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Southbanker

09 Jun 2020

Southbanker Image

Taking age seriously

By Rhonda Dredge

If your immune system is young and not compromised then COVID-19 may be a relatively easy ride.

But if you’re over 65 or have co-morbidities you shouldn’t be foolhardy.

These are words of advice from Anne Fairhall, a high-rise resident of Southbank Central.

Anne is aged 76, was a theatre nurse and has a son who caught the virus, taking 10 weeks to recover.

Every time she returns to her 39th floor apartment she takes off her shoes, washes her hands and wipes down any purchases.

She’s not taking any risks, having spent every night on the phone with her son and his family in Switzerland as she monitored the pandemic.

“We will see spikes, because the virus is highly contagious,” she said. Even though she is starting to loosen up a bit, she is still taking precautions and not visiting too many places at ground level.

“While I am inside I feel safe. The first time I went out to get my own milk and eggs I put on gloves and a mask but it felt really like a contaminated task.”

Instead you will find her most days on her phone socialising. “I’m isolating but I’m not isolated,” she said. During the lockdown, she’s kept up her public talks on Zoom, helped organise a new online Probus group, visited her husband who has dementia and kept up with friends.

It is exhausting just hearing about all of her activities, including the regular but restricted half-hour visits to her husband in aged care. “My life is big but it has become bigger over COVID-19,” she said.

But it is the story of her son, aged 51, and his infection that has preoccupied her, giving her close experience with the way the disease manifests itself.

She said many people from Milan drove over the border to Verbier, a mountain village in Switzerland to get away from the virus and they pretty much infected the town.

Her son Marcus phoned her in early March and said, “you mightn’t have much awareness of this, Mum. Look, you need to take this virus thing seriously.”

He didn’t reveal that he had tested positive. So had his wife and son. “Are you going into lock-down?” he asked.

He was sick for eight weeks with classic symptoms. “It’s hard on the body,” he told her. He had no energy, headaches, loss of taste and smell and a sore throat. Then he felt better for two weeks.

But Brigitta had very different symptoms. She had raging temperatures, neuralgic pain, a rash like shingles and secondary pneumonia.

Then they discovered that the infection had spread to Marcus’s kidney. He still had the virus in his blood even though he tested negative on a nose swab.

His travel business had collapsed and at first Anne was worried about the economic situation but this soon gave way to concern for his health.

“We in Australia don’t know very much,” she said. “My son was very sick.”

The new Melbourne Bearbrass Probus Club contact is: 

Secretary – Sue, 0419 134 206. Email: bearbrassprobus@gmail.com

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