When social distancing fails and you’re high risk

I’m ok. But it’s been a scary week and and a long week of recovery after that and I’m finally able to begin processing rather than surviving/getting through it.

I’m high risk. My immunity is best described as dysfunctional; meaning it performs too much (auto immunity) in some areas and really underperforms in other areas. My lungs are also a problem. They have been damaged by a childhood illness and are much more prone to illness as well as functioning less than normal.

At the start of this pandemic my husband pulled me in for a hug and promised he would protect me.

Lately, I’ve feeling like he’s lost some of that zeal. Maybe everyone has. Everyone who isn’t high risk.

At the beginning of this pandemic cab drivers and stores in Madrid would heap sani gel onto your hands. 9 months later and I notice people are starting to mentally cost up the price of sani gel and ration it out and little more stingily amongst customers.

Masks are lower and thinner. Less form fitting. People in parks and offices stand closer together.

It’s a lot when the world around you has different standards of what’s safe. Especially as those standards seem to change depending on who is inconvenienced and who is at risk of harm.

I tell you something. You can tell who practices safe sex by how they behave in this pandemic.

And my husband attends these epic Spanish lunches that last 5 or 6 hours. They are outside but apparently there is hugging sometimes.

When I started getting a sore throat I wasn’t too worried. It’s part of my existing health problems that times of stress often manifest as sore throats, swollen glands, and malaise. I ran the humidifier and went to bed early.

But when my eyes started stinging and the cough came on. I felt like that promise at the beginning of the pandemic was broken. Because if social distancing was working, there would be nothing for me to pick up.

I was the one who brought up getting tested for covid. Sure, I presumed that the fact I was waking and breathing on my own meant it was a cold (which hits me like a flu), but I wasn’t about to bet his parents life on it.

The testing process in Madrid was scary as well. Barely 3 feet between people (if that) in the clinic, which was indoors. And the wait was horrendous surrounded by coughing and glassy eyes.

But here we are at his parents just days later. I guess the assumption is that as long as I’m doing ok, his parents are probably safe.

Because I’m the respiratory equivalent of the princess and the pea, I guess. Or a canary in a coal mine.

In July, the inlaws would never have accepted to have someone coughing in their house. Even with a negative covid result. False negative can happen. And the test is only accurate for five days before the day of testing. And I’m still not sure that lab wasn’t a viral super spreader.

It’s a lot when the world around you has different standards of what’s safe. Especially as those standards seem to change depending on who is inconvenienced and who is at risk of harm.

I can’t take a bottle of water on a plane or assume I won’t have to remove my shoes, because of the 1 in I dunno how many billion chances that someone could make a bomb with it. But an infection rate of 1 in 100 seems ok to go ahead with an all afternoon department lunch.

Because it’s BIPOC, the elderly and high risk people who are most likely to die. And the unspoken belief is that all those people are simply worth less.

He says he is following the government recommendations for social distancing and gets a lot of slack for insisting people follow them too around him. That is probably true. But I don’t think the Spanish government have set out separate advice for high risk people and the people they live with, like the U.K. has.

And I think if they did that he wouldn’t stay with me. His summary of his behaviour is that as far as he is concerned he has done “everything” and I’m expecting too much.

I don’t know what to do about that.

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