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How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

This week I was scheduled to receive a Donor Leukocyte Infusion as I continue my post-Stem Cell Transplant fight against blood cancer. Both my donor and I had to be infection and COVID-free in order for this to happen, and the past few weeks have been harrowing - worrying about getting a break-through infection and having to delay this much-needed treatment, which I had been waiting nearly 2 months to receive. The hospital is suffering from staffing shortages, along with holiday breaks, etc., and this treatment took longer to get scheduled than we had initially been told.

We both were tested upon admission, and thankfully we were both COVID negative and could go ahead with the collection and infusion. No visitors or companions were allowed to accompany either of us, which made it more stressful. I am just thankful to be able to finally get it done. Now we wait and see if it will be successful.

Omicron has made non-COVID medical procedures and cancer treatment much more difficult for too many. So many people are seeing treatment delayed, postponed or re-scheduled - all while doing everything to stay as isolated as possible to avoid infections ourselves. The thought of a missed opportunity for cancer care because of COVID is very hard to swallow.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

So, I had one of those "BIG" birthdays this past week, one of the milestone ones that end in a "0." Nearly two years ago when we were just beginning to understand what "social distancing" would require of us, I told my family "...well, in two years when I have my 60th... we will have a huge party and make up for all of this isolation..." Never would I have thought that we would not be able to celebrate in a "normal" way now. Before we heard of Omicron or knew how this newest variant would once again turn our lives upside down, we started planning two celebrations: one with my extended family several hours from here, and another -- a birthday lunch -- with my girlfriends here in town. We're all triple vaxxed and leading cautious lives, but I couldn't see holding an inside event with my dad (88) and mother in law (96) and other older relatives as well as young people who work outside the home, and my friends here were also dubious about meeting and eating inside, so we decided it just made sense to postpone. Initially, I thought maybe if we all did rapid at home tests first, we could go ahead, but more and more the limits of those tests are becoming apparent (too many false negatives). So, we've rescheduled both parties for March. And if that is not possible, we'll do it next January! I mean who says you can't celebrate big birthdays in "off" years. This state of pandemic cautiousness can't last forever.

Despite the need to cancel the planned events, I had an absolutely lovely birthday and that is is most important thing. I felt enveloped in love and friendship. People called, texted, sent cards and flowers. In the morning, several friends and I took a long walk along the river. We joked about how covid had taught us gratitude --- I was grateful that my birthday was the warmest day in a stretch of 10 very cold days...where it would have been uncomfortable to walk for so long. And my husband and I even found a restaurant with a very well heated patio for a delicious dinner. All in all, it was a wonderful birthday.

Do you feel a sense of solidarity with any particular group at this point in the pandemic? If so, which group(s) and why?

Yes, progressives and BIPOC groups working to dismantle systemic racism and destructive environmental policies. I really feel my privilege needs to be used to support others & the Earth! 🌍

Do you feel a sense of solidarity with any particular group at this point in the pandemic? If so, which group(s) and why?

The group I feel a real sense of solidarity with now is actually my family. I have 3 siblings and we all live in different states. Since the pandemic, we have stayed in closer contact than we ever have before. We are all in our 60s and 70s so it has been a long time since we have been this close. We have a zoom meeting every Sunday evening so we see each other as well as chat. I hope we continue this after the pandemic is no longer such a big issue in our lives. It's been wonderful!

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

This is a picture of the fire in my wood stove. I see a canine figure, like the head of a wolf looking to the right, the eye glowing the teeth glowing and flames arising from the forehead and snout. My sister who has made a living as an artist could not see it. My dad would have seen it had he been alive. I spend a lot of time looking at the fire these days. I love the fire because it keeps me warm and I'm home a lot, which I like. What I see in this picture shows me that other people don't see what I see, or feel how I feel, being home in the pandemic.

Even at that, I am really tired of this pandemic. I'm tired of wearing a mask which I always do. I'm tired of not being able to go anywhere. And I can't find my dogs prescription food.

While I enjoyed being home in the beginning, like everyone else I'm just really tired now.

¿De que manera el coronavirus le está afectando su vida en este momento? Cuéntenos sus experiencias, sensaciones/emociones, y pensamientos.

Durante mucho tiempo mi círculo social se ha visto librado del coronavirus, pero eso ha cambiado en las últimas semanas. Mis dos hermanas mayores y mi mejor amigo dieron positivo. Cuando lo supe me estresé muchísimo. No quería siquiera pensar en lo rápido que podía escalar la situación y convertirse en algo grave.

Ahora estoy un poco más relajada porque sé que ellos están bien y mejorando, pero por supuesto que no me tranquiliza del todo.

Yo estuve aislada por ser contacto estrecho con una de mis hermanas, pero afortunadamente no tengo covid.

Espero que pronto pueda volver a ver a mi familia. Extraño tanto a mi amigo y por supuesto, a mis hermanas.

Talk about the last time something made you cry.

The last time I cried was during a recent health setback. Autoimmune disorders are a royal pain and layering on being afraid of getting long covid, which sounds similar to my autoimmune symptoms in a flare, it’s stressful!

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

My husband is back at work. We got him some n95 masks which will hopefully keep him safer than the cloth masks he's been wearing up to now.

I have decided that it's OK to share the car with my elderly father even though there is some risk that I might infect him. We're both vaccinated and it's more important right now to be able to help him get to appointments and so on.

I just heard from a friend that her husband has Covid and so she also has to isolate.

I'm a bit worried about her as I know she's suffered from anxiety and she's not responding to messages etc as much as she used to.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Had an interesting conversation with my daughter a few days ago about the vaccines and the booster. She vehemently disagrees with getting either of them because she doesn't trust that the CDC and the government is saying about them and if she got them and something happened to her, what would happen to me. I said that I probably would be homeless, and she said that's true, and if I got real sick she could afford to pay all the bills during that time (and have probably over $1000 left, I did figure that out I just didn't know what she pays for groceries and gas). She could do that right now, yet she won't help me in getting food since I only get regularly $20 a month in food stamps I have been getting the covid increase in fs but that will end then I will be back to $20. I only get SSDI, one check a month, a little over $1110, my expenses are a little over $1000, so that leaves about $100 for the rest of the month for gas for the car and food. I used the last of my gas money I saved for the month today. I don't get paid until 2/3/22 about 2 weeks until then and I still have 4 trips of 26 miles each way, or 52 miles each then I have 1 trip of over 60 miles away (one way) so about 120 miles so in those 5 visits (all health care providers) it is 328 miles. If I used my last $20 cash for gas where will I get the cash for more gas? What I got in my tank probably will get me to 2 of my visits of 52 miles.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I'm beginning to feel a lot better, but on December 23rd I started feeling ill and on the 26th I was able to obtain an at-home COVID text. You know, they say on the test that your results can take about 15 minutes. I had mine in about 3 seconds after squishing the sample into the test strip. I was oh, so positive. Long story short, the obvious symptoms made their way through my system fairly rapidly -- head congestion, sore throat, coughing, foggy brain. No fever. No aches and pains. But the sore throat is what I describe as strep throat ramped up about three times in severity. As of today the "frog" in my throat is all but gone and I'm feeling pretty good, but my cough is still with me -- as it was prior to Omicron due to my asthma -- so I think I probably should check in with my primary care doctor to see if the efficacy of my asthma meds need to be addressed. Anyway, I feel so blessed and fortunate to have been double vaxxed and boostered because there is no telling how I might have fared otherwise.

Additional Material

I'm a staff member in a University Physics and Astronomy department

Lately the buzz has been about the landmark, long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope

This international effort will give rise to amazing discoveries and images

In a world of astounding technological developments, the successful launch and deployment of this space telescope is a outstanding feat

The space telescope literally rose above and despite a global pandemic

This project makes me proud to be a human

Have any government policies had a direct impact on your life lately? If so, talk about the policy that’s affected you most and the impact it’s had.

To answer directly-- government policies have not had a direct effect on my life. But indirect, hoo boy. Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down Biden's OSHA rule about vaccination/testing requirements. This will endanger a lot of people.

Has the pandemic changed the way you think or feel about "home"? If so, how? Consider uploading a photograph to help show what you mean.

Home is safe harbor even when alone which I am more often than not. Presently I am self isolating because of the infectiousness of Omicron. I feel fortunate to live in an apartment where I feel safe but I feel like I have to come up with a daily plan to give my life some meaning during this time out of time. Home is safe haven and the comfort of a good meal. The past Covid years I have focused on cooking meals for myself and my son and his family. At least once a week I provide a meal they enjoy. My son comes by my apartment and picks up the tote bag which contains their evening dinner. Even if just for a moment, my heart eases and I smile. I am grateful to see him and I know he and the children appreciate my food.

Planning a meal consists of not just cooking but time spent ordering what is needed and hoping it is available. Sometimes you have everything needed in your freezer and cupboard or refrigerator. At times, you may not and have to modify the dinner plan. I enjoy looking at recipes, figuring out what I want to make, placing an order from the grocery store and keeping my fingers crossed all items are available. I repeat, I am fortunate. Many people do not have the luxury of time, funds or the safety of remaining in the home.

Home is where I can take the time to analyze what is happening out there. This is where I write my weekly entries for the Pandemic Journal and my own Family Journal. This is where I can put “pencil to paper,” so to speak and share information, concerns, hopes, wishes and fears. My safe harbor has allowed me express and share. Perhaps even enabled me to learn to express myself in better ways. I feel proud that in some other time in history, others may read these written words and learn that from my safe haven called home, I did make a contribution. Whether it be a meal or a record of time in the life of Corona.

For many, the pandemic created a sense of boredom or monotony in their lives. Describe anything new or different that has helped break up your pandemic routine.

Voltei a praticar Yoga com frequência e isso me ajudou muito a aliviar o stress e as angústias. É meu único momento de contato particular comigo mesma e que tenho esse tempo respeitado por todos os que me cercam. Isso me dá muita força, fisicamente para seguir disposta e conseguir ter força muscular mesmo, e também força emocional, porque me reconecto e me aceito. E também me dá forças de seguir acreditando que a evolução espiritual é o único caminho para acreditar que toda essa situação horrível é um karma coletivo e que tenho que seguir firme nos meus propósitos e ações.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I went to see my mom in the nursing home yesterday. All the patients are eating in their rooms again because there is community spread. Every day we get a letter from the facility..." 2 residents tested positive today, 5 residents tested positive today, 3 staff members tested positive today..." Etc.

It's nothing like two years ago, not nearly as scary, and so far I think most residents have been okay because they are all boosted.

But I feel like it's just a matter of time before my mom gets it again. She won't wear a mask and most of the other residents won't either. This is partly because most of them don't hear well and they need to be able to read lips.

Anyway, yesterday was so sad. I couldn't eat with her because I didn't want to take off my mask. Then the aide came in and pulled the wheelchairs apart and said "Six feet! Distance." So then they couldn't really talk because at that distance it's hard to read lips. Two women got in a fight then about who was the "big mouth" of the group.

I said to my mom, "see, you don't even need TV. Lots of drama right here."

At least that made her laugh. Because I had no other good news. Only that the Webb telescope did everything right--unfolded its mirrors and solar panels without a hitch--and the mission was successful. A friend of mine worked on that so I've very happy for her. And all the NASA scientists.

Secretly, hope that aliens come across the telescope in deep space and come to earth and rescue us from ourselves. Because we don't seem to be doing a very good job of it!

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Feeling lonelier than I have for much of the pandemic. I don't know how to converse anymore and normally I prefer being alone, but I miss the sights and sounds of people lately. It doesn't help that I live in a rural area with no local friends and it's winter.

Do you feel a sense of solidarity with any particular group at this point in the pandemic? If so, which group(s) and why?

I can't say I do feel any sense of solidarity with any particular group at this point in the pandemic. I wish I did feel solidarity with more groups... I wish we all did... especially with groups that overlap or have shared interests...perhaps that would help heal the many divides in this country. I feel solidarity with the same groups as always, and these groups predate the pandemic. I feel attached to my friends and family, to neighbors, and volunteer groups in the community and synagogue, and to my grassroots progressive political groups (all supporting Democratic candidates and policies).

What was the biggest news story this past week -- either in your community, nationally, or globally?

The news story that has been the focus of my attention in the past week has been the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. I’m worried for friends and family and myself. Even though we are váyanse boostered, I am anxious about the very real possibility of contracting the virus, together with the possibility of enduring an aftermath of Long Covid.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

I've been isolating since testing positive. It hasn't been nearly as hard for me as it would be for most people. I'm retired. Only a dentist appointment was on my calendar that had to be canceled. I am fully vaxxed so my symptoms were not extreme. Kind of a cross between a moderate cold & a light flu.

More than anything else, I've been worried about my husband contracting it. He's tested negative a couple of times but has cold-like symptoms. He's older than I and has some heart issues that could complicate things. Despite knowing how lucky we are in so many ways, there is still so much anxiety. You try to feel grateful. But the seeming endlessness can really get you down.

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

Covid is running amok in the office.

One guy in my department came into work with Covid symptoms and succeeded in taking out the entire department with the exception of myself. I was "lucky" enough to have been home, in isolation, due to another possible exposure. I tested negative on that day and was in work the next day.

Stupid!

My department team lead, after testing positive, called the senior partner of our company and begged him to instigate a testing requirement, a vax mandate, or at the very least, a mask mandate.

Now, I have never seen a mask on any of the partners. In fact, I'm sure that only one or two of them are even vaccinated. (This is Utah, after all.) So, as you can imagine, they didn't instigate any kind of mandate. What they did do was send out an email to the company requesting us all to be respectful to those who wish to wear masks in the office.

I am so frustrated right now! I'm alone in my department, doing the work of seven and getting flak from leadership because I'm falling behind.

I don't know what to do, maybe I wasn't so "lucky" after all.