|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:
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”