Dear all,

this forum has been of great help to me in the past few years, so I felt tonight to give back something that I hope can be useful to all of you watching the news about COVID19.

I'm writing you from Milan, Italy, now in complete lockdown.

Both my mom and I are fine, even if everything feels very unreal; today is the 3rd day we are just at home, without going out even 1 minute. Milan has become a ghost town, everything is closed except food shops and pharmacies. There’s an unreal silence night and day.

It feels like living in a movie, and everything happened so fast that we can’t wrap our minds around it, yet.

Things I wish I knew from the very start.

1. This is NOT just a heavy flue. There’s been a lot confusion in the beginning over here, many people on TV including doctors were saying this was just a heavy flue, so people kept going out and about. The mortality rate we are having in this very moment is 7,16%. It is not as bad as SARS or MERS but it's still more dangerous than a simple flue and it's extremely fast.

2. Despite what the government and many people keep saying, it is not true that just old people die and that they all had underlying conditions: doctors from inside hospitals are telling us that people perfectly healthy and in their 40s arrive in intensive care every day. Please be careful and protect yourself.

3. Plastic gloves make you feel much safer. I have learned from the Chinese to use toothpicks to touch elevators and atm machines buttons. This will save gloves.

3. If you buy a mask, be warned that most of them are not re-usable.

You probably know it already, I didn't. I just had 2 masks and now I feel scared to go out without one. Not a nice feeling.

4. A good mask DOES make a difference; in China many people who didn't catch the virus were the only ones wearing a mask in indoor spaces.

5. The first things that finished in supermarkets over here have been: alcohol, hands disinfectant, gloves, fruit.

6. If you are thinking at home delivery from supermarkets be aware that in an emergency scenario (that hopefully won't happen to any of you) websites will be so overwhelmed by orders that they will stop functioning. It took me 2 days to finally be able to order online and book a delivery slot and by the time I finally managed to make the order many things weren't available anymore. I'm not saying this to scare you, meaning that food is not a problem over here, at all, it's the amount of orders.

7. I didn't realize that the real reason to stock up some food is not that food won't be delivered to supermarkets anymore, is that people will buy the impossible and many things won't be available anymore. So DO stock up some, at least for 2/3 weeks.

8. Another thing I didn't anticipate is that the biggest worry I have at the moment is not catching the virus, or contaging my mother, even if yes, I'm a bit scared; the most preoccupying thing is that all hospitals are completely full, we don’t have a health system at the moment except than for COVID19, and this is something I have never experienced in my whole life.

9. I have put all helpers in holiday leave, a few days before the government ordered the lockdown and prohibition to move from home( which we actually fully share and support); this means that I'm alone with my mom and my cat. The sense of responsability is ten times stronger than normal, and it was already strong. I would say it's almost overwhelming sometime.

10. If you are alone, like I am, get some tranquillizers for bad moments; I have also bought some Rescue Remedy and it's helping me a lot.

11. We are experiencing an AMAZING support system around us; the government suspended all taxes, loans, fines, even parking fees, friends are calling us from all over the world and the international community at large has been so supportive it's really moving us, and all this is so, so important I can't even tell you. We are deeply grateful. We'll win this, all together ! with love

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@Geaton777 @needtowashhair @Abby2018

You all have good points, and I do share many things you say.
We have had, and still have, somewhere in us, the same question marks.

Democracies are difficult to rule. And this thing is going super-fast. But even if Italy is one single state, my region - Lombardy - has begged the central government for even more restrictive measures. We still don't understand how a whole country can be in a lockdown, why we've been asked to stay at home, and there are still thousands of people escaping by train, for example, and most likely spreading the virus to all the other regions. Why they didn't stop the trains, or locked the motorways except than for trucks? And why they didn't test more people, even with mild symptoms, like they did in other regions such as Veneto? We don't understand this, in Milan. But we have to fight and find the strength anyway. We are honestly so focused on surviving right now that we can't afford many other thoughts.

Today has been a very difficult day. People requiring intensive care and respirators jumped from an average of 40/45 to 85. In one day, and just in Lombardy. There are 14 places left, and they have already created 400 new places in 3 weeks, just here. I'm not sure I'll be able to read the news tomorrow night, I'm honestly very scared. Every time I hear an ambulance I feel a knot in my stomach. Where will they put people, what will they do? It's just impossible to think about it.

I'm sorry, I really wanted to post something positive but I can't find it in me right now. I'll try again tomorrow. Thank you for being here with me tonight.
Helpful Answer (13)
needtowashhair Mar 2020
I appreciate all your posts. Positive or not, they are helpful. It gives people an idea of what to expect.

In the US they are showing footage of makeshift hospitals in Italy. Cots in warehouses. They had to do the same in China. We should expect that they will have to do the same here in the US. Our hospitals are already full of people with the flu. Even a small number of patients with corona will overwhelm them.
I've waited a few days before giving another update because I really, really wanted it to be a good one, for us here, and for everybody who's looking at Italy with the hope that even the most cruel attack of this virus can recede.

And it did; for 3 days in a row, until yesterday, our numbers were significantly lower. Today, they increased, again. More than 700 people died in 1 single day and contagions in Lombardy grew again, 1000 more people than yesterday. It really makes your heart sink.

We are also astonished by the proportion and speed this desease seems to spread, worldwide.We are reading the news about the US and are thinking of all of you.

And nearby. 2 days ago, my mom's neighbour - 1 floor below her - has been taken away cause he couldn't breath anymore. I just can't believe it. I bumped into him 10 days ago, in the hall of our building, he was perfectly fine. Now I'm worried for him, for his kid and wife locked at home, for us, as well. They are coming to sanitese the stairs and elevators tomorrow. It feels more and more like a bad science-fiction movie.

I'm trying to keep working but it's very difficult to focus.
Today I was on a call with a client for 2 hours working on a medium term strategy for him and half of my brain was flashing a big question mark to me... how on earth can you work on a strategy if you don't even knwo when you'll be able to go out from your house again?!

So yes. It is difficult. I'm worried for our health, for my mom, for my cat, for the world, for food, for everything one can be worried about. I don't know how people can be so relaxed to think about cooking or watching movies on Netflix, in this moment. I envy them. I just can't.

I also have had this huge battle in my head going on, for the last 2 days: I read that petrol stations are going to shut down soon, as the people working there have no protection and are down 85% their normal income. So they have decided to close. This single thing made me almost panic. It makes me feel like we are trapped here, and even if we'll need to go away we won't be able to. And. I'm running out of cash, and I feel in my guts that this is a good time to actually have cash in your home, with the internet shopping being so difficult and everything.
So I've been thinking a lot about going out to the bank and to fill the tank, before it will be too late. Except I feel frozen by fear, now. Not the fear to die, the fear of taking a stupid risk for nothing, and putting in danger my family.
This is the effect of many days without going out. I feel so indecisive about everything.

At the same time, I'm staring developing a much subtler instinct for things.
If it doesn't feel right to go out now, I won't go. And I'm appreciating the small things that felt like a chore so much now. Running with my cat, who LOVES running. I always felt like crying in the evening when he wanted to run cause I was tired. Now I run with him with such a joy, it's also the only exercise I can get.
We run really fast together, up and down the corridor. He's delighted.
I feel happy and grateful even cooking dinner for my mom. I feel joy knowing that we still have food. I enjoy the 30 seconds walk in my yard in the evening when I come back to my apartment, sucking the outdoor air in my lungs, feeling alive.

I watch the skye for 30 seconds while I walk. I pray that it will give us a better day tomorrow, a better day for all.

Helpful Answer (13)
gratefultoday Mar 2020
Dear Arwen31,
I am praying for you today. For rest. Strength. Even joy...I am amazed and heartened you have found moments of joy playing with your cat, cooking dinner, and breathing the evening air.

What is your cat's name?
I don't know how you could private message me, but I would love to send you something you need or want if you could send me your mailing address.
Find hope today friend.

Love, gratefultoday
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Some of you asked me for an update so here it is.

Today we cleaned and sanitized the whole house and my mom helped me.
She's 93 but pretty active and she was very pleased with herself :)
I had lots of calls from friends and that cheered me up a lot.
I also decided to skip the news for today and was feeling much better; I don't want to go into denyal or bury my head under the sand, it's just that the amount of pain and worry I felt in the last few days was really eating me alive.
Then a friend of my mom called and she told her that one of their close friends is positive and in intensive care here in Milan. He's a doctor, like my mom was when she was younger, and has been an incredible friend and point of reference for her. We don't know if we'll ever see him again. If he dies, he won't even have a funeral, because they stopped all ceremonies.
This is enough to break your heart but no, there's more.
I suddenly realized that my mom saw him 3 or 4 weeks ago. And I saw another doctor who was part of their circle just last week.
So my countdown has to start again, I can't be 100% sure we are both fine anymore. This sounds so sad to think and say, in such a terrible moment for him, but it's the truth. We are being paranoid like this, now.

Tonight I'm not just hoping that all this will stop soon for all the people in the world, but I hope that we'll be able to be open and trust each other again without fear. It seems a far away dream right now.
Helpful Answer (12)
NeedHelpWithMom Mar 2020
Me too. I want it to end as soon as possible too.
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Thank you, to all of you. Being able to share with you has actually helped me in the first place. :) I will keep you posted.
Helpful Answer (11)
cherokeegrrl54 Mar 2020
Thank you so much for all your information. I was shocked today as i took my mom on her friday grocery run. At walmart, there was NOT a single roll of toilet paper, no bleach or sanitizing cleansers. A lot of food shelves for rice, canned goods, etc were all empty. We live in a 55+ apartment complex and are as prepared as we can be.
prayers to you and your mom as this unfolds. I am in Florida in USA. Liz
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Arwen, grazie mille per le preziose informazioni. I wish you and your mom peace in your hearts and protection from the virus.

To the comments complaining that our government was slow to react: Italy has 60+ million people. We have 300+ million citizens in this country. The states each have individual powers. Italy has a single government. The virus is new and no one can know what the trajectory will be until after it's over. There will be profound economic fallout: businesses small and large will die. People will lose jobs. People will not be fully compensated for losses. People may have lasting health effects that are yet unknown from this virus. The US doesn't manufacture much here so we can't just conjure up tests or medications on the turn of a dime. Let's be real. The reason why any health system is easily overwhelmed by this virus is because victims require respirators. Most hospitals only have a few at any given time and not because they're incompetent or cheap -- because that's all they ever need. To those who think "the government should be doing more"... more what? What "support" do you think is realistic? What do you suggest? Everyone is running on all cylinders right now and doing the best they can with what they think they know about this virus. Every day that goes by more is learned or discounted about this illness. You cannot have a country the size of the US, China or other and expect it to work like a well-oiled machine. It doesn't do that even on its best day.
Helpful Answer (11)
needtowashhair Mar 2020
No. That's not right. The federal government wasted 2 months downplaying the situation. Saying it would disappear miraculously. Hoping it would just go away. We didn't test because the government didn't want to know. The WHO offered us their test. We turned them down. The Germans offer to help us with testing. We turned them down. Some states developed their own tests. The federal government forbid them from using them. The administration told them to stop testing. Thankfully, some ignored the federal government and tested anyways. Lives were saved because some people were brave.

Our federal government just wasn't slow to react, it got in the way. We knew what the trajectory would be. China warned us. Instead of heeding their warning, the government ignored it. Some called it a hoax.
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This is not the time to turn this forum into a political debate.

So please stop making political comments that do no one any good.

Some like President Trump others don't - WHO CARES! He can't run the entire government solo, if he could why are we paying others? It takes many departments and department heads to make things happen, not everything is the President's fault.
Helpful Answer (10)
MargaretMcKen Mar 2020
It’s clearly not helpful to blame anyone, politicians or not, for a past problem that can’t be fixed by blaming. But it does raise some questions. Here, the local Greek Orthodox Church minister has said that they will continue to provide mass in the usual way, because ‘disease cannot live in the sacramental cup’. ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition’?
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35 Day

This past week has been the hardest.
Numbers in Italy are going down, but not in the rest of the world, and not in Milan. For weeks we've been hanging onto every little crumble of hope, but news, rules, strategies have started being chaotic, and so the behaviour of people.

We know now that the number of real contagions is much, much wider than the official one, everywhere. We still don't know when we'll be able to move from here and if we'll be tested, and how. Each region is doing a different thing. Many people have started going out.

The deep sense of connection has started vanishing.
I have felt very angry, with everyone. With people that I see from my window without a mask. With a friend telling me that "the cure is worse than the illness" and that people are starting losing it if the government won't "free" us soon.
I think of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, people working in supermarkets that have to face their fear every day, and these trite common places seem to me a symptom of the illness itself, of the old world we should put behind our shoulders, the weak, selfish, self-centered, thoughtless attitude and lack of discipline that brought us exactly where we are. I think at the meaning of the word Freedom, what it really means, if we were really free before.

I've been nervous with my mother, too. I do resent the situation we are in, the huge amount of work I have to do, the fact that I'm alone to decide everything, the times she just won't listen to me, which inevitably brings more work, more worry, more tiredness.

Then again, I think. If I am to survive this, the answer to all these problems is not in the tests, it's not in a date, it's not in my mother suddenly reasoning as she used to. It is in me. In how I can adapt, in how I can pace myself, realising that I'm in for the long haul as everybody else in this, in how I manage to find my freedom in the small things. The very small things. So small that they come to existance just when we really pay attention, in the here, and in the now.
This invisible space is my new hope, is the only hope that I can offer at the moment. It is truly tiny, but perhaps it can contain more than we can see now.

"The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

I think of all of you, every day.
with love
x Arwen
Helpful Answer (10)
gratefultoday Apr 2020
We are watching you Arwen, and listening to you. It will happen here, in the US, that people grow tired of doing the right thing, being careful, being patient, being cautious.
We will forget that we are staying home for the nurses and doctors, because they can't stay home. It will be a fight, today with words, that the cure is worse than the illness, as the daily count in NY is steadily at 700 per day. Every day.
You have resolve to slow down, to try to be patient, to enjoy the small things, like Willy and the yard.
We do our part, for others, for health care workers, for our family. Thank you for your resolve.
Find joy today friend.
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Phase 2 - Day 6

"The world is changed.
I feel it in the water.
I feel it in the Earth.
I smell it in the air…”


I have fully recovered. My symptoms had got worse, all sort of flu-like symptoms, swollen glands in my neck, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, headaches and terrible exhaustion, for 10 days. No fever, no cough.
Then this week, a step after the other, I regained all my strengths. It honestly feels like a miracle feeling all my energy again, not just physically, I’m honestly so (so) relieved. I hated the feeling that I could just wait to see if my symptoms got worse and have been really worried for my mom. She had symptoms too, especially muscle pains and tiredness. Now she feels much better too.
What can I say, if it was the virus, all your prayers must have worked exceptionally well :)))
We are deeply grateful, to all of you. Thank you for keeping writing me, thank you for your messages about your wonderful, funny animals, for the recipes, for the tips… you made me smile and kept me company, thank you for your updates, that I read almost every day even if I couldn’t write. They’ve been a big part of the cure.

On May 4 we have entered Phase 2, a substantial lifting of the lockdown.
We still need the self-certificate for going out, but we can now take longer walks from our homes without one and visit relatives, one at a time. Many more shops and factories are open, but we can’t travel yet and we can’t go out from our regions. On May 18 the Government will re-assess the situation and we’ll know more. Some technical documents from the Scientific Committee have leaked, so we know what is the exact number of contagions that will will mark the critical alert, the one which will lock us again, the worst case scenario, which has been reassuringly called “catastrophic”… I honestly wish I hadn’t seen the document.

Last Sunday, the last day of the lockdown, I was still feeling very weak but I decided to go out for a short walk to see the deserted city one last time; I closed my eyes at the crossing of a big street and tried to imagine the traffic, the cars, the noise, the pollution. I really felt that something extraordinary, in good and (extremely) bad, was coming to an end. It felt like some weird nostalgia, for something so subtle and hard to describe, but that I knew would have been very difficult to feel again… the silence, the courage, the strength, that incredible feeling of connection with all humanity and all living things… the very small things… I said goodbye, and thank you, and opened my eyes.

The very first thing I did in Phase 2 was going to my beloved Park.
I counted the days on my calendar. The last time I saw it was 58 days before.
2 months of lockdown and no gardeners after, my Park has become a Jungle!!!
It was so beautiful and wild my jaw literally dropped (under the mask!) The grass was so tall, like I have never seen it, the trees so full of leaves, and birds, it was incredible.
I walked, and walked, and walked until my legs became almost numb.
I sat under a tree, I touched the grass in the sun. I cried for the joy.
I called my best friend and could barely speak, I was breathless. I think he was smiling on the other side. He stayed silent too, but yes, I think he was really smiling.
I laid on the grass, watching the top of the trees on my head and suddenly remembered:

I’m laying on my wooden floor, my face on the last ray of sun that comes from the window. I lay there and think that that ray of sun is the most beautiful and precious thing I have ever experienced.

Under the tree, everything, everything came back at once: the silence, the courage, the strength, that incredible feeling of connection …. the very small things. They haven’t vanished. They are still there. They were probably there way before, I just didn’t know it.

Thinking of you all, wherever you are, with much peace, and much love.
x Arwen
Helpful Answer (10)
Sendhelp May 2020
So happy that you have recovered, Arwen!
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Mayday,   guns and ammo aren't solutions; I think they're for protection as people get frantic, and sometimes crazy, and become violent.    I've been thinking of getting some shooting practice in just in case....If people are cut off from food, and/or if shortages become worse, sometimes some types of people become panicky, kind of nutty, and desperate.
Helpful Answer (9)
xrayjodib Mar 2020
I know I may sound harsh to some, but I totally agree with you!
The reality is when people get desperate, they do desperate things.
Even though I live in a rural area, there is still a drug problem and the crime that goes with it.
I'm not a survivalist. I'm not paranoid, but I am installing a security camera and I have plenty of ammo!
I'm not afraid of admit it, nor am I afraid to protect my home.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
7 months ago, today, I was preparing for lockdown, without having any idea of what a lockdown was, nor a pandemic, nor a whole world disappearing under my feet.

7 months later. I'm alive.

And being alive, today, means different things for me.

It means that I'm grateful, which I didn't know I had to be.
It means that I constantly wonder why this happened to us, in our lives, and not before or after us. What is the meaning, what is the call on us.
It means that I feel responsible to do, really do my share.

Many things have changed in our lives, my mom's and mine.

Our summer has been good, even if difficult in places.

After my plan of the live-in carer failed, I mistakingly thought that I could carry on doing everything by myself for the whole summer and that living in the country side, far from everything, with my mom and my cat was the safest, ideal solution. I lasted 21 days, after which I started having a serious burnout.

I frantically looked for some help where we were but couldn't find any, so eventually we came back to Milan, where I had to acknowledge that my mother was actually much happier.

After taking this decision things got easier; in the city, I found a wonderful new professional aide through an Agency, trained both as a social worker and as a disability support worker who's even worked in a Vet clinic! And most importantly...she always wears a mask, is extremely careful and I didn't even have to ask her. It was the agency rules, which she absolutely shares and observes. Her and my mom really clicked and Willy likes her too, which was important for me.

Having some time for myself again and knowing that my mom is in super good hands has been such a relief that all the doubts about letting the old aide go, the one who's been with us for many years and was like family to us, but refused to wear a mask when with my mother, vanished all together. This decision has been heart wrenching for me. I spent months agonising about the right things to do and hoped that by the end of the summer, if COVID had receded, I could call her back again… But by July, I was a wreck. I couldn’t, really couldn’t take care of everything by myself anymore.

After just 1 month the new aide started working for my mom, we decided to go away again to our house in the countryside and we took her with us; it worked out perfectly, so much that when we came back we decided to hire her directly and asked her if she wanted to move in with my mom, so that she won't have to take public transports, and we'll all be safer.
It's been a month of paperworks, contracts, documents, but I can say now it's been worth every minute of stress; she's been living at my mother's place for ten days now, and I have to say that having another adult to talk with when I'm there and knowing that if something happens we are 3 people now, it makes a world of difference. Especially in these last few days, whith the news of contagions rising again, we feel like we have each other’s back, and that we are safe where we are, and I think this is priceless.

7 months later.
Europe is in the middle of a huge second wave, with Italy fast approaching the same numbers of the other states, after having been miraculously spared for some time.

The US are on the verge of the most important presidential election of their history and are still fighting a fierce battle with this virus.

More people than we can really comprehend have died, lost their job and a life that they had honestly put together.

Our planet has been devastated by fires, flooding, hurricanes and the worst apparently has yet to come.

But one thing I know, now. Those small things that I saw in that ray of sun are the only ones that I can take care of, one after the other; only in this way I can keep the vision without crumbling into despair.

This post, that I’ve struggled for months to put together, is my small, personal experience, but it’s the sharing with you that makes it bigger.

With much love
x Arwen
Helpful Answer (9)
AlvaDeer Oct 2020
It's so good to hear from you.
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