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O Canada! We Have the Damn Virus Up Here, Too!

By Debra Perron / Calgary, Alberta

Last of the Maple Leaf Maskers: Steve and Debra Perron
Last of the Maple Leaf Maskers: Steve and Debra Perron

Covid, Covid, Covid. My husband Steve and I have been SO VERY CAUTIOUS for what feels like a decade, hiding from strangers, masking all the time, buying weekly groceries at 7:00 a.m. to avoid humanity, and carrying a tub of hand sanitizer in every coat pocket and purse. Confession: We just couldn’t miss the chance to see Bernadette Peters in concert in May and we did attend the theatre for a performance of Hamilton in July, but we stayed out of the lobby at intermission and remained masked all the time–even in our seats.

We felt very lucky that we remained healthy…Did we get a little cocky? Because then “it” happened. We attended our weekly voice lesson in our teacher’s basement studio on November 14th, and JUST ONCE, I removed my mask so that I could try a tricky vocal scale. That was my focus, better vocalization….until I got the phone call two days later from our horrified teacher, Elaine. She had tested positive for Covid.

But hey! No big deaI. I’d been fine for years–I’d been vaccinated five times…really…nothing to worry about. And in two days I was proved wrong. I tested positive, after developing an annoying cough and headache. WHY ME?? And of course, a day later, my husband caught it too. Fever, cough–it was miserable, and he’d been fully vaxxed, too!

I’d been grabbing every vaccine they could poke into me for years. I’d been staying away from malls. I’d mostly avoided attending any gatherings of more than three people, and even then, I’d nervously remained masked. Now let me be clear – I’m not really a germaphobe (well, maybe a little bit), but I have a 90+ year-old mom, and so it’s obviously important to keep her safe!

Accordingly, since the viral bomb dropped, our human interaction has been limited to seeing her, Skype visits with friends, and cautious, short, “howdy” chats with neighbours over the back fence. Truth be told, we did actually have a latke and dreidel Hanukkah “party” last week, with Mom and one other “seriously vetted’” couple. We felt safe with them, as they’d also caught Covid from our music teacher; we were all recovered and our antibodies were swirling–we felt like superheroes!

Oh–a huge thank-you shoutout here to our family doctor, who allowed me to enter his clinic, stood close enough to listen to my raspy lungs and gave me a prescription for a steroid puffer to ease my cough. When I’m sure it’s safe to enter the clinic again, that doctor is getting homemade cookies!

Now that Christmas and Hanukkah gatherings are in the rear-view mirror and the wrapping paper rolls packed away, I’m scared to read the Covid news. It’s hard to estimate how high the case numbers will rise in the next few weeks. Steve and I feel that we are the Dinosaur Maskers. We rarely see others masking in the stores anymore. Mom’s home is in a residence for seniors here in Calgary, and the staff has been cautious and vigilant with visitors like us, who are allowed entry, but must remain masked. But citywide mandates are gone, and that just doesn’t seem to me to be the smart way to beat this winter virus.

We check the Alberta government website to “read the numbers.” They are all, bless science and vaccines, down substantially from the horrors of the past few years, but Covid is NOT gone. And it sounds like health officials are expecting a surge in illnesses this month. As of December 8th, Alberta hospitals had 910 covid patients with 33 in the ICU and people are still dying from this. It’s not over yet, folks! Routine testing has gone the way of the dodo bird, but I do cross my fingers that people will isolate if they feel an unwanted bug in their system. I don’t want their colds or flu or Covid, thank you very much!

So, Happy 2023 everyone! I’d love to wish for world peace, and I would if I were a bit more powerful a superhero. But instead, I wish for “Everyman” to please wear a mask, or wave from a distance, and keep safe-for you and those you love.


The author, thanks to the pandemic, is a retired paralegal. Her husband, Steve, is a retired psychologist. They are living the good life, including the recent addition of Keita, their energetic, soon-to-be-massive Bouvier puppy.



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