As Canada locks down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Toronto—the city in which I live—has taken bold, necessary steps to “flatten the curve.” Elementary and secondary schools are closed. Public libraries are closed. Most retail outlets are closed. Universities have transitioned to online learning. Lots of other stuff has happened in the gap between when I started to write this post and when I actually published it.
For everyone, even those not in identified risk groups, these are uncertain times. I’m comforted by how seriously most people seem to be taking the coronavirus and by how responsibly they’re responding to calls to action, but, like many, I’m also scared. It’s been surreal to watch my friends, my community, my country, the prime minister, heck, the world respond to a WHO-declared pandemic from the relative security of this medical unit, an alternate reality within what’s currently an alternate reality. I can’t help but spend much of the day reading COVID-related news coverage and scrolling social media for updates. I’m trying to find that delicate place between staying informed and freaking out.
It’s also been surreal to watch this hospital’s rapid response to COVID-19. The first big hospital-wide policies for tackling the coronavirus were announced last Friday and enacted last Monday. New ones have been added on a near-daily basis. As of midnight two days ago, for example, there’s a no-visitors policy. Yes, this sucks, but my husband and I got through years of a long-distance relationship and can get through this too, and I understand and fully agree with the decision, much as I’m very, very unhappy about it. (My nurse assured me that there will be a system so that things can be dropped off downstairs and brought up to patients, which is a relief.)
Major changes have also been made to this eating-disorders program itself. Most notably, the day-patient component of it has been indefinitely suspended. The inpatient program has been declared an essential service and remains open, but, as will probably not surprise you, patients are no longer allowed to leave the unit—no breaks, no passes—and most groups have been cancelled to allow for more effective social distancing.
On Friday, before leaving for the night, my doctor told me that given what’s happening in the world and with my health, this is the safest place for me to be. Much as I’d like to leave, I agree with her and the rest of my treatment team. When I’m not wallowing, I’m grateful I’m here.
I feel obliged to end this on a preachy note that I suspect isn’t really necessary since if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone I know, and if you’re someone I know, you probably have pretty good common sense and understand the importance of following your government’s guidelines regarding COVID-19. Still, it won’t hurt to reinforce the message you’re hearing everywhere else.
Please, please listen to your higher-risk-group buddy and practise social distancing. Stay home as much as possible. Stay connected with friends and loved ones virtually—your mental health matters!—but don’t attend social gatherings. Oh, and wash yer GD hands.