When staying home is harder than it sounds
The message is simple – stay home.
The practice, in some instances, is anything but.
In times of turmoil, people turn to their loved ones for support.
My mother is currently lying in a bed in the intensive care unit at a Monash hospital.
I haven't seen her in weeks.
A lung cancer patient, she's classified as one of the most-vulnerable people when it comes to COVID-19.
She was hospitalised just over two weeks ago. Times were different then.
Cases of COVID-19 in Victoria have rocketed and the ICU at the hospital is a different place. The hospital is a different place.
When you enter, you're asked a series of questions: Have you been overseas? Have to had contact with someone with the virus?
If you answer no, you proceed to a temperature check, then you're given a mask and a nurse escorts you to the bed.
ICU patients are allowed one visitor a day. They are allowed to stay just 10 minutes. There's no sitting down and there's a taped line on the floor. The line is 1.5 metres away from the bed and must not be crossed.
Hospital’s are a different place these days.Credit:Glenn Hunt
When my mother was first diagnosed, she needed the help of an oxygen tank to breathe. While visiting her one day she became short of breath. As nurses scrambled to attach a mask, she reached out her hand for mine. I grabbed it and held it tight.
Just as she'd picked me up after countless scraped knees, break-ups and all of life's other ups and downs, I was going to be there for her. Every step of the way.
But in this new world, there are no hugs, no reassuring hand-holds and no kisses goodbye. It's as clinical as it gets and while it's absolutely necessary, it's incredibly brutal.
Those who have endured a cancer diagnosis, or know someone who has, know to treat every day as a gift.
Journalist Tate Papworth and his mother.
But much like the barbecue gathering cobwebs in my father's shed, I feel like I'm wasting this gift.
I want nothing more than to see her, but the reality is that's just not possible.
How could I live with myself if I infected her? How could I live myself if I infected anyone?
A prominent doctor recently told me that everyone should just assume they're infected and practise distancing.
I've watched as exasperated leaders and medical practitioners plead with the public to stay home. I've watched with a pang of irrational irritation as memes circulate the internet telling me how easy it is to stay home. And I watched with anger as people flocked to the beach on Friday.
While it's difficult, I've stayed home and away from my mother, away from everyone. As has my sister, a teacher. It's been tough for us both, as I'm sure it has for everyone.
I'm not alone in this situation, there are many people keeping their distance from vulnerable loved ones. In some instances technology has been a big help, but it's still not easy.
The message is simple – stay at home, save lives. The reality, in some instances, is crushingly heartbreaking.
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