Moments from the trenches of the COVID-19 war

Ross Lunn, who’s married to my first cousin, June, is living proof that COVID-19 is no laughing matter. On June 7, his 71st birthday, he emerged from St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, smiling and waving. Thanks to COVID-19, he had spent 70 days at STEGH, many of them with a breathing tube down his throat.

At the same time, humor is one way humans deal with tragedy. And I know Ross would never begrudge anybody a smile.

When I had started to go out with Nancy, I noticed she had a highly developed sensitivity to activities she deemed risky. One day, I called her “Elmer The Safety Elephant”, a reference to the cheerful cartoon elephant and the campaign to reduce accidental injuries and deaths among schoolchildren. I quickly discovered that referring to your girlfriend in elephantine terms, no matter how cute, friendly or jokey the reference, is a sure route to hot tongue and cold shoulder.

Decades later, one of our granddaughters, noting Nancy’s attention to safety and cleanliness, dubbed her “Sani-Nanny”. Interesting what grandchildren can get away with.

With Nancy on the team, our household was converted with military precision to fight the COVID-19 war. Let’s take a look at what the experts advise to stop the spread of the virus, and how we are measuring up.

“Stay home if possible.”

100% compliance. Strange at first, but not difficult, since we had nowhere to go.

“Wash your hands often.”

Check! But have you every wondered whether they should have added “and your face”? Remember when mothers used to tell us that’s what we had to do? P.S. Have they abandoned “Don’t touch your face” because it’s, like, impossible?

“Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.”

Most people have been very good. However, one senior male plunked himself down on a chair smack-dab in the middle of the interior doorway of Canada Post on Talbot Street and would not move to let me pass. With some seniors, I tell you, you have to wonder what happened in their lives.

“Keep away from people who are sick.”

Um, yeah, got that one nailed. Let’s not ruin our day by thinking about how slow Ontario has been about testing.

“Stock up on supplies.”

Done! About the third week of March, our gluten-free household bought a bag of flour that sits unopened in the basement. And on the Doritos front, the supply chain is intact.

“Clean and disinfect frequently touched services.”

At all times, we have a pan of water in our sink that includes I know not what, except for one ingredient: bleach. Our counters, and I, have never been so sterile. Unlike The Donald, I have no plans to experiment with drinking it.

“Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.”

We were never sure we were “cruise people”. Looks like we may die before we find out.

“Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.”

No COVID-19 symptoms, but we’ve had two quick telephone consultations with doctors over the last three months, both successful. Could this become part of the new normal?

I know, I know, seniors hate that term “new normal”. I just threw it in to annoy you.

And in case you were wondering, two updates. First, Elmer the Safety is still around. His website is Second, even at the height of isolation annoyance, I did not utter the word “Sani-Nanny.” Better safe than sorry.