From the belly of the beast – angry considerations on coronavirus management

First published on Facebook by Sara Agostinelli, Bergamo[1], translated from Italian by Davide Grasso, Turin[2] | the original is also available online, as well as a French translation

I’m from Bergamo and I’m sick, presumably from Coronavirus.

I still read posts quoting experts who reassure me: “80% of the population will be affected by Coronavirus but let’s not worry, for the most part it will just be a flu. The mortality rate is low and mainly affects the elderly and people with previous illnesses.”

Today, March 14. Again this bullshit.

I’m not a scientist or a statistician but I’m pissed off: I’m terrified that outside of here we’re not understanding what’s happening to us. We’re dying like flies here. Is that clear?

Dozens of deaths a day. Dozens and dozens.

The town cemetery can’t dispose of the bodies. The town bell towers don’t ring the death bells anymore because they’d do it all the time. The doctors are exhausted or infected, and they begin to die in turn.

We’re all sick, or almost sick. Three-quarters of my acquaintances are sick, friends, relatives, colleagues, family doctors themselves.

We have very long and resistant fevers, very strong pains in various parts of the body, shortness of breath, coughing, and a portentous cold. Not for everyone, fortunately.

But that doesn’t mean we can talk about “trivial flu”. Trivial flu, my ass.

Three weeks of fever, hallucinating tiredness, headache, shortness of breath, resistance to any medicine, the ghost of the intensive care unit always on your shoulder like an evil crow and, of course, isolation and loneliness: it’s not a trivial flu. And I consider myself highly fortunate.

Most days are spent on the phone: continuous medical bulletins. How are you, today a little better, tomorrow a little worse, how is daddy, aunt, friend, friend, but what do you have, I have this, ah yes I’ve been told by many people then you probably have it, yes yes I think I have it.

Here we self-care, on our own, when it goes well we can get some telephone directions, because even the family doctors can’t follow us all.

The sirens never stop outside the window, night and day, and if you call 112 they can’t answer you for who knows how long. And they take you to the hospital when you’re serious.

Because there’s no room. Because they can’t cure us.

The tests are reserved for those who arrive in the emergency room (and for party secretaries and footballers), the others must infer, imagine and, in doubt, isolate themselves in quarantine, so even those who might really have a « trivial influence » must give up helping those in need, elderly parents for example.

The mortality rate of this virus is low, of course. If we are all sick and “only” dozens of people die “only” a day, of course the mortality rate is low. But we are all sick, and we die non-stop, continuously, in large numbers.

It’s a tragedy. It’s not a common fucking flue.

And of course a lot of people who are not young and maybe with some previous pathology die.

So what?!??!?!?!?!??????

60-70 years old people who could have lived another few years, what are they, expired goods to give a shit about? Aren’t they human beings who leave love and affection in pain?!?

What the fuck has life become???

And I write this, hopelessly atheist, convinced that life is not sacred at all and is life only when it is worthy. But every life is love and bonds around it, and deep pain when it is lacking.

Italy is a country of old men. Don’t bullshit us: all of a sudden you can’t tell us about our old people as expired pieces that we can get rid of lightly.

NO.

Every one of us here knows someone who is between life and death in intensive care, many of us have lost relatives or are waiting for news on the phone.

Almost 1,500 dead in two weeks and we’re standing here saying, “everything’s gonna be okay”??? “we’re gonna be okay”?

No, we’re not comfortable.

WE’RE AT HOME.

Because they haven’t offered us any other solution to deal with this huge disaster. Because if, in other parts of Italy, we become what we are in Bergamo, thanks to two weeks lost without making decisions, telling us one day everything closes and the next day you go out and eat pizza, we won’t stop the city, it will be an even worse slaughter than it already is.

Because in those two weeks of lost time, due to irresponsible unpreparedness and probably also because there are so many big economic interests at stake, WE ARE ALL LOST.

Gentlemen here we are not joking: precisely because it is not a trivial influence and precisely because thousands of people will die, we are worried.

Enough with these dissociated messages, which calm down by belittling what is happening: enough.

You have to know things as they are, really, what you risk, really, to be able to behave responsibly and SAVE LIFE AND PAIN.

Continuing to ask ourselves if there was no other way to deal with this disaster, because maybe there was or still would be, but how can we know, let’s worry and do it seriously: because only if we are worried, really worried, we have the chance to do something sensible for us and for others: avoid as many deaths as possible.

Let’s stop bullshitting each other and let’s tell it like it is: worry, and stay at home.

And at home do read and listen and ask yourself questions, as well as take care of yourself and the people close to you, because now the goal is to survive, but when this disaster will be “over”, and we will have to get up, we will need to be lucid, very lucid.

We will have to understand why we have come to this point, and how. Think about our hospitals, our schools, our old and young people, our work.

We will have to realise that it is not possible to dismantle the health care system of a country piece by piece and then find ourselves dying in clusters with doctors and nurses who massacre themselves risking their lives in an attempt to keep our own.

That we cannot reduce to misery thousands of precarious and “freelancers” who live hanging only and only on their own painful turnover and who, when everything is rightly blocked for fear of death, find themselves in front of a working desert that will be months or maybe years long.

We will have to understand if this tragedy has helped us to improve or has thrown us even more into the abyss we were already in: on one side an army of underpaid people in white coats who kill themselves with work and risk contagion, and on the other side, few meters or just a few kilometers away, flocks of people who queue up to get on the chairlift, to walk in the old town or to try on their clothes at the mall (left open, very open, while schools and cultural events were all closed and cancelled long ago).

If there are the unwilling ones, it’s everyone’s problem.

If hospitals don’t have beds it’s everybody’s problem.

If hundreds of people die and it seems almost normal because “they were old or with other diseases” it’s everyone’s problem, and it is a big problem.

It’s not going well at all and it’s not “it’s going to be all right”.

Only if we realize that, we really do, we can limit the damage and we can do something different when we come out of it.

Because we’re gonna get out of this, and we’re not gonna have to give discounts.


Notes

[1] The original was published on Facebook on March 14, 2020.

[2] Davide Grasso resides in Turino, Italy. His translation was first published on Facebook on March 15, 2020.

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