Readers share COVID-19 experiences

The Advocate-Messenger recently asked readers to share how their lives had changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the responses we received.

Kimberly Conley Jones

How has the pandemic impacted me? Where do I start? I watched both my mom and my dad become sick and hospitalized with Covid. My mother came home and is still dealing with issues today. My dad never made it out of the hospital. He was on the vent for 11 days. I lost my dad to Covid on October 24. I’ve had to constantly listen to the negativity of people complaining about having to wear a mask or having their rights taken from them or claiming that this is all a hoax etc. etc. I have watched friends lose their parents and other family members. I can hardly afford to go to the grocery because the prices have gone up so bad my grocery bill is almost double what it used to be. I suffer from major anxiety every day from the whole ordeal of losing my dad. For about a month and a half I made my mom call me every hour or send a text to report that she was OK and she had to read me her oxygen level and her temperature. I was so afraid to leave her alone for fear that I might lose her also that I began to stay with her almost every weekend. I’ve watched my children try to learn virtually which did not work out very well for them. They’ve struggled to keep their grades up I’ve seen them go in and out of depression I’ve seen them have mood swings and I’ve seen their grades fluctuate. I’m a state employee at the courthouse. I’ve been cursed at, yelled at, scoffed at and seen so many negative comments about the courthouse being shut down at times and I’ve witnessed citizens treat our security staff terrible because they were just doing their jobs. I’ve seen “2020 Sucks” type comments on Christmas ornaments and on social media. I have had a rough time. I however have seen good things come from this. I have become closer to my neighbors, well socially distanced. I have became closer to my family and learned to appreciate the extra time spent with them. I could go on and on but I guess I’ve mostly been impacted in a way that I’ve learned to “Stop and smell the flowers” you never know what is going to happen in your life day to day. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and I don’t get caught up in all the negative. It’s sad to see people I care about being so rude and mean to each other. I hope the future is better and things calm down.

Laurie Goodwin Eldridge

I got severely sick. My parents got severely sick and my mother spent three days shy of a month in the hospital before she passed away from Covid. Covid changed my life forever in a way that can never be repaired.

Ryan Jones

Made my Library D&D games go online until further notice.

Melanie Grossjean

Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first time a virus outbreak had altered our life. Just a short year prior, I had left Thailand, pregnant, with a preschooler in tow, to flee a Zika outbreak in our small community. But, this time it wasn’t just my life that was set to change, but the whole world, and it was about to be turned upside down.

We had been living in Thailand for almost 6 years at this point. It was as much home as anywhere was. We spoke the language, loved the food, had our license and drove our own car. It’s where my babies had been born, and the only home they knew. But, we had big plans to move back to the US. COVID wasn’t the reason for the move, but it ended up changing everything.

I graduated high school the year of the SARS outbreak, but from the other side of the pond and through the eyes of teenage idealism, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. Asians, on the other hand, took it quite seriously. When rumors of a “New SARS” started flying around, people were a bit alarmed. However, it still seemed like a China problem, and not something that would affect us personally.

Thailand had the first confirmed case of COVID outside of China. Cases started rising. Still, very few compared to what we have now seen, but things quickly went into lockdown-status. Schools shut. Restaurants were carry-out only. We kept our kids inside. At first I welcomed the school closure. My husband was a teacher, my oldest daughter in her first year of school, a little preschooler. It seemed like a fun change, to have everyone home all day. Plus, think of the packing and preparing for the move we could do!

My family called and wrote, concerned that we wouldn’t be able to make our flight home. We already had tickets confirmed to fly Air Canada in June. This was April. I brushed them off. “This will be over long before then,” I scoffed. COVID wasn’t spreading so fast in Thailand, but watching the news from the rest of the world made it clear that things wouldn’t return to normal so quickly.

Our move back to Kentucky was stressful, and adventurous. At times I thought it was a mistake. Beyond the normal stressors of an international move – packing, shipping boxes, selling furniture, selling our car etc. We had new, COVID-related stressors – closed borders, COVID tests, canceled flights, buying new tickets, temperature checks, masks etc. to deal with. It was the weirdest trip of my life, airport restaurants were all closed. Our flight out of Bangkok was the only one of the day that hadn’t been canceled. The flight crew wore full PPE for the duration of the flight. My family (except for the baby) wore masks for more than 40 hours straight, taking them off only for meals.

But, we came home in May of 2020. We went to granny’s farmhouse in Lincoln County to quarantine. Granny was gone, two years prior, and it just added to the strangeness of living at “home” in a new, strange, COVID society.

Now, for the past year we’ve been relearning what it’s like to live at “home” again. At the same time that the whole world is learning how to live through a pandemic, we have been doing big things like buying cars, buying a house, enrolling our daughter in school, looking for jobs. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if things seem so strange to us because we are moving back from an extended time overseas or if things really are so incredibly different because of COVID. I think it’s a bit of both, and in reality, we have arrived at a new place in history, and we are all trying to learn the geography and culture of this new world.