Home alone – a pandemic diary (day twenty-six – 05.04.20)


I haven’t written this diary for a few days.


On the one hand, because I end up repeating myself. Routines are installed, I get up, I eat, I write, I do some exercise at home, I eat again, I write, I eventually go for a walk if the weather permits;  which is not the case today, as it’s stormy outside.  Once a week I go to the grocery store to buy fruit and vegetables. The boys keep coming for dinner, and I keep in touch with Mom and my friends. And this is good news – it means we are all healthy and well.


I have felt the need to write about other topics – but I will still keep sharing the stories around me, and my feelings during this time of pandemic.


The numbers are still growing in Portugal. As of today, we have 10.524 infected people and a total of 266 deaths.  1.075 persons are in hospitals of which 251 in intensive care.


According to the people you talk to, you hear different versions.


My cousin the doctor

My cousin, a doctor who is on the battle frontline, is exhausted, his wife tells me. He is working seven days a week, many hours, under incredible stress. Health professionals in the “covidary”, as they call it, have to work with protection gear, which they are not supposed to take off for six hours, so during these six hours they cannot go to the toilet, eat or drink anything. They abstain from taking fluids so that they do not need to pee. Is this possible? Just to think I could not, would have me want to by the end of an hour, not six. And what happens if they suddenly have to go? Practical details of human nature, when you are doing the work of a superhero. Then the protective gear is hot, they sweat a lot and are getting sore spots on their faces –  sweat is acid, it seems. Not comparing, my hands are raw of washing and disinfecting them so much, and I made myself a cut – don’t know how – that is taking its time to heal because I’m always washing my hands. I’ve taken to wear a rubber glove when I’m doing things at time so that I don’t wash that hand so often.


This is of course ridiculous comparing to what Health professionals are going through. My cousin now takes his shower at the hospital, where he puts on hospital sterilised clothes to go home. In the morning he puts them on again as wearing his own clothes back and forth would mean serious contamination risk for his family. Even so, they must live in fear. My cousin, his wife, tells me her younger son (10 years old) is terrified of his father, keeping away from him as much as he can. He’s still young to understand his father is a hero, among so many who are giving it all, risking their lives to save the rest of us.


My rational friend

Then there is my rational friend, the scientific mind, who, as he says, “analyses the figures”. He tells me things are progressing well, this is being contained, and he believes that, although safety measures will have to be maintained, there will not be a declaration of a third State of Emergency, as the country must start moving again, albeit slowly. As the second one has just been declared, we still have two weeks before it is decided, and can always hope for a miracle and for the number of cases to start slowing down.


The Spanish theory

In Italy things seem to be slowing down, but very slowly. Not yet in Spain, where the dire situation can be related to some extent to the political instability of the last few years. If a government is not united, it will not decide easily, or quickly; apparently some mistakes have been made, and decisions delayed, that much contributed to the chaos they are going through. Also, my friend there tells me about the conspiracy theory that circulates there: this virus was a joint project between China and the USA, being developed in the Wuhan. In 2015 the US would have withdrawn from the project, considering it too dangerous. The Chinese would have pursued the experiment, with the dramatic results seen by us all. It a fact that US lawyers are coming up with huge class actions against China (in one of them, the amount claimed as compensation is superior to the Chinese GNP) as they hold this country responsible for the dissemination of the virus and the terrible damage inflicted, in this case, to the US. Ohers argue China must be brought to trial by crimes against humanity. The same China is coming back to life, having its economy recover by making millions of protective gear artefacts to send to the countries battling the virus.


A magical spell

Just a few minutes ago I saw a post from a friend on Instagram, that says “Wake me up when 2020 ends”. I fervently hope we can wake up from this nightmare before; this makes me remember a nostalgic, sad song by Green Day: “Wake me up when September ends”. I took to it because I don’t like the month of September, that always makes me think that Autumn and Winter are coming. Now who cares about Spring? We just want it to end, with the faint hope that maybe the Summer will bring us back some parts of our old life. And then this crazy thought comes to my mind: if only we could all hibernate for a month, say, the virus would not be able to propagate itself, and when we woke up it would be miraculously gone. Alternatively, how welcome would now be that malevolent sorceress of Sleeping Beauty; with a magic touch of her wand she would make us all fall asleep and everything would be solved. We’d wake up to a virus free world, hopefully with many lessons learned, and for a time we would be so happy, just to be free, that it would be a new world.


As much as we call for her, she won’t come. There is no hibernation process available, either. So, there’s nothing left but to endure it, pray to be spared, and make the most of the fact that we have all the time for ourselves that we used to cry for.


That’s why I will leave you now and go back to editing my book. I needed time to finish it, and I have in my hands.







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