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Hot Eyes and a Foggy Outlook

I now associate shopping with hot eyes and a foggy outlook. Wearing a surgical mask with glasses on causes warm moist air from breathing-out to shoot under my eyeglasses which warms and dries my eyes and fogs my glasses. This is alright because it distracts me from the machine-like intensity exerted by many shoppers while they move efficiently through the store, surgically selecting items from the shelves to satisfy their well-planned lists. The masks remind me that while I’m in the store, people are in line outside waiting to get in. If I drift too close to someone else, I might end up with a killer virus. If I linger too long and think about how I can use what remains on the shelf for dinner, I might be deemed inconsiderate for allowing my presumably germ-laden body to linger where another person might catch the corner of some air I exhaled through my glasses a dozen seconds earlier, and catch the virus I could find out I have 48 hours later. Meanwhile, most of my employees have left my business as have most of my customers. I am grateful though because many businesses are closed completely. My retirement savings is worth about half of what it was two months ago as is my son’s college fund. I would like to go on a date with my wife because one thing we do well together is order from a menu but taking the food home is not as appealing. Besides, since money is tight, we are better off not eating food out. I feel for the plight of the restaurant owners who are trying to earn any money by selling to customers for pickup and delivery while paying rents and mortgages on a mountain of property and equipment. Even if I owe them my business to help them by ordering food, my gym is closed. My workouts are nowhere near as good as they were when I had someone policing them. Every other day I risk my life trying to pass the drive-through line at Starbucks to get to my office. Thankfully, they have someone directing traffic to merge the long line of cars from two directions toward their essential cappuccino’s and latte’s. Is that person a police officer? Why are the cars on both sides of the road? Should I pass? My wife thinks I should just drive several minutes out of my way jut to avoid this spaghetti junction of coffee seekers. I’ve not decided. What did I think about two months ago when society was presumably, normal?


To make myself feel better I spent some time calling customers who are sheltering at home. I wanted to see how they were holding up and make sure everything was alright. The first person I called informed me he was glad to get out of his home once a week to go purchase food at the supermarket. He then explained the system he had for cleaning the products he purchased and for cleaning himself and that once he left the home he had to stay isolated in his house for 48 hours before he was allowed to re-convene in the same living space as his spouse and mother in law. This does sound like an adventure.


When we are told the coast is clear and we can gradually move back toward normal existence, will we? How long will the process take? What are the risks? Does anyone really and truly know? What is the risk of death outside a nursing home? Does anyone truly know? Will we all weaken our immune systems by avoiding germs as much as possible? Will this make us a sicker people when we then must face the world again? Is this why children who have two or more pets growing up are less likely to have asthma and allergies? (I read this in several places in the past several years). Will we destroy our digestive systems stress-eating junk to help the emotional pain of fear and isolation? I honestly don’t have answers to these questions; but I think they are important questions. A reporter in the Washington Times today referenced at least two sources claiming computer models of illness always over-estimate consequences. Should this be common knowledge? (


In all this change and uncertainty, I worry about my stress level. Ironically, I am experiencing less stress than I have in years. I am sleeping better and eating well and getting at least some exercise. My thoughts have finally been dominated by a problem I can not immediately control. This virus pandemic was neither my doing nor is it under my control. All I can do is follow the rules like everyone else and do my best to be respectful and try to minimize the chances of causing the thing to spread.  I have been cleaning my desk and spending extra time with my wife and child at home. I have the time to write this self-indulgent note. There do seem to be some good things coming out of physical distancing and social change. For now, I’ll try to be entertained by hot eyes and a foggy future.


Leonard Siskin, DC

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