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Stop Coronavirus

The Hungarian-born British author Martin Esslin once said: “The theater of the absurd can be seen as a reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of our time. The hallmark of this attitude is that certainies and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been tested and found wanting, that they have been discredited as cheap and childish illusions.” In other words, the theater of the absurd illustrates that the reality that we once knew has vanished and been replaced by absurdity. Since I was diagnosed with the coronavirus, I feel as if I am living inside a production of the theater of the absurd.

Before I was diagnosed with the coronavirus, I had a good life. I got a husband and three beautiful children. Before corona set in, we used to take the children to amusement parks, on playdates and out to restaurants. And despite the coronavirus pandemic, we were still taking the children to the park, to the sea and to visit their grandparents and other relatives. For a couple of years now, I have been working as a journalist and political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. For about a year, I have also been a contributing writer at Save the West. And recently, I just started to work as the editor of the Economic Peace Center and the Israel correspondent of the J.CA newspaper in Canada. I am also the author of the book “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.” I am presently writing two other books as well. Everything in my life was going well.

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And then, I got the coronavirus. For me, it started out with me getting a soar throat and a cold, where I would constantly cough up mucus and suffer from a stuffy nose. Then, as the coronavirus progressed, I had shivers, headaches and felt constantly dizzy. I also lost my sense of smell. However, for me, that is where the coronavirus began and ended. I had no fever, nor did I have problems breathing. Sometimes, I did have a shortness of breath and coughing attacks, but it solved itself if I laid down and rested for 20 minutes. I do feel more tired than usual yet feel restless and unable to sleep through the night. I often dream about death.

However, throughout my period in corona quarantine, I managed to work in isolation. As a mother of small children, I have always worked from home, so my job was unaffected by my coronavirus diagnosis. It is true that I was working slower, but I was still being productive. I attended webinars, joined zoom conference calls, conducted phone interviews, did research, and wrote up articles, all while being coronavirus positive. So far, my bosses got no complaints. My doctor referred to me as a case with “mild symptoms.” Yet, not everyone is as lucky as me.

When I was in quarantine, my husband was forced to stop working due to my coronavirus diagnosis and to take care of the children that I was forced to socially distance from. He often complained that he missed his job and the intellectual stimulation that came with it. However, he should be grateful that I only had mild symptoms and the chaos surrounding my coronavirus diagnoses only lasted about two weeks. When my mother-in-law got corona, she became like a vegetable and was unable to do much. And when her sister got corona, she required hospitalization. Thus, I should be grateful to G-d that I was not in their situation.

Some may look at the articles I produced while coronavirus positive and think that everything was fine and dandy. But outside of my work, my coronavirus diagnosis has changed my entire life for the worse. For about a week, I self-isolated. And then when my coronavirus test results came in, I was confined to one room inside my entire home for one week, so I would not infect my husband and children. I barricaded myself inside of my office, surrounded by my books and my work computer. I slept in my office, as I did not want to infect other rooms of the house.

I told myself if there is one room that I can tolerate being a virtual prisoner inside of it, then it is my office, as I cherish my work and it seems to be the only thing going well in my life right now. Having at least that while in isolation does make it better for me. If I had to stop working while in quarantine, I would go crazy and my mental health would deteriorate, as my work keeps me mentally sane in isolation. It gives me a healthy distraction from my predicament.

Of course, I sometimes did venture outside of my office prison, but it was only to use the corona designated bathroom or to go to the kitchen or sit alone on the balcony. Note, I only go to the kitchen and bathroom wearing a mask. I also disinfect my hands before going to the kitchen and always open the window. I also make sure no one is inside of the kitchen with me.

Sometimes, during the quarantine period, I waved to my children and chatted with them from my office while wearing a mask, while they sat far away in the living room. For one hour in the evening, I relaxed by watching something on television with my husband, with him sitting on the far end in the living room and me sitting in the dining room wearing a mask. That one hour in front of the television was the only interaction we had during the quarantine period. The rest of the day, I isolated from him completely.

All our food we ordered to the house or my husband’s mother brought it to the house and left it outside our door, as I was diagnosed with corona officially just as she recovered from it. Since my husband tested coronavirus negative and was released from isolation before me, he sometimes ran errands for me, as I watch the children from a distance wearing a mask. When that happened, I basically let them make a mess and do whatever, as disciplining would violate all principles of social distancing. Thankfully, they did not break anything, which is a miracle given that my children knew I could do no more than scream at them from a separate room to behave themselves.

My two-year-old boy Shlomi refused to accept this reality. All the time, he tried to break down the door and violate my coronavirus isolation, as I locked the door of my office specifically so he would be forced to socially distance from me. Whenever I left the room, he ran up to me and tried to hug me. All the time, my husband had to grab him, so he did not fail to socially distance from his coronavirus positive mother. My older children took it a bit better.

My four-year-old son David asked why I moved far away from him and said that he does not mind getting corona too for then he does not have to go to pre-school and can be with me. He thinks it would be more fun to be at home playing with mommy instead of going to pre-school, so he does not get why getting corona needs to be so bad. He does not get why he should be against getting corona too, but at the very least he did not rush up to me and try to violate social distancing principles like my two-year-old boy did. He does what he is told to do and does socially distance, even if in his heart he wanted corona too so he could be with me.

My six-year-old daughter Lilach likes to leave various drawings for me outside my quarantine room. One day, she drew a suitcase with a heart on it. The next day, she drew “baby cat woman.” Cat woman is one of her favorite heroines. Seeing her drawings always make me feel better. However, after several days in isolation, she asked me from afar, “Mommy, why are you not better yet?” Of course, I had nothing to tell her in response except, “It is G-d’s will.”

This was my life as a coronavirus positive citizen of the State of Israel. It truly is the theater of the absurd. In the past, mothers showed their love for their children by being close to them and doing fun activities with them. But these days, coronavirus positive mothers show their love for their children by isolating themselves from them. I took pride in the fact that all of them tested negative for the coronavirus, which is a great accomplishment given that they were exposed to two grandparents and a mother with the coronavirus. Apparently, the fact that I socially distanced myself the second that I got sick and did not wait until I got the official positive result from the coronavirus test paid off. Since I did that, the nightmare only lasted about two weeks (one week of self-isolation and one week of state-sanctioned isolation) and I was recently released from quarantine. If I had not done that, the crisis would have gone on longer.

However, even though I am no longer contagious, I must say that the coronavirus has left its mark on me. Although I am only in my thirties, I am fatigued at times like an old woman. I still have zero sense of smell. Last Saturday night, I felt sad that I could not smell the spices when I did the Havdalah service at home. Furthermore, I still have coughing attacks that do disturb my sleep and dizzy spells, which do adversely affect my work performance, even though I managed to recover from the coronavirus while not taking off work.

Nevertheless, as a recovering corona patient in the State of Israel, I must note that there are some things that the State of Israel is doing well to help people like myself. For starters, when I started to get coronavirus symptoms, I was already in isolation for I was exposed to my mother-in-law, who had corona. Since I did not have a driver’s license, Magen David Adom sent a man in a white suite to my home to give me the coronavirus test. Also, Israel Social Services, the Israel Police, the Netanya Municipality, the Ministry of Health, and my family doctor all called and asked if I needed anything while I was in isolation. All were ready to help me.

Furthermore, without me asking for it, Clalit Health Services left a package of free corona care stuff outside my door, which included free masks, a book on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among family members and a device to check my breathing, all without me asking for anything. Furthermore, a religious Jewish organization sent me a message in Hebrew, detailing what foods to eat, what vitamins to take and what other actions I could do to heal myself at home. In that message, they detailed the importance of eating lemons, oranges, mangos, avocados, and pineapples, as well as getting fresh air between 10am and 11am. On top of that, after I tested positive for the coronavirus, my husband was able to get dose one of the coronavirus vaccine almost immediately, even though he is only in his thirties.

I do not know if any of this would have happened in the United States. It was something that Israel did for me that I greatly appreciate. No one can dispute the fact that Israel is a world leader when it comes to vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing on a massive scale, nor can anyone deny the benefits of Israel’s socialized healthcare system. Furthermore, I did notice that getting fresh air on my balcony, taking vitamins, and eating oranges and avocados did help my healing process, like was suggested to me. I would also add Asian spicy food to the list, as it helped to clear up my sinuses and has plenty of vitamins in it. As one of my South Korean friends pointed out, there is something about the food in Asia that has helped the Far Eastern countries get a lower fatality rate than us in the West.

As a coronavirus patient, I do still have my critique, however. Of course, I am not one of those Antifa-inspired New Israel Fund supported crazies protesting at Balfour. I generally support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party. Nevertheless, I must admit that the government’s lockdown idea is far from ideal for fighting against the coronavirus. Before the lockdown, I was a highly active person, who all the time went to the gym and to dance classes. I also met with friends and went to other professional gatherings, pandemic, or no pandemic. None of it gave me the coronavirus. Also, my children went to pre-school and did not get the coronavirus there.

I got the coronavirus while I was in my own home while working from home during a lockdown from my own mother-in-law, who was in denial about having corona for she had been vaccinated and thought it was impossible to get it due to that. Given that, she came to help me with the children and dismissed her fever as a side effect of the vaccine, a reality that led to me getting the coronavirus. For me, this means that the most dangerous place from a corona point of view is the home, where one relative infects the other.

Considering that, I often ponder how effective these lockdowns are for the struggle against the coronavirus. After all, my husband, who was exposed more to his mother yet got fresh air at work daily, did not get the coronavirus. Furthermore, my children, who were exposed to her even more than any of us, did not get the coronavirus from her, as they went out to play all the time. In my opinion, this hints to me how critical fresh air and exercise is to human health.

“People need to be doing things like regular and healthy eating, regular and healthy exercise, and regular and healthy stress management,” said Dr. Ian Tullberg, medical director of UCHealth Urgent Care locations throughout Colorado. “If we’re healthy, our bodies are better adapted to handle microbial insults than if we’re overweight and overly stressed.”

Thus, I ponder, perhaps the worst thing we can do in the struggle against the coronavirus is to keep healthy people locked up at home? Maybe I succumbed to the corona when I was exposed for the gyms and dance classes were shut down, and I did not get out to get enough fresh air for I work from home? Is it a coincidence that I succumbed to the coronavirus around the same time that I was exposed to Neo-Nazis in a Save the West webinar, yet had no ability to come up for air afterwards due to the lockdown? Of course, sick people and exposed people should be isolated, but why lock down healthy people, when blocking their access to exercise and fresh air only makes them more likely to get the coronavirus if exposed?

There is something else that should be investigated when discussing the coronavirus. There is a common myth that claims if you get corona, there is no treatment and there is nothing that you can do to heal yourself. However, I went to a holistic doctor, who put me on vitamin C and vitamin D supplements. She also recommended zinc, but sadly I could not get it from Superpharm deliveries. It is a pity. “There’s some evidence in the medical literature that zinc has been helpful in terms of not curing a viral infection, obviously, but in helping with some of the symptoms of common cold viruses,” Tullberg said. “One of them is a coronavirus.”

Nevertheless, just taking vitamin C and D together with eating an orange daily, increasing the number of vegetables in my diet, and drinking tons of hot soup and tea, and ensuring always to get a little bit of fresh air on the balcony by myself whenever I started to feel too dizzy, I saw that my corona symptoms got less and less severe, until recently I was declared recovered. Each day, I am managing to accomplish more and more work, despite my fatigued condition. It is amazing when you think about it.

Interestingly, recent studies have found that 80% of COVID-19 patients are vitamin D deficient. This means that you maybe have the potential to decrease your chances of going to the hospital when you are diagnosed with corona if you immediately change your diet and take extra vitamins. As my family doctor said, this is something “worthy of further investigation.” Of course, there is no magic cure for the coronavirus, yet it is still not impossible to be proactive in trying to heal yourself.

If anything, doing these things does improve your mental health when you are in this condition, if nothing else for it empowers you to take your own health into your own hands. In any case, taking extra vitamins and starting to eat healthier does not hurt your chances for healing. It only gives you a fighting chance of surviving and overcoming this “theater of the absurd” by battling against the coronavirus in your own home, and this should be encouraged. Saying there is nothing you can do only encourages hopelessness and despair, and this leads to you losing the willpower that your body needs to fight off the coronavirus. For me at least, being proactive was instrumental in helping me recover from the coronavirus and I look forward to the day when the after effects of the virus will disappear completely.

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Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”