Altered Reality

17th January 2020, a friend told me about a disease that had hit China. He mentioned the Spanish word ‘corona' as the name of the virus. I was quite curious about what this disease was. Immediately after my conversation with my friend over the phone regarding this new disease in china, I went online to research it. The information I got was quite scanty. Of course the program I did at the university which was Bachelor of Art Population and Health exposed me to a lot of issues regarding health. Some of the courses I did were Biostatistics, epidemiology, disease patterns in Ghana and Africa, health education, emerging diseases (with emphasis on HIV/AIDS) amongst other health-related courses. So I was very much aware of the history of china regarding the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and how it spread to other parts of the world through international travel. However, having this great in-depth knowledge, I did not allude my mind to the possibility that this new disease that has emerged in China could spread to other parts of the world. Quite frankly, I was living in a fool's haven thinking the disease would not spread to my small country Ghana which is thousands of miles away from China. As the disease continued to ravage China and some parts of Asia, I was still confident that this new disease that we did not have much information about at that time would not touch my country not to talk of affecting my way of life. However, one profound event changed my cosmovision relative to this disease that reared its head in China. Working as a teaching assistant at my former college, University of Cape Coast, I have to assist my supervisor who is a lecturer in any way he deems fit. So in February 2020, the first case of the coronavirus in West Africa sub-region was detected in Nigeria. On February 30th I accompanied my boss the lecturer to one of his lectures. During the lecture, a discussion regarding the coronavirus came up. We talked about how the coronavirus was detected in Nigeria but we did not allude our mind to the possibility of the virus spreading to our country Ghana. Life went on till two weeks later when the first case of the disease was detected in my country. I can still remember that day profoundly because of how dramatic the announcement was and the pandemonium it caused in the country. Public life practically came to an abrupt standstill. As a country, we were trying to get a hold of the situation that befell us. I stopped going to work because we had been instructed to stay home. Our social life was heavily affected. Life was no longer as it was. The country was placed on partial lockdown, especially the areas that were heavily affected by the spread of the disease. Every morning when I woke up, my first thought was how the day would be. I was trying to find means and ways to cope with the disruption in my social life. I couldn't go out as I normally did. I spent most of my time indoors unless I needed to go out to get essential things like food. As the disease spread rapidly throughout the country, so did our apprehension increased correspondingly. Having my social life restricted by COVID 19 was to a large extent being like how prison life is. Each day passes by without much expectation of change in the narrative or status quo. So I consciously decided to find innovative means to cope with the social restrictions imposed on me as a result of the virus taking over our way of life. I indulged myself in reading, writing as well as creating awareness on social media regarding safety protocols against the diseases. Each week I did take a book that I think would help me to cope with boredom. I mostly read non-fiction books which helped me to escape the new social life of restriction imposed on us as a result of the virus. The slogan our leaders used in creating awareness about the virus was ‘when you move, the virus moves', so I needed to stay home and work from home. But there was always the possibility of boredom creeping into one's faculty now and then. So reading was a very crucial coping strategy I used in coping with the new reality of the COVID world. Apart from reading, I also indulged extensively in writing. Writing helped me to cope with the stress associated with being restricted to staying at home. It allowed me to express my thoughts, feelings and opinion regarding my experience with how COVID has changed our way of life, especially mine. Now we have been told that life must go on. That we have to find ways to live with the disease. So I have resumed work, but I take all necessary precautions to make sure I protect myself. I know this coronavirus will be with us for some time, but I hope one-day things will go back to the way it was before the virus came.