During my pregnancies — the first one, especially — the panicky thoughts kept creeping in.
Anxiety and depression are part of my mental makeup, and certain situations have a way of making the condition worse.
I would wonder, what if I’m not able to deliver this baby? What if I literally break down, physically and mentally, and cannot get through it?
Whenever this irrational thought popped into my head, I found calm by reminding myself of the many, many women who’ve given birth. If they could do it, I probably could, too.
Now, I’m trying to apply that kind of thinking to the COVID-19 outbreak that is sweeping the globe.
- Spanish flu hit ND, Minnesota 'like a house on fire': Pandemic lessons from history
Imagine what it must have been like more than 100 years ago, during what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control considers to be the most severe pandemic in recent history.
The influenza pandemic struck in early 1918 as WWI was winding down. There was no vaccine, and antibiotics we have now to treat secondary bacterial infections caused by influenza hadn't yet been invented. There were no ventilators.
According to the CDC, the multiple waves of influenza ended up killing an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the U.S.
More than 10,000 in Minnesota and more than 1,700 in North Dakota died — estimates that likely understated the actual count.
Imagine trying to process the devastation at a time when communication was primitive.
Today, we can learn things in an instant from our desktops, smart phones, TVs and elsewhere. We can stay connected with loved ones through technology.
Want to know the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in your county or state? Want to know about testing availability? Want to know all of the steps you can take to stay safe?
The answers can be found through reports and websites from local health care systems, along with state, city and county governments and reputable media outlets.
The local newscasts and national cable news outlets are dedicated to 24/7 coronavirus coverage.
It can be too much for some people, but fortunately, each one of us can determine how much we consume and turn our attention elsewhere when we’ve learned enough.
During the 1918 pandemic, with the countless lives lost, there must have been many times people thought life would never return to a semblance of normalcy. But as the months wore on, it did.
Here we are, a century later, perhaps wondering the same thing as cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to climb.
So many are taking significant risks on the front lines of the pandemic, working in health care, emergency management and other essential services, such as law enforcement, fire protection and ambulance services.
Many people have already lost their jobs and many could lose their businesses as the pandemic wears on. Students graduating from high school and college have lost their senior years and the memories that go along with it.
Life, as we know it, has literally been upended.
For some of us, the biggest challenge so far has been having to work from home and keep a distance from others.
It’s a small inconvenience to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially to the higher risk elderly population and those with underlying conditions.
In the coming weeks and months, we may be asked to do much more.
We may see the National Guard transporting medical supplies. We may see ill family members transported to other areas where there are more beds, more medical staff, more ventilators.
We may have to accept situations that are unfamiliar, even uncomfortable.
And we will do it.
Today, we are far more advanced in our technology, communications, health care systems and understanding of pandemics, thanks to the work of the people who came before us. We've learned from their tragedies and successes.
If our ancestors could get through something like this more than a century ago, we certainly can, too.