Fear and Living

7:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 37 Comments

 My grandma was an avid, almost belligerent proponent of hand washing. She grew up in an age where disease wasn't just a nuisance, it was often a death sentence. In the 1940's, her  next door neighbor lost two of their three daughters. I believe, it was to the measles. It had to be a terrifying time to raise kids, because measles wasn't the only threat.

One of my mother's most vivid memories was the closed park and pool signs during polio outbreaks. She said that as a little girl, she found the closed signs annoying. It wasn't until she got older that she realized what kind of threat polio was. If the sick were fortunate enough to survive, they could still be crippled for life.




My father was also no stranger to the horrors of disease. When he was a little boy, his big brother got the mumps. His final memories of his brother, who was around eight years old, was him gasping for breath. The doctor arrived and gave him a shot. He took one final breath and was gone. My dad said he always thought the shot killed him, but he later realized it was the disease that blocked his airway and the doctor tried, but was unable, to save him.

It's not much of  a consolation to know that we are surviving diseases in much greater numbers than before. In some ways, we've become so accustomed to beating our ailments that we get a bit freaked out when there's a new one. It makes us think that our happy life is in a free fall of doom.

But the truth is, we've always made it through.

Even in the worst of times, humanity always seems to find a way from darkness to light. The pains of the past heal so well that when the next tragedy strikes, we forget that we've already overcome these sorts of threats before, many, many times over.


*For anyone praying or rooting for the numbers to rise in the recovered category, Johns Hopkins Hospital is keeping track of the cororonavirus cases all over the globe in real time. This is a first for me: the ability to track a pandemic and watch and pray that the number of infected stops rising and the number of people listed as recovered grows way higher, way faster.


37 comments:

  1. As a whole, we always survive.
    While scary, this virus is mostly killing the elderly and unhealthy. We should be locking down nursing homes, not sporting events.

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    1. Exactly. We should probably fear regular flu more than the new flu. I think there were about 22,000 deaths last year for our average flu. I'm not sure why this one is freaking everyone out so much. But on the upside, people are starting to appreciate good old fashioned hand washing.

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  2. I'm mostly worried for my kids. My daughter had pneumonia two years ago and my son has asthma, putting both at higher risk for respiratory infections. I know I fall prey to respiratory issues too because of my battle with pneumonia after my daughters. But we can be thankful that medicine has gotten better over the years and continues to do so.

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    1. That is when I would worry too. My great nephew ended up in nicu after a battle with the regular flu this season. My nephew says he's wrapping his kids in bubbles until this flu season is over.

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  3. The regular flu has killed A LOT more people this year. I think shutting games off to the public and cancelling events is overkill. High risk people stay home as much as possible and everyone else wash hands, stay healthy, and just go about your business.

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    1. I keep asking myself what the panic is over. I was looking at the CDC stats and it looks like there were over 200,000 cases of regular flu with 111 pediatric deaths. That's scarier to me! I suppose panic brings much higher ratings.

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  4. I love how you bring it back to the past. I'm always amazed that my great grandmother buried two children and yet had such a lovely sense of humor. I pray that we can learn to remain calm and keep our perspective too.

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    1. They were a tough generation, that is for sure. I think of people like your great-grandma and like you, I wonder how they kept a smile.

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  5. I love the way you put this into a long term perspective. I think we need to look at how people have survived this in the past while looking at how we are handling this in the social media age.

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    1. I'm not sure it's the social media that is so scary, but the big media that makes me wonder if I should be more nervous. It's definitely putting a hit on the economy. I'll be happy to see spring come and the flu season end.

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  6. I'm ignoring most of the media hype and just being a bit more careful than usual. it amuses me to see people here panic-buying toilet paper and bottles of antibacterial handwash liquid. The flu is a virus, not a bacteria. Plain old soap and water is my favourite hand washing method. I have asthma so I'm a little concerned, but have to travel everywhere by bus so I just breathe through a clean hanky until I get off at my stop.

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    1. If you do get it, I'd head to the hospital. I have no idea how bad it hits the lungs, but I wouldn't take a chance on it. Breathing through a hanky is smart. And don't talk to people. You have full permission to be antisocial. Everyone should breathe through their noses.

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  7. Yeah, way back when just touching a doorknob could kill you. And the whole thing is blown out of proportion by the fear mongering media. The flu has killed more people than it. Not to say it should be taking lightly, but the media are acting like it's an ebola outbreak.

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    1. I'mm hoping once more people start recovering, some of the fear will subside. Right now there are so many unknowns. And all of these drastic measures make even me start to lose a bit of calm. I start to worry there is something way worse about it than they're letting on. But then I remind myself that the media does live off of a good crisis, so the bigger the problem the better- for them.

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  8. I lived through the era of mumps and polio but I don't remember mumps being something which could kill you. Just as well I guess. I remember my father being terrified of mumps because of the fact that it could make men sterile. I honestly think the current reaction to Corona Virus is being overplayed by the media. Most of us oldies at bowling are still there (one couple only has opted out, that I know of). If I personally get affected you will have to see my gravestone carries the words "She was dead wrong".

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    1. Mumps was my dad's best guess. Whatever he had, it swelled his airway. My dad was just a little boy when it happened. My grandmother lost her oldest child and an infant within a few weeks of each other. She never wanted to speak of it, so my dad never really knew what disease it was exactly. I can't even imagine how heart broken my poor grandma was. I look at my four boys and feel so blessed. I've always imagined her as their guardian angel. She should've had four boys to raise too.

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    2. I forgot...the tombstone...you're a funny gal!

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  9. Nice reminder of how resilient we are, as a species. I love how history gives great perspective to current fears. Thank you.

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    1. Yes, we are. I suppose that is no comfort when we look to the people we love and count the number of fragile people who could be hurt by this. My own mother died after a bout with the regular flu, so I understand the fears.

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  10. This is definitely an event that is scary yet interesting to experience. A bit like Sept 11th, we'll most likely be talking about the time before and after this event.

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    1. It must be the writer in us. I feel like I should be taking notes on how people respond to a crisis.

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  11. It is a case of 'this too shall pass'.
    But people are so panicked that it is causing so much fear. The fear others are experiencing is freaking me out. How most people I talk to think its the end of the world? There is just no use trying to calm them down.

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    1. Imagine how much it felt like the world was coming to an end during the bubonic plague. Bad things happen. It's better to count the good days as blessing and maintain our faith and hope for a return to better days in the bad times.

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  12. I love that quotation, Elizabeth. I read it to Carol and she wrote it down. I took care of many patients in the nursing home who had had polio and all sorts of other childhood diseases. Some were crippled. I even found some who remembered the flu pandemic of 1918. My daughter got oral histories from them and wrote her end-of-the-year American history essay on that pandemic--a fascinating and frightening story if ever there was one.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I'm glad I found something "post it" worthy! I spent a few months interning in a nursing home. One thing I learned from my time spent with people there was that humans were resilient. None of them made it to their golden years without heart aches, tragedies, and pain, but they also shared the good memories. Everyone should spend time with their elders, they could teach us a lot about life.

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  13. Such a good point that we've made it through in the past. :) My mom tells polio stories, too.

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    1. Their generation was tough as nails. They survived all sorts of horrors that would have all us thinking the world was certainly coming to an end.

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  14. Agreed... this, too, shall pass, but it's mind-boggling how ill-prepared the U.S. has proven itself to be to handle a pandemic, and that lack of preparation means it's gonna be much worse here than it should've been. My hubby and I are both high-risk, so other than going to the cancer center, we're pretty much hunkering down in the house. I even inventoried our freezers and pantries before I went grocery shopping last week, so I could stockpile the things we needed to remain self-sufficient for a good while. Am I scared? No. But this new coronovirus is much worse than the regular seasonal flu, both in how contagious it is, how long it can live on surfaces, and the mortality rate. It isn't "just" the flu.

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    1. Honestly, looking at what's going on in Europe, I'm not sure there is an effective way to prevent this, especially in cities. That's a scary thing!

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  15. I've been reading about the other epidemics from the past, and the stories and the stats are horrendous. I don't think it's being blown out of proportion, but I'm also at high risk, so may be fear is more at play here for me. But I don't think the CDC is overhyping. Trying to keep people safe, and from spreading the disease is all they are trying to do to keep the hospitals open and functioning for those who need them. Eventually we'll all get it, but they're trying to make sure we don't all get it at the same time! That is where the disaster lies. Right now you can't just go to the hospital. We're being told to call our doctor first. They are guarding against a rush and widespread exposure for those most critical first responders. Don't panic, but listen, learn, and be prepared! Oh, and stop hoarding toilet tissue! :)
    Stay well, everyone!

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    1. You're right. Panic will only hurt the people who are most at risk by overloading resources. People do need to stay calm, be smart, and hopefully we avoid as much as possible, the horror we're seeing in Europe. The biggest worry is going to be getting people who need hospital care in and out of hospitals without getting infected.

      I ran into a young mom looking for baby formula. People are hoarding baby formula because it lasts a long time, is nutritious, and they think it can be used to wait out the virus. That's crazy.

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  16. Every time we develop a vaccine for a major virus or disease, something else comes along. There will always be disease, deaths, and cures. Yes, this too shall pass.

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    1. You are right about that. Viruses are scary as hell in their ability to adapt and find ways to harm us.

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  17. Sad. Especially about your dad's brother. Another great post with a positive message. Stay safe.
    Hugs

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  18. Thank you for your warmhearted perspective. It really helps.
    Continued love, healthy, and strength to you.
    Also, may UPS deliver as promised!!

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    1. I heard UPS and the postal service is working OT with all the mail orders since people can't get out and shop.

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