Surviving The Road Of Isolation During This Pandemic

By Laila Hardy Johnson ~

I know a thing or two about being in isolation and wanted to share some of the ideas I have been chewing to help you survive isolation without going bonkers. I am not making light of it, it is ridiculously hard. As many of you know, I am a Leukemia survivor and treatment required long term isolation. Well, long term to me! 4-5 weeks felt like forever! Sprinkled with a few 2-3 week isolation periods here and there, became more than I could bear sometimes.

To give you an idea of how much I dreaded it, I actually unknowingly risked my life in order to avoid another few weeks in the hospital. I was at home between treatments with my parents and I suddenly came down with a fever. It hit 103 degrees. I just took an antibiotic and the fever went down a little. I went to sleep hoping to just sleep it off. That’s usually my cure-all, sleep it off. Anyhow, when I woke up, it was back up to 103, so off I went to the hospital. It turned out to be a staph infection! Ay yi yi! I cringe every time I think about how close I was to killing myself. But that’s my point, I just dreaded being isolated.

So here we all are! We need to hunker down and isolate ourselves in order to flatten the curve and send this virus packing. To my husband and me, it’s not so unnatural since we basically had to live very carefully and mostly isolated for a year after Luke was born due to my bone marrow transplant. Here are some things I learned:

  1. If you watch the news, pick the same time every day to watch it and watch just enough to get the update and then don’t look back. Same thing with social media. You can always task that friend who watches the news all day to alert you if a real emergency happens
  2. Music. Play the music you love at all times. Happy tunes, happy words = happier mood.
  3. Move. Get up and go! Get outside if you can. If you can’t get outside, walk around your room or apt. Take the clothes off of your exercise equipment and start using them! Create tasks to do that get you moving like putting things away or finding new places for things. Squats, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, jump squats, yoga, stretching – all can be done in a small space. Use Youtube to find something to follow if you need it. Video chat/walk with a buddy.
  4. Make healthy food choices instead of stress eating. It will help keep your mind clear and mood stable
  5. Tackle those household projects that you have been meaning to get to and now have the time to!
  6. Set goals (besides work) every single day. I.e. family game, meditate, read, call friends, etc.
  7. Get dressed, do your hair and even wear make-up if that makes you feel better? You too guys! LOL! Whatever helps to boost your mood.
  8. Stay hydrated. Water, lemon water, herbal tea, fruit, and veggies.
  9. Know that you will have your low moments and that they will pass.
  10. Instead of looking at how long we have, chop it down to smaller increments of time. i.e. 2 days at a time or don’t think about it at all, just the moment in front of you. Whatever soothes you.
  11. Focus on the positive, write a gratitude list. Write a positive saying on your mirrors or post-its around the house/room.
  12. Hug whoever you can, when it’s allowed by the CDC, haha.

This is what is coming back to me, basically because I have had to reach into my toolbox once again to help me survive another moment in time called isolation. If you are having a hard time, be patient with yourself. It is hard but doable. I even had to remind myself that I can do this. I felt like I was cracking a little, but reminded myself that it can be behind us before we know it.

I pray for everyone who is afraid, suffering or sick. I am looking forward to putting this behind us, but I do hope some good will come from this for all. I know that for me, the first time I had to close my world off, I was shocked, overwhelmed and even felt like I was constantly chomping at the bit to do something. I was a 32-year-old busy NYer and then poof, lockdown. In retrospect, I see how frenetic I was before Leukemia and how much I have calmed down as a person after all that time in treatment and isolation. Priorities shifted and life has been so much more meaningful and amazing, basically because I appreciate so much now. I really do stop to smell the ocean air and take in precious moments.

I hope that shift happens for the people who need it or want it after this is all over. I hope we can be more respectful of each other, animals and our earth. I hope that there are deeper connections between people and more thoughtfulness instead of “what can you do for me.” Cause as the new saying goes “We are in this together”

Be safe!