Living with (and surviving) COVID/Series
Catching COVID is not something any of us set out to do. But one day it might happen, and how well we survive that will depend (in part) on how resilient we are. People don’t talk about this much. Despite being a disease that has been around for nearly two years now, COVID is still so new that the much of the focus is on prevention, and then medical treatment. That’s important. But how we as people fight it is important too, and something we have control of.
Photo supplied by Unsplash.com.
So what is resilience? The Oxford Dictionary (yes, the one my kids have for use at the school they can’t attend just yet, but it’s coming woohoo!) defines it as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. People who are resilient are aware of the situation, their emotional reactions and understand the behaviour of those around them. As a result, they are better able navigate the situation they find themselves in, and problem solve where they can.
Sound good to you? It also sounded good to Wendy, who found her family right in the thick of it when the delta variant hit Victoria.
Know what you are dealing with?
“When we got that positive test result we had no idea what to expect,” said Wendy. Her daughter was COVID positive after a simple, 2-minute conversation and all they had to guide them were the horror stories in the media.
“I wasn’t about to let us go down that rabbit hole,” said Wendy, “So we decided to go on a fact-finding mission.” For Wendy's family that mission didn’t mean wrapping their heads around what might happen physically. Instead, the family focused on what their days needed to look like to manage the disease. Initially, while her daughter’s symptoms were mild, that meant working with the contract tracers.
It's OK to say 'help!'
“It was so stressful,” said Wendy, “A necessary experience but totally overwhelming.” That was when Wendy had her first epiphany. “Everyone is still learning about this virus, how to handle it, how to track it and it’s effects. I realised I needed to say, hey, let’s consider my daughter’s mental health, and they did.”
At that time Doctors at the State Health hub also recommended that Wendy’s daughter move to hotel quarantine. As COVID numbers increase in the community this suggestion is less likely to occur, meaning many households will have to work out how they manage COVID at home. Wendy’s daughter was only a teenager, so the family drew on their resilience again, and said no so they could care for their daughter.
Infection in households is likely
Wendy's family knew this meant that other family members might also get infected and that was frightening. “My daughter had symptoms very similar to Influenza B for around seven days, but as she started to improve my son and husband developed symptoms,” said Wendy. Both Wendy and her husband were vaccinated.
“We had regular contact over the phone with doctors, wellbeing professionals and great support from friends,” said Wendy. [Between you and me I don’t think this was by chance. In speaking to Wendy it struck me that these people are pretty special and they know the importance of having a good support network…but that’s another story!]
The logistics of keeping people separate in their house, providing care and ensuring each other didn’t unravel was a team effort in this household. Fortunately, Wendy didn’t get sick, and she had her support people on tap to help her remain strong. But managing COVID at home was no doddle. In fact, Wendy’s tips and tricks for doing that will feature in a future article because frankly, they are handy to know.
“All up we battled this disease for more than two months,” said Wendy, “As well as the process of then slowly getting back out into the community.”
Wendy’s a wise woman. She was quick to point out that while COVID really showed her who the special people were in her life, it was also important to tap into other support that was offered.
“Not everyone reacted positively or helpfully to our situation,” said Wendy, “On one hand I feel so very lucky that we all survived, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.” Tapping into professional mental health support, as well as friends, helped boost Wendy’s resilience when she needed it.
“If I could say one thing it would be, don’t be afraid to ask or accept help – both during the fight and afterward.”
…tomorrow's article: Preparing your House for COVID.
This article is part of a 5-day series developed by the network of Neighbourhood Houses in Hepburn Shire (Trentham Neighbourhood Centre, Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre, Creswick Neighbourhood Centre and Clunes Neighbourhood House). The series will include an interview with a Victorian family who lived through the delta-strain. Each article is designed to help provide us with some insight into what living with COVID might mean and how individually – and together - we can prepare for it.
AUTHOR: Lana de Kort.