endless. You could write and publish an article or book for free using Amazon.com’s free publishing service. You could create a scavenger hunt for a neighborhood child which has puzzles to solve to get the clue. You could learn to cook from a chef using The Great Courses.com for under $50 or learn about stocks and bonds. You can do free online puzzles such as Numbrix or Sudoku or crossword.
I do think things will return to normal once testing and contact tracing become more plentiful and efficient and immunization shots are developed. Meanwhile, try to keep busy and pass the time. So get up, set some goals, shake yourself off and determine to make a schedule of what you can do, then order yourself a craft kit, puzzle, book, etc. and get started and you will begin to feel better and in control of your life again.
Article #: 462035