We were out this past weekend for a birthday party. It was an intimate affair with under two dozen in attendance for a meal at a local pub.
As it’s still the relatively quiet season, we were surprised to see how busy the pub was. With only a smattering of the local eateries open at this time of year, and it being a Saturday evening, the joint was up to the rafters. I haven’t seen the place that busy, well, “since COVID.”
We Hadn’t Been Out in a Long Time
We heard that phrase a lot that night. Caryn and I realized we hadn’t been to this place since before the owner, a friend, had passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, in the summer of 2021. Then we noted that we really hadn’t been out anywhere “since COVID.”
As we ready ourselves for the first proper St Patrick’s Day parade in four years, I realize how much of our life was changed by the pandemic and our national, international, and personal responses to it.
My first thought when walking into the pub was of being out of practice in such crowds. I didn’t panic, but there was a niggling feeling that it wasn’t quite right.
But of course, it was. I’m the one maybe not quite right.
We All Had Good Reason to Be Cautious These Past Few Years
We all coped with various levels of lockdowns and personal and social distancing. We washed up, masked up, and stayed home. I was awaiting surgery for a worsening condition at the time of the outbreak so had to be extra cautious — cautious to the point that I strayed no farther than a few houses down our lane for the first eight months of the ordeal. Then I was in the hospital for a fortnight and endured a long recovery in relative isolation as well.
All told, from late 2019 until mid-2021, the only place I may have gone was to the shops for food, and that was during off-peak hours with no stopping for a chat. Strictly business, so it was.
Now that I think of it, it was probably to watch our friend’s funeral cortege pass through town (from a distance) that I first went out into any sort of social gathering.
Many of us with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other chronic or immunocompromising conditions were advised to be extra vigilant as the virus spread, unchecked, until vaccines were readily available. We listened, and we kept ourselves and our families safe. I’m happy to say that we did our part, but it may have had a lasting cost.
Do We All Have COVID-19 PTSD?
We may have to deal with something of a COVID-19 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For me, it may be feeling uncomfortable in a crowded room of strangers or even neighbors. For others, it could be more of an agoraphobia-type reaction. Still others may feel long-term effects of the pandemic response and not notice or understand them for years to come.
I try to put it out of my head. I’m triple-jabbed with vaccine and am recovered from a case of the virus as well. But something tells me that that little voice will be there, trying to protect me for a good while to come.
And as chance would have it, two days after the party I came down with a right proper cold, which while not COVID-19, has turned into a mild chest infection.
Perhaps next time, I listen to that little voice.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.