Day 12: Man is an adaptable beast

Saturday, 28th March

In a strange kind of way, my family and I are finding our feet in this temporary, new world.

Today we’re taking it easy because it is weekend, after all, even though nothing indicates this but the calendar on the wall. I call my cousin in Denmark. She has breast cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. She has been in my thoughts a lot since the start of the crisis. Denmark – like Norway – has closed all schools and universities, as well as shopping centres and restaurants, but the government has not imposed any confinement. However, from what my family tell me, the Danes have gone into self-isolation of their own accord in a bid to slow down the virus’ spread.

My cousin is homeschooling her young children, while her husband works from home. She is on sick leave from her job as a psychologist, but, she tells me, she doesn’t feel ill. Apart from some nausea, the treatment is going well, she is exercising every day with a group of other cancer patients – they continue to meet online in order to respect social distancing guidelines – and she says she feels strong. Her oncologist agrees with her: apart from the cancer, she is in great shape, she tells me jokingly. We discuss plans to meet for our biennial cousins’ reunion this summer, and agree the current situation is not in our hands. We will have to wait and see. She sends me a picture of herself, and she does look amazing. I send her this one of a gingerbread man I made with my kids yesterday, whose face sums up the way most of us feel right now:

A gingerbread man’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis

Before lunch, the kids and I grab our “attestations” and head over to our shared garden to water the fruit and veg that’s started growing – special attention is given to the strawberry plants, in the hope that they will return the favour. We kick a ball around and return home within the authorised hour. The sun is still shining very bright, as it has done every day since the start of the confinement period.

In the afternoon, I speak to my nurse friend on the phone. She says work is growing increasingly stressful, she has found out that a couple of patients and a pharmacist she visits have tested positive to Covid-19. Above all, she says the time and energy getting dressed before visiting each patient (mask, gloves, blouse) and taking all the appropriate measures afterwards are sometimes more stressful than the visits themselves. When she gets home in the evening, she cleans down every surface she has touched in her car with bleach, undresses on the doorstep, puts her clothes in a bag, showers thoroughly, and washes her clothes immediately. She is worried she might contaminate her husband or their son. Some nurses, she says, are not going home any longer and staying in flats that are being lent to them. She is glad to have a couple of days off. They have been told the peak of the epidemic is expected around the beginning of April.

At 8pm, like every evening, we and our neighbours open our windows and clap to thank the health workers and all those working on the frontline in this crisis – in a trend which has now spread throughout the world.

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