Operation Oysterhood: 14 May

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

— @HaggardHawks

Performing chest compressions on a baby manikin is uncanny, but a strange reassurance kicks in when you see the dummy’s control lights go to green and you know you are doing it right, and that if you had to, you might save a life. I did my first first aid course at the same time as I got my driver’s license many, many years ago. Ten days ago, before the medics arrived to save my love’s life, in my head I was going through the basics that I remembered in case I needed to execute them. I didn’t have to, the medics got there in time, but afterwards I felt that knowing things and being able to execute them could be the difference between life and death, and I wasn’t prepared to take my chances – or anybody else’s – again, not after the experience we’d had. I contacted BLS Medical in Cape Town and registered for a refresher course. And it was good. The basics of CPR are one thing, but there are so many other things to consider: personal safety, consent, a living will, bloody Covid-19, and one’s own physical fitness (to name only a few). I realised that, if required, I might be able to do chest compressions for only a limited amount of time simply because of lack of strength and endurance. This will have to change. I also know that one should refresh one’s memory and skills on a regular basis. In the case of an emergency, you want your muscle memory to kick in, you don’t want to have to think about it too much.

My love is doing better every day, although a lot more rest is needed for recovery. One small step at a time.

But now, I am even more scared of Covid-19. I never wanted to get it, or worse, pass it on to someone, and now, the idea that I might bring it home to my love completely freaks me out. And the third wave is gradually advancing. Theoretically, after more than a year of living through a pandemic, we should know how to behave to stop it in its tracks, but …

Mandy Wiener wrote on Twitter: “I know half a dozen people who got vaccines this week who aren’t health care workers. No connection at all. Then I get a message from a guy whose mom is nearly 60, has diabetes, is a cleaner at a health facility, registered and hasn’t been contacted. How is this fair?”

I know more and more people, mostly doctors, who got vaccinated. I also know of people who have managed to jump the queue. Of course it’s wrong, and yet I can’t help feeling that at least they are safe(r). I can’t help feeling relief. At the same time, I am angry that many health care workers who registered officially – like the woman mentioned in Mandy’s tweet – are still waiting to get their vaccine. The system is letting us down and testing our ethics. It feels like the Titanic: if you have a chance, do you get into a lifeboat no matter what your choice means to another person? We should not have to make such choices. We have achieved the impossible and actually invented these vaccines in an unbelievably short time – now, all our efforts should focus on getting as many of them as possible into as many people as possible. Instead, we have to beg for the lifting of patents, face yet another wave and watch makeshift funeral pyres burn in parking lots.

In Austria, my Mom finally got her appointment for her vaccine. She has concerns about the possible side-effects as she is not in perfect health, but she has spoken to doctors and has been reassured that this is the best thing to do, and she is going. And I know I will feel great relief once she has had the jab.

If I am lucky, my turn will come later this year. Until then, I wear my mask, I wash my hands and keep my distance. It’s not always easy, but by now it is like muscle memory – it kicks in without much thinking, and it has the potential to save someone’s life, including my own.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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


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