Lots of us in the CF community have been saying it since the first case of COVID-19 landed on our shores – that fear you’re feeling now? We feel it on a daily basis. Seeing children as biohazards, door handles as viral magnets, public transport as fast tracks to fever and aeroplanes as germ incubators.
We’ve been opening door handles with our elbows for years. We social distance on instinct. We can hear a cough two aisles over in a supermarket. We’ve been antibac-ing trolley handles to OCD accusatory stares since Diagnosis Day.
But the truth is it gives zero satisfaction to keep pointing this out to people. In fact, seeing your own daily fears and anxieties exponentially replicated in the entire population is incredibly eerie. Mass anxiety casts a shadow of incomprehensible darkness and scale.
When the first cases were diagnosed here, our collective fear as a nation seemed to bring out the worst in people. Stockpiling of toilet roll, paracetamol and hand gel. Everyone thinking about themselves and little else. But now that’s beginning to change. The collective conscience is waking and sparking and shining and we are starting to pull together and realise that this is about much more than just ourselves.
This outbreak has shocked us all to our core. And as it rattles and overthrows us with its relentlessness and disregard for life, it reminds us of what we are: HUMAN.
We can’t control everything in the universe.
We can’t have everything our own way.
And despite medical advancements, we are not invincible.
As CF parents, or people with CF, we are all too aware of these points.
We place a value on every single day and every single breath that can’t be understood by most.
Or at least couldn’t be, before COVID-19.
Yet, I really don’t want people to feel sorry for our community because we’re vulnerable.
Because in a lot of ways, we are better equipped mentally than most to deal with a scare of this scale.
In my home, we’ve done homeschooling more than once to avoid sickness or recover from it.
We wash hands every time we come into the house.
We leave our shoes at the door.
People know not to visit us when they’re sick.
We often miss things because the risk is greater than the reward.
So yes, we are more vulnerable.
But we are also more resilient.
The world has a new pathogen to fear. And with this one, we’re all in it together.
It’s after all of us.
When this darkness finally passes, there may be one small glimmer of light.
That we all realise the collective significance of our actions as individuals.
Everything we do impacts on others.
How often we wash our hands. How good our respiratory etiquette is.
Whether or not we stay at home when we are sick.
You may be your own person, with your own ideas and views. But you’re also a domino in the living, breathing row that is the human race.
It’s time to respect how connected we are and think beyond ourselves.
It’s time to value our healthcare workers, our paramedics, our pharmacies, our army, our retail workers, heck, even our politicians.
It’s time to stop taking our parents and grandparents for granted.
To stop taking our health for granted.
It’s time to realise that we are more than human; we are humankind.
We just need to put the kind back into it.
And now seems like a good time to start.