It kept niggling at me.
Every time we spoke on the phone, she kept asking the same thing: “Are you sure you still want us to come?”
“Of course,” I’d say, “why wouldn’t I?” It was Nate’s 30th birthday, a day we never thought we’d see; close to 100 people were coming from all over Australia, from the USA.
Watch: Horoscopes in isolation. Post continues below.
Then, in the last call, I asked her – did she not want to travel that far? Was she worried about this virus?
Here in Australia, it wasn’t an issue yet. She finally said, “No-one is going to cancel and let you down, but you have to decide whether to cancel the party.”
So we set a meeting with Nate’s GP. He would probably tell us that we were overreacting. He knew we were planning a grand party, but as soon as we asked if we should cancel it, he looked at us as if we had two heads.
“Of course,” he said, “you have to cancel. If Nathan were to catch this virus, it would be dire for him. There are no treatments, cures or vaccines.”
So it finally dawned on us. The party was not the issue, it was our circle of people. We needed to isolate, immediately, and cancel the party and all Nathan’s programs and support staff.
You see, Nathan has cerebral palsy. He also has epilepsy and a compromised respiratory system. He requires 24/7 care.
With no carers or support staff, all his needs would be met by me and my husband. I started to cry as I realised the change of life we were facing. The responsibility of making sure Nathan was safe was overwhelming. How were we going to do this?
I called her – my sister Cathy. I told her that Nate’s GP has told us to cancel the party, and it would probably be best if she and the rest of the family cancelled their trip. I was heartbroken, so was she.
The next day one of Nate’s carers quit. She was in tears; she didn’t want to be the person to infect Nate, and she couldn’t work with him for the time being.
We knew we had to act now.
I made a list of groceries, of Nate’s medications, wine (of course wine). I made two copies, gave one to my husband Robin, and we went to two different supermarkets. I then ordered all Nate’s continence products and Nutricia for his feeding tube.
We told Nathan’s other carers that we were going to cancel his care for the immediate future. We called his exercise physiologist, trainer, masseur and gym buddy and cancelled all his programs. It was early March.
To try and gain some sanity, I began walking 10kms a day. For the first two weeks, I cried on every one of these walks. I couldn’t see a way out. I am a problem solver, but this virus was a problem I couldn’t solve; it was out of my control.
No one else had started to isolate yet. I was watching everyone else living a normal existence, while I was living in fear. I needed a plan.