Winter 2021 (Course 5)

Where to begin with this blog? This term has been rough. Our master’s program course was wonderful. Michael made the course accessible and interesting and fun. We dove into many interesting streams of thought on the place of the arts in our own culture and in other cultures, historically and in the present. 

However, in my life, I went through a number of very difficult challenges. Firstly, near the end of January, my fiance and I tested positive for Covid 19. From what I can gather, I most likely contracted it while at work and gave it to my fiance. Even though the cases were extremely numerous at the school, I was working very hard to be safe and careful. The procedures and policies at my workplace were out of my control and no matter what lengths I went to to ensure my personal safety, I was not protected. 

My symptoms at first were mild and I did not recognize them as Covid symptoms. One day I had a headache, another day a tickle in my throat and another day I was very tired etc. These are not unusual occurrences for an overworked teacher, and I did not realize I was sick until later on in the week when I lost my sense of taste and smell. My fiance and I got tested and our results came back the next day — Positive. 

The next few weeks were very difficult both physically and emotionally. I was living with my parents and younger sister at the time and was immediately afraid for their well-being. It was a blessing when they all tested negative and did not develop any symptoms. I was isolated from them in my bedroom for the next eleven days. My symptoms went from mild to troubling very quickly and no matter what medical professional I asked, the answer was the same:  wait until you are having trouble breathing or “gasping for breath” before you go to the hospital. I know why they said that, because they did not want to overwhelm the hospitals. However, following that advice is how many Covid patients have ended up going for help too late and dying in the hospital or even at home. 

Our medical system has been broken for a long time but this was a frightening reality — if you contract Covid your fate is up to chance, no one is monitoring you, no one is checking in on you, you just have to wait and see if you survive. Thankfully, I have an excellent mother who obtained an oximeter online and had me check my lung capacity regularly in order to monitor for any reductions. This important health information had been found online by my future mother-in-law and the use of oximeters has been saving people’s lives and lungs in the United States for many months. The fact that the Canadian government has not made that information available and recommended their use in Canada is nothing short of willful negligence. 

During the second week of the illness, I developed severe body aches. It felt like I had just woken up from being hit by a car. Every joint in my body was in pain. I took as much Tylenol and Advil as was allowed during this time and it still was not enough. I was incredibly weak and very exhausted. The third week I started to feel a bit better, in very small increments and then I developed a rash (hives) that would come and go. My fiance faired better in some respects. However, in the long run, I regained my sense of taste and smell and he is still struggling with his. Everyone has a unique experience with Covid, but I can tell you that mine was bad and the fear and lack of medical attention made it worse. 

During this time, I attended the Zoom sessions for my master’s program and usually was able to participate in some fashion, except for the second week, in which I had to keep my camera off and I couldn’t say anything without starting to cry. Michael was incredibly understanding and kind to me throughout the various stages of my illness and encouraged me to rest and take whatever time I needed. Eventually, I felt quite a bit better and was able able to engage as my usual self. We discussed the kinds of societies in which the arts flourish and what kinds of societies stifle creativity. We did all that we could to keep each other sane and focused on positive things during a dark and sad Covid winter. I looked forward to the camaraderie, lively conversation and thoughtful commentary of my colleagues. 

The stress at home continued in a different way during the second half of the semester. My new wedding date of April 18th was fast approaching and the rules did not seem to be changing around gatherings. It looked like we would have a ten-person wedding but we had to plan for all possible outcomes and that was challenging. 

Two weeks before the wedding I received my first Covid vaccination and was put on some antibiotics for a minor skin issue. A few days later, I suddenly became violently ill. I was unable to eat or drink for days and was in and out of the hospital multiple times. It was a very rough ride and I had a number of very dark moments. A few days before the wedding, I regained some ability to keep down fluids and food and was able to regain some strength before the big day. 

The wedding day was the most beautiful, spectacularly warm day in April. Miraculous weather for an April in greater Vancouver. We only had ten people for the ceremony but it was a wonderful day. We felt so much love from our family and friends, who were messaging us throughout the day and we were able to have dinner on a patio with some of our family, in lieu of a reception. It honestly felt like physically and mentally my body had been to hell and back since January, but I was so grateful that I was able to feel well on my wedding day and enjoy my time with Stefan. I believe that the prayers of my friends and family were heard and I am very grateful for God’s provision. 

Before I became ill for the second time, I was able to complete my final project for the course. I recorded a series of Podcasts with my family. During this course, we often discussed what “art” or “the arts” means to people who don’t consider themselves to be “artists” and why those people do not consider themselves to be “artists”. I thought it would be interesting for me to ask those closest to me for their perspective or what “art” is and how it may or may not contribute to society. Below is my final project with the links to listen to the podcast episodes. Enjoy 🙂 

Let’s Talk Art Podcast – Episode 3 – Lily 

On this episode, I interview my mother, Lily. She is a recently retired elementary school teacher. She always taught the early grades, from Kindergarten to Grade 3. I was interested to hear what she would say in relation to her different roles, as an educator, mother, patron of the arts, and grandmother. She has been one of the major influences in my life. Even though she felt strongly that life as an actor and life as a teacher would be incredibly difficult, full of struggle and perpetual unappreciation — she still supported and helped me with all of my endeavours.