Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Will You Still Love Me When I’m 66? Global Pandemic Edition

by Suzanne Fluhr on April 24, 2020 · 39 comments

Covid 19, Zentangle Inspired Art

As it does for many people, my birthday usually prompts some introspection about where I’ve been and where I’m heading. My 66th birthday has arrived with most of the world under Stay at Home orders to try to at least mitigate the effects of a a global pandemic triggered by the spread of the novel corona virus, Covid 19.

On a good day, I can use the wheelchair as a walker and try to regain some cardiovascular fitness and strengthen muscles I never thought much about before. As you can see, the dog is much more interested in seeing if some food or food like substance is on the rug.

Due to the fortunate confluence of two unfortunate events, I am one of the people least affected by the Stay at Home order. For several months I’ve been dealing with multiple vertebral compression fractures caused not by trauma, but by “age related osteoporosis”. “Age related”, making my 66th year an inflection point.

I hope this is a temporary state of affairs, but for now, I can no longer care for myself, and more importantly, the dog. I am most comfortable in bed (where I’m writing this), with brief forays to the bathroom (sometimes by wheelchair) and the living room couch. In other words, I didn’t need a Stay at Home order by the governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I’m not going anywhere. By mere coincidence, most of the world isn’t going anywhere either, and as they say, misery loves company.

face mask during covid 19 pandemic

The new “normal”. Setting out to go food shopping.

Fortunately, my husband, Mr./Dr. Excitement isn’t going anywhere either. He stopped caring for hospitalized pulmonary patients two years ago. For now, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is handling its surge of Covid 19 patients, so his services as a clinician are unnecessary. He continues to run a research laboratory, studying mesothelioma and lung cancer. Like the majority of schools in the United States, the University of Pennsylvania sent its students home and shut down all but Covid 19 laboratory research. Hence, he became an employee who could work from home—and take care of his, for now, invalid wife.

I’ll admit, I’m a little miffed at Dino, the dog. I used to be his main person, but now that I can’t take him for walks, and more significantly, can’t feed him, Mr. Excitement is his main person. At the risk of anthropomorphizing, I see the little balloon over his furry head when he passes me. It says, “What have you done for me lately?”

cute dog

What? I’m getting ready for a nap.

One less than happy coincidence is that I can’t have the examinations and potential medical interventions to treat my back pain. Hospitals are still only seeing medical emergencies and Covid 19 cases. Non-emergent “elective” procedures are on hold. I’m starting to feel more “emergent” every day. Intellectually, I understand the reason for this policy. Emotionally, I’m not used to being this limited.

My first hint of back problems started with painful spasms early in September 2019, but by some miracle my pain had resolved by September 20th when we set out (tried to set out) on a five week, around the world “bleisure” trip. We were able to string together Dr. Excitement’s multiple international speaking engagements and research conferences, starting on Crete and ending in Sydney, Australia, with free time in between. Fortunately, I could do unlimited walking. We walked almost 10 miles in Melbourne, Australia one day, and I even climbed the 700 steps to a monument in Bulgaria. However, soon after our return from that trip, I had a second round of more intractable back problems that scuttled a planned trip to visit our son in Mexico City in January of this year.

Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne, Australia

One of the stops on our 10 mile walking tour of Melbourne, Australia: The Royal Botanic Gardens

Travel bloggers and travel anythings are feeling the strain of nobody being able to travel. The hospitality and tourism sectors of world economies have ceased operations. Most countries have closed their borders. Airlines are using airports as airplane parking lots. Cruise ships (and aircraft carriers) have proven themselves to be floating petri dishes, so no one will be going on a cruise anytime soon.

On a macro scale, the world is reeling from the Covid 19 pandemic. On a micro scale, here are the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned from my coterminous affliction:

  • I’m not invincible. I kind of knew this already, but now I’m reminded of this every day.
  • Our dog loves the one who feeds him. In some ways, this has made him the perfect dog for when we travel(ed). He quite fluidly turns his allegiance to the person filling his food bowl twice a day. As we leave, he looks up as if to say, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
  • I spend some time worrying about what happens if even modern medicine can’t get me back to baseline or near baseline. I have dark thoughts when I think my current condition could be as good as it gets. Then I remember that Laura Hillenbrand wrote the best seller, Sea Biscuit, (affiliate link) when she was bed bound with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. On the other hand, given the amount of angst expended in writing even this brief essay in bed, I don’t think a mattress will ever be a reliable muse for me.
  • I’m glad I discovered Zentangle™, a meditative art form. It keeps me semi-sane no matter where I am: waiting for our next flight of 13 in the Singapore airport; watching cable news; or in bed, hoping I can move without triggering a painful back spasm.
Covid 19, Zentangle Inspired Art

Covid 19 depicted in my Zentangle Inspired Art

  • I’m heartbroken for my 95 year old mother who lives in a nursing home where no one is allowed to visit during the Covid 19 lock down. My brother-in-law works there as a nurse practitioner, so at least he can visit her, albeit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that makes him look like an alien from another planet.

And, oh yes, I gratefully think someone still loves me.

How are you handling the Covid 19 pandemic where you live?

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Gwenyth Rankin April 24, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Suzanne,
All of us Boomeresque fans truly love you.
We hope you recover soon.
Hug your dog and your husband.
Warmly,
Gwen Rankin

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2020 at 12:15 am

Thank you, Gwen. I’m sorry our 45th(!) Williams College reunion has also been a victim of Covid 19. We were looking forward to catching up IRL (in real life).

Reply

Robin April 24, 2020 at 6:27 pm

I’m sad that you are in this state. You’ve become a close friend and I feel helpless that there is nothing I can do for you. Whether or not my prayers are meaningful to you, I pray every day that you get stronger and that you heal. COVID-19 has made me more prayerful. I have now started to slowly come out of shock mode. I feel like we are post-apocalypse still in lockdown until the radiation dissipates. The silver lining is I’m cooking more, watching the series that have been growing on my list and in contact with clients, family and friends in all forms of virtual media. I’m actually reading more and have pursued history 101 avidly. How can one not with all that’s going on. Maybe history hasn’t too much repeated itself as we learn to deal with a pandemic that mutates daily and effects each person differently. I’ve tried to order art supplies but they sadly haven’t come. I have taken up coloring, yoga, and a stab at Zen-tangle to relax. I have also discovered my propensity for addiction to series bingeing. At least it’s not addiction to drugs, smoking or alcohol. But seriously, what’s the deal with severe withdrawal from a really absorbing story about money laundering, money heisting, or espionage. I clearly do not live lives as crazy as some of the characters I’ve encountered. I guess my Adrenalin rush has no place to go. Anyway, I post a blog-type entry weekly on FB so I learn how friends and family are dealing with this surreal existence.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 24, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Robin, thank you for the concern and prayers. Obviously, I’m not inside your head, but you seem to have woven together a nice quilt in which to wrap yourself during this bizarre, difficult time.

Reply

Robin Marks April 25, 2020 at 8:43 am

I just wish I had the supplies I need to create.

Reply

Susan Pundt April 24, 2020 at 6:34 pm

It’s not the most fun we’ve ever had. Peter is vulnerable as he’s an obese, 80 yr old with heart and vascular problems. I’m right behind him,With immune system probs. altho’ my heart problems do not include A-Fib and I don’t think the neuropathy makes any never mind. We are home. He drives to pick up groceries (order And pay online, score a delivery/shopping time, have the store people load the groceries into the back of the SUV 6 feet away), human and feline medicines, and dry cleaning (not much of that!) and some dinners (we are in the country beyond most delivery areas. I have gotten as far as the mail box several times in several months. Have brief (6-10 ft spacing)interactions with Daughter next door. She disinfects most of our mail/pkgs and puts them in the hall. I am hoping my back holds out as I am doing all the stuff like housework and cat tending that we previously were paying others to do. I try to put in a couple of hours a day, but can’t go that long often. Our county has a high per capita rate of COVID-19, so we need to be wary. Our son’s MIL almost died a couple of weeks ago (drs are calling her semi-recovery a “miracle”) of the virus du jour and is on the mend in a rehab facility for the foreseeable future. Next to your back problems, mine are minor (but ouch, anyway..) Our cats know the Food Lady when they see her…and if they don’t see her, they find her.
I hope your recovery can be medically inspected and accelerated soon! Best to you, Dr. Excitement, and Dino.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2020 at 12:21 am

Thank you. It sounds like you have figured out a way to be appropriately socially distant. My piece of advice: Be careful how you bend. Remember, thanks to social distancing, if you leave a few dust bunnies in hard to reach places, no one will know.

Reply

Irene April 24, 2020 at 9:57 pm

The whole world feels surreal! I’m hoping you’ll be able to get the medical attention you need sometime soon and get back to your “exciting” life! Hugs!!!

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2020 at 12:27 am

Thank you. This life is definitely not exciting enough, even for Mr. & Mrs. Excitement. My black cardigan keeps asking me when we can go on a trip again. I carefully explain the novel corona virus, Stay at Home order, yada, yada, but not a word about this black cardigan being only the last in a long line. I’m afraid if I spill the beans (as it were), it will fall off its hanger and hide in some dark recess of my closet.

Reply

Judy Freedman April 25, 2020 at 7:58 am

So sorry you are still having such pain. Glad Mr Excitement is home to help you and Dino is as cute as always. I hope you can get your elective procedure soon. The sunsets in Brigantine will be waiting for you this summer.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2020 at 8:46 am

I hope we will be able to spend time in Brigantine this summer. I’m sure they are struggling with the decision about whether second home owners there will be welcome, at some point.

Reply

Elaine Ambrose April 25, 2020 at 10:20 am

Thank you for writing again. I’m sorry you are in pain, but your creativity is working. I look forward to more musings.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Thank you. I’m hoping to be able to get back to travel writing. I’m working on getting the pain under better control to free my brain.

Reply

Bola April 25, 2020 at 11:17 am

Sorry you are in pain. Hoping Zentangle will be keep your mind off the pain.

Take care!

Reply

Elaine Masters April 25, 2020 at 12:45 pm

So glad you wrote. It’s a hard ‘journey.’ Glad you have your guy. I’d be lost without mine. Sorry about Dino’s fickle heart. May your recovery come swiftly. Love the Zentangle too.

I’ve had the hardest time blog posting also. For me it’s grief and a loss of purpose (imagined to a large part.) This too shall pass.

Reply

Linda April 25, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Dear Susan, I just read your post and didn’t realize your condition was so serious and immobilizing. Is it possible to get help on the private side now, when the public hospitals aren’t available? Here in Finland, they intentionally have kept the major public hospitals functioning for non-virus patients, so you can still go for other medical conditions, although no elective surgeries at the moment. Same with the private clinics. I truly hope you find some relief–I know how limiting and incredibly frustrating back issues can be! Good luck with that and with virtual travel writing 🙂

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:15 pm

I’ve had contact with my physicians on line. They have changed and prescribed medications for me. I was evaluated for a vertebral augmentation procedure before everything closed down, but it is not possible to have that now. It’s an invasive procedure to inject cement into the vertebral space. In some ways, I’m not sorry about the delay because I’m hoping I will improve on my own. In the medical literature, there is debate about whether the procedure is better than the “tincture of time”. Hospital based outpatient practices and even physician’s offices have been doing “tele-medicine” appointments whenever they can. Hospitals also have emergency room capacity for non-Covid 19 patients, but many people are afraid to go for fear of contracting Covid 19. Unfortunately, it has been reported that some people are waiting too long to go, thus suffering more physiological damage to their bodies than if they had gone when they first became ill. This is a tough situation all the way around.

Reply

Patti April 25, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Remember Pollyanna? I have this little thing I do when I’m in a particular situation that is displeasing me. I ask myself, what would Pollyanna do/say? Find the good in the situation. Your injuries suck, COVID-19 sucks, but the good in the situation is that Dr. E. is working from home and doesn’t have to stress over trying to get to the hospital every day while you’re home alone in pain.

We are stay-at-home in Maryland. We have a moderate Republican governor, Larry Hogan, in an essentially blue state. Go figure. But, although I don’t agree with some of his politics, I have to give him a standing ovation for how he has handled the virus for the State of Maryland. He is the current director of the National Governor’s Association, Cuomo is the deputy director. I know Governor Hogan is doing a good job because the “president” is now criticizing Hogan because he did exactly what the “president” told him to do. He went out and took care of his state.

I find chocolate works wonders for whatever ails me. That, and copious amounts of Chai Tea Lattes (iced or hot)

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:23 am

I’ve been impressed by many of the governors. Bright blue Massachusetts also has a Republican governor now, and even Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, supporting Obama’s probably aspirational speech where he insisted there were no red states nor blue states, there’s the United States of America. Then there’s Brian Kemp in Georgia, proving that not all governors are created equal. Now I NEED a chocolate covered mini donut. Fortunately, I’m afraid to go near the kitchen since that’s where I caused one of the exacerbations of my back pain, reaching for something.

Reply

Robin April 25, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Has anyone told you that you should be an artist for medical textbooks?

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:28 am

There are some amazing medical illustrators. Leonardo da Vinci even springs to mind. Maybe if there were a need for more Covid 19 drawings. There isn’t. Most of my Zentangle inspired creations are abstract. Medical illustrations have to be meticulously drawn.

Reply

Ken Dowell April 25, 2020 at 7:59 pm

‘Age related’ is a frightening concept. It suggests, oh well, nothing you can do about it, it’s just the way things are going to be. So don’t buy into it. People our age can still get better. Might just take a bit longer.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:31 am

That’s what I’m hoping. On good days, I realize I have to be patient with the/my healing process. Then, there are the days that feel like I went 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. As with the Covid 19 graph, I need to realize that the curve is bending the right way if I think about where this all started.

Reply

Annie April 26, 2020 at 3:47 am

Good to read you, Suzanne, even when written under current confinement conditions. Back pain is the pits. I do hope you find some relief and as soon as possible. Coming up to 61 myself and feel we are definitely still in our prime, if it weren’t for the occasional physical blip.
Dino loves you but I understand his concern for food. As for Mr/Dr. Excitement in his mask… how do you contain yourself? Sending hugs.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for weighing in from Spain, Annie. Some of the issues Spain as been facing in dealing with Covid 19 have been covered by the news here. I’ve been happy to see that you are able to continue to teach Zentangle on-line.

Reply

Leslie in Oregon April 26, 2020 at 5:49 am

I’m so sorry that you have been and are suffering, Suzanne, and I hope that the route to full treatment and healing opens up very soon. Thank you for letting us know what has happened to you and how you are doing.

(I suspect that you well know that) Dino will always love you…he just doesn’t want to do anything (like get too close or ask you to feed him) that might cause you more pain right now. (I know this because our dog, Bob the Long-Haired Dachshund, explained it to me.)

My husband and I have been sheltering in place at home in Portland for the last 43 days. Doing that has posed many of the challenges everyone has been facing, but we have the great privilege of being able to spend time outside whenever we can take a break from work. (Our home property includes large and varied green areas, and the Spring weather here has mostly been beautiful.) The battle with my husband’s cancer continues, and for the most part he has been able to continue with timely treatment (although research involving his tissue has been diverted to COVID-19 research).

We will be rooting mightily for you as you strive to heal, Leslie

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 26, 2020 at 2:23 pm

Thank you, Leslie. I do think one thing I miss has been the ability to go outside to walk. We now live in a condo complex at the edge of Center City Philadelphia. It is built on the grounds of what was the first naval academy in 1828. The developer left a large field. We are also next to a trail along the Schuylkill River, but I suspect it might be difficult to socially distance there as I’m sure a lot of people have the same idea.

I’m sorry to learn that your husband has been battling cancer. My husband’s research is in mesothelioma and lung cancer. Penn has closed down all research except for Covid 19. As you can imagine, this is frustrating although he has plenty of work to do from home. His university hospital has formed committees to figure out the best way to reopen the non-Covid19 research laboratories and non-Covid 19 medical care.

I know Dino is still fond of me. He’s probably wondering why I can’t bend over to pet him.

Reply

UP May 4, 2020 at 11:32 am

My wife has made sooooo many masks we now have the machine in the shop

Reply

Tamara May 4, 2020 at 11:34 am

Happy birthday, Suzanne!
I am so sorry you are sick. Sounds like your attitude is positive which will help you to tackle every day. Of course your cute doggie Dino must contribute to lift you up.
Hang in there!

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 4, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Thank you. I’m feeling very frustrated because I can’t even lean over to pet the dog (Dino)—–yet.

Reply

pia May 4, 2020 at 11:49 am

I’m so glad your husband’s lung expertise wasn’t called for! Sorry about your birthday. I’m having a “milestone” birthday in July and had the summer completely planned. I found my birth father’s family two years ago and know what part of Ireland they’re from–would go to England and Scotland but was deathly afraid during my prime child bearing years (most of my life) that I would fall in love with a first cousin so this was going to be my first visit. Was also starting to get ready to move but that’s been put on hold. Best laid plans….

Reply

Rena May 4, 2020 at 1:46 pm

When I broke my leg last year I was in a wheelchair for 3 months and it was awful. I hope that you can get your back fixed soon. I’ve luckily stayed healthy throughout but I’ve been at home as well.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 4, 2020 at 2:19 pm

This has been going on since mid-January and is getting really old.

Reply

Diane May 4, 2020 at 2:25 pm

I’m so sorry that you are suffering. I pray it will soon be gone!
I think I’ve been training for this pandemic my whole life. Stay home and don’t go out?! Got it. Check.
Happy dance…

Reply

Cathy Sweeney May 4, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Hang in there, Suzanne. You’ll get through it with Mr. Excitement by your side. Dino seems a little fickle, however. 🙂 Thanks for sharing what’s going on in your life. It gets complicated enough at 65+ (my 66th is coming up in August) with pandemics, but our generation is pretty darn tough.

Reply

Carol May 4, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Dino is precious. Yes, you certainly have had your share during this period of time. Aging ain’t for sissies!

Reply

Carolann May 4, 2020 at 6:36 pm

Your pooch is adorable! I’m sure he loves you bunches. We live in challenging times that’s for sure. I wish you a speedy recovery and it’s a pleasure meeting you here.

Reply

Jeff & Crystal May 5, 2020 at 7:31 am

Suzanne,
Our warmest wishes and prayers are with you and Mr. Excitement. Perhaps this pandemic happened along to slow the rest of us down to your speed for a little while. We hope you mend quickly, and fully, so that you can resume your pursuit of seeing the world.

Reply

Paul May 5, 2020 at 2:30 pm

I fell off my bicycle in October, broke three ribs, brusied EVERYTHING, and scraped the rest.

Not a happy camper. Still not back to abnormal. Normal is out of the question.
Good post

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: