Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Life Goes On… It Has To

It should not have been a big deal really.  We were not asked to do much.  We were just asked to do our part to slow the spread of a virus that is going to kill a lot of people.  Either some people just refused to believe it, some did not want to be inconvenienced by it, some did not think it applied to them, and some thought it could not happen to them.

I just happen to live in one of the states where people do not want to be inconvenienced by it, people do not think common sense applies to them, and definitely deny anything will happen to them, and if it does happen to them, “so what!”

That fifteen day period is over, and we as a country are even worse off, and now, because of the invincible and arrogance, we are being asked to give another thirty days in effort to prevent the worse case scenario from actually happening, deaths of hundreds of thousands in the United States alone.

I do not know, maybe I just cannot understand the thinking.  Fifteen days was just a little over two weeks.  How hard was it?  I did social distancing for over a year and a half through my cancer battle.  That was thirty years ago.  I am still here.  And I plan on being here for many more.  So for thirty more days, I can do it, and as I have stated before, I medically do not have a choice because of my late side effects from those treatments.

One major thing impacted by this virus was of course the economy, especially the restaurant and entertainment industry.  Social distancing has turned bustling restaurants in the peak of tourism seasons, into drive-through business only.  These businesses are doing all they can to hang on to get to the end of this.  If only those who were indifferent to this crisis would have taken the fifteen day request more seriously, who knows, we must have been on our way to resuming day to day activities.

But there are things that definitely need to continue, along with the economy, and two of these things can have a profound impact.  Of course, both are issues that I strongly advocate for on “Paul’s Heart.”

If you are a long term cancer survivor, relying on routine tests to monitor progression of late developing side effects, or even cancer patients in current and active treatments, depending where you live in regard to the activity of the virus, your life may have been put on hold, so as not to risk your exposure to the virus.  Think about it, a human life, facing two doors, each with a tiger behind them, has to choose and open of those doors.  That is the situation being faced regardless of the seriousness or type of medical issue many face.

Patients now have to delay their follow up appointments or their treatments to reduce the risk of being exposed.  For some, like me, having to make a decision, does a developing symptom require any kind of delay?  Over the years, I have had several “false alarms” or “undiagnosed” events.  I have a very difficult task to figure out if it is severe enough to act.  Being as involved in the medical community as I am, I also recognize the need for the medical staff to direct their attention to this crisis if at all possible.

To deal with this, I do have a plan.  To first reach my personal physician by phone.  She knows me well enough, nearly 30 years, that she can ask me every question to determine the situation.  If she feels I need medical attention, the next phone call will be to the hospital and what to do from that point.

Another issue that needs to get recognized, child custody.  Of course it will vary state by state, but most states family courts have already declared that custody orders are not affected by this virus.  After all, both parents are capable of taking care of their child(ren).  As an example, Allegheny County Court in Pennsylvania is one such court that has made this declaration.  It really is a no-brainer.  There are plenty of nightmare stories, where a custodial parent will attempt to deny a custody visit from taking place because a child is sick.  ***I FORGOT – NEED TO MENTION I AM NOT REFERRING TO MY OWN SITUATION – FOR THE SAKE OF TROLLS***  Judges routinely faced with this situation will always rule in favor of the custody order because unless there is a history of neglect, there is no reason to deny a visitation, except in a rare and extreme situation (such as requiring hospitalization).

Now with a situation like we are currently in, common sense needs to prevail.  And this is a situation similar to mine.  If there is a geographical distance that has an impact, then there do need to be considerations.  But it is communication between both parents that will result in agreeing to put the custody order aside for the time being.  This is called co-parenting.

For instance, if travel is involved, especially commercial, does this increase a risk for the child(ren) either contracting it, or carrying it?  No responsible parent would ever be that selfish to put their family at this kind of risk.  While I want to believe that age has some sort of immunity, it is not something I am willing to risk my children getting.  And with my increased morbidity issues making me high risk, I cannot risk them carrying the virus to me.  It was the hardest decision in the world for me to delay any visitations until the danger is at least reduced in a major way.  The worst thing in the world, because of my health issues, is to have either of my daughters come down with this virus, and be unable to visit them.

Finally, and I know this from personal experience, the one thing that definitely does not carry on, just hanging in limbo, those families involved with international adoptions.  Both of my daughters were adopted during periods of virus outbreaks, one of those, SARS, caused a delay in the process, after we had already been informed our daughter had been matched to us.  All we could do was wait for travel restrictions to be lifted, the fear, not knowing if it would be weeks, months, or even years.  The other outbreak, involving bird flu, actually expedited the process in fear of a travel restriction.

These are definitely stressful times.  If you are reading this, not only are you likely the generation whose first major historical events were the Challenger disaster, or the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  But this pandemic, is something that no generation will forget.  Remember the days when we would hear our parents talk of the struggle walking to school 50 miles in the snow, barefoot, uphill and downhill, and backward, and we rolled our eyes?  I used to laugh at that until I got to do the same thing as my school district did not use school buses, so never had snow days.

But our children will have this story, having missed nearly half of a school year, instead being forced to do their learning at home.  And perhaps they will be the first to remind us of the good old days, when we used to have to bug them to get off their computers or phones.

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