There are many people online who are unhappy with the government for not opening up as promised when we reached 80% vaccination in Singapore. They want us to be like the UK, where people are going about maskless, even though there’s like hundreds of people dying everyday. That’s less than 1% of their total daily cases – seems like an acceptable statistic. After all, the narrative is that only the elderly and the ones with pre-existing conditions are dying.
This is what happens when we are taught to think about life and death in terms of probability and statistics I guess. There are elderly and immunocompromised people in my life whom I care deeply for, and I don’t wish for them to be part of that 1%. But I understand the tradeoffs in terms of the economy – how it affects people’s livelihood and mental health. It is still disturbing how callous some people sound when they are like “only the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are at risk”.
My partner and I are virtually hermits since March 2020. We stopped having a social life, because we don’t feel safe meeting people in situations where we all take off our masks. We all have our own family and friends, and we have no idea where everyone has been and how much potential exposure there have been. We wear a mask even when visiting our parents in their homes.
This probably sounds extreme. But I am a person who has been dealing with chronic illness since 2015, and I know what it is like to be a shell of my former self. My chronic illness has stolen my life away from me. I can say I am grateful for all the lifestyle changes I have made and all the things I have learned since then, but it doesn’t take away the grief I feel when I know I am not a person who is able to do anything she wants. Right now there is no light at the end of the tunnel, every so often when I get a migraine attack I seem to have to start at a negative again. My strength and life force gets zapped away, I have no will nor motivation nor strength to do anything.
It is incredibly isolating, because most people simply do not relate to having a chronic illness. I am tired of giving reasons why I don’t turn up for things, or why I seem so unreliable. I am unreliable even to myself. I break promises I made to myself all the time, because I suddenly get sick, my plans for myself get derailed, I take one step forward and suddenly I find myself ten steps backwards. I often get accused of imagining my illness, or being demanded of things that can only be demanded of a healthy functioning person.
I read accounts of people having long covid and I relate so much to them, though whatever I’m going through seems so trivial compared to them. I have good bouts of days, perhaps at least a week every month. Sometimes when I’m lucky, I enjoy three good weeks. People with long covid suffer every minute of their lives. I know what it is like just to suffer the loss of myself for a mere couple of weeks every month, and the thought of suffering even more everyday is enough to make me a hermit for the rest of my life if that is what it takes to retain some sanity. I think people who have not been seriously ill before tend to have a cavalier attitude towards health. It is something you don’t truly know what you possess until the day you lose it.
Since Covid is relatively new, and the delta variant even newer, there is not enough data for me to make an informed decision. There is not enough data about the probability of getting long covid for vaccinated people. Right now it seems like the odds of getting long covid is one in four people, and for the vaccinated is cut by half, and the chances of having a breakthrough infection with the pfizer vaccine seems to be 40%. So my bad math tells me the probability of me getting long haul is about 5%, which still seems too high for my personal comfort.
There is also not enough information about how people are getting infected even though we have a strict mask mandate in Singapore, with social distancing implemented everywhere except for public transport. Are people getting infected even though they are wearing masks? Or is it only in situations where masks are down, like during dining?
There are so many unanswered questions. I have some hope in medical technology. It is always advancing. Perhaps long covid is an outcome for some nutritional deficiency? Just in case you think I am joking, there is sufficient evidence to suggest bad outcomes of Covid-19 is co-related to Vitamin D deficiency.
For now, we’re choosing to do mostly outdoor activities (japanese youtube video on how aerosol spreads indoors), and we eat at places where we can dine alfresco. Even though it seems bleak right now I am hoping that as much as it is part of the human condition to self-sabotage, it is also very much part of the human condition to continually make new positive leaps and discoveries. Maybe it is too difficult to survive if we have to imagine the alternative scenario.