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The anatomy of fear.

Worries & sleeplessness about Covid-19

I write this from Palo Alto, Carlifonia, having woken up from a nightmare. Usually, nightmares are an expression of a deep-seated fear or worry. I learnt years ago that the way to deal with fear is to publicly and loudly call it out. When you are about to speak to a room full of people and you are nervous, I learnt, lead with, “I am so nervous standing here before you today…” and somehow, the fear dissipates.

My fears and worries that led to this nightmare relate to this new disease called Covid-19 and more commonly called the Corona Virus. It happened that I have been hearing of its spread a lot – it appeared in New York while I was there days ago, and this week, here, the Governor of California declared a state of emergency to activate the emergency procedures to keep the disease at bay. A ship was anchored in the sea outside San Francisco suspected to have people infected with the disease and an elderly person died in Placer county having contracted the disease in a cruise ship he went on. He had underlying diseases and that is said to be what causes most Corona deaths.

Placer county is almost 200 miles (more than 300 km) from Palo Alto but that has not stopped the fear from gripping the state, causing them to buy out all sanitisers and masks from the shops. A populace grasping at straws to save themselves from a plague they do not understand. That fear is more contagious and paralysing than the disease.

I am many thousands of Kilometres away from my wife and family, from the relative comfort and safety of home. The what ifs are many. Suddenly I am so psychosomatic. A normal cough send shivers down my spine. I walk outside and there is a cold breeze that causes my nose to be mildly wet and I panic. I ask myself if I should self-isolate when I get home to protect my family – just in case. The fear can be all consuming.

I then decided to look for information about the disease, how does it progress should one catch it? What happens? What is the treatment? Do people recover? How many people have recovered? And then what? Yesterday, I could not find information about that except for the story of a british man in Wuhan province china, who seems to have kept a diary of his 25 day ordeal with the disease. He recovered.

The CDC and the WHO are the least reassuring of all of them. They give information on prevention but are intelligible with regard to the experiences of people.

Today, I have learnt that more than half the people who contracted the disease made full recoveries. I have learnt that the disease is much like pneumonia and it is treated with pain killers, fever medication and antibiotics and then it is allowed to take its course. I have learnt that the isolation is just to reduce the risk of exposure to others.

Is the fear gone? No. But it’s better than it was at 2am this morning.

For now, I shall continue to wash my hands obsessively, to sanitise my hands compulsively. And I will be positive and go about the day.

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Also published on Medium.

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