Matthew is sleeping in today. Why? Because he’s not going to his day program.
Yesterday afternoon we received a message from one of Matthew’s caregivers. She and her partner have been advised to go into two weeks of self-isolation. She is well, however her partner’s colleague is a family member of a newly confirmed COVID-19 case. At the moment we’re not particularly concerned about transmission from this source. The likelihood is remote. That said, we remain concerned about the spread of the virus in our community more broadly.
We probably didn’t need to keep Matthew home today. No one is ill and our family is far enough removed from this recently identified source of the virus that we don’t have alarm bells ringing. But my son is medically fragile and spends his days with some of the most medically vulnerable people in our community. My feeling was that even if there was the slightest chance that Matthew could pass the virus along to a friend then he should stay home. The decision to stay at home today was not about Matthew, or us. Our decision to keep Matthew home was out of a desire to practice an abundance of caution, or to be more honest, an abundance of concern, for our medically vulnerable friends. Our decision to keep Matthew at home was more about being a good citizen and demonstrating concern for our community, than about protecting Matthew – though there is that as well.
Is this an inconvenience for me? Well, yes and no. Mostly no. I am an academic and I teach undergrads part-time. With the exception of in-class teaching, most of my job can be done from my computer at home. Even the in-class teaching part of my job can move to a digital platform in a pinch. In fact, I expect there’s a good chance that might happen before the end of the term. Universities and colleges all over the world are scrambling to move to distance learning models.
Today, I will miss out on a lunch date with a friend. I am sorry about that. I was looking forward to seeing her. But, I am a bit of an introvert. I have lots of reading and writing to keep be me busy. I will happily knit and work on jigsaw puzzles. Matthew loves cartoons. We have Netflix! He won’t complain if we binge watch Disney and Pixar movies. In fact, he’ll be thrilled. If I am desperate I suppose I could iron. I’d have to be desperate, though.
As a family living with a high-risk member of the population my guess is that our experience of self-isolation might be longer than the rest of our community’s. We may self-isolate sooner, and remain isolated longer. But we are fortunate. My job allows me the flexibility to work from home, as does my husband’s. Our financial security is not at risk. We will continue to be able to pay our bills. We have enough food and basic supplies in our home that we’ll be fine for a while. Because we are known to medical suppliers in our community, they will deliver supplies to our front porch if needed. Matthew’s pharmacy will also deliver medications. We have worked with these people for 21 years and they know our story. I have complete faith they will do their best to ensure our son’s care and safety. Staying home today, and possibly for some time, was about making sure we are also being attentive to others’ care and safety.