Jimmy Lowe.jpg

Jimmy Lowe

Two ladies: Long-time friends, health care colleagues, members of the same church, and Glasgow neighbors who live across the street from one another (medical journalist, Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley, and retired nurse Janet Bradford), are both somewhat quarantined during this coronavirus crisis.

“Janet and I have a custom of often having a meal together. We miss doing that,” Melissa says. She goes on to mention several good reasons for practicing social distancing these days and remarks, “I know how far a cough can go.”

Janet says, “Having morning coffee with my best friend is a memory of the past for now.” She adds, “With my impaired immune system, I knew I needed to take this pandemic seriously. The first thing I did was stay at home. I was social distancing before it was popular.”

For Melissa, remaining at home for such an extended time is a new experience. “This has been the longest I’ve been here in five years,” she comments, referring to the local home she shares with husband Tony. The couple also have a home in Tennessee where they usually spend part of their time, and frequently travel throughout the country and in foreign locations.

Since retiring from full-time work as a cardiologist, Melissa occasionally works as a doctor or consultant. She has an ongoing part-time job in Montana, but returning there would have required traversing three airports, so she cancelled that trip because she didn’t want to risk exposing herself to the virus and ultimately bringing it back to her family.

During her quarantine, Janet has found new appreciation for technology. Her recent doctor’s visits have been on-line. Also she’s “attended church three or four times a week through Livestream and Zoom.” Although Facetime has provided opportunities for communication with her children and grandchildren, she says “screen shots aren’t the same as that human touch.”

Melissa admits she’s had to guard against stress during her recent shut-in situation. “I miss not being able to put my arms around our two daughters, and I miss not being with my church family. I don’t complain, though. I have friends on the front lines right now. I wake up feeling blessed.”

Describing her greatest stress hurdle, Melissa says it’s not so much keeping up with what’s needed to survive while in quarantine, but rather, “It’s a struggle dealing with people who don’t think this is a serious threat.”

Melissa had been tracking information since December about the possibility of a pandemic. Then in early March a tweet was sent from an Italian doctor to colleagues around the world. He was reaching out for any thoughts on how to fight the spread of the virus. She and Tony were in Israel when she received the tweet from Italy. They returned home just before air travel between the countries was shut down. While being confined in her Glasgow home, Melissa has closely followed medical reports and used her blog to pass on information and health-care concerns. “It’s been a time of reflection,” she says. “Now I have even greater respect for friends who have been working in hospitals.”

She and her husband also like to take walks through their neighborhood. “Tony and I like one another,” she says, “and it’s been great just to be with him and talk with him. He’s a nice guy. A sweet guy.”

Janet says, “I consider myself to be very blessed because my husband Scott is here with me, and he is willing to do anything that will keep me safe.”

Finally, Janet sums up their situations this way, “We just have to adapt to whatever ‘new normal’ we’re facing with this Covid-19.”

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