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Dear John: Lupus in a Pandemic

Nothing like a global pandemic to bring the blogging back from the depths of The Void, but here we are!

So here’s The Thing: Since the end of February, I haven’t even gotten my head wrapped around my normal, somewhat chaotic (re: bat-shit crazy) life, when the pandemic started.

Here’s a quick recap, for those unaware:

  1. February 24th; was involved in a motor vehicle accident when a driver blew through a red light.
  2. Jarring on impact = whiplash, mild concussion, and a flare-up of every condition and old injury I’ve ever had in my life. Missed a week of work.
  3. Missing a week of work was……….an issue. With work. Gave my notice for the end of April.
  4. Gave my notice for the end of April, having applied to both Algonquin College and Carleton University and not even having an answer from either. 2020 is to be the Year I Get Better Shit In Life (and, also get it together)
  5. Physio, car rental, insurance, more physio, more car insurance, more paperwork, more pain.
  6. [enter global pandemic, stage left]
  7. Working in a health and wellness store, front line, with an autoimmune disease. Zero out of Five stars: would not recommend.
  8. Anxiety heightening, company (small business) needed to let people go, so “Take Me! Save the Coworkers!” just made entire sense.
  9. Bring on needing to apply for EI.
  10. Much more “paperwork” (online)

Oh, and managing four of my five kids living at home, all out of school (one college, one high school, two elementary). Solo.

There’s a reason I cue up some of my blog posts with “living in a made-for-tv-movie kind’o’life.”

ALRIGHT. Fast forward through all that buggernackles level of whackadoodle to today.

I am…not okay. I struggle with extremely limited sleep coupled with high levels of anxiety. HIGH. Superman levels, upper stratospheric, HIGH. I try to minimize social media because some of it is…exceedingly “rainbows and puppies and productivity and structure” and I’m all over here like, “What f-ing day is it, even? Did I brush my teeth?”

(Don’t get me wrong, my house is THE tidiest it has been in, like, forever. FOREVER. Those days are sorely fewer than the “I can’t literally even, today” days. So, I assure you…if you’re in the same boat….YOU ARE NOT ALONE.)

Anyhooooooooo. I digress.

Today I needed some medication, so I strategically went to a pharmacy closest to the grocery store that my second son works at. One, because I haven’t seen him since this shit started and, two, because I had better information from him as to when to go to minimize exposure to people (less likely busy time of day). I needed my fresh essentials, so, win-win.

I was fine. I was *totally* almost, pretty much fine. Until I had to say goodbye to him. “Love you, momma. See you……whenever.”

I can’t. I cannot. I know the panic and anxiety I’d had as a front line employee, battered by people every shift, exposed to All The Things. I felt myself breaking inside…all the stress…all the anxiety that has built up over days and weeks.

“Dear John C.:

I didn’t realize you saw me trying to keep myself from breaking down on my way out of the grocer. When you’d stopped a socially safe distance away from me as I was hauling my essential groceries into the back of my car, I’d realized, at that very moment, that you had. I started crying. “This is just….much,” I’d said to you. “It’s too much.” You knew what I meant. I blabbered about being worried for my son, and the families of so many others. You mentioned you had children, too. We spoke for several minutes and you never would have realized I tried to minimize just being out, for the fact that I tried to strategically place my exposure to be minimal and to see my son, because of Lupus. You never would have realized that by just having a small conversation, that I was able to keep pulling through today. Not every day is like today. No way. But, there are many, and this interaction was needed. You understood and validated. Two strangers united by one common element, for just a few moments in time. You never would have realized how much guilt I’d felt for even having needed to get to the pharmacy. “We’re in this together,” you’d said. And, you’re absolutely right. I see on my social groups people aiding the vulnerable. I see the helpers. Many of my friends are front line workers and first responders. Many are in health care and I worry fervently for them all. You never would have known how often I cry. Struggling to manage All The Things. 

“I wish I could give you a hug,” you’d said. I agreed. And, we did not. A mutual understanding of togetherness in a world collectively isolating. One day you’ll be back volunteering at CHEO. One day I’ll be taking my first day back (after eleventy-billion years) at Carleton University. Until then, Sir, a moment of time out of your day went further than you could ever know, in one of mine.

Thank you.


This too shall pass. But, until then, know that you’re feelings are valid and that you absolutely matter…whether it’s while you’re doing All The Things or None of The Things. Some Things. Weird Things. Creative Things. Whatever it takes to just baby step through this bizarre and scary time.

Keep on keeping on, my friends. <3

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