The Internet to the Rescue *

Normally I am usually a pretty active person and am not used to staying home and doing nothing and not being around people. My normal life consists of going to meetings and conferences for work, taking trips to the grocery store, and having dinner with my wife at our favorite restaurant. Now, all of us have the new reality of needing to be isolated. But after my recent scare, I am going to really practice social distancing even more diligently and increase my use of technology.

exterior of the St. David's hospital emergency room entrance viewed from the driveway

I was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that affects my ability to use my hands, walk, and speak. Here are some thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and my recent trip to the hospital.

My Trip to the ER

I have asthma so I am one of those people who are in the higher risk category and I have really been taking extra precautions. The other morning I woke up with breathing problems, chest tightness and a temperature of 100.7. Of course I feared the worst and consulted my doctor and she advised me to go to the emergency room to get tested for COVID-19. Having asthma, I have been to the emergency room many times and I am used to it being busy with hustle and bustle. However, this time it was very eerie because it was very empty and there were plastic curtains all over the place. Because of my history of asthma and the fact I had been isolating, the doctor was fairly certain it wasn’t COVID-19. So they started treating me for asthma and the normal flu. Once they did my symptoms improved and about twelve hours later my COVID-19 test came back negative.

Adjusting to Quarantine

Participating in meetings via the internet was already familiar to me because I have colleagues all over the country. Now, I have these kinds of meetings practically everyday with people who are only minutes from my house. It is almost like texting somebody who is sitting right next to you. In addition to meetings for work, my wife and I are even “going” to our doctor’s appointments, also online. However, because I do need my vital signs checked after my scare, my doctor is sending a nurse practitioner to my house so I do not go out in public.

person wearing a cloth face mask standing in the parking lot of a garden center next to shopping carts full of plants

Even before the pandemic, we were ordering food regularly through GrubHub or other food delivery services. We are finding that many restaurants are paying the delivery fee for third party deliveries or waive fees if they do their own deliveries. Plus people can shop online and you can easily adhere to the social distance guidelines. Unfortunately, we are having problems with availability of certain products on Amazon especially for Personal Protective Equipment to keep us and our attendants safe.

Local grocery stores already had options and curbside service or even home delivery. Even though my wife and I have a mobility disability, we have not used these services because we like to be out in public. Although grocery stores are taking extraordinary precautions to avoid spreading the virus, we have started getting our groceries delivered. Of course, we could just send our attendants to the store, but that could be risky because they could contract COVID-19 and bring it in our house. Plus, God forbid, if our attendants get sick and can not come, my wife and I would be in big trouble.

Dave Chapple and his wife playing Monopoly at home

Looking on the Bright Side

If you want to find a silver lining in this situation, my wife and I pulled out our old fashioned board games and we are interacting instead of being focused on a little screen. Also, companies such as Netflix are inventing new ways for people to interact with each other during this time of social distancing. Netflix Party is a new Chrome extension that can be downloaded for watching Netflix remotely with friends. It synchronizes video playback and adds group chat allowing friends to watch a movie together. On the down side, because more people are using Netflix, I have noticed more buffering pauses and interruptions in service which are quite annoying.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history and humankind survived, even without the internet. People need to be thankful for the technology we have today to help us to get through this current pandemic. I am sure humankind will survive but we all need to work together and watch Netflix.

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