Life in the Time of Coronavirus
By Jack McCormick
I first heard about coronavirus on my way back from a weekend of skiing in mid-January. It seemed to be the only thing the radio station we were listening to was talking about. At the time, COVID-19 was only reported in China and I didn’t think it would ever impact my life. I’ve never been so wrong.
On March 13 I was scheduled to fly to Australia for a dream vacation with my childhood friend. I was subscribed to travel advisories issued by both the Canadian and Australian governments. I woke to an email from the Australian government advising against all travel. I phoned my friend. We needed to cancel the trip. I don’t think he appreciated the 5 AM call. We made the right decision. By noon Canada had issued its own travel advisory. I have never spent so much time on hold and hope to never again. Eventually I received refunds for the flight and hotels. This was only the beginning.
I work in the human resources department of a hospital. I spent the time I had planned to be on vacation working non-stop. We had to keep our patients and staff safe. Government guidelines seemed to change every day. We didn’t have enough staff. Everyone in our department was working three jobs.
I had no food. I had eaten everything – not wanting to return from Australia to rotten food. As someone with a visual impairment I get assistance from a store employee when I do my groceries. Getting this assistance meant being physically close to someone who wasn’t part of my regular interactions – something I didn’t feel comfortable doing given the pandemic. The alternative was delivery and it was near impossible to book a time. When I finally did, the shopper couldn’t find most of the things I had requested because people were buying up everything. I soon ran out of food again. Someone from work offered to help me do my groceries. The shelves were empty. It felt like something out of a movie.
We fell into a new rhythm at work. I lost count of the number of people I hired. To limit the number of people in the hospital, those who could work from home did. This included me most days. I hardly left my apartment.
Even now, there isn’t much to do outside work. We are all struggling. We don’t know when it will be over.
Throughout this experience my vision loss has created a host of challenges. It has also helped me live in the pandemic. With decreasing vision, I have learned to adapt to change – something we have all had to do in 2020. My vision loss has made me stronger. Living through the pandemic will do the same for you.
For me, I’ve learned more about pain, struggles and the power of connection. I’ve learned to acknowledge the challenges I experience and connect with the people who are important to me (even if it is virtually) to support each other because we are better together even when we are far away.
Jack McCormick was diagnosed in high school with LCA2. He graduated in 2018 from Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier Universty in Waterloo, Ontario. He is a Sofia Sees Hope ambassador, helping people living with LCAs and IRDs. You can read his blog at jackdamccormick.wordpress.com