Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Imagine this: You are isolated and alone, separated from everyone you love.
In the moments where you have the energy to open your eyes, you can make out the sight of the ventilator that’s pumping oxygen into your inflamed lungs, its rhythmic sounds of compression and expansion becoming the soundtrack to your precarious life.
Your chest is filled with fluid, your heart is pierced by loneliness and longing; you are weak and drenched in the kind of sweat only a 104 fever can produce.
Doctors and nurses are your only physical contact, and their endless entrances and exits prevent any semblance of a good night’s sleep. You understand the necessity of their extensive, protective clothing, masks and gloves, but it still hurts to feel the lengths they go to avoid contact.
Most of the day, you are alone. You know your family and friends are thinking about you, but it’s not safe for them to visit. Your sole source of connection with them comes when the nurse has time to hold a phone against your ear so you can hear them say they love you. The ventilator prevents you from saying it back.
And just before you close your eyes to fall into the coma from which you may not awaken, you have a thought that is rich with vivid detail:
“I would give anything”, you say to yourself, “anything to be home and sheltering in place. I would give anything to be feeling that boredom and restlessness. I would give anything to hear my little children screaming at the top of their lungs, angry that they can’t go to the playground or see their friends. I would give anything to be wandering past ravaged grocery store shelves, anxious that I might never find more toilet paper or hand sanitizer. I would give anything to only hear stories of Covid-19 on the news. I would give anything to have to wear masks out in public. I would give anything to have to always stand 6 feet apart from anyone else. I would give anything not to be able to go to a restaurant, or a movie, or visit friends. I would give anything to have to work from home in a cramped space and be constantly interrupted by children who are uninspired by distance learning. I would do anything to have to remember to wash my hands throughout the day. I would do anything to have video chatting be the only way I can stay connected to friends and family.”
And then this final thought: "I would give anything if this was just a dream, to wake up and be home—sheltering in place."
Dear fellow shelter-in-place friends: we got our wish.