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What are the Effects of the Pandemic?

Dr. Joanne Paul- MBBS (UWI), FRCPCH (UK), FRCP (Edin)

So, the pandemic had an obvious impact on our children. No face-to-face school for more than two years, only distracting online school where it was difficult to concentrate. There was also less sense of purpose. No waking up in the morning with the ritual of getting ready to go to school to meet with friends and teachers. Now just to get up from bed, maybe bathe, and sit to watch the screen.

 

So, the pandemic had an obvious impact on our elderly. No more liming with friends and reminiscing on the old-time days and ways. No more busy days when the children and grandchildren came over and the house was alive as it used to be in the said old time days. Now there was just a load of quiet. The elderly had to learn about facetime and WhatsApp and zoom. They also had to now get electronic devices and smart phones. And if they did not have a smart phone, they had to depend on the daily phone calls to break up the day. Often, they would resort to trickery to entice someone to come over. They would cook some special meal or find something in the house that needed fixing.

 

So, the pandemic had a less obvious impact on the middle generation, the thirties, forties, and some fifties. Suddenly they had to become fulltime teachers with the online school platforms. They had to become carers of the more elderly relatives. Either taking care of the older person at home or going visiting often, at the same time trying to be meticulous with their interactions and symptoms, to not carry the covid virus to that elderly person with expected medical illnesses. Paid carers had to be cancelled to reduce the covid virus exposure and now alternate arrangements had to be made. If they were scared with the uncertainty, they had to hide it as the family were depending on them to manage and monitor. If the spouse was now unemployed from the pandemic, one still had to manage. Reduce groceries, sanitize, supervise homework, get medication for the older relative, work from home or hybrid

If that middle generation were single, there was no dating. Salt was sucked. During the lockdowns it was difficult to meet up, especially to meet anyone new. Only small groups, only families. There was curfew and no sleep overs. Much less sex. And even as the restrictions were being downgraded, the single persons were rusty and there was still a hesitance to get back out there. If that middle generation was married, the pandemic may have brought a new phase of intimacy in the relationship. Most likely though it brought irritation. Having that spouse or live-in girlfriend/boyfriend in one’s face ALL the time made us notice things. They snored louder. The morning breath was more noticeable. They were lazy. They could not really cook. They were actually boring. They scratched their buttock way too much. They talked all the time, oh my god, could they just shut up. There was not as many things in common as one previously thought. It made us have a second look at that person. You loved them but did you really like them

 

To add to that there was now a next trend. The grey hair. With the stress of the pandemic suddenly the grey hairs were all over. It seems there was a pandemic associated grey hair increase. With the increased physical and emotional stress, the hair cells produced less melanin, and the normal dark colour was replaced by the silver. There was also more time to notice the greys. More time at home to look in the mirror and suddenly see grey hairs in all varied places that they had never been before. Also, with beauty salons and barbers closed for months during the restrictions, the beards grew, the normal hair was more unattended, and the hair could not be coloured. At first some persons coloured their own hair at home but after a while some embraced going to the silver side and accepting the grey beard or grey flock of natural hair.

Then of course there was the pandemic belly. That wad of tyre fat that came out of nowhere and just decided to stay. The clothes got tighter, and it was easier to walk around in pyjamas, track pants and loose clothes to hide the changes. The abdominal muscles seem to sag more than before. It was much easier to watch Netflix than to find some way to exercise in the yard or in the room at the back. Even now with allowance to do sport and more walking in small groups, the pandemic belly is the last of the Mohicans to go away. It seems to have set up shop.

 

Real recovery is probably underestimated and will probably take the same time as the pandemic, maybe even two years or more. But there are some aspects that are irreversible and cannot be recovered. Before the pandemic we were too busy running around with what we thought were the pillars of life. So much so that we never got to stop and reflect. Going forward, time to reflect inwards, improve and focus on the new you, buttock scratching and all.

 

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