Does the on-going pandemic add to your stress levels?

There have been complaints about how the crisis has been handled, from the seeming impossibility of getting straight answers to when quarantine restrictions should be relaxed to the progress (if any) made on cures. People who work outside the home are often without a paycheck. People with kids don’t know when the kids are going back to school and that leads to uncertainties about the whole family’s scheduling.

Wikipedia Graphic

The twenty-four-hour news channels keep up continuous coverage, trying to account for every fluctuation in illness and death levels, policies and procedures, and unexpected and unfair incidences of collateral damage caused by the lockdown and the disruptions of products in the supply chain.

Add to that the fact some of the COVID-19 symptoms match what people experience with seasonal allergies, chronic sinus problems, colds, and low-grade flu-like symptoms. One wonders am I getting it? And, if so, getting tested is an apparent crapshoot, and then if there’s no cure, what good does it do to know you have it when medical aid is limited?

In one respect, I’m not impacted as badly as most people because I’m semi-retired and work from home. On the flip side of the coin, my age and my wife’s age put us in the group of people who are the most at risk.

The bottom line for many of us is the tidal wave of uncertainties, including the rather hopeless opinions from many that even if the virus were snuffed out tomorrow, “normal” is a long way off.

In many ways, it seems as though the emotional damage caused by the pandemic and our response to it might be worse than the virus for most people. Though, as the death tolls increase, more and more homes will experience the virus first hand and/or will know friends and close acquaintances who died.

Plus, everything’s up in the air: sports, concerts, beach time, flying anywhere, getting back to work, eating out. . .

Some editorialists wonder if we’ll ever get back to “normal” or even if we want to get back to “normal.” They suggest some things might be changed forever, while other things might need to be re-invented in new ways that are better.

I have no answers for any of this, but my sense of things is that COVID-19 is the biggest disruption to our way of life since the flu epidemic of 1918, World War II, and perhaps the Korean War. It will be hard to recover from this, I think, even when the virus is gone.

My 2₵. I’d like to hear yours.

Malcolm

 

 

Review: Women of Magdalene

Women of Magdalene Women of Magdalene by Rosemary Poole-Carter

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
My review from Powell’s Books:

“It’s easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out,” New York World reporter Nellie Bly wrote in her “Ten Days in a Mad House” expose about the poor conditions and mistreatment of patients at Blackwell’s Island asylum in New York in 1887. Deplorable by today’s standards, the approach to mental health then wasn’t far removed from the days when professionals considered the insane to be those suffering God’s punishment or the Devil’s possession.

The fictional Magdalene Ladies Lunatic Asylum in Rosemary Poole-Carter’s darkly beautiful novel fits perfectly into a time period when the treatment of female mentally ill patients was likely to be neither moral nor effective. Confinement was often a matter of convenience for the families of women viewed as domestic failures who were best kept out of sight and out of mind.

When young Civil War surgeon Dr. Robert Mallory arrives at the Louisiana institution for employment as general practitioner after the war, he soon sees that God and the world have forgotten the women of Magdalene, and the only devils on the premises are the asylum’s owner Dr. Kingston, his former assistant Dr. Hardy, and their dictatorial matron.

When Robert questions Kingston about the inhumane treatment of the women housed in the former plantation mansion, Kingston discounts Robert’s competence to judge what is right and proper in the realm of mental illness. Later, Robert will ask why no women are ever cured and allowed to leave the facility. Cures? There are no cures, only what Kingston describes without noticeable guile as “sanctuary.”

In Poole-Carter’s haunting, yet gritty prose, Magdalene floats almost dreamlike within a misshapen world of malaise and mist that will ultimately claim all who remain there–and for a high price. Robert, like the women, arrives at the asylum having been harmed by the world and with a growing expectation that he will be injured further by the methods and practices within the shelter of Magdalene’s walls.

This novel casts multiple spells over its readers and its characters. Readers with a growing understanding that the abuses at the fictional Magdalene were drawn from the world of standard abuses of the times, won’t be able to forget what they see there. As for Robert Mallory, in spite of his resolve, he’s not sure he can complete his personal journey out of the past and cure what ails Magdalene before he becomes yet another shadow alongside the old plantation’s dark river.

View all my reviews.

Note: Author Vivian Zabel will visit the Round Table on February 19th to discuss her novel Prairie Dog Cowboy.