Rolling the Dice
After reading every article I could get my hands on and listening to the valid worries of my partner, Dan, I am flying to Buenos Aires today on a Seabourn cruise to Manaus ( or maybe on to Miami?) maybe followed by Lisbon to Rome via the Canary Islands ( or maybe not?), depending on even more factors than anyone knows right now.
The chances of this whole trip going off without a hitch are probably fairly slim.at this point, I don’t even know exactly where I am going. Can I keep myself well? Will the ship end up quarantined? Will one of the cases be me? If not, what will my situation be as a well passenger? Will the ship be able to make all our ports, or will some of them close to travelers? Will any of my flights be canceled? Will I have difficulty getting back home?
All legitimate concerns, but I note that I am very far into a list before asking the biggie: will I die? Sure, I have been hearing a lot about what a geriatric case I am at 70, and I wonder whether pneumonia twice in the past 30 years and well-controlled borderline asthma triggered by allergies would fall in the category of heath-compromising conditions. All of this factors into how serious getting Covid 19 could be.
It has always worked well for me in life to catastrophize and then walk myself back. Yes, it is within the realm of possibility that I will die in some woefully inadequate hospital in an out-of-the-way place , unattended by anyone I love because they can’t get there or are forbidden to see me. Yes, my pathetic casket will make the mournful journey back to a place that in retrospect I should never have left. Yes, my very full life will be tragically cut short a bit at 70, and some people will be very sad.
Let’s dial it back. I will wash my hands a lot, monitor touching my face, wipe surfaces around me with disinfectant cloths, avoid hand contact, use tissue for doorknobs, avoid shared objects, and on and on. I have a pretty good chance, doing all this, of not contracting the virus at all—or not spreading it to others if I already have it asymptomatically. I recognize that sanitary precautions are not just to protect myself but to protect others from me, and I take that obligation equally seriously.
And if I do become symptomatic, I believe I have a very good chance of having a mild case. I am in good physical shape. I have a good immune system, measured by how rarely I get sick from anything going around. I just don’t see myself as frail or compromised in any way whatsoever. I am 70 going on 55, and everyone who knows me is nodding right now.
As for trip disruption, well, so what? If one isn’t prepared for the unexpected in this beautiful adventure called life, better stay home. If we miss or substitute ports, things just happen a little differently than predicted. I am prepared for extra lectures if we have unexpected sea days. If I get quarantined in my room, I have brought two creative projects with me and will take advantage of the lack of distractions. If I get sick, I will tough it out and trust in the medical care I receive. If the ship gets quarantined, every botched incident so far with other ships has improved my chances it will be handled better. If my onward travel plans get disrupted, I will deal with it. If I end up having to stay ashore somewhere unexpected, I will make the best of it.
The worst case? I end up as part of a deluge of patients that hospitals are woefully underprepared for. Sounds like what I can expect if I stay home.
For me this really boils down to one thing: if I stay home, I am not being true to myself. It’s the old “what do I want on my tombstone?” argument. Nothing about staying home out of fear, that’s for sure. Not “She panicked and missed out” or “She avoided risk at all costs.”
There’s sometimes a difference between being the best steward of our health and the best steward of our lives. To be the best steward of only our health, the answer is clear: cancel everything and self-isolate. But life is so rich and ultimately so finite that embracing the risk and venturing out is how we best use the precious gift we have been given of being here now—the only time we have.
I am not venturing into West Africa during an Ebola outbreak. I am not going to a country torn by civil war or likely to want to ransom or decapitate me for being American. I have done a clear eyed risk assessment and made the choice that feels most in keeping with promises I have made to myself about the kind of person I am going to be and the kind of life I am going to live.
Also part of being me is honoring commitments. I contracted with Seabourn for these assignments, and I should live up to that if I can. Being worried about contagion doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to leave them to explain to passengers that there won’t be any lectures. I am the kind of person who shows up.
So there you have it. I am going to live up to my vow to myself to finish my circumnavigation of South America ( the part between Rio and the mouth of the Amazon). From there, I hope to fulfill my promise to myself to get back to the Canaries as soon as possible (http://www.laurelcorona.com/
Fingers crossed and flying out. I’ll keep you posted!