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LETTER: Getting COVID-19 revealed world of support for Collingwood resident

'There is another version of the world where people (even relative strangers) are supportive and interested in being there for you when you need it,' writes Dean Collver after his experience with COVID-19
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Dear Editor,

As everyone is aware, there is a great deal of division and combativeness in our world today. The pandemic has frayed nerves and drained reserves we never knew we would have to draw upon. It’s very easy, and even normal these days, to hear nothing but stories of conflict and acrimony – so I felt the need to share this personal story of community and caring.

A little over a week and a half ago, I contracted COVID. It is no joke that Omicron is easy to catch and, in fact, two members of my household were struck – myself and one of my sons. I need to point out that at the time of us testing positive, we had seven people under our roof: the two of us, my older son and his partner who were home for the holidays, my youngest child, my wife, and my father-in law – who is 91 and suffers from dementia.

While my son’s journey through COVID was fairly reasonable and seemingly without risks, my own journey was very challenging. I have somewhat of a history of bronchitis, and it was this vulnerability that the virus tried to capitalize on.

Anxiety was high as we did everything we could to isolate and stop the 91-year-old in our house from getting the bug – which we knew would hospitalize him for sure, and possibly worse. In the midst of that anxiety, and while our doors were closed to the outside world, a community of friends, neighbours, and health care professionals stepped up on our behalf – in ways that were both unexpected and full of heart.

My illness occurred on the first day of the last large multi-day snow dump that we received. An amazing neighbour down the street, who’s is always friendly but we don’t get a chance to talk that often, spontaneously shovelled out our driveway (including and especially the plowed-in end near the road). I can’t even tell you how that felt when I was able to get outside, post-quarantine but still weak, and see that amazing gift. Thank you Dave!

I needed prescriptions filled and friends jumped up to volunteer and go pick them up, as well as dropping food outside of our door to keep both the infected and uninfected in our house nourished. Thanks to all of you!

I discovered a network of care provided by the nurse practitioners in our community – who called me daily to check my symptoms, provide very helpful information, and empathize with the anxiety I was feeling. They provided an oximeter to measure my blood oxygen levels and mostly made sure that I knew someone in the medical world was aware, watching, and on my side of the battle. Their front-line experience with the illness was the most insight I’ve received on COVID-19 since it began. Thank you to Maddy and all of you at the Family Health Team!

On a daily basis, it is easiest and natural to focus on what has been taken away from us by this pandemic. Loved ones have passed – sometimes alone. Illness has been the number one topic of conversation for nearly two years. Relationships and livelihoods have been irreversibly altered or removed. There are at least two aggressive sides to every issue.

We live continuously with a fear of the unknown. And judgment over everything, everywhere, is at an all-time high. I hope that the brief story above reminds you, as it did me, that there is another version of the world where people (even relative strangers) are supportive and interested in being there for you when you need it.

While there is no doubt that we will make it through this, I hope that people are experiencing enough of the positive version to be able to remember when the pandemic is over: this is the true version of the world. There is a great deal of suffering right now and I’ve been inspired, by the great care I received, to contribute to the positive and subdue the negative. The more of us that make these contributions, the faster we’ll heal as a species when this is all over.

Stay safe and well.

Dean Collver 
Collingwood, ON