We asked women with disabilities what their daily life looks like during the pandemic. What they go through from morning to evening, what activities keep them busy, what do they talk about with themselves or other members of the household, what changed in their daily routine, what are their greatest obstacles under the new circumstances and how do they overcome them, what aspects of their characters help them or make it more difficult to cope with the situation, what are their sources of support, is there a good side to what is going on, what new things have they discovered about themselves during the state of emergency, how does isolation affect their relations with others, what makes them angry, are their days in isolation too long or too short, what is the first thing they will do when this is over…? This is how the instant column Quarantine Notes on the Disability Portal came to be. Below are the notes of Jelena Radović, a law graduate and president of the Sunce (Engl. Sun) Association for Cerebral and Child Palsy of the South-Bačka County in Novi Sad. Jelena is the author and host of motivational public discussions for support of persons with disabilities.
As if in a dream, my world changed overnight. At first, I didn’t know what was going on, as I was away from Novi Sad for several days. I was at Kanjiža Spa, where I had therapies, exercise sessions, walking, swimming…We had to leave the spa within two hours because of the invisible enemy COVID-19. I didn’t know what was going on, my stay at the spa had just begun, when I had to pack my bags again not knowing what to expect when I got home. What was waiting for me there was isolation and fear for my parents who belong to risk groups. I live with my parents. My sisters have their families and only come to the door to bring groceries. We send kisses to each other then and words of support.
My day starts with exercise and smiles, personal hygiene is next, morning coffee with my parents, chatting and laughing. I like my father’s jokes; they make my days better and have me laugh myself to tears. Mom’s great too, she cooks tasty meals, we call my sisters and nephews, we like to watch TV series in the evening.
Morning coffee is followed by standing exercises that last an hour. I come to my magical world, which is my room that gives me peace and motivation: it is enough to look at the photos decorating my room, bringing me joy. I read books that speak a lot to me, enrich me and make me more mature, spending time reading really gives me strength. After lunch, I call my sisters or friends, I post a motivational message or photo on social networks. In the evenings, I watch TV series and films, I work on myself, I try to watch the news as little as possible, because I want to be informed, but I don’t want to disturb my peace. I write every day, I am writing my third book, and various other texts. I answer e-mails, I lead group sessions with association members, we provide each other with support. With my personal assistant Jelena, I do different tasks and activities I need support for.
The time in quarantine has made me stronger, I realized being alone wasn’t a problem for me, I have proven to myself that my attitude doesn’t depend on outside circumstances or other people, but only on me. This global invisible enemy has taught me how to live alone and not feel it. I am always thankful, twice as much now, for all that life gives me, be it positive or negative. I draw a lesson from every day and I try to make new habits.
I miss my activities, the public discussions, work at the association, workshops, walks along the Danube. I really miss the busy Jelena and I miss my favorite daily exercise, walking on ramps. I used to walk fifty meters before the virus, but my walking is significantly weaker now, which makes me sad, but I know I will go back to my steps, because for me, every step is a great victory.
I don’t know when all of this will be in the past, but I know that we need to live and dream of better days. Motivation and smiling are the best medicine for me, I always have these in stock no matter what. The first thing I’m going to do after the quarantine is give a hug to my nephews and thank everyone who was there for me, and then I am going to see the Danube, enjoy the view and walk on ramps.
Translated by: Marina Ileš