Friday, August 27, 2021

Away from my fortress

Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before: I ventured out during a Level 4 Lockdown (photo at left). Here’s the Facebook (that is, corrected…) version of what I said in my caption on Instagram:
A first: I went out to pick up a prescription, the first time I’ve ventured out under Level 4 (I never left my place last year). My somewhat annoyed expression is because the chemists had a terrible set-up, which isn’t new for them, but they’re doing vaccinations, too, so it was more hectic and disorganised than usual. Fortunately, most (socially distanced) waiting was outside. Back to my fortress!
The truth, barely concealed, is that I hated (nearly) every minute of that outing. It wasn’t just the frustrations of that chemist, but probably more about me.

I’ve always had bouts of social anxiety, usually centred on getting myself into situations in which I don’t know the social rules. I had that exact thing happen last year when I ran errands with a mask for the first time—as it happens, that was also the only time I wore a mask until yesterday.

All of which means that my trip was filling me with worry about the unknown, however, the bigger issue was what I absolutely knew was an irrational fear that I might catch the virus (all the 370 cases in this outbreak are linked to Auckland, and there have been no cases transmitted outside of Auckland except within households in Wellington, those being caused by people who were in Auckland).

I was running out of two of my prescriptions, so I sent a secure message to my GP Wednesday night, and early afternoon yesterday I got a text from the chemist to tell me it was ready to collect. I hadn’t had my shower yet, so I went to do that, thinking I’d head out after. I was feeling tired (poor night’s sleep), so I decided to rest awhile (which was actually my way of trying to simply chill out; I could tell my anxiety was rising). I was still tired, so I lay down for a little nap, convinced I’d wait until today to go.

I woke up maybe an hour later, and resolved to go. It was definitely one of those “feel the fear and do it anyway” moments I’ve written about.

I calmed down while I was driving over there, because it was so remarkably light, even on streest that were usually moving at a snail’s pace, In fact, I commented on Facebook that, “On the other hand, traffic was awesome! I’d like Hamilton a whole lot more if traffic was even twice as busy as it was today!”. That wasn’t totally joking, of course: I complain about Hamilton traffic rather frequently.

My anxiety ramped up dramatically when I got to the chemist because there was absolutely no way to know what to do—no signs, no one directing people anywhere, nothing to direct people where to stand. Their service there is almost always incredibly slow, so I suppose in that sense yesterday was no different. It did remind me, though, of some of the reasons I don’t like that chemist, rewards points notwithstanding: My points paid the $10 for my prescription, actually. [I talked about my pharmacy troubles back in June.]

For me, though, the worst part was after I got home and looked at my pill bottles: I forgot that under Level 4 we only get one month’s prescription at a time, so I’ll have to go back there once a month for the next two months. Oh, well. At least they’ll text me to remind me. I guess.

I’d thought about going to the supermarket on the way home, but even before I left the house I thought that would be too much. I was right: As soon as I got my prescription, I decided to go back home, to my “fortress”.

I’d also decided to go to the supermarket next week (which will be two weeks after my second jab, and so, I should be at around my maximum immunity). As it happens, New Zealand south o Auckland will drop to Alert Level 3 at 11:59 on Tuesday, after two weeks at Level 4. I’ve never been to a supermarket under Level 3 (thought I did under similar circumstances under Level 2 last year), so another new thing I can do. I think, but don’t know, that my anxiety about that should be less, of for no other reason than I basically know how that works.

So, yesterday was a first for me, though an incomplete success because I hated the experience. Still, I did it. And I’m perfectly safe here in my fortress—as, in fact, I always am.


Roger Owen Green said...

that's sort of how I felt riding the bus yesterday. Everyone was wearing a mask, not always correctly. Except for one guy, who was... sneezing. Was he sick? Did he have allergies?

Arthur Schenck said...

I've read that various anxieties, worries, etc., have been growing in the age of Covid, partly because it can infect people without them even knowing they're around someone who was infectious. That, and we see all the people who are deliberately flaunting their total disregard of other human beings. It's enough to make anyone to begin developing agoraphobia!