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Montreal  Gazette 2020

Disabled, I have much to worry about

I’m so friggin’ bored. I keep thinking of the movie Groundhog Day and I feel guilty. In the movie Rita says to the Bill Murray character, “So this is what you do with eternity.” I think he was stuffing pastries into his mouth at the time. He ends up learning to play an instrument and reading something obviously intellectual and helping strangers. Even though every day is the same, he chooses to be productive. Yup, not me. I think that what I do or don’t do is the equivalent of stuffing pastries into my mouth.

Oh yeah, I am disabled from brain surgery in 2003. Physical distance is pretty much impossible for me. My caregivers, who are considered an essential service, have to transfer me to a toilet, bath or bed. This involves very close body contact. They take precautions, but they all live with people whose habits are unknown to me, so I get extremely anxious. If I get the infection and it travels to my brain, I’m doomed because I have a working shunt. Does this coronavirus travel in the body? No wonder I am not productive, the worry is exhausting.

Also, the idea of self-isolation is very different for me. I am never alone. I do rely on coffee shops, restaurants, malls, physiotherapy, etc. being open to get me out of here. I stay home always and write pop-culture reviews so now, in that respect, I have consistency. I do miss going out to movie theatres. The world out there affects me in here. My caregiver went to the pharmacy for me today. Momentary privacy. Bliss.

At least I get to talk to different people during the week, but they are not friends or family or kids. People complain now about their jobs and I am sympathetic to their plight but I AM a job.

I am usually in my head, but now my thoughts have company. Anxiety and worry are my children who interrupt my work and need attention. The thing is, I can’t give them a colouring book or school assignments to make them behave.

My physicality usually constrains my movement, but this is exacerbated by the pandemic. I often think of the film Titanic. The pandemic often feels like the ship is going down, but today the sun is shining and I’ll get fresh air.

Romy Shiller, Montreal

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