Back when my world shut down on March 12, 2020 we decided to pull our kids out of school to help keep me safe because my neurologist told me not to leave my house and not to interact with other people because if I caught Covid, he was certain it would be a very hard battle for me to win. To stay safe, I had to go on lock down and not leave my house.
We had a family meeting with our kids to discuss what these next “two months” would be like. (Remember the days when we all thought this would be over quickly?) My kids know I have Multiple Sclerosis and know I take medicine that messes up my immune system to fight my MS. They know this because even though they hate shots, we get our flu shots every year. They know they do this to help me. My niece and nephew also know they get flu shots because it helps keep me safe. My whole family got vaccinated the second they could. My kids know that I take medicine every day to help stop my MS from progressing. These pills I take in the morning and at bedtime are to help control my high blood pressure and to make sure I don’t pee my pants because I can’t always regulate my bladder any more. I never had these issues before MS. I currently take 11 pills a day to treat 5 different medical issues that I have acquired after I was diagnosed with MS ten years ago.
As school approached in August 2021, we had to decide if we were going to keep our kids online learning or go back in class, we discussed it for days. When we told the kids that they would both go back to school in person, (My daughter especially had a really hard time being away from her friends)they were thrilled. Then came the long list of things we needed them to do because our families situation is not necessarily the same as their friends families situations.
They were both still unvaccinated, so we told them they would have to wear masks all day even if their friends didn’t and even if school said they didn’t need to. We told them that they would need to use hand sanitizer every time they were near other kids. I even requested that they have clear plastic dividers put on their desks. After the first day of school, they both reported that they were the only ones in their classes that had them. I always reminded them that our situation is unique and that we were all doing things we needed to to stay safe. I would remind them that if we got Covid, it could end bad. After a few weeks, they would be exasperated with me, “Mommmm, we know!” I kept reminding them though because my anxiety about catching Covid is always on high alert.
Last Friday, I received a call from our districts Covid Response Team to be advised that someone who was in close contact with my daughter had tested positive. I was so shocked, I told the lady I needed to call her back because I couldn’t process what she was telling me. When I called her back she told me I had the option of having her quarantine for 10 days and send her back with a negative test or because she is fully vaccinated, she could go to school on Monday and if she started have symptoms, that I keep her home and let them know. I was surprised that these were my options.
When my daughter got in the car Friday afternoon, she told me that she had to tell me something and I might be upset. I responded that I already knew the news. There was a look of relief in her eyes, but a split-second later she was crying, asking what if she got it from her friend and what if her friend dies or if I died or if she died? That it was all her fault for being too close to her friends at lunch and recess but that she always has her mask on, except while eating. She also said, she hasn’t been as good about using hand sanitizer as I want her to be because sometimes she just forgets but other times they get back in class and start working on stuff right away and she was so sorry she should have been better about using it.
So much of her thoughts bubbled out of her mouth in those first few seconds in the car. I told her it was ok and I wasn’t mad at her. I told her that on Tuesdays, I see her on the field with her friends while they are at recess before they are dismissed a few minutes later. I see that she is one of the few kids outside that still has her mask on even when most of the kids have pulled them down around their chins because they are allowed to do that outside. I tried to stress how much I see and value that she takes so many steps to try to keep me and others safe.
I didn’t realize until that moment how stressful it has been for her. She is so responsible and such an old soul that sometimes I forget she’s a kid. She has been enduring as much pressure as adults have and in some ways, even more because of her mom. That’s a lot for a 12 year old to handle.
I know I’m exhausted from everything Covid related. I’ve spent the last two years trying to dodge this invisible virus and trying to stay ahead of it. I’m tired of following the news to find out about the latest variant or where it’s spiking. I’m tired of hoping that strangers in the grocery store are taking precautions when we’re standing in the same aisle. I am annoyed that the CDC on Friday basically said that the people who are dying from it either aren’t vaccinated or have comorbidities, like we’re an acceptable group of people to sacrifice.
People are still dying daily. We are approaching a million people dead and gone from Covid. I don’t want to be one. I definitely don’t want to be one if you refuse to get vaccinated. I’ve had 3 shots but I am still immunocompromised.
On Monday, a letter was sent home from my son’s school (my kids attend 2 different schools in our district.) It was alerting me that someone on his campus has tested positive but he has not been near the person.
We’re all burnt out but it doesn’t look like Covid will be going away any time soon. If you refuse to get vaccinated, that’s your right, but don’t come to the hospital when you feel like you’re dying because someone who has taken it seriously for the last 2 years might need that bed after contracting Covid from someone who thought it wasn’t that big of a deal.