Coronavirus vaccine research and distribution plans overlook an important, growing group: People who already got sick

Photo by Alice Dietrich on Unsplash

Open almost any social media app these days and you’re sure to see someone’s rant or meme about how horrible the year 2020 has been. While it has been a bit out of the norm, to say the least, I just can’t bring myself to jump on that bandwagon.

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I’m not trying to downplay or make light of anyone’s suffering. I know there are people who’ve lost jobs, homes, and loved ones, and have suffered great mental and emotional anguish. But dare I say, as a society…we needed it.

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I’ve had my own share of misfortunes during the pandemic. In March, I was furloughed, then eventually let go from a new job after just two months. I’ve been living off my remaining savings and retirement accounts for the last six, and have maxed out all my credit cards to survive. I had taken advantage of all the payment deferral programs offered by banks and mortgage companies, and now my six months are up. My house is currently on the market as my only means of paying off my debt.

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Back in July, I traveled to Atlanta to visit my family and we all spent several exciting weeks of bonding time after ten of us ended up with Covid. My mother was hospitalized with pneumonia and is still being treated by a pulmonologist for lingering symptoms. We did lose some immediate family members in 2020, but not to the virus.

Despite all the negatives, I still think this has been one of the better years.

For starting over.

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Life is all about perspective. Focus on the negative and that’s all you will see.

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Iguess I should say I had a bit of a headstart.

With my kids out of the house, I planned to start traveling and had been thinking of putting my home up for sale before the pandemic. I had already been testing the waters of a minimalistic lifestyle and had goals to eventually become a travel writer.

Having been a Radiologic Technologist for thirteen years, I was ready for my next phase in life. My career served me well through the years, allowing me to support my family while I raised my kids, but now — it was my time.

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In October of 2019, I moved back to my old stomping grounds in South Florida, staying in small Airbnb’s while I attended clinicals for a new cat scan certification. I had plans to use my new skills for travel assignments in the healthcare field until my writing became lucrative.

When the pandemic hit, I had just taken on a part-time job in my new modality two months prior. Since I was the lowest on the totem pole, I was the first to be furloughed. Although I wondered how I would make money to support myself with my savings dwindling, I was subconsciously excited about the time off alone in my small Airbnb apartment on the beach. Knowing that the quarantine gave me no other option, I was relieved of any guilt I would have experienced over not being productive.

I was about to take advantage of this bitch.

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The pandemic forced us to slow down and notice each other, and think about what we really want out of this life.

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I inherited some watercolor paint supplies from a family member the previous summer. I had always wanted to learn this intimidating medium and loved to paint, but rarely had the time. With help from the University of YouTube, I now have three watercolor paintings under my belt that don’t look like they were created by a five-year-old.

I had also always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, so I borrowed a couple from a friend. I’ve now learned about fifteen songs and have mastered Stairway to Heaven on the ukulele. My next endeavor is When The Saints Go Marching In on the harmonica. If I can’t get a job once the pandemic is over, maybe I can side-hustle as entertainment at kids’ birthday parties. No joke.

Around July, once my bank account started closing in on three figures, I decided I needed to find a more economical place to live if I was going to continue my creative sabbatical. I was offered a free option — a pop-up camper in a friend’s backyard.

As minimalistic as I could get (be careful what you wish for), my creative juices continued to flow. Having no more room to paint, I decided to dedicate my time — and the small space — to writing as much as I possibly could. I had attempted a few years prior, but with the demands of my family and career, I couldn’t find time to stay inspired.

Now, I had no excuse.

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Inaddition to the deluge of creativity I experienced during the lockdown, the pandemic also allowed me to form deeper emotional bonds with my loved-ones, and gratitude for relationships that I had previously taken for granted. I would take trips to visit my mother and kids in Georgia every 4–6 weeks. I know it’s not the best idea during a pandemic, but after losing my son four years ago, I never assume that there is always more time.

Since my kids were also furloughed from their jobs and with all schedules free, we were able to spend much quality time together. Hiking excursions in the mountains and family dinners allowed us to get to know each other as humans while shedding our familial roles.

We even spent a day painting together at the dining room table while discussing our concerns, insecurities, and political views. My kids offered each other support and advice in lieu of sibling arguments and snide remarks.

While watching their unfamiliar rapport, I realized it had taken a deadly virus to make my kids behave.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates

This current pandemic has affected us all. She’s shaken us to our core and tossed us into a realm of uncertainty that is a test of our strength and soul as a species. And like the pandemics of decades and centuries past, I believe we will grow stronger and wiser because of it.

Our previous lives in society had become one of constant productivity and busy-ness as a defining measure of a meaningful existence, creating a country plagued with mental illnesses, depression, and anxiety. The pandemic forced us to slow down and notice each other, and think about what we really want out of this life. For me, it was exactly the push that I needed.

As a creative and polymath, I thrive on change. I need a challenge on occasion to stimulate my mind and break the monotony. But for many, not having the security of a schedule and something to count on can lead to excessive anxiety, fear, and panic. Unfortunately, without change and without challenges, we cannot grow as people…as a race…or as a planet.

Viewing this time in history as a rebirth — a time to refocus and regroup — will allow for new growth from beneath the ashes in the soil. Life is all about perspective. Focus on the negative and that’s all you will see.

During one of our family convos, my daughter mentioned the possibility of a new renaissance period. I’d like to believe she may be on to something. Emotion, after all, is the greatest catalyst of art.

I won’t hate on the year 2020 and however long this pandemic may last; she’s not as horrible as she seems. My advice?

Take advantage of her before she’s gone for good.

He taught me about life, perseverance, compassion, optimism, fidelity, and passion. He was one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met, yet one of the

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