The current pandemic has evoked worldwide anxiety. The only thing I take comfort in is knowing that while I’m laying in bed in my pajamas at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, worrying about how far away the day is that I’ll be able to walk outside without the fear of passing by a stranger on the same sidewalk, most of the world (hopefully) is doing the same. And while I have the privilege to stay inside indefinitely, and not worry about how I’m going to make an income, many others do not have this privilege. Some of these include my own parents. My mom and dad are still required to physically go into work, despite the growing numbers of cases. This, above all, is what causes my anxiety–the possibility of my family contracting and succumbing to the disease.
My mother works at the Hackensack University Medical Center, home to a growing amount of Covid-19 patients. And while she works in the imaging breast center (the department where breast cancer is diagnosed), a completely different wing of the hospital, I still find it difficult to believe that it couldn’t easily, almost effortlessly spread across the entire hospital. But she assures my family that the hospital has taken promising efforts to limit the possibility of the disease spreading–like requiring gloves and masks to be worn and only allowing urgent patients to enter her department.
As of late, it was decided that her department should only allow essential workers to remain there, however, she was given the opportunity to transfer to the data entry department in order to continue to work. This allows her to continue to make an income; without it, she’d be out of a job. So, she spends her days reading about cases of the virus and entering them into the system, and she doesn’t complain. She realizes the significance of still being able to work during this time. However, for the rest of my family, it’s difficult to conceal our worry.
As for my father, he’s off work for the week, for the sole purpose of there being no work to be done at the time. He works for a company that produces and engineers signage for the food industry. Unsurprisingly, there are no companies needing signage at the moment, so for the time being he is off work indefinitely. And while there was an employee from a different department at his work that had tested positive for the Coronavirus, my concern for him stems from elsewhere. After about two days of staying home from work, my dad began to feel a pain in his side. This pain, we quickly found out, was due to kidney stones. Per the request of my mom’s colleagues who work at the hospital, she took him to the emergency room. She was not allowed inside, but my father ended up being admitted and spent the night in a hospital bed, after undergoing surgery to remove the stones. My mother assured my family that Coronavirus patients are treated in a separate wing of the hospital, but this only slightly lessened the anxiety felt for our dad. He was discharged the following morning, advised to stay six feet apart from the rest of our family, and to wear a face mask at all times. And while he tries his best to follow these orders, it’s quite difficult when you live in a small apartment with five people.
As of now, to our knowledge, we are all healthy; none of us have shown symptoms. I can’t help but worry, however, that one of us may be a carrier of the disease and the symptoms have not shown yet. And, as mentioned before, with our living arrangements, if one of us is infected, all of us are. I do try and give our situation the benefit of the doubt. I try to put my faith in the hospital’s ability to limit the spread of the disease and the possibility that my mom and dad have been lucky enough to remain healthy. This can be difficult. I’m notorious for overthinking, and one part of me thinks that if someone can get it while out shopping at the grocery store, then it’s almost guaranteed that my parents, who have had contact with medical professionals, have it and are spreading it. I can’t handle this thought. That my family is contributing to the pandemic, that we are rounding as opposed to flattening out the curve. Of course, those of us in my family who can stay inside are doing so. My siblings and I have not left the house in about a month, with the exception of going on walks and taking drives. But the knowledge that we are all doing our best to flatten the curve is no consulation when there are factors that are out of our hands. My mom has to work. My dad had to go to the emergency room. These are things I could not control, and that, perhaps, is the most anxiety-inducing part of all of this.
For the sake of my family’s livelihood, my mother will continue to go to work; she has not been given the option to work from home. As of now, we’re unsure of the future for my dad’s job. I’m aware that there are families with much more difficult and potentially life-threatening circumstances, and I’m grateful for my family’s health. However, I still feel the worry that is currently overtaking the globe, and for now there is no end in sight. I do, however, find comfort in the fact that this is an experience all of us are going through together, and for now, I can live with that.