#blog Ylona Keurn #with Niek de Jong
What a lot has happened recently. Or has it? Although hardly anyone thought about the possible impact of a pandemic at first, and it was actually more of a science fiction scenario, it dominates a large part of our lives up until now. If they had asked me two years ago if I had ever heard of Corona, I would have told them about a beer from the supermarket. I am someone who is down to earth and has nothing to do with superstition. I always say, "see first then believe." (a Dutch saying) This was certainly the case when Corona first presented itself to the world. It was something from a country far away, which our western society could handle just fine and therefore I didn't have to worry about it.
With me, I think, were many others who shared that same train of thought. Even when it started to take on serious forms in Italy, we in the Netherlands did not look so closely. Until it suddenly emerged in our little country at lightning speed. In the beginning I did not really want to believe it and I was not too worried. But slowly the changes started to come. I had to work from home, which was, to be honest, quite a challenge. After a very busy time at work where everyone had to get used to working from home, I could have used a vacation. This was enhanced by the beautiful weather at the time. On the other hand, it allowed us to enjoy the outdoors for a long time. In those times of quarantine, this did give my mind a little peace.
Now I am a very positive person and therefore I did not panic when the first things closed. I mainly looked at what was still possible. I'm also lucky that I live near the German border. When everything was closed here , I could simply cross the border and go to the (still open) places there. You guessed it, what I couldn't do here I did there. Perhaps a bit debatable, but for a long time I had the feeling that I wasn't restricted even more in my daily life.
But time went on, the weather turned worse and the rules got stricter. I got the realisation that things were really going to be different after all, and since then I've been more aware that unusual things are going on. Especially when, as of December 1st, the compulsory use of mouth masks was introduced. I had hoped that this would blow over in the Netherlands. But alas, we had to believe it. I don't like things in front of or in my face at all. I think this has two causes. Part of it has to do with my poor eyesight. By closing off other things, such as the mouth, I get the feeling that I can no longer move freely and perceive things my way. In addition, closing off the mouth gives me an oppressive feeling, which has to do with my claustrophobia.
After the mouth mask requirement, came the announcement that you could not celebrate the holidays as usual, which left me extremely sad. I love the conviviality and always arrange everything myself and to the last detail. Family is very important to me. Because I don't have many other acquaintances, my world slowly became smaller. I can imagine that some people wonder what I'm worrying about. However, for many blind or visually impaired people the contacts we have are of great importance. There is already a lot of loneliness within this group and I am sure that this has been greatly increased by the coronavirus. I noticed the effects myself, as I saw even fewer people than before.
Everyone is taking a little extra distance from you. This was especially noticeable in the stores. I myself continued to get my own groceries throughout the corona period. I did this consciously because it is important to me that I remain among people. This situation also allows me to retain the independence I have, some of which I have had to surrender anyway. I think independence is good in this day and age, to show that some things are not to be taken for granted, and to show that everyone has the same rights. This can be difficult, because for a long time many other blind or visually impaired people did not dare to go outside, since they could not guarantee to stay at 1.5 meters from people. Therefore I would like to encourage everyone to pay attention to this and not to assume that someone will move if they want to keep 1.5 meters. You never know for sure if that person is capable of doing so!
Positive in the search for alternatives
I noticed that after the holidays I fell into a bit of a hole. Really everything had stopped and even sport was no longer possible. I used to do sports fanatically and going from exercising three times a week to doing almost no exercise does something to you, and it's certainly not healthy either. I bet many people suffer from the so-called corona kilo's for that reason. In order to limit this a bit for myself, I started looking for alternatives. I ended up choosing to exercise at home and watch my diet. Although it seems like a difficult task, in the end it is quite doable! There are many videos on the Internet that explain different exercises. In addition, I would recommend everyone to go for a walk if you can.
By resuming old hobbies, adapting to the situation, and coming up with creative solutions, I have made it through the recent period. I cannot say often enough how happy I am with the initial easing. I suddenly feel like I'm getting some air. When the invitation for a vaccination arrived in the mailbox, I immediately took advantage of it. The shot wasn't too bad and in this way I hope to be able to return to normal safely.
I have learned a lot from this time, and there are definitely things this time has brought that I am grateful for. I have picked up several hobbies, and being able to work from home has really had its advantages for me as well. But I hope I never have to experience the feeling of confinement again!