Operation Oysterhood: Day Fifty-Six

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.



I did have grand plans for this day, but after an initial bout of energy, a deep lethargy set in and I read – a lot – replied to all work-related emails, but otherwise managed very little apart from a slow walk in my garden. No counting the loops, but admiring the manifestations of autumn on the property and talking to Mozart, who eventually left his nest and followed me around.

Part of the afternoon was spent listening to the radio and reading some more. Glinka and Ms Monroe accompanied these activities.


The Covid-19 numbers in the Western Cape are rising and our hospital capacity is already being tested according to credible media reports. One needs to add the word ‘credible’ here, because a big part of the challenge of confronting everyday life in a pandemic is finding reliable information about what is happening. Although I must admit that I read/watch some of the other stuff with fascination, too. And I promised myself never even to attempt to pronounce the word ‘Hydroxychloroquine’.

This statement by Mia Malan at the end of her article, “Wretched and rank with politics”, gave me a lot of food for thought: “We have no cure, no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, at this stage. But we cannot afford to allow this to be the only factor that unites us. We cannot afford for our chief weapons against an epidemic that is changing life as we know it, to blunt one another.”

Integrity, reliable information, rigorous debate and the will to aim for the best possible outcomes for the greatest number of people is a tall order, but the alternative is lethal chaos.

And having one’s head in the sand is not an option right now when so much of our future depends on individual responsibility. As one of my friends said, we need to think clearly and hard about our role in facing this pandemic. Every bit helps. Every wise decision has the potential to save a life, or many, including one’s own.

I have been given unsolicited advice: a complete stranger suggested to me that I should stop looking at the numbers. I understand that this strategy might allow someone to cope with current stress levels, but it is not an option for me. Staying informed and cautious, especially if I have the luxury of being able to do both, is the way I hope not to end up in a hospital during a pandemic when every single ICU bed that can be saved might mean that someone who needs it will have a chance of returning alive to their loved ones.

If the price for this is anxiety and insomnia for the foreseeable future, so be it. As I have written a while back, all of this is difficult because we are trying to survive a deadly pandemic. Some things hurt because they are supposed to hurt. Denial won’t make them go away.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home. No unsolicited advice from strangers, please (it only drains my already low energy levels).

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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