Of course, most of us are jumping with glee that the city has reopened and that we can all return to enjoying our (some version of) normal lives, but here’s the thing – the Coronavirus is still hanging around and there are still people out there who face high (potentially life-threatening) risks if they catch it.
We wanted to know how it feels to be somebody in the ‘Covid-19 high risk group’ in this new reality – is it scary? Do you still isolate yourself? So we asked Mela, a 39 year old cancer survivor who is in recovery from some major treatment that saved her life.
I’m Mela, an actress living in Vienna. How I ended up here has to do with a bunch of tumours that doctors discovered in my chest in 2016.
It was in Vienna that a team of doctors performed some cutting-edge stem cell treatment that saved my life. I thought I’d only be here for 3 days. It’s been 3 years.
In a strange way, I’m well trained for this pandemic.
Since the transplant, I’ve had to be careful and keep my distance from strangers throughout my recovery. I’ve been wearing a mask, and walking in a zig-zag fashion on the streets to avoid other people for a long time now.
I had to ‘isolate’ myself for almost one year after my treatment.
Once this year was over and I started to make plans, Covid-19 turned up. Back into isolation I go.
My German course has moved online and I’ve had to stay at home like everybody else.
The view from my apartment is of a greenhouse. It’s an unchanging view. Just like the one I had when I was a guest on the 21st floor of the AKH hospital. Like I said, I’m well trained for the pandemic.
When the shutdown was announced, I became labelled an official member of the ‘risk group.’
No shopping, no restaurants, no public transportation allowed. I didn’t even go for a walk for 10 days. Then I started going for walks alone along the Alte Donau.
I’m lucky that I live near the river. I see the flow of life everyday and it makes me smile.
And now people are also avoiding me and they’re all wearing masks! I don’t have to zig-zag on my walks anymore; I can walk straight.
I only go shopping between 8 and 9 in the morning when there’s only me and the older crowd of the city.
I appreciate how people in Vienna respect the rules, and also make sure everybody else is respecting the rules, too. They aren’t afraid to call you out if you don’t respect them.
I’m used to pushing limits, and this pandemic is only pushing those limits further
To try to explain to you how it feels to be in the risk group during a pandemic, I have to explain that during my 4 years of treatment, I had to push my limits over and over again.
Every time the cancer would come back, I’d have to wait for another treatment, and wait for the transplant to succeed. I was also waiting, waiting, waiting to return to the stage.
I learned to became more and more patient. Now, this current situation is just another instance in which I have to push my limits even further, and wait patiently.
Meanwhile, I’m happy and grateful that I can go shopping on my own, go for long walks and simply avoid crowds. I have everything that I need to continue my recovery – it’s only my tango lessons I miss dearly.
But, I love living in Vienna and for now, I’ll continue my part-time isolation, avoid roofs and get plenty of fresh air, wear a mask (just like in ancient theatre), be patient and keep waiting to return to the stage.