Stalag 38319--Covid-19 Avoidance Unit

Kathryn Lynch

Copyright 2020 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash.
Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash.

At the age of 81, with advancing congestive heart failure, I had known for a while that my time card was close to punching out a final time. Every day I struggled to catch my breath, but I was able to function once again with the aid of my oxygenator which pumped air through a plastic tube hanging around my ears and into my nose. In addition, each day several powerful medications assailed my internal problems, attempting to normalize them. The net result was, in between coughing jags, I was comfortably seated in a recliner 24/7 even to sleep. I was unable to walk more than a few steps because that required circulation to my legs which sacrificed circulation to my brain. Several times I blacked out, finding myself face down on the carpet uninjured, but distressed to find my cocker spaniels licking my face and wagging their tails as if I had decided to play a new game conceived for their personal benefit. .

So it was, that when my nephew, who is my Caretaker, arrived one morning in early March (2020), I asked him for assistance in limiting contact with persons who might have COVID-19. His reaction was swift and complete, turning this household into a civilian prison. All of my attempts to slow his efforts were complete failures.

He began by searching Craigslist until he was able to purchase two freezers. After one was placed in a spare bedroom and the other on the back porch, he denuded shelves at Safeway, purchasing $1500 worth of groceries. About 15 trips were necessary to carry all of the food from his van into the house. Next, he purchased a bread maker, a food grinder, and a large mixer. Gone were the needs to get any groceries or fast food prepared by or delivered from a restaurant.

Large boxes began to arrive at the house. They contained supplies of rubbing alcohol, hand washing soap, and bleach. Other packages were removed from the delivery area on the porch to my nephew's van. They would be sprayed and remain there overnight before being resprayed and finally given to the addressee. I often spend a whole day looking out the window at a package I had ordered, only to see it removed for an entire day before I can have it.

A portable hand washing machine is set up near the front door entrance. All persons, including my granddaughter and grand nephew who live in this house, are required to wash hands before entering. If they are carrying anything, those items must be brought to the kitchen for spraying.

I am no longer permitted to enter the kitchen as these items have passed through. I would like to make coffee for myself early in the morning because otherwise no one else is around to make some. But I have done what I have been told and have not entered the kitchen in over a week.

Morning coffee was one of the last endeavors which gave me joy. Now I am told that all of this will continue for six months. The two young people who live here resent that they must do things a certain way because I am here I resent having to do all of these things because I believe they are overbearing and excessive.

My nephew continues to run this prison (strike that), this house under stringent rules because he wants to “protect me and someday I will thank him for it”. I know that he cares about me but I wonder if trading my unguarded life in a recliner for this guarded life for six months will leave enough time for me afterwards to eat a Quarter Pounder with cheese, make a pot of coffee, and again find joy.

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