I’m blessed that I have not had to deal with having COVID-19. With having a disability, I was always cognitive of the whole social distance and mask thing. I knew, if I came down with it, my life would be even more difficult. Having a disability is challenging, let alone having to deal with other difficulties that COVID-19 brings; and potentially have deadly consequences. That’s just too much to fathom. Although I didn’t have to deal with COVID, a friend with a disability did and I am glad that she is in recovery.
Here is Linda’s story. Thank you, Linda, for sharing. Sincerely, Shari.
This past year of navigating a pandemic has been challenging for everyone. We didn’t receive a playbook on how to live our lives in a way that balances compassion for others with needed safety precautions.
I am a blind woman who travels with a Seeing eye dog. I was living an organized orderly life. This past year has forced me out of my comfortable bubble. It has impacted how Abby does her job as my guide. She did not learn the concept of social distancing in school. And people in masks can look scary to even the most well-trained pup.
I found ways to adapt, and thought I was rolling along with the punches, getting life tasks accomplished. Then… bam! I smacked headlong into a wall. I received a positive COVID test. Now I was in quarantine with my pup and becoming sicker than I have ever been in my life. Thankfully, I had a strong support system of friends and family who assisted me. I received many porch drop-offs of food: and loads of messages cheering me on to recovery.
This virus is a difficult experience for all of us to face. When you live with a disability, the barriers can be overwhelming. I couldn’t drive myself to get a COVID test, and the thought of asking a friend, would be too daunting. My greatest fear was that I would infect another person. I just wanted to curl up into a ball till I was well. I resisted seeking medical attention because I just knew I could take care of myself. I felt so sick that the idea of being a blind patient in a COVID unit caused me an attack of anxiety.
This virus forces us into isolation. I can’t imagine getting through my COVID journey without my remarkable support system. Still, as a patient, I had to advocate for myself. Under ordinary circumstances, I have no trouble speaking up for my needs. In this case, I could barely put a sentence together. Educating health professionals about blindness simply was not on my agenda. I was lucky that those who cared for me treated me with respect and compassion. I am thankful. At the same time, I know that having COVID and being disabled has led to tragic outcomes.
I am now on the other side of this experience, and I do life much differently these days.
I joke that COVID is “the gift that keeps on giving.” COVID brain fog is real, and disconcerting. I have chosen to be vulnerable with friends and family by telling them what is helpful to me as I continue to recover. I process small pieces of information better than too many details at once. I have slowed down so I can “find my words,” while speaking and writing. I compile lots of lists, and take more time getting ready for my day.
I recognize that Abby and myself have many good people in our world. At the same time, I pause for a moment of silence when I hear the name of one who we lost to COVID.
I am still my snarky silly self: with perhaps a touch more compassion as I do life after COVID.