I’m in the midst of writing a book about the eleven-year journey my husband and I travelled following an early onset diagnosis of his struggles with dementia leading to his death this past Fall. This is what I call a “sideboard” or an in-the-moment essay as I struggle through the pandemic in a Bubble of 1.
A BUBBLE OF 1 – A sideboard to our dementia journey
The dictionary says the word “bubble” is used to refer to a good or fortunate situation that is isolated. What a perfect word to grab ahold of in this covid pandemic. I never dreamed that eight months ago, in October, I would be encapsulated in a Bubble of 1 as my husband died in my arms one early morning due to complications from late stage Alzheimer’s disease.
I have lots of stories to tell later but this “sideboard” is about the bubble due to the pandemic. From late October to March 15th I was wailing-in-grief mode, not sure what was happening at times. Then the new rules and regulations due to covid came into effect with distancing, masks, no get-togethers, no dinner parties, no popping in to chat with friends and neighbours. Virtually no nothing. We were locked away, slowly coming outside but distancing, many unrecognizable even in our apartment buildings due to masks.
But here’s the thing. Partners, husbands, wives, children, roommates, people living together, could eat, drive and socialize but others weren’t allowed in that circle as the theory was if you lived together before the covid you were deemed to be safe together or you also could be infected together. What was the choice here? Families should break up and live in separate places? Families should try and live in separate rooms? Nope.
The consensus seemed to be a household who stuck together, walked together, ate together, slept together – became their special circle that was – you got it, a Bubble! A FaceTime or Zoom get-together was referred to as a bubble by some but the “real bubble” was the person to person in your group – from two people to five or more depending on your household. This bubble kept you safe from others psychologically and physically. You could comfort each other, touch, hug – it was your risk.
It’s pretty obvious what a Bubble of 1 would consist of – you! No one else, just you. Think for a second how sad that is for a person to be a Bubble of 1. No hugs, no touching, no sharing. If you are a Bubble of 1, you know exactly the feeling. You can phone everyone. You can email everyone. With the unpredictability and not knowing who tested positive for covid, it was and continues to be a scary unknown.
As to my personal experience, I lost my husband of 33 years to Lewy Body disease and Alzheimer’s. I am in the vulnerable category of over 70 but fortunately without health issues. The virus is not abating. It’s so lonely and isolating being in a Bubble of 1. Add the grief of loss and it’s a huge setback. I can’t get invited into anyone’s bubble. I have no family here. I live alone. My husband was my life. I know I’m not alone in this isolation as so many others share a similar circumstance.
As April and May moved by a bit of social distancing with a few friends took place. No touching, no hugs, no meal sharing. We all seemed safe but knew we had to get groceries, get out, and there always seemed to be the underlying fear you weren’t all that safe from others. A cough and you felt panicky. So my Bubble of 1 continues.
Fear threatens to keep you even more isolated as you fear the runners coming up behind you passing too closely exhaling their droplets since they don’t wear masks. I’m one of the very few who wears a mask as I walk or cycle since I’m old and more at risk than the youngsters zipping by me. I looked with envy at the big bubbles enjoying their picnics in the park today. I understand I could be a risk to be invited into someone’s bubble. No one wants a lone wolf from a Bubble of 1. I might feel the same way if the roles were reversed. Would I? Would you?
Maybe things will change soon but for now I have to content myself with my bath bubbles!
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