Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I'm the Reason You're Social Distancing

Yep, it's because of me.

I'm the reason you are being told to stay home and to keep your distance from other people. It's because of me that you have to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds while singing Happy Birthday or Raspberry Beret. It's all my fault that you have to wear a mask or a scarf when you go out of the house.



Not only is it because of me, but it's also because of your grandmother and maybe the little boy down the street with diabetes. It's also because of my son and maybe your daughter, who has asthma. Did you know that because of COVID-19, there's a shortage of albuterol inhalers, the medication used to treat asthma attacks?

Lots of people have 'invisible diseases', diseases that you can't see but make them more susceptable to serious complications from COVID-19, should they contract it. These people look perfectly healthy. You can't judge a book by its cover.


I have rheumatoid arthritis, a disease in which my overactive immune system attacks my joints and other organs in my body. I take a medication to suppress my immune system to prevent damage. This medication allows me to live an active, mostly pain-free life.

Unfortunately, this medication also leaves me vulnerable to serious infections. My disease itself affects my immune system and this also leaves me vulnerable. I am afraid that if I contract COVID-19, I will die.

I don't want to die.

To stay out of harm's way, I've been working from home. As a nurse practitioner, I never dreamed that I'd be able to perform my job outside my office. I'm fortunate that my employer offered me the ability to do virtual visits, where I am still able to provide care for patients.

When I do leave the house, it's to go for a run or go the grocery store. I head out early to avoid large groups of people.

Like everyone else, I'm starting to feel confined. I continue to isolate myself in order to avoid getting sick. In the past couple of weeks, I've left my house a handful of times. Twice to get groceries. A few times to run on the local trails near my house. On these outings, there were people who weren't practicing social distancing.


I've encountered groups of people on the paths, running, walking, or cycling 2-3 abreast. Parents with kids on bikes. Some of whom were not very conscientious about keeping 6 feet between us. Some of whom have not been very nice about sharing the path. Because of this behavior, the parks and preserves are being shut down.

At the grocery store, people were rushing around to grab the things they need, not paying any attention to anyone else. Some people were wearing gloves and masks. I watched the gloved people contaminate everything they touched. Why not just skip the gloves and wash your hands when you are done?

It was kind of frightening, to tell the truth.

Maybe you're reading this and thinking that since I'm the vulnerable one, I should just stay home. Maybe you're thinking that you don't know anyone with COVID-19, that you haven't been around anyone with it, so you don't have to worry about it. But we know that people who don't have symptoms can spread the disease. What if you have COVID-19 and you don't know it? That mild tummy upset you've had the past few days? Was it something you ate or is it COVID-19?

There's so much we don't know about this disease.

I'm making it all about me because you're making it all about you. I'm happy to take the blame. But it really isn't just about me. It's about protecting all the vulnerable people. Even people who don't know they are vulnerable.

Let's make it about everyone. Stay home. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Cover your face.



Tired of social distancing? Blame me. /via @oldrunningmom #covid19 #curearthritis #rheumatoidarthritis #socialdistancing

I know this isn't a running post. But it's important as we head into some of the predicted peak weeks of the pandemic. Are you social distancing? Have you started wearing a mask? What have you been doing to spread the word about staying safe? 

 I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahSmithaJenRachel, and Lisa.

 



54 comments :

  1. I understand that you are more at risk if you get infected, but I don’t think anyone can count on getting a mild case, so we all need to act like this is a deadly virus, because it is. My experience at the grocery store has been different — people taking turns approaching the same section of shelving, passing quickly in the aisles, etc. On our bike ride, at the park we held back and took turns walking through the entrance gate so we could give each other space. Not everyone is being perfect, but we are trying. My Mom is over 60, my husband has T2D, I have exercise-induced asthma.

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    1. I agree with you 100% about risk, but unfortunately, people are getting mixed messages about contagion. Many aren't following social distancing guidelines. This is more prevalent in areas where the disease isn't as widespread--yet. There was an interesting graphic in the NYT about recent travel that demonstrated this. I'm glad you're doing your part!

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  2. Exactly, it's about protecting all vulnerable people. And we might be vulnerable without knowing it.
    Most people are careful about keeping their distance - but I did see a group of about 8 young men on their mountainbikes last weekend. Let's just hope they don't share their home with vulnerable family members.

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    1. I've seen people walking in groups in my neighborhood on the really nice days. Today is going to be very warm--should be interesting to see how it plays out.

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  3. An important post.

    Yes I am social distancing.

    I work at home all day and when I go out for a walk and run, I do it alone and not near anyone. The paths are pretty open if you go to the right ones and at the right time.



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    1. That is why I try to go early. Last Friday, I did not do that and it was alarming to see the groups on the bike path.

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  4. Thanks so much for this post Wendy. It's sad that I still see people NOT practicing social distancing. It's extremely frustrating but sadly they probably won't change their behavior until someone close to them gets sick.

    I'm trying to do all the right things. I actually haven't been to the supermarket since March 27 - which has resulted in some really interesting meals, lol. I have to go tomorrow but I'll be going early and armed with my list so I can get in and get out as quickly as possible. I'm very anxious about all of this since I live with my parents and they are in the "elderly" (ugh - I hate that word) age group, but we only leave the house to walk so we're in the house as much as possible.

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    1. I think most people are trying to do the right things but sadly, not everyone gets it. You are so right, when it isn't personal, it doesn't mean a lot to some folks.

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  5. Yep! We have one person in our household with diabetes and two with asthma. So we're definitely taking this seriously. The last time I tried to run on one of the local running/bike paths really scared me. No one was maintaining distance :( The same when I had to go to Target to pick up medicine. I'm sticking to the less populated sidewalks now and grocery delivery. Haven't needed to wear a mask yet but I will the next time I venture out to the pharmacy for my allergy meds.

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    1. Same! I have some medical masks from work but I haven't worn them yet. And I'm waiting for the one I ordered from InknBurn. As nurses, we were always trained that we didn't need to mask unless it was for certain situatiions; that most of the time, masks were to keep the sick person from spreading their illness. Clearly we just don't know enough about this disease, which makes it really frightening.

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  6. These are scary times. I have only left home a couple of times to go grocery shopping and I do wear a mask and have wipes and sanitizer with me at all times. That being said, I have seen plenty of people not caring. I live in a small town and there is this false sense of "this won't happen here" to the point that last week there were about 15 kids playing in the playground and basketball court in the park across from my house. I was livid because people just don't care. My husband and the stepkids-- I love them-- but sometimes I have to remind them that this isn't just a "break" but a rather serious situation.

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    1. There are a couple states that haven't gotten on board yet with the stay-at-home orders and I think they have that same attitude; there aren't a lot cases, so there's no need to practice social distancing. It's crazy.

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  7. Exactly - it's because of you, my parents, my 91 year old father in law, my husband, and my stepkids that I'm socially distancing. I have ONE JOB to do and it's to make sure that I don't get them sick. Back to running, got to give you a shout out on keeping your Old Glories in such good condition. I did not, but they were such fun shoes to have.

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    1. I didn't wear them a whole lot--I got them for some 5ks, not for training in. They're neutral and I wear support shoes. But with my orthotics, they work for short distances.

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  8. I haven't been inside a grocery store since March 13. Curbside delivery has worked for us. It has a long lead time, nearly a week, so this morning I decided to put in an order, knowing I wouldn't get it for another week. Uh, that would be a no. They are all full. I guess that's a good thing because it means more people have finally stopped going into the store. I'll have to use more pantry food but that's ok if it means people are taking this seriously. I am sick and tired of walking in our neighborhood, and there is one park open, which I used to run in, but we drove by it and it was packed. WTH people?? So of course we didn't stop. Neighborhood it is.

    People of all ages are getting sick, and people who don't look like they have a health issue (like you) are so vulnerable. I hate that so many Americans are being purposefully stupid about this.

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    1. You can't fix stupid, that is for sure, and all we can do is alter our behavior to hopefully prevent catching this thing. I don't get scared easily with illnesses but this is giving me anxiety!

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  9. And I am happy to do it. Honestly. We are a community, a village, a tribe. I get that it's hard and I get that this is awful, and we are all miserable, but this will pass and it's such a small thing in the grand scheme of all the things. Our family is doing this for you, for my parents (who I think have already had it, but still), for our friends, for the children, for the elderly, for our future. Hang in there, Wendy. We will get through this.

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    1. One of my nieghbors dad died last weekend of COVID-19 and while he was in the 'older adult' group, he was a very healthy, robust man. Very very sad. Thank you for doing your part.

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  10. I wore a mask at the grocery store yesterday. We actually have a couple N95s that Les bought last summer while doing a big painting job. It drove me crazy! But I decided it's what I'm going to do now. For me and everyone around me. About half the people in the store were wearing masks and most were practicing social distance. One lady cut the line because the man behind me was standing where he was suppose to. She acted completely clueless - not sure if it was an act or she truly was.

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    1. You have to wonder--some people seem like they don't care!

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  11. No doubt this is taking a toll on everyone. I'm staying home except for fitness and work. Our facility is deemed essential, due to its manufacturing role, but we have a bare-bones crew on site at the moment (the bulk of our employees are WFH right now). Our main customers are those in the medical field. In recent weeks, we've been manufacturing face shields and donating them to our hospital, clinics and care facilities in the area. Now, our non-local medical customers are ordering them, too...so we're staying busy as we support those on the front line.

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    1. Of course it is! But my message was directed at those who don't seem to be taking it seriously. Glad your company is doing its part.

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  12. I really think this pandemic has been revealing of how many Americans value their own individual freedoms over the well-being of others and the common good. Especially because really, really, it is simple to practice social distancing with the luxuries of American life.
    Since March, I have not left the house except for early morning runs with the stroller, neighborhood walks, and pediatrician appointments (and now that she has her six month vaccines, not another one until June!). I was even ready to cut out runs/walks until our pediatrician urged me to get fresh air and outdoor exercise, since I had just gotten my Edinburgh scores back up. We are getting everything delivered if we can and try to spread store trips out to every two weeks if possible. My husband does have to go into a small office, so I feel it's my obligation to avoid any public outings unless absolutely necessary. I'm terrified of my daughter not having memories with grandparents (all of whom won't get to see her until this pandemic is over).
    I hope you stay safe and healthy throughout all of this.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head! I'm so disheartened by the lack of concern for others that I have seen from the top down. It's been an interesting time. Glad that I can work from home and that I can still get my exercise in. Mentally, I need that!

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  13. Our Government has taken an extreme measure of keeping us all at home on "lockdown". We need permits to go outside now. We still only have 6 confirmed cases but I think they decided to be very extreme because of all the points you've mentioned. At the start, people were told to social distance but people just ignored it. So now we are all forced into extreme social distancing enforced by policemen and soldiers on the roads all over the country. They've even removed sale of alcohol as people were just having parties. I think people are selfish, and this has clearly shown it.

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    1. That's incredible! I think a happy medium between what your government is doing and what ours isn't (or didn't) would be nice. I mean, we all need alcohol right now! :p

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  14. I would say it's not a running post but an important one, none-the-less. Even being pregnant, I feel a little extra cautious - just because it's not about my immune system, but also about this little one that my body is growing! We're very much about washing the hands and I make evening runs to the grocery store as necessary - without the kids. They are the masters of germ-spreading and I just would rather not even go there! These are lonely times and, while we will always celebrate Jesus' rising for this Easter Sunday, I'm feeling a little sad to miss out on our usual Easter tradition of church and lunch at my house with family. Yet there is still so much to be thankful for! He is Risen - and I am so thankful for that!

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    1. I'm so surprised by the number of parents who are bringing their kids out during this time. I think they hear that the kids aren't getting it and they think it's ok--but what they are missing is that the kids can carry the illness without symptoms. It's so sad. And yes, this is going to be a very sad Easter for many people. Hopefully they will remember what it really means, right?

      Stay safe!

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  15. Yes, many people are vulnerable. This week we had groceries delivered. We'll probably do the same next week, too. Mr. Judy has several health conditions that put him at higher risk, too. I see lots of people who don't get social distancing.

    I haven't worn a face mask when out walking & running though.

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    1. I haven't been wearing a face mask for running either. Fortunately, I haven't encountered many people. It's hard to breathe in those things!

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  16. Amen to that! We all need to come together to get a handle of this. Most people are some are not. I don't know if they just don't get it or they don't care. We are taking this very seriously at our house. Wore our masks to the grocery this morning-it was my first time going in 2 weeks and don't plan to go again for a while. Wiped down the keypad and the whole scanning area. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. I'm heading out this morning for a run for the first time with a buff to cover my face. My anxiety level is high!

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  17. I am horribly aware of all the at-risk people, including my cousin, who has only just had his govt text and not just his letter, which will mean he can access home grocery deliveries and make his work place more understanding (he had fungal pneumonia when going through cancer treatment five years ago). Also people don't seem to realise that "a mild case" goes all the way up to pneumonia you're just not in hospital.

    I am running or walking every early morning and husband is walking an hour a day also early. We social distance and more and more people are behaving better. We are wearing masks for our twice-a-week shopping trips having read an article with a good evidence base that this can prevent asymptomatic people spreading the virus. People are not behaving well in the supermarkets and I cry every time I come home from a shopping trip. Take care and keep well xx

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  18. Thank you for sharing this. I hope it reaches some people who are not taking this seriously. I am extra worried about people like you and others who have underlying conditions. We all need to do our part. We need to get food and other necessities, and get fresh air and exercise, but there ways to do so without being as much of a risk to others.

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    1. I'm just worried in general--for me, but also for healthy people who are getting it. I don't understand people who don't get it, but of course, a few weeks ago they were told it was a hoax. So sad.

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  19. Such a great post. I still can't believe there are people who don't get it. Last Saturday I actually did go on a walk with my daughter in the stroller on one of our popular trails and a group of 2 or 3 people started gaining on me...like, get away from me! I had to pick up the pace to give them a hint.

    It's hard to stay home but we just need to try to ride this out. The glove thing drives me nuts...people are so ignorant and while they have good intentions they are making things worse (plus adding unnecessary litter).

    Stay safe!

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    1. I've had the same experience as you on the bike paths. Some of the parks around here are closed now because of this behavior. I went really early this morning and was fine. I guess trying to avoid the popular spots and going early is the secret now!

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  20. There are still so many people who aren't buying in. It makes me so angry. My husband, who is 71 and has asthma, has also stated that if he gets this he will die. We are so careful and go out as little as possible. Fortunately, Californians have, for the most part, followed the "rules." We are required to wear masks now, which is great. This is such a scary illness and we know so little that I just wish people would take this seriously so we can get through this with as little death as possible.

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    1. It still amazes me, with the reports of deaths from all over the country, that some people still don't get it! All we can do is our part and hope we avoid this thing!

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  21. Just curious...what's the problem with wearing gloves?

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    1. First of all, handwashing is still the best way to prevent infection. Avoid touching your face. The problem with gloves is a false sense of security. Wearing gloves is no guarantee of preventing infection. Most people don't remove gloves properly and risk contamination. We health care providers always wash our hands as soon as we remove our gloves.

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  22. I never thought about the medication you take making you susceptible to COVID-19. We live in a very conservative area of the country and there are a lot of people still posting photos of them hanging out with their grandchildren or visiting their parents. It's crazy! We are all in this together. One person being reckless affects all of us. Take care, Wendy! Stay safe!!!

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  23. My family too has immunocompromised individuals so we are doing it for them too!

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    1. Do it for everyone--I know people who aren't immunocompromised who are very sick.

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  24. I live in New York City and take care to run alone and give other runners plenty of space. We get groceries delivered and only leave the house for one run and one walk a day, and have made donations to two of the city's emergency relief funds. Someone in my running club passed away last weekend of Covid-19, and I have three coworkers who've recovered. It's so scary that some people aren't taking this seriously. I'm very glad that my parents live in a state that was one of the first to enact restrictions. Stay safe and healthy, Wendy and all!

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    1. You guys have it the worst. Seriously scary and I'm so glad you're doing so well. Thank you, and continue to stay safe!!!

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  25. Oh hey, with you in the higher risk category. And I hate that I am, I hate that my 39 y/o son with type 1 diabetes is, I hate all of it. But with reactive airway disease, even though I have great control with it and I'm fit etc. I'm still at risk. And you know what really chaps my hide? I probably got it from exposure to Agent Orange during my active military days. It just sucks.

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    1. You know I feel you. Just keep doing your thing and stay strong. We got this!!!!

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  26. This is a very important post and I wish more people were practicing social distancing correctly. It's important to remember that six feet is the minimum and if we're running or cycling, we should be allowing more space when behind another individual. Stay safe out there, Wendy!

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  27. I rarely leave the house. I leave to go running and to get some groceries but even that I try to limit the number of times I do that. The other day I was at Walmart and there were 4 individuals at the self checkout register. I couldn't understand why all 4 had to go to the store. While I stood in line the person behind me got too close to me. I was in shock and by the time I wanted to say something or move, it was my turn to head to register. I am not wearing a mask and have some mixed feelings about it. Right now like most people I am just simply anxious and angry at everything that is happening. I know eventually this will be over but when? The stay at home order is till April 30th. Will the governor extend it or what is he going to do?

    Thank you for linking up with us and I am sorry for responding so late.

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    1. I think Walmart is really bad. My husband drives by one on his way home from work and the parking lot is packed. Some people don't get it. Pretty sure they will extend the stay at home order for a couple more weeks.

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