The blessings of living with ALS while avoiding the coronavirus threat
CHARLOTTE, NC,: It’s amazing how many extraneous thoughts can occupy your mind when a high percentage of the daily clutter and distractions aren’t around to get in the way. CoronaVirus is like an eraser, wiping out much of our lifestyle – not to mention stores, bars and restaurants, and events. Having ALS means already being prepared for a virus, like COVID-19. For me, its like ALS is Godzilla and COVID-19 is Rodan and they are having quite the battle.
Years ago Charlton Heston made a movie called The Omega Man which was a science fiction story where it was only safe to go outside in the daytime. At night Heston was sequestered as a prisoner in his house for fear that by leaving at night he ran the risk of being attacked by a death cult of zombie-like creatures.
The comparison, though light years different in reality than the film, seems to me to be somewhat of a metaphor for the panic over the coronavirus pandemic.
There has never been a period during my life when so much normal daily activity has been canceled or postponed on a national scale. From the March Madness to the Masters.
Losing sports – our “passing time” entertainment
For example, I had no idea the impact that sports had on the normalcy of our daily routines until the NBA, NHL, NCAA (especially college basketball), MLB and the Master’s golf tournament virtually disappeared overnight.
Not that I followed them all, or really paid much attention, it was just that they were always “there” as a subliminal part of our American comfort zone.
Now there is a void of undetermined length. It’s the “sound of silence” and, in its own eerie way, it is disconcerting.
Life goes on. It’s business as usual…until, you realize that it’s not. Rather it is, in an odd sort of way, like being unwillingly thrust into a real-life episode of The Twilight Zone.”
ALS and COVID-19: Learning to anticipate the best, while preparing for the worst
One of the first things we were told following my diagnosis with ALS was that we should be prepared for any eventually. That it is important to stay ahead of each new phase of the disease – whatever that might be.
In a sense, that’s what we are doing in the battle to ward off coronavirus. The United States has been proactive while Italy was reactive, though, in fairness, the Italians were initially blindsided by the virus.
Further exacerbating the situation is the 24/7 news cycle.
The perpetual “Breaking News” syndrome which only adds to the perception of over-reacting to the problem. In general, in this case, the media is not intentionally hyping the problem. Well, some are. But the legitimate media, it is that they are stuck in a system that requires an abundance of repetitive information.
Nor does the constant political bickering help to alleviate anxiety.
Under normal circumstances, the point-counterpoint debates between politicians can be healthy, but in times of crisis, arguing for the sake of merely gaining a political advantage is not only unproductive but also unhealthy.
Friends and family will ask how I am able to view ALS as a blessing. By putting that idea into the context of coronavirus, here is a perfect way to demonstrate.
It’s a bit like Godzilla vs Rodan, where Godzilla’s domain is challenged by another freak of nature, the gigantic flying nemesis Rodan with its neck that looks suspiciously like a concertina.
Coronavirus, bad as it is, is primarily most lethal in seniors with respiratory problems.
The basic preventive measures are to wash your hands frequently, keep your hands away from your face and use wipes to clean off tray tables on planes, tables in restaurants and other high-density sources for human contact and the like. In short, use common sense and be vigilant.
As a rapidly aging member of our society, I find myself nestled squarely in the center of the highest Covid-19 at-risk group. So how is this a blessing?
Consider first of all that large groups of people rarely, if ever, gather around my mobile wheelchair.
Second, I lost the use of my hands long ago. So I am no longer in the practice of shaking hands with or without Coronavirus concerns. That is a draw match in the battle.
Since I am not touching things on a regular basis, the need for excessive washing is not as necessary.
Finally, and probably the biggest offender is that I cannot touch my face in any capacity. Subconsciously everyone does it throughout the day, but we children of ALS, especially seniors, get a reprieve in that category.
Call it what you will, for me, it’s a blessing.
In the end Rodan’s neck will treat us to the Japanese version of Arrivederci Roma. Life will return to normal. Rodan will crash and burn, the “void” will be over and I’ll go back to fighting the ALS Godzilla monster.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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